Venezuela Probes Two Paper Company's Prices

March 26, 2009 - Venezuela has begun an investigation into two paper companies, including U.S.-based Kimberly-Clark Corp., for allegedly skirting government price controls on products, officials said Monday.

According to an article on Dow Jones Newswire, the probe was launched after consumer protection institute Indepabis inspected the premises of Kimberly-Clark and Manufacturas de Papel, or Manpa, and found they had stopped producing products that came under price controls.

Government agents searched plants of both firms in northern Maracay, a trade ministry statement said, adding that it was studying "additional measures" it might take to protect the consumer.

The move follows President Hugo Chavez March 4 expropriation of a rice processing plant – a subsidiary of U.S. agriculture giant Cargill Inc. – on charges it had stopped producing a variety of rice that also came under price controls.

On March 5, Chavez expropriated a 1,500-hectare plantation owned by Irish paper manufacturer Smurfit Kappa Group Plc (SK3.DB) to develop a domestic farm program.

The seizures and price controls are part of the Chavez administration's attempts to come to grips with worsening shortages of staples.

Manpa is a 50% owner of the U.S.-based SIMCO Recycling Corp., of Costa Rica- based Manpa of Central America and of Trinidad and Tobago's Paper Converters.

SOURCE: Dow Jones Newswire

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» »  Chavez Seizes Smurfit Kappa Tree Farm in Venezuela (3/6)

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