Venezuela says gold repatriation to start soon
* Central bank head sees first ship coming mid-November
* Nationalistic move has hurt market confidence
CARACAS Oct 5 (Reuters) - Venezuela will begin repatriating its gold reserves from Western nations by mid-November, the central bank head said on Wednesday.
"We're in the final phase of the logistics ... Soon the Venezuelan people will know when the first boat is coming," Nelson Merentes said, according to state news agency AVN.
President Hugo Chavez announced in August that the South American OPEC member nation would bring bring home almost all its $11 billion in gold reserves held abroad -- a nationalistic move that has hurt market confidence.
Analysts have said bringing the gold physically to Venezuela is a slow, complex and expensive process. Officials have given few details of how that will happen.
Merentes said the first boat laden with reserves would be back by mid-November. "It will be here as soon as possible, no later than in a month-and-a-half," he said.
The operation would be carried out with discretion and "extremely strict security," he added.
Venezuela's gold abroad is in England, Switzerland, the United States, Canada and France.
Some of the bullion would be left abroad to facilitate international financial transactions, Merentes said.
As well as repatriating reserves, Chavez is nationalizing Venezuela's gold industry in his latest move to implant socialism across the nation of 29 million people.
While applauded by many of Chavez's supporters, economists say the moves threaten to make Venezuela's finances even murkier and affect its credit rating.
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