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Venezuela to Seize Owens-Illinois Unit, Chavez Says

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he ordered a government takeover of the local unit of U.S.- owned glass manufacturer Owens-Illinois Inc.

Owens-Illinois, the world’s largest producer of glass containers, was exploiting workers and damaging the environment, Chavez said in comments carried on state television late yesterday.

“The expropriation is already ready of this glass company,” Chavez said. “What’s it called? Owens-Illinois. Expropriate it.”

The nationalization is one of several since Chavez’s party suffered a setback in legislative elections on Sept. 26 and Chavez promised to deepen his socialist revolution. Perrysburg, Ohio-based Owens-Illinois is on a list of companies the government plans to take over, Chavez said.

“Owens-Illinois is a company with North American capital that has been exploiting workers,” he said.

Stephanie Johnston, a spokeswoman for Owens-Illinois, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Owens-Illinois employs about 22,000 people in 21 countries, according to the company’s website. Major customers include Anheuser-Busch, H.J. Heinz, and SABMiller.

Owens-Illinois fell $1.62, or 5.5 percent, to $28 at 8:15 a.m. in trading before the open of the New York Stock Exchange. The shares had declined 9.9 percent this year before today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in London at cdevereux3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Millard at mmillard2@bloomberg.net

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