"Venezuela, Santander to ink deal for bank takeover
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela will sign a deal with Spain's Grupo Santander (SAN.MC: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Friday to buy its local banking unit, marking the latest takeover of President Hugo Chavez in his drive to bring socialism to the OPEC nation.
Despite falling oil revenues Chavez, a fierce U.S. critic, has continued with a nationalization drive he started in 2007 to increase state control over the economy.
The leftist leader originally announced the takeover in 2008 at the height of the global oil boom, but falling oil prices have severely curtailed the country's revenues.
The agreement for the purchase of Banco de Venezuela BVL.CR, one of the country's largest, is scheduled to be signed at 1530 GMT (11:30 a.m. EDT) in Caracas.
Chavez, a former military officer, says the bank takeover aims at consolidating Venezuela's public banking system.
Banco de Venezuela could be worth up to $1.8 billion, experts said after Chavez first announced the nationalization.
Venezuela has not yet said how much it will spend in the purchase or how it will pay for it.
(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; translated by Alonso Soto; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)"
Official name: República de Venezuela (Republic of Venezuela).
Form of government: federal multiparty republic with two legislative houses (Senate ; Chamber of Deputies ).
Head of state and government: President.
Population (1998): 23,242,000.
Population projection: (2000) 24,170,000; (2010) 28,716,000.
Natural increase rate per 1,000 population (1996): 22.0 (world avg. 15.7).
Land use (1994): forest 34.0%; pasture 20.2%; agriculture 4.4%; other 41.4%.
Gross national product (1996): U.S.$67,333,000,000 (U.S.$3,020 per capita).