TORONTO (CP) -- Teck Cominco Ltd.[TSX:TEK.B] has no plans to raise its bid for Inco Ltd. [NYSE:N, TSX:N], chief executive Don Lindsay said Thursday, adding the Vancouver-based metals and coal producer's hostile offer still has a good chance of winning over shareholders.
''We don't think we need to (increase the bid),'' Lindsay said in an interview from New York, where he met with investors. ''We've talked to quite a few people and no one has been able to convince us as to why we would.''
Teck Cominco's bid for Inco is one of several offers for the company and rival Falconbridge Inc. that are expected to reshape Canada's nickel mining industry, a major employer in northern Ontario and Manitoba.
Not only has U.S. copper giant Phelps Dodge Corp. struck a blockbuster deal to take over both Inco and Falconbridge, but Inco has a separate bid to buy Falconbridge. In addition to the Teck offer for Inco, Swiss-based coal and metals giant Xstrata PLC is bidding to take over Falconbridge alone.
''Right now, of course, we're not the centre of the action, we have to wait and see the results of the battle between Xstrata and Inco for Falconbridge,'' said Lindsay, a former Bay Street investment banker.
Teck's cash-and-stock bid for Inco, valued at C$17.8 billion when presented May 8, has been topped by Phelps Dodge [NYSE:PD], which struck a deal Monday to buy both Inco and Falconbridge [NYSE:FAL, TSX:FAL] for US$40 billion.
The Teck bid is conditional on Inco and Falconbridge cancelling their own friendly merger, and is further complicated by an unsolicited bid from Xstrata [LSE:XTA], which owns 20 per cent of Falconbridge and has bid to buy the rest for cash.
Lindsay, who was in New York to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, where Teck Cominco's stock began trading, said he still believes Inco shareholders will back his offer.
''We're a pretty safe bet,'' he said. ''We're Canadian, good track record, supported by the Steelworkers' union - whereas there's a reasonable amount of risk to the Phelps Dodge deal at this point, and they'd have to wait quite a long time until they get the results.''
Xstrata and Phelps are both waiting on some of their regulatory approvals, including that of Investment Canada, which assesses the merits of foreign investments.
Various observers, including Teck's chairman and controlling shareholder Norm Keevil, have criticized Inco for joining forces with Phelps Dodge, accusing the iconic Canadian miner of betraying its promise of a Canadian solution.
''I'd hate to see this become a contest of who's the most Canadian,'' Lindsay said. ''But if it does, Teck Cominco is the most Canadian company - we have more assets in Canada, we have more shareholders.
''As a CEO, I'm about as Canadian as you can get, But it really shouldn't be about that, It should be about the merits of the business transaction.''
If Xstrata gets Falconbridge, Inco shareholders would have to chose between Phelps and Inco.
During a conference call with investors later in the day, Lindsay reiterated Teck was not in talks with any company to team up against the current bidders, saying Teck didn't need additional resources to close the transaction.
He also dismissed any future possibility of a three-way merger between Inco, Falconbridge and Teck - an option he had pursued last August, but one that Inco turned down.
''We certainly hadn't contemplated that Phelps would be prepared to re lever its balance sheet to the extent that they say the three-way deal would require,'' he said of his rival for Inco, ''and we don't know what commodity prices they're using to justice that leverage. But, as many analysts have suggested, it would appear that they must be taking an uncharacteristically bullish view.''
If the Inco deal fails, Lindsay said during the interview, Teck will ''just end up with even more cash,'' having made money on the shares it purchased last year.
Teck's alternative plans include a blend between projects and acquisitions, Lindsay said, declining to comment about which companies Teck may be in touch with. But Teck, he said, is not on the market.
''We've got a lot to do still in terms of our growth plan, certainly Norm (Keevil) wants to grow the company and hired me to help do that, and so far, so good - so I don't think we're going to go that route.''
One option for future growth would be to get into the iron ore business, Lindsay told investors.
Teck's offer for Inco expires July 24, while Xstrata's offer for Falconbridge expires July 7.
On the NYSE on Thursday, the newly minted Teck listing of Class B subordinate voting shares was up C$2.38, or 4.3%, at US$57.70, with a trading volume of 67,000.
Inco shares, for their part, were up C$1.20 at C$71.81 on the TSX, and Falconbridge stock was at C$57.79, up 39 cents.