Steel Firm Protests Chavez Nationalization Plan

Sidetur says they are a 'socially responsible company, which respects the law and abides by all its obligations'

Venezuelan steelmaker Sidetur said on Nov. 1 that it planned to take legal action to block its nationalization announced by President Hugo Chavez.

"There are no objective reasons to justify the expropriation of Sidetur," a statement by the company's board said.

"Sidetur is a socially responsible company, which respects the law and abides by all its obligations."

Chavez announced the firm's nationalization on Oct. 31, accusing the company of selling its products, which include key items for the construction industry, at inordinately high prices.

But the company said it would pursue legal action "to safeguard the rights and interests of its employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders."

It added the company "has complied strictly with the regulation of prices" ordered by the president.

In 2008 Chavez nationalized Sidor, the nation's largest steelmaker with a majority stake held by the Argentine conglomerate Techint. Since then he has continued nationalizing companies in this sector.

Chavez also said the state would expropriate six housing development projects under construction in northern Venezuela, saying "private firms are exploiting the middle class" who bought the apartments.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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