Cemex: World Bank division to hear complaint against Venezuela

Cemex: World Bank division to hear complaint against Venezuela
Published: 08 December 2008

Cemex has said a World Bank arbitration unit has agreed to hear its complaint against Venezuela for expropriating its operations in that country, the company said in a statement.

A Cemex spokesman said Thursday that the World Bank’s Washington-based International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes will mediate in the company’s negotiation process with President Hugo Chavez’s government following the nationalisation of Cemex Venezuela.

This August, Chavez expropriated the assets of the international cement companies that operated in Venezuela:  Holcim, Lafarge and Cemex.

The first two firms reached an accord to sell their plants at a price negotiated with Venezuelan authorities, but Cemex refused to accept Caracas’ offer and instead sought international arbitration.

According to the Cemex spokesman, the ICSID confirmed that it had received and registered the company’s request for international arbitration. Cemex had initially announced in August that it would take the matter before that World Bank division.

Cemex put a price tag of US$1.3bn on its Venezuelan assets after Chavez issued a decree this summer giving the international cement companies two months to negotiate the sale of their operations. Venezuela has said the amount demanded by Cemex is too high and offered to pay less than half.

The company’s installations in Venezuela represented three per cent of its worldwide operations.