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Venezuela to nationalize large bank Banco de Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that he will nationalize one of the nation’s largest banks, Banco de Venezuela, owned by Spain’s Grupo Santander.

“We are going to nationalize Banco de Venezuela,” Chavez said during a live television broadcast. Without specifying a price, he said the nationalization is aimed to have a bank “to serve the Venezuelans.” Chavez said he decided to nationalize after learning that Santander had contacted a local bank to sell the institution, and he has refused local bank’s bid for the government’s authorization. “Now sell it to the government,” Chavez said, adding although the owners were not interested in selling their bank, “I’ll buy it, how much does it worth? We will pay it.” “We need a bank of that size, it was like Viaza, one of the best airlines of the world,” Chavez said.

The Spanish Grupo Santander owns 98.4% of Banco de Venezuela, which made a net profit of €179 million ($279.3 million) in 2007, up 22.6% year-on-year. Banco de Venezuela is the South American nation’s third largest bank in terms of deposits and the fourth measured by its credit portfolio. In the last two years the Venezuelan government has nationalized a big telephone company and some electricity, steel and cement companies. (Xinhua)