Chavez orders takeover of Owens-Illinois factories in Venezuela

Owens Illinois, Inc.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered the takeover of two plants owned by Perrysburg-based glass bottle maker Owens-Illinois.

Chavez also ordered an environmental investigation at the sites.

O-I does not know what will happen next, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. "We haven't received official word from the government yet," said spokeswoman Stephanie Johnston.

Venezuelan military personnel were at the company's plant in Los Guayos. No Venezuelan authorities were on the scene at the company's plant in Valera, Johnston said. "Both plants continue to operate as usual."

O-I says it is the world's leading glass container maker with more than 22,000 employees in 21 countries. The $7.1 billion company has global headquarters in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Chavez, who has nationalized other industries and land holdings during his 11-year tenure, said he soon will announce the takeover of other foreign companies that have been "exploiting the country's working class."

U.S. officials said Tuesday they were monitoring developments.

"We've seen the announcement and are following the situation closely," the State Department said. "We would expect Venezuela to provide prompt, adequate and effective compensation for any expropriation of the investments of Owens-Illinois in accordance with international law."

Chavez nationalized a local unit of U.S. food giant Cargill last year. He previously has appropriated privately owned oil, telecommunications, power, cement and steel companies.