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Venezuela’s Maduro Orders Occupation of Electronics Store

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro today ordered the occupation of a national chain of electronic stores called Daka as he seeks to battle record inflation and shortages of consumer goods.

Maduro, who said he’s taking action against price speculators waging an “economic war” against his government, said the retailer was selling consumer goods far above prices charged by a government program that provides subsidized household appliances and electronics.

“I have ordered the immediate occupation of that chain of stores and the sale of goods at a fair price. Let’s not leave anything on the shelves, nothing in the warehouses. Enough, enough,” Maduro said.

Venezuela’s annual inflation rate rose more than expected to 54.3 percent last month, the fastest pace in as many as 16 years, as the scarcity index, which measures the amount of goods out of stock at any given time, reached 22.4 percent, the highest level since January 2008. Maduro said on Nov. 6 that the country would increase currency and price regulations to combat rising inflation and the decline of the bolivar on the black market.

The country, which devalued the bolivar by 32 percent in February to 6.3 per dollar, has been unable to arrest the decline of the bolivar on the black market, where companies and individuals unable to access the official rate pay around 60 bolivars per dollar.

Seized Energy

Daka, which on its website says says its largest the electronics chain in Venezuela, has five stores in the country and 500 employees. The company will have to sell goods at prices used at the start of October, Indepabis consumer agency president Eduardo Saman said today on state television from the Daka store in the Caracas neighborhood of Bello Monte.

Venezuelan state television showed images of military officials in a Caracas Daka inspecting prices of 32-inch flat screen televisions.

Maduro said that store managers had been arrested and were being held by the country’s security services. He did not provide additional information or say how many people had been detained. Calls placed to Daka after business hours today went unanswered.

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, last month seized about $1 million worth of equipment from Houston-based Superior Energy Services Inc. Former President Hugo Chavez, who died from an undisclosed type of cancer, seized more than 1,000 companies or their assets during his 14 years in office.

Venezuela will also review three e-commerce websites including MercadoLibre.com as part of efforts to combat price speculation, Maduro said Nov. 6, also naming TuCarro.com and TuInmueble.com, which sell cars and real estate, respectively.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nathan Crooks in Caracas at ncrooks@bloomberg.net; Jose Orozco in Caracas at jorozco8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

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