Bolivia Budgets $189 Million for Nationalizations

LA PAZ – The Bolivian government has earmarked $188.8 million to pay investors for companies that were either nationalized in previous years or are to be put under state control in 2010, La Razon daily reported Thursday.

The federal budget for this year establishes that amount as payment for the nationalization of two hydrocarbons companies and three electricity firms, the newspaper said.

Two of the firms are Compañia Logistics de Hidrocarburos de Bolivia, a hydrocarbons storage company that was owned by German and Peruvian investors, and airplane fuel distributor AIR BP, formerly a unit of BP Plc, both of which have already been nationalized.

The government has set aside $172.2 million of state-owned energy firm Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos’ budget to acquire those companies’ interests and shares.

Meanwhile, $16.6 million has been assigned to state-owned Empresa Nacional de Electricidad to purchase shares in power companies Corani, Guaracachi and Valle Hermoso, the daily reported.

President Evo Morales’ socialist government says negotiations for the nationalization of these three companies are in the final stages and will be completed this year.

Corani is 50 percent owned by Ecoenergy International, a unit of France’s GDF Suez, while Guaracachi is controlled by Britain’s GDF Suez.

Valle Hermoso is half-owned by The Bolivian Generating Group, a unit of investment firm Panamerican de Bolivia.

Since announcing the nationalization of the hydrocarbons sector in 2006, Morales has taken control – also via share purchases – of several energy companies formerly owned by Spain’s Repsol YPF, Brazil’s Petrobras and BP.

His government also has taken over the country’s largest telecommunications firm, Entel – sparking a legal battle with its former controlling shareholder, Telecom Italia – and nationalized a smelter owned by Swiss mining group Glencore without paying any compensation to date. EFE

Source: Latin American Herlad Tribune

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