Lowe’s hires Ottawa lobbyist to help acquire Rona

Lowe’s hires Ottawa lobbyist to help acquire Rona
Allison Martell and Dhanya Skariachan, Reuters | Aug 30, 2012 4:10 PM ET
Lowe’s Cos Inc., the No. 2 U.S.-based home improvement retailer, has hired an Ottawa lobbyist to work on its proposed C$1.8-billion acquisition of Rona Inc., aiming to overcome political opposition to a bid for its Quebec-based rival.

It retained Robert Evershed of Prospectus Associates to lobby the federal government, effective August 20, according to Canada’s federal lobbying registry.

He will work on gaining “approval by the Minister of Industry of the client’s acquisition of Rona Inc,” the entry says.

“I can confirm that Lowe’s works with a number of consultants, including Prospectus Associates. As with any such relationship, we are unable to discuss details,” said Lowe’s spokeswoman Julie Yenichek in an email.
Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe’s took its proposed bid of Rona public at the end of July, and was immediately criticized by the provincial government in Rona’s home province of Quebec. The company has not made a formal takeover offer, and Rona is on record opposing the deal.

The deal has become an issue in the mostly French-speaking province’s September 4 election, as both the governing Liberal party and the separatist Parti Quebecois promise to push for measures to curb foreign takeovers.

Rona’s shares have consistently traded below Lowe’s proposed C$14.50-a-share offer, and the gap widened early last week as Lowe’s told investors a deal was “not imminent” and a group of Rona’s dealers criticized Lowe’s.

Down 0.6% at C$12.47 on Thursday, Rona’s stock price signals the market’s skepticism about the chances of a successful deal.

© Thomson Reuters 2012, with a file from The Canadian Press

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