Page last updated at 06:47 GMT, Saturday, 4 July 2009 07:47 UK

Venezuela assumes control of bank

By Will Grant
BBC News, Caracas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. File photo
Nationalisation is a major policy of Hugo Chavez

Venezuela has taken formal control of its third largest bank, the previously Spanish-owned Banco de Venezuela.

The first instalment of a $630m (£387m) price tag was made amid much ceremony in the capital Caracas, with nearly all the shares passing to the government.

The rest of the agreed price of $1.05bn (£645m) for the institution will be paid in October and December.

Both sides have declared themselves to be satisfied with outcome, but for very different reasons.

For Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the acquisition of the bank, the country's largest in terms of deposits, is an important addition to the government's financial portfolio.

It comes quick on the heels of nationalisations in the energy, steel, cement and ceramics sectors.

For Spain's Grupo Santander, it has sold Banco de Venezuela to Mr Chavez for significantly more than it bought it for.

The move will be seen as an significant return on their investment amid the global economic crisis.

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