Venezuela to buy back Verizon's stake in carrier

Venezuela will buy Verizon's stake in the country's biggest carrier as part of a plan to bring it back under government ownership

Verizon Communications has agreed to sell its stake in Venezuela's largest telecommunications carrier, CA Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela (CANTV), to the country's government for about US$572 million.

The U.S. carrier agreed to sell its 28.5 percent stake in the company as part of a tender offer by the government to buy out all other shareholders, a Verizon representative confirmed. The representative did not say when the transaction, which requires regulatory approval in Venezuela, would take place.

Verizon has held a stake in CANTV since the carrier was privatized in the early 1990s. President Hugo Chavez's government now plans to buy back CANTV as part of an overall move to nationalize the country's industries and resources, according to news reports.

The move fits Verizon's purposes, too. After completing its acquisition of MCI last year, Verizon announced plans to sell its stakes in local carriers in Latin America. These operations in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela brought in a small part of Verizon's revenue and weren't aligned with the company's core business, the company said in April 2006. Verizon still offers some services in Latin America through of its global backbone network.

An agreement last year to sell the CANTV stake to regional wireless provider America Movil S.A. de C.V. and a company owned jointly by America Movil and Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) was rescinded earlier this month.

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