Page last updated at 19:27 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 20:27 UK

Venezuela nationalises steel firm

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Mr Chavez calls his reforms "21st Century socialism"

President Hugo Chavez has announced plans to nationalise Venezuela's biggest steel maker, days after the government took over the cement sector.

In the past two years, Mr Chavez' socialist government has taken control of foreign owned telecommunications, electricity and gas companies.

The president believes companies should concentrate on the domestic market before overseas sales.

Venezuela's steel maker Sidor is owned by Luxembourg-based company Ternium.

Its shares fell 9% on the New York Stock Exchange when the nationalisation was announced.

Mr Chavez, whose government currently owns 20% of Sidor, threatened to take control of the company last year unless it sold more of its steel in Venezuela.

Vice-President Ramon Carrizalez said he hoped the nationalisation would also protect workers' rights.

In recent months, Sidor's workers have been demanding better salaries and benefits from the company's management.

"This is a government that supports the workers," Mr Carrizalez said.

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