Gov't to begin managing Owens-Illinois plants in Venezuela

Owens Illinois, Inc.

CARACAS, VENEZUELA -- Perrysburg-based glass ontainer manufacturer Owens-Illinois says Venezuela plans to transition management of the company's operations in the country to government control.

The transfer of power, at the company's plants in Los Guayos and Valera, was scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. Thursday. However, no agreement has been reached between the company and the government, according to a statement from an O-I spokesperson.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the takeover earlier this week in addition to an environmental investigation at the sites.

"Although we have not reached an agreement with the government, we will comply with the laws and directives we have been given. The safety and well-being of our employees is of the utmost importance to us," said Al Stroucken, O-I Chairman and CEO. "Glassmaking is a highly specialized, complex and technical industry, and we are concerned by government plans to manage the operations without having the appropriate level of expertise. We also are concerned about the continuity of supply to customers in critical segments like food and beverage."

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."

O-I says it is fully cooperating with the Venezuelan goverment throughout the transition process.

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.