The Associated Press
August 17, 2008
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela is moving ahead with the nationalization of foreign-owned cement companies, President Hugo Chavez said Sunday, a day before the expiration of a 60-day period for negotiating compensation.
The government has yet to announce agreements on compensation with Mexico's Cemex SAB, France's Lafarge SA or Switzerland's Holcim Ltd.
"The period established in the law for the nationalization ... is expiring, so tomorrow we're going to proceed to nationalize and recover the cement industries," Chavez said on his weekly radio and television program.
Details of the compensation talks have not been made public, and he did not elaborate on what actions the government would take on Monday. Chavez's June 18 nationalization decree allows the negotiation period to be renewed by mutual consent, but stipulates that final transfer of control must happen by Dec. 31.
Venezuela aims to have at least 60 percent ownership of cement companies and has said private companies can keep minority shares.
Representatives of the three companies could not immediately be reached for comment.
The nationalizations will help Venezuela boost public housing and undertake other construction projects, Chavez said Sunday.
The socialist president also has brought the country's largest telecommunications and electricity companies under state control, along with major oil projects previously run by private oil companies.