Cemex Venezuela was "obligated" to transfer assets belonging to foreign subsidiaries after President Hugo Chavez ordered a state takeover of the sector, according to a Cemex document obtained on Wednesday.
Chavez in April announced nationalizations in the cement and steel sectors, renewing a 2007 wave of takeovers meant to forge a socialist state and increasing concern about the safety of investments in the OPEC nation.
"As a result of this measure, the company was obligated to transfer subsidiaries that control the operations in Panama, Dominican Republic, and minority stakes in Trinidad and Tobago and Cementos Antillanos on the island of Guadeloupe," said the minutes of a May shareholders meeting obtained on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, Venezuela’s National Securities Commission ordered Cemex Venezuela to immediately clarify the transfer after complaints by shareholders. It was not immediately clear whether Cemex Venezuela had sold the assets or transferred them to another division of the Mexican cement giant Cemex .
Cemex Venezuela’s operations only accounted for four per cent of Cemex’s total earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in 2007. Monterrey, Mexico-based Cemex declined to comment.
The group moved into Venezuela in 1994, buying privately-owned Vencemos, in which it holds a 76 per cent stake.