Business

Canada approves Chinese takeover of energy company

TORONTO – Canada approved China’s biggest overseas energy acquisition, a $15.1 billion takeover by state-owned CNOOC of Canadian oil and gas producer Nexen, but vowed Friday to reject any future foreign takeovers in the oil sands sector by state-owned companies.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government would only consider future takeover deals in the oil sands by state-owned companies in exceptional circumstances.

The prime minister said the Alberta oil sands represent 60 percent of all the oil production around the world that is not already in state hands and said he wants to keep it that way.

CNOOC and other big state-owned Asian energy companies have increased purchases of oil and gas assets in the Americas as part of a global strategy to gain access to resources needed to fuel their economies.

AIG estimates $1.3 billion in losses due to superstorm

NEW YORK – AIG estimates it will take $1.3 billion in losses related to Superstorm Sandy.

New York-based American International Group Inc. said Friday it will contribute about $1 billion to its U.S. property casualty insurance units to help offset the losses.

The losses will be included in the company’s fourth-quarter results.

On Wednesday, Travelers Cos. Inc. estimated $650 million in losses from the storm after taxes and reinsurance recoveries. Allstate Corp. estimated last week that it had $1.08 billion in catastrophe losses during October, mostly from damage to homes and autos from Sandy.

The federal government has distributed about $2 billion in aid to the 11 states that were hit by the storm, which made landfall on Oct. 29.

News of federal probes hits Big Lots shares hard

NEW YORK – Shares of Big Lots Inc. have slumped nearly 10 percent over the past three days after news that federal officials are investigating stock trades by its CEO.

In a Wednesday Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company said it received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on Nov. 29 requesting information on trades by CEO Steven Fishman. The SEC has also begun its own probe on the matter.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing a person familiar with the matter, that the Federal Bureau of Investigations and federal prosecutors were looking at whether Fishman had sold $10.3 million in stock in March based on an insider’s knowledge of a coming negative corporate announcement.

The Journal said that investigators were interested in the March trades because they occurred outside of Fishman’s “10b5-1” plan.

The SEC’s 10b5-1 rule lets executives trade company stock, even when they have insider knowledge, according to a pre-set plan for certain stock transactions over a period of time. That way, executives can say their sales of stock weren’t prompted by new information that wasn’t publicly available to investors.

According to the Journal, Fishman’s trades came about a month before Big Lots cut its sales guidance for its first quarter, after the market closed on April 23. At that time, the company said sales had begun to slow in March, worsening in April. It projected a slight drop in revenue in stores open at least a year, a key measure for retailers, down from its previous forecast of a slight increase. The company’s stock sank 24 percent on April 24.



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