State ownership of CANTV 86.2% and counting

10 May 2007

Venezuela’s government has purchased 86.2% of shares in national incumbent telecoms operator CANTV, based on preliminary results of its share offer on the Caracas and New York stock exchanges, Communications Minister Jess Chacon announced yesterday. The state’s total ownership is likely to go up further, said the minister. Of the remaining shares, 5.71% remain in the hands of company workers and 8.07% are publicly traded, including 4.12% in the US. Chacon told reporters that those who decided to hold on to their stock will continue to receive dividends in the future, but added that the government had not decided yet how much of the company’s future profits will be handed out as dividends. The state has also yet to decide whether it will delist shares of CANTV from the New York bourse. Chacon said that if the outstanding shares in the US are held by fewer than 300 shareholders, the delisting will be automatic. So far the cost of acquiring CANTV amounts to USD1.38 billion, according to figures disclosed by Chacon. The government previously set aside USD744 million for the purpose which was approved by Congress. The rest of the money will come from a development fund, the Fonden, run by President Hugo Chavez and his ministers.

Venezuela, CANTV