Business

Aecon shareholders approve takeover by Chinese firm

Aecon shareholders voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve a $1.5-billion takeover of the Canadian company by a Chinese firm.

CCCC International Holding Ltd. paying $20.37 a share for Aecon

An Aecon Construction scissor lift operator looks at Toronto Pearson International Airport's Terminal 1 check-in area in this Dec. 2003 file photo. Aecon shareholders have approved the sale of the company to a Chinese firm. (Tobin Grimshaw, AP/Canadian Press)

Aecon shareholders voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve a $1.5-billion takeover of the Canadian company by a Chinese firm.

CCCC International Holding Ltd., a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Ltd., announced a friendly deal in October to buy the company for $20.37 per share in cash.

"It's a bitter sweet moment for me personally," Aecon chief executive John Beck told the meeting with roughly 50 people present.

"But it's definitely the right thing for everyone involved with the company."

Aecon had said in August that it was looking for potential buyers.

The company's board unanimously recommended shareholders support the bid and more than 99 per cent of the votes cast were in favour of the offer, which required the approval of a two-thirds majority.

Roughly 33.85 million votes were cast in favour, while more than 204,000 votes were against the deal — marking a 57.8 per cent participation rate by shareholders eligible to vote.

The deal has already received a "no action" letter granting approval under the Canadian Competition Act and Aecon has been advised by the buyer that it has approval from the National Development and Reform Commission, a Chinese economic planning regulator.

It still faces a review under the Investment Canada Act.

Aecon chairman Brian Tobin said "there's a clear net benefit for Canada" from the deal.

"Our hope and expectation is that the full approvals will be forthcoming," he said in an interview after the meeting.

"But we respect that there is an appropriate process that is undertaken by government and we are patiently awaiting the conclusion of that review."

The 140-year-old construction firm has worked on Canadian landmarks including the CN Tower, Vancouver's SkyTrain and the Halifax Shipyard.

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