The changing construction environment was something outgoing Canadian Construction Association (CCA) chair Chris McNally says he faced during his term, in particular when the proposed Aecon Group sale to the Chinese state-owned China Communications Construction Company International (CCCI) for $1.5 billion was announced.
During the CCA’s 100th annual conference in Banff, Alta. the association reiterated it is opposition to government-owned enterprises and the threat they pose to the Canadian construction industry. The association had previously advised the Government of Canada of its stance and will continue to do so, McNally said in an interview.
In late October 2017, Aecon, a Canadian publicly-traded construction and engineering firm, stated it agreed to be acquired by CCCI, the investment arm of China Communications Construction Company, one of the world’s largest network of engineering and construction companies, headquartered in Beijing.
As part of the sale, the Aecon board unanimously recommended the transaction, but there are still regulatory hurdles for the sale to be final. In December 2017, Aecon announced it had received two regulatory permissions, one was a “no action” letter granting approval under the Canadian Competition Act and the other was approval from the National Development and Reform Commission, a Chinese economic planning regulator. However, the purchase still requires regulatory approvals under the Investment Canada Act and a review is currently underway.
During his travels across Canada, McNally said he received wide support for the association’s policy on government-owned enterprises.
“When you bring to them an argument that there’s something that needs to be dealt with or improved, they’re right on it,” he explained. “I don’t think that anyone has actually come to me, that’s not related to Aecon, and said there’s anything wrong with our decision.”
McNally added he’s hopeful the federal government decides not to allow the sale.