Billionaire investor Stephen Jarislowsky said he doesn't support the sale of Canadian construction company Aecon Group to a Chinese state-owned firm, warning that the takeover could lead to issues since China "is without the rule of law."
Jarislowsky, the founder of Montreal-based investment firm Jarislowsky Fraser, told BNN in an interview on Monday that China shouldn’t be managing Canadian assets due to its international track record.
“I would be against [the Aecon takeover] for political reasons as much as other reasons, because I do believe that China is without rule of law,” Jarislowsky told BNN. “I do not believe that I would want our assets to be managed by companies without rule of law. But that’s probably not a consideration.”
Aecon shareholders voted more than 99 per cent in-favour of the proposed $1.5-billion takeover from Chinese state-owned CCCC International Holding on Dec. 19, setting the stage for a final review under the Investment Canada Act.
The sale of Aecon – which was responsible for building Canadian landmarks including the CN Tower and Vancouver’s SkyTrain – must now get government approval on whether the deal is in Canada’s best interests.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Burlington, Ont. in October that the deal “will be examined very carefully by the Investment Canada Act to ensure that safety and security is not being compromised and ensure that it is in the net benefit of Canadians.”
Jarislowsky reiterated that he’s not against foreign control of Canadian companies, as long as the government maintains control over their domestic activities.
“All things being equal, I’m an internationalist, and as long as we control the activities when they operate in our country, I think that we are still in command,” he said.