(Reuters) - Tough new Venezuelan taxes on windfall oil revenue are the latest offensive by socialist President Hugo Chavez to increase the state’s share of the OPEC member’s main export ahead of a re-election bid next year.
Following are some key events during the former soldier’s 12-year push to increase the role of his government in the economy through takeovers, regulation and taxes:
* In 2007 the government took a majority stake in four heavy crude projects worth tens of billions of dollars in the vast Orinoco oil belt. U.S. companies Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips quit the country over the move and filed arbitration claims with the World Bank’s International Center for Settlements of Investment Disputes, ICSID.
* France’s Total SA and Norway’s StatoilHydro received around $1 billion in compensation after reducing their holdings. BP Plc and Chevron Corp remained as minority partners.
* In 2008, Venezuela implemented a windfall tax of 50 percent for prices over $70 per barrel, and 60 percent on oil over $100. Oil reached $147 that year, but soon slumped.
* In 2009, Chavez seized a major gas injection project belonging to Williams Cos Inc and a range of assets from local service companies.
* In June 2010, the Venezuelan authorities nationalized 11 oil rigs owned by U.S. firm Helmerich and Payne.
* In April 2011, the Chavez administration sharply increased the windfall taxes on oil revenue as global crude prices soared above $100 per barrel.
* Last October, his government announced the nationalization of one of the world’s biggest producers of nitrogen fertilizer, Fertinitro, as well as the takeover of Agroislena, a major local agricultural supply company. It also said it would take control of nearly 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres) of land owned by British meat company Vestey Foods.
* In 2005, Chavez began implementing a 2001 law letting the state expropriate unproductive farms or seize land without proper titles. He has redistributed millions of acres deemed idle in a bid to boost food production and ease rural poverty.
* Vestey Group had already filed for arbitration over the earlier takeover of a ranch. Chavez said the latest deal with Vestey was a “friendly agreement.”
* The government agreed to pay more than $3 million to a group of Spanish farmers for their land.
* In June 2010, Venezuela took over the mid-sized Banco Federal, citing liquidity problems and risk of fraud. The bank was closely linked to anti-government TV station Globovision.
* In 2009, Chavez paid $1 billion for Banco de Venezuela, a division of Spanish bank Grupo Santander.
* His government has closed a dozen small banks since November 2009 for what it said were operational irregularities. Some were reopened as state-run firms. Brokerages have also been closed and some of their employees jailed. Chavez vows to nationalize any bank that fails to meet government lending guidelines or is in financial trouble.
* The government paid $2 billion in 2009 for Argentine-led Ternium SA’s stake in Venezuela’s largest steel mill.
* Chavez ordered the nationalization of the cement industry in 2008, affecting Mexico’s Cemex, Switzerland’s Holcim and France’s Lafarge SA. Holcim and Cemex both filed for arbitration with ICSID.
* Chavez has also considered bringing mining more firmly into state hands, and in 2009 the mining ministry seized Gold Reserve Inc’s Brisas project, which sits on one of Latin America’s largest gold veins. Gold Reserve immediately filed for arbitration with ICSID.
* In 2007, Chavez nationalized the country’s largest telecommunications company, CANTV, buying out U.S.-based Verizon Communications Inc’s 28.5 percent stake for $572 million. Analysts said Verizon’s compensation was fair.
* In the same year, Venezuela expropriated U.S.-based AES Corp’s stake in Electricidad de Caracas, the country’s largest private power producer. It paid AES $740 million for its 82 percent stake. Analysts said the deal was fair for AES.
Reporting by Caracas Newsroom; Editing by Eric Beech
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