April 20, 2018 / 1:34 PM / a year ago

Kimberley-Clark looks to begin arbitration against Venezuela

CARACAS (Reuters) - Kimberley-Clark has requested the start of arbitration proceedings against Venezuela at the World Bank’s arbitration panel, according to the body’s website.

The website for the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes shows a pending request for the proceedings but offers no further details or the amounts of money involved.

Kimberly-Clark (KMB.N) did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2016, Venezuelan authorities took over a plant belonging to the American personal care products manufacturer and renamed it the Cacique Maracay Productive Plant after a local Indian leader who fought against Spanish colonial rule in the 16th century.

Kimberly-Clark, which makes Huggies diapers and Kleenex tissues, two years ago halted its two-decade Venezuela operations as it was unable to obtain raw materials or hard currency and was struggling with high inflation.

The country is undergoing a major economic crisis, with millions suffering food shortages and price-doubling every two to three months.

A handful of multinationals, including Clorox (CLX.N), General Mills(GIS.N), General Motors (GM.N) and Harvest Natural ResourcesHNR.N, have abandoned Venezuelan assets or sold them at fire sale prices - although some are keeping a foot in the door, hoping for improvements.

Critics blame a wave of nationalizations and takeovers during nearly two decades of socialist rule in Venezuela for destroying local production and cowing private business.

President Nicolas Maduro blames the crisis on an “economic war” being waged against his government by businesspeople and foreign governments.

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago, Corina Pons and Girish Gupta in Caracas; Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Bill Trott

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