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Venezuela Nationalizes Country's Third Largest Bank

The Venezuelan government took control of the country's third-largest bank on Friday amid a wave of nationalizations led by President Hugo Chavez.

The purchase of Spanish-owned Banco de Venezuela allows Mr. Chavez to tighten the government's grip on the country's banking sector.

The government agreed to pay Spain's Grupo Santander $1.05 billion for the bank, according to a deal announced in May. The first payment - $630 million - was transferred on Friday.

Since 2007, the Chavez government has nationalized other major companies in a number of sectors, including steel and electricity.

Also Friday, the head of Venezuela's telecommunications regulatory agency said that 240 radio stations will have their licenses revoked.

Diosdado Cabello, a close ally of Mr. Chavez, said the stations have failed to submit the required regulatory documents and are therefore operating illegally.

The move comes as Globovision, the last remaining television network on the public airwaves openly critical of the Chavez government, is investigated. Another opposition station (Radio Caracas Television) moved to cable in 2007 when Mr. Chavez refused to renew its license.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.