Company News

Koch Industries says no word on Venezuela takeover

* Chavez announced fertilizer plant nationalization

* Fertinitro is 35 percent-owned by U.S.-based Koch

CARACAS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Koch Industries said on Monday it has received no word that Venezuela nationalized Fertinitro, a large fertilizer maker in which the U.S.-based group has a substantial stake.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez announced on Sunday the takeover of Fertinitro, one of the world’s main producers of nitrogen fertilizer, days after vowing to radicalize his socialist “revolution” following legislative elections last month.

Koch has a 35 percent stake in Fertinitro and Venezuelan state-run petrochemicals company Pequiven has 35 percent. Saipem SPMI.MI, a unit of Italy's Eni ENI.MI, holds 20 percent and local brewer and food company Polar has the rest.

“Koch Fertilizer has not received any official or informal notice, nor have we received any notification from Fertinitro regarding any disruption,” a Koch spokeswoman told Reuters by email. “We are attempting to obtain details and information.”

Chavez has put much of the OPEC member’s economy into government hands during his 12 years in power. He has said he will accelerate the pace of reforms after the opposition won 40 percent of National Assembly seats and almost half of the popular vote in parliamentary elections on Sept. 26.

Also on Sunday, Chavez announced the nationalization of a local motor lubricants company and said the state would take control of nearly 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres) of land owned by British meat company Vestey Foods. [ID:nN10265797]

Last week, the government nationalized a major local agricultural supplies company, Agroislena.

Critics say Chavez is moving fast to push through takeovers before new lawmakers take their seats in January. After that happens, his ruling Socialist Party will no longer have the two-thirds majority it needs to pass major legislation or make appointments to key institutions.

On Monday, Chavez stressed the importance of the battle against large landowners he has denounced as capitalists.

“We must break the oligopolies, monopolies, concentration of land in a few hands,” he wrote via his Twitter account. “We must connect the city with the countryside! Land is the most important of the productive forces. The Agrarian Revolution!” (Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel and Daniel Wallis; Editing by John O’Callaghan)