Bolivia judge freezes assets of cement maker Soboce

Bolivia judge freezes assets of cement maker Soboce
Published: 18 April 2011

A judge in Bolivia ordered a freeze on assets held by the Andean country’s top cement maker, Sociedad Boliviana de Cementos (Soboce), the company said on Friday.

Soboce is 53 per cent owned by a local group controlled by Samuel Doria Medina, a political rival of President Evo Morales. Mexican cement maker Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua (CGC) holds a 47 percent stake in Soboce.

Company officials said the judicial order could jeopardize new investments. "We’re taking all measures to continue operate normally...and we’re obviously getting ready to appeal," said Juan Carlos Requena, head of Soboce’s company board.

Leftist Morales seized a 33.34 percent stake in cement maker Francesa that was held by Soboce last year after he accused Doria Medina, who ran against him during the 2009 presidential election, of influence-peddling.

"The seizing of assets is a decision aimed at pressuring and harrassing us," said Soboce General Manager Armando Gumucio.

Morales, a close ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, has nationalized energy, mining and telecommunication companies since he became president of the impoverished country in 2006.