Cemex open to talks with Venezuelan government

Cemex open to talks with Venezuelan government
Published: 30 October 2009

Cemex is open to talks to resolve a dispute with the Venezuelan government, which nationalized the multinational’s operations in the Andean nation last year, the company said.

"We’ve begun an arbitration process in an international court. However, we maintain our willingness to negotiate with the government outside of the arbitration process," Hector Medina, Cemex’s executive VP of finance and legal, told a press conference Wednesday.

In late October 2008, Monterrey, Mexico-based Cemex filed an arbitration claim before the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a process that could last several years.

The world’s third-largest cement maker in terms of production capacity is demanding around $1.3 billion in compensation for assets that leftist President Hugo Chavez seized by decree in mid-2008, part of a nationalization drive that also affected two other foreign firms.

That amount is deemed exorbitantly high by the Venezuela’s socialist government, which seized control of the sector as part of its plans to build much-needed housing for the poor and has only offered $650 million.

"Any initiative (to achieve a solution) is up to the government of Venezuela," Medina said.