Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered the government takeover of several iron and steel companies as part of his drive to create a large, industrial complex within a socialist state.
Mr. Chavez announced the move during a nationally televised speech Thursday before a group of industrial workers. He told the workers the decision was final and there was "nothing to discuss."
At least one of the companies is partly owned by Japanese-based Kobe Steel. Many of them manufacture and export iron briquettes, which are used in the production of steel.
The Chavez government has moved to take control of several industries in recent years, reasserting national control over sectors such as oil, electricity, cement, steel and telecommunications.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.