Venezuela government to pay cement firms for nationalisation

Venezuela government to pay cement firms for nationalisation
Published: 09 April 2009

Within four months, Venezuela will pay compensation to cement makers affected by leftist President Hugo Chavez’ 2008 nationalisation of the sector, according to a local media report on Wednesday. The OPEC nation’s government last year signed accords with Lafarge and Holcim Ltd agreeing to some compensation for the state takeover.

Cemex did not reach an agreement and filed for arbitration. Holcim followed suit last month on complaints

Venezuela halted communications about the payment. Deputy Industry Minister Jesus Paredes, who also runs a newly created government cement company, said compensation to all three companies would be complete within four months, according to the daily newspaper El Universal.

Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, charged with negotiating the cement takeovers, last month said Venezuela expects to resolve the dispute with Holcim through negotiations.

Venezuela launched a wave of nationalisations as oil prices skyrocketed to record highs last year, but is now struggling to pay bills as oil income has more than halved since the peak of crude prices in mid-2008.

Chavez in the last several years has taken over the country’s top private electricity provider, the largest steelmaker, the principal telecommunications company and took operation control of all the nation’s oil fields.