Husky Confirms Acquisition Talks

Husky Energy Inc. yesterday confirmed it was in talks with unnamed parties regarding a transaction, but gave no details on what has been speculated in recent weeks as discussions about a sale or merger.

Husky, a Canadian integrated oil company that is majority owned by firms controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, said in a terse statement it was giving no assurances that any deal would be completed.

"All we're saying is we've provided some interested parties with certain information about the company, but I can't provide you with a list of companies," Husky spokeswoman Sydney Sharpe said. "Part of the business of enhancing shareholder value is talking to other companies."

Some companies rumored to be in talks with Husky include Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., which is one of several firms in the stable of Calgary financier Murray Edwards, and European oil company TotalFinaElf, the Associated Press reported.

Officials with those firms were not immediately available for comment. The latest speculation involves a joint deal involving Canadian Natural and TotalFinaElf, said Duncan Mathieson, an analyst with Scotia Capital markets in Toronto.

Last week, Suncor Energy Inc. chief executive Rick George said he was not interested in buying Husky's assets.

Husky's operations include oil and gas production in Western Canada, exploration off the east coast and in the South China Sea, and western Canadian refining and retailing. It sells gasoline through its network of Husky- and Mohawk-branded convenience stores.

It is perhaps best known for its industry-leading position in heavy crude oil. Besides sizable production in Alberta and Saskatchewan, it is sole owner of a 60,000-barrel-a-day plant that upgrades the gooey crude into refinery-ready light oil.
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