Venezuela OKs payment for French retailer Casino

CARACAS (BestGrowthStock) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has approved a $690 million payment to French retailer Casino and other owners of a supermarket chain nationalized earlier this year, state media said on Saturday.

A first $138 million installment will be paid on September 7, added a statement by the Information Ministry on the website of state TV channel Venezolana de Television.

The statement said the government would take an 80 percent stake in the Cativen group, which ran the Exito and Cada supermarket chains taken over in January by the government which accused them of price-gouging after a devaluation.

“With the acquisition of a majority stake … the transition to a socialist economic model will be reinforced,” the statement said. “Now the people can buy and eat more.”

The Cada and Exito supermarkets are being absorbed into a new state chain called Bicentenario, which Chavez says will be crucial to fair and accessible food distribution in the South American oil-producing nation.

During 11 years in office, the socialist Chavez, whose mentor is Cuba’s former president Fidel Castro, has nationalized large parts of the economy.

Saturday’s statement said the government would pay 60 percent of the price for Cativen in cash and the other 40 percent in debt.

Casino held a 67 percent direct stake in Cativen, and further shares through a Colombian subsidiary, Almacenes Exito.

Venezuela’s Empresas Polar also had a small stake.

(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Venezuela OKs payment for French retailer Casino