CARACAS — An international arbitration panel awarded U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. about $908 million in a verdict over oil assets nationalized by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2007, the company said late Saturday.
The payout is substantially lower than the $7 billion that Exxon was seeking in restitution and is likely to be a boon for Venezuela's defiant leftist government, which in recent years has embarked on a widespread nationalization campaign to centralize control over key economic sectors.
"It's a nice Christmas present for Chavez and Venezuela," said Russ Dallen, an analyst and bond trader at local investment bank Caracas Capital Markets. "The verdict is a lot less than people were probably thinking. It certainly means that [state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA or PdVSA] got off lightly," Dallen added.
Exxon spokesman Patrick McGinn said the decision by an arbitration court at the International Chamber of Commerce, "confirms that PdVSA does have a contractual liability to Exxon Mobil."
A PdVSA spokesman declined comment when reached by telephone on Sunday.
The best way to choke off all future foreign investment next to proving to be a nation that is constantly at war thus exhibiting a high risk that capital assets will be destroyed is to earn a truck record for confiscating private property into government hands.