Bloomberg News: Venezuela Approves State Control of Chemicals Plants

June 16 (Bloomberg) — Venezuela’s National Assembly passed a law that will put all primary chemicals factories in the hands of government-controlled joint ventures.

“The law will let the country and the people enjoy downstream chemicals development,” Angel Rodriguez, head of the energy and mines commission in the legislature, said on state television after the vote.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is taking over chemicals as part of an effort to gain control over what he calls “strategic industries.” He has nationalized most of the steel, cement and electricity industries since 2007.

Rodriguez, the law’s sponsor, changed his proposal to allow private partners to own as much as 50 percent of joint chemical ventures, while giving the state control over major decisions such as naming the company president.

Petroquimica de Venezuela SA, the state chemicals company known as Pequiven, is currently a minority partner in several of the country’s chemicals plants.

Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co., Mitsubishi Corp. and International Finance Corp., which together own most of the shares in the Metor methanol plant, are among the private partners that may have to reduce holdings under the law.

The Supermetanol plant, which also produces methanol, is majority-owned by Ecofuel, Metanol Holding and Petrochemical Investments, according to the Pequiven Web site. Law Debenture Corp., a London-based investment trust, has a 51.7 percent stake in the Clorovinilo del Zulia plant, which makes vinyl chloride.

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About Steven Bodzin

Steven Bodzin is a reporter. He blogged when he was a freelancer.

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