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DateLine Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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Chavez reopens talks after seizing Mexican cement firm

VENEZUELA: President Hugo Chavez said Saturday he agreed to reopen negotiations with Cemex at the urgings of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, after he nationalized the Mexican cement company for resisting his takeover bid.

Chavez said he would resume talks with Cemex as long as its "very arrogant" bosses show some respect.

Cemex, which produces half of Mexico's total cement output, was symbolically seized by Chavez on Tuesday, after he rejected the company's reportedly overpriced demand of 1.3 billion dollars for a controlling share of the business.

With Cemex, Venezuela would lock up control of more than 90 percent of the domestic cement industry after its pressured buyout of two other foreign companies.

Cemex, placed in the hands of the powerful Venezuelan state oil monopoly PDVSA, was added to the deals in which the government obtained a 89 percent controlling interest of French cement giant LaFarge's local operations for 267 million dollars, and 85 percent of Swiss firm Holcim's plant for 552 million dollars.

The government justified its takeover of the cement business as necessary to boost housing construction.

Caracas, Monday, AFP

 

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