Foundry Daily News

Chavez nationalizes Argentine foundry, Venezuela’s largest

President Hugo Chavez ordered the expropriation of Venezuela's largest steel maker after attempts by the government to acquire a majority stake in the Italian-Argentine conglomerate Techint failed.

Siderurgica del Orinoco, Sidor, has been “recuperated by the revolutionary government” said Chavez during a political rally.

Chavez ordered Sidor nationalized earlier this month, siding with workers who sought improved salaries and benefits. Venezuelan officials had been talking with Ternium representatives (controlled by Techint) to negotiate a price for its 60% share in the company, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.

However, the Venezuelan president refused point blank to accept the price tag of 4 billion US dollars claimed by Ternium, calling the amount excessive adding the government had estimated the steel foundry’s total value at about 800 million.

Sidor, a former state company, was privatized in 1998, but the government has retained a 20%, while current and former employees hold the remainder.

The company produces about 85% of the 5 million metric tons of steel Venezuela turns out annually, according to the Belgium-based International Iron and Steel Institute.

Last Tuesday Venezuela’s assembly opened the way for Sidor's expropriation declaring the conglomerate a "public utility", a legal prerequisite to expropriation.

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