Chavez Threatens to Nationalize Banks, Largest Steel Producer

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to nationalize the country's banks and largest steel producer, accusing them of unscrupulous practices.

After taking over utility companies earlier this year and seizing control of the last privately run oil operations in the OPEC nation only two days ago, Chavez suddenly opened new potential fronts for nationalization.

But in the cases of the banks and the steelmaker Sidor, Chavez made his threats conditional, saying they could avoid takeover if they adapted their businesses to better take into account what he calls the national interest.

"Private banks have to give priority to financing the industrial sectors of Venezuela at low cost," Chavez said. "If banks don't agree with this, it's better that they go, that they turn over the banks to me, that we nationalize them and get all the banks to work for the development of the country and not to speculate and produce huge profits."

Sidor is majority controlled by Luxembourg-based Ternium.