Venezuelan govt officially takes over cement industry

Venezuelan govt officially takes over cement industry
Published: 20 June 2008

The Venezuelan government adopted a decree on Thursday nationalizing the cement industry, giving the state ownership of firms controlled by Holcim, Lafarge and Cemex.

The decree, which came one month after President Hugo Chavez announced the nationalisation of Argentine steelmaker Ternium-Sidor, calls for the government to take over at least 60 per cent of the cement companies’ capital.

Cemex, produces 4.7Mta – about half of the Venezuelan production. Holcim and Lafarge share the rest of the market.

Chavez had declared plans to nationalise the cement industry in April and his government has been negotiating with the companies to buy majority stakes.

The leftist leader said Thursday the government needed to create ’a large national cement (company)’ in order to build much-needed housing for the poor.

’Our people are the ones who will solve this problem, not the private companies,’ he said during a public meeting alongside Paraguay’s president-elect, Fernando Lugo.

Since 2004, between 40,000 and 50,000 housing units have been built per year, well short of the 100,000 needed, according to the industry.

’We will organise a network to distribute construction material, cement, so that you can build the blocks yourselves,’ Chavez said.