Canadian Oil Sands, Suncor ramp up rhetoric ahead of takeover deadline

FILE: Suncor Energy.
FILE: Suncor Energy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – Suncor Energy and Canadian Oil Sands are revving up their rhetoric ahead of a Friday deadline facing COS shareholders on whether to accept a hostile takeover.

Calling it a “Declaration of Independence,” Canadian Oil Sands (TSX:COS) issued another public letter to shareholders Monday, reiterating that their interests will be best served in the long run if the company remains independent.

Suncor (TSX:SU) quickly countered with plans for a Tuesday briefing for the investment community and a warning that COS investors may have to tender their stock by Tuesday or Wednesday to be processed in time for the Friday deadline.

The all-stock Suncor bid values Canadian Oil Sands at about $4.3 billion as of Dec. 31.

READ MORE: Canadian Oil Sands leadership has ‘almost no skin in the game’, says Suncor

Canadian Oil Sands — the largest partner in the Syncrude oilsands operation — has repeatedly said an independent COS will provide its shareholders with a better opportunity to profit from a return to higher oil prices.

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“Suncor’s substantially undervalued bid is set to lapse, and when it does they say they will walk away,” COS said Monday.

“For all of us, as shareholders, this scenario reveals a far more compelling and valuable alternative: Independence.”

Suncor (TSX:SU) has argued that with oil prices expected to remain low for some time, the status quo is risky for COS shareholders and they’d be better off as shareholders in a larger energy company.

Suncor (TSX:SU) took its offer directly to COS shareholders on Oct. 5 after attempts to ink a friendly deal — at a higher price — were rebuffed by Canadian Oil Sands in the spring.

READ MORE: Canadian Oil Sands calls Suncor’s hostile offer ‘exploitative’

COS has a 37 per cent stake in Syncrude while Suncor has a 12 per cent share in the project north of For McMurray, Alta.

Suncor is one of Canada’s biggest energy companies, with vast holdings in the oilsands and thousands of employees. COS, on the other hand, has a staff of about 30 and relies on its Syncrude stake as its sole asset.