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Venezuela to nationalize cement firms

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Venezuela’s nationalization policy has now moved to the cement sector, with a government decree effective Thursday that requires cement plants six months to transfer a 60% stake to the state.

The nationalization of three foreign-owned companies - Mexico’s Cemex SAB, France’s Lafarge SA and Switzerland’s Holcim Ltd - as well as their affiliates was announced in April. They would become Venezuelan state companies. “We are going to pay the investors who were here,” said Chavez Thursday, implying that the companies would be compensated for their losses.

In April, when Chavez announced the nationalization, he said the country needs cement to help confront a housing shortage, to build house for the poor. During an event Thursday with Paraguayan President-elect Fernando Lugo, Chavez also suggested that Venezuela and Paraguay launch a joint cement company Venezuela produced 10.2 million tons of cement in 2007.

Last year, socialist Chavez took majority control of the country’s largest telecommunications and electricity companies, and of oil projects previously run by some of the world’s largest oil companies. He has since ordered the nationalization of Venezuela’s largest steel maker, Argentina’s Ternium SA. (m&c.com)

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