Quebec aims to shield head offices
The province of Quebec is earmarking $1 billion to help develop and protect its most prized businesses while leaving the door open to putting the program to use for SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (SNC.TO)
The funding was disclosed in the Coalition Avenir Québec's (CAQ) first budget since taking office.
According to documents released late Thursday, the CAQ "is committed to taking action to better support business growth and ensure the protection of head offices."
To that end, the province says its billion-dollar program will help develop strategic businesses and it will form a team with a mandate "to develop business intelligence in the field of head office protection."
"It could be used for SNC ... [but] the program was not designed for SNC," said Finance Minister Eric Girard when addressing reporters.
The future of SNC's Montreal head office has been a major talking point in the political scandal surrounding the company over alleged political interference in its corruption case. There have been concerns and suggestions the company could uproot its headquarters to London if it fails to secure a deferred prosecution agreement with public prosecutors.
However, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg this week, SNC CEO Neil Bruce flatly rejected ever threatening to move his company's head office.
"I don't know what people make up or what they have in their minds," he said. "We are a proud Canadian global champion. One of the few, actually. ... This is where we want to be, in terms of our base."