Cement makers say no compensation plan agreed, Venezuela

Cement makers say no compensation plan agreed, Venezuela
Published: 03 August 2009

Two European cement companies on Friday denied that they’ve agreed on a compensation plan with President Hugo Chavez’s government following last year’s nationalization of their assets.

Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge SA said they have yet to receive any payment. Both companies have been waiting nearly a year for compensation.

Infrastructure Minister Diosdado Cabello said Thursday that Venezuela had authorized $378 million to pay the companies 40 percent of their agreed-upon purchase prices, according to Venezuela’s state-run Bolivarian News Agency. He said the rest would be paid over four years, without interest.

But Holcim said in a Friday statement that it hasn’t received a compensation offer that is "acceptable from a legal or financial standpoint." The company said it will continue with arbitration proceedings at the International Center for Investment Disputes in Washington, where it is seeking "full compensation."

A spokeswoman for Paris-based Lafarge SA told The Associated Press that the company is still in talks with Venezuela and has no indication when it will be paid. She declined to be identified by name in line with company policy.

Chavez announced the nationalizations of three cement makers last year: Holcim, Lafarge and Cemex SAB. His government has also recently nationalized major companies in the metals, oil and electricity sectors as it aims to build a socialist economy.