UPDATE 3-Venezuela nationalizes Koch, Eni fertilizer plant

Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:39am GMT

* Nitrogen fertilizer plant one of world's largest -Fitch

* Chavez also targets lubricants firm, urban land (Adds Vestey land buyout)

By Frank Jack Daniel

CARACAS, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez nationalized a large U.S. and Italian-owned fertilizer factory on Sunday, just days after vowing to radicalize his state-led revolution in the aftermath of elections last month.

The government will take over Fertinitro, one of the world's main producers of nitrogen fertilizer and part-owned by private U.S. company Koch and Saipem (SPMI.MI: Quote), a subsidiary of Italy's Eni (ENI.MI: Quote), Chavez said.

During 12 years in power, the 56-year-old former soldier has put large swathes of the OPEC member country's economy into state hands. On Sunday, he also announced the nationalization of Venezuelan motor lubricants company Venoco.

"Expropriate it." Chavez said in a live TV broadcast from a farm the government bought two years ago. He then said the government will take control of almost 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres) of land owned by British meat company Vestey Foods Group on October 20. The government has been in talks for months to buy the Vestey cattle ranches. [ID:nN28113405]

"It's a friendly agreement, I am very thankful to the owners of the English company, which has been here for more than 100 years," Chavez said, on the six-hour TV show.

In 2005, the government nationalized four Vestey cattle ranches, turning the land over to hundreds of peasant farmers who grow mainly vegetables, maize and beans.   Continued...

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