Chavez warns may seize Venezuelan food company

CARACAS, (Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez  threatened yesterday to expropriate Venezuela’s largest  private company, Polar, in a dispute over the major food  producer’s rice output.

Chavez, a socialist ally of Cuba who has nationalized  swaths of the economy, has in recent days clashed with Polar,  seizing some of its mills after accusing the company of  skirting price controls and failing to produce enough cheap  rice.

Polar, which is the country’s largest private sector  employer and produces and distributes everything from beer to  flour, has threatened to take legal action over the rice mill  takeovers.

“If they get funny with us … we will go for expropriation  and pay them with debt bonds,” Chavez said during a televised  Cabinet meeting. “I warn you this revolution means business.”

The dispute is Chavez’s first conflict with industry since  he won a referendum less than three weeks ago on allowing him  to run for reelection.

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