A midst the soft tinkle of scotch glasses in Howe Street bars last week, the hottest rumor-swapping revolved around the eventual resting place of the people’s happy predator: the British Columbia Resources Investment Corporation. Newly stuffed with $487 million from the share offering that was more than twice as large as any in Canadian history (Maclean’s June 25, 1979), the guessing game is the name of its first acquisition. Since all shareholders are B.C. residents, the bloated BCRIC shadow hovers over B.C.’s first and fifth largest companies: timber giant MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. (1978 sales, $2 billion) and Vancouver-based pipeline company Westcoast Transmission Co. Ltd. (1978 sales, $843 million).
Despite denials by all parties, the speculation is fuelled by obvious economic and political benefits. MacBlo is healthy (firsthalf profits up in 1979 to $90.5 million from $44.1 million last year) and BCRIC coffers could easily cough up the cash necessary
ling bid. Politically, with 80 per cent of MacBlo shares held outside B.C., a take-over by the people’s corporation would vindicate Premier Bill Bennett’s “B.C. is not for sale" cross-body block on Canadian Pacific Investments Ltd. when it tried to move on MacBlo in January.
Other broker gossip centred on Westcoast because Bennett has made no secret of his displeasure that the federal government, via Petro-Canada, owns almost 37 per cent of Westcoast. Repatriation of Westcoast from a dismantled Petrocan is thought to have been high on a list of topics discussed during Bennett's Ottawa dinner with Prime Minister Joe Clark in June. Regardless of where BCRIC Chief Executive Officer David Helliwell touches down, with BCRIC shares to begin trading on the Vancouver Stock Exchange Aug. 7, talk of major acquisitions will do the initial share price no harm Thomas Hopkins
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