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U.S. ambassador to Venezuela urges fair compensation in CANTV nationalization

U.S. ambassador to Venezuela urges fair compensation in CANTV nationalization

President Hugo Chavez's government must pay U.S. companies and investors a fair price for their shares of Venezuela's largest telephone company when it is nationalized, the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela said Thursday.
William Brownfield told local Union Radio the planned takeover of CA Nacional de Telefonos, or CANTV, should proceed "in a transparent, legal manner" and that Venezuela's government must offer "fair and quick compensation to the people who are affected or the owners."
"These are the only obligations that a government has when it decides to nationalize an industry," he added.
Virginia-based Verizon Communications Inc. holds the largest minority share of CANTV, which was privatized in 1991. The takeover jeopardizes an agreement by Verizon to sell its 28.5 percent stake in CANTV to a joint venture of America Movil and Telefonos de Mexico SA, controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
The sale had been awaiting Venezuelan government regulatory approval.
Chavez, a self-proclaimed "revolutionary" who is steering Venezuela toward socialism, has said he wants an immediate state takeover of the telephone company and will not pay shareholders the market value.
Speaking during a Sunday broadcast, Chavez said the price for CANTV would take into account debts to workers, pensions and other obligations to the state.
Brownfield said he was optimistic that shareholders would be fairly compensated.
"I think it can be a process that concludes in a satisfactory manner for all those involved, that's my hope," he said.
Chavez _ a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro _ also has said he plans to nationalize the electricity sector, and to take state control of four lucrative oil projects and the natural gas sector.
Relations between Caracas and Washington have been tense since Chavez was briefly ousted in a 2002 coup that he claimed the U.S. played a role in. The Bush administration has repeatedly denied involvement, although it recognized an interim government established by coup leaders.
Brownfield said he wanted to improve relations through "a serious and pragmatic dialogue between the two governments, to identify issues of mutual interest and to look for solutions to those issues."


Updated : 2021-06-22 00:57 GMT+08:00