Venezuela nationalises cement industry

Venezuela nationalises cement industry
Published: 19 August 2008

Venezuela’s government extended its control of the economy with accords to take majority stakes in the local units of Lafarge and Holcim and by physically taking over the factories of Cemex.

The government took control of the plants of Cemex, the largest producer in Venezuela, after failing to reach an agreement with the company, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said at a midnight ceremony at a Cemex plant in the state of Anzoategui shown on state television.

President Hugo Chavez said in April he would nationalize cement companies as part of a plan to ensure state control of strategic industries. Chavez is working to bring about what he calls “21st-century socialism’’ and his administration has seized the country’s biggest phone company, a steel mill as well as assets of oil joint ventures and electricity companies.

Venezuela will buy 89 per cent of the local unit of Lafarge for $267m and 85 per cent of Holcim’s unit for $552m, Vice President Ramon Carrizalez said.

Cemex is seeking US$1.3bn in compensation, Ramirez said, describing the figure as “way, way above,” the value of the plants. In past takeovers, the government has continued talks after taking control of companies.

Cemex, in a statement last night, that the confirmed the government would take control of its operations.