Venezuela signs accord on telecom stock purchase

Venezuela has signed a preliminary agreement to purchase Verizon Communications Inc.'s stake in the country's largest telecommunications company, the latest move by President Hugo Chavez toward nationalizing strategic sectors of the economy. Telecommunications Minister Jesse Chacon said late Monday the government will pay US$572 million (€441 million) for Verizon's 28.5 percent stake in Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, or CANTV, which Chavez has accused of spying on him at the bidding of the United States. Calling the agreement "transparent," Chacon said it "begins the process of nationalization of one of the most strategic companies for the country's development." He spoke to reporters after signing the memorandum of understanding with John Diercksen, New York-based Verizon's executive vice president for strategy, development and planning. The offer amounts to US$17.85 (€13.78) per CANTV American Depository Receipt traded on the New York Stock Exchange. CANTV's ADRs closed up 1 percent earlier Monday at US$16.08 (€12.41).