Alberta premier sees benefits in Nexen deal-report

Oct 1 (Reuters) - The premier of the oil-rich province of Alberta sees benefits in the proposed sale of Nexen Inc to a Chinese state-owned company, a local newspaper reported on Monday.

Premier Alison Redford, who does not have a formal say in whether CNOOC Ltd's controversial $15.1 billion bid for the Canadian oil producer is approved, told the Calgary Herald her office has advised the federal government in its review of the takeover proposal.

"At the end of the day, our view is that if this is in Alberta's interest, it should go ahead. And we think there's a lot of benefit for Alberta and Canada in this deal," Redford told the newspaper in her clearest statement yet on the bid.

Under the Investment Canada Act, foreign takeovers of worth more than C$330 million ($335.38 million) face a federal review to determine whether the deal is of net benefit to Canada.

The proposed Nexen-CNOOC deal has raised worries inside the Canadian government, where some are wary of letting a Chinese state-owned enterprise buy up domestic assets.

If the governing Conservatives allow the takeover, China would extend its foothold in Canada's crude-rich oilsands - an area with the biggest proven resources of energy outside Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. That would help Beijing fulfill its drive for better access to energy resources to fuel the world's second-largest economy.

While Canada insists it is open to foreign investors, the surprising 2010 rejection of a $39 billion bid for Potash Corp

by Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd

has raised questions about what the government will decide in the Nexen case. In the Potash review, the premier of Saskatchewan, the company's home province, strongly opposed the deal.

Shares of Nexen have traded well below CNOOC's C$27.50-a- share offer, a 61 percent premium to the price of Nexen shares before the bid, due to concerns that public opposition will convince the government to block the deal. ($1 = 0.9840 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Julie Gordon)

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