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Managing the Public Affairs for a Global M&A

In July 2012,China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) announced its intention to purchase Nexen, a Canadian oil and gas company with operations in the U.S. CNOOC’s acquisition was the largest-ever takeover of a foreign company by a Chinese entity. Because of the sensitive nature of Nexen’s U.S.-based assets, the U.S.Government initiated a national security review of the transaction.

News of the transaction ignited a firestorm of controversy in Canada and the U.S., with opponents launching a campaign to pressure the U.S. Government into stoppingCNOOC from acquiring Nexen’s U.S.-based assets – a move that would have led toCNOOC withdrawing its offer for Nexen.

Working with company representatives on both sides of the transaction, along with lawyers, lobbyists, and PR experts, Ludke led the public affairs and communications strategy in theU.S.. The goal was simple – demonstrate that CNOOC was committed to being a responsible owner of the Nexen assets and would strictly adhere to any conditions imposed by the U.S. government for how it was to manage the assets going forward.

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The parties involved in the transaction were fully transparent with all U.S. public officials – with a significant number of meetings with Members of Congress and their staff, Executive Branch officials, and industry experts. Furthermore, extensive information about the transaction was shared with the media and posted where it was publicly available, such as on company websites.

Over the course of the six-month review process by the U.S. Government, the public affairs and communications strategy began to pay dividends. Policymakers and experts came to understand that CNOOC’s acquisition of Nexen meant more investment in the U.S., continued employment for Nexen employees, and an adherence to all national security requirements imposed by the U.S. Government.

In February2013, the final U.S. Government approvals were issued and the transaction was completed.

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