CARACAS, March 13 (Reuters) - Venezuela said on Friday it has started the process of filing for the annulment of an award that orders the South American country to pay U.S. bottle maker Owens-Illinois $455 million in compensation for nationalizations.
Seeking an annulment will automatically stay the award, Venezuela added, buying the cash-strapped OPEC nation time as it juggles major debt payments and other arbitration awards amid a deep recession exacerbated by lower oil prices.
On Thursday, a lawyer for Venezuela told Reuters the country would likely seek an annulment, adding processing such a request would take between 18 and 30 months.
The World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) issued the award on Tuesday.
Owens-Illinois had originally sought $1 billion in compensation, the office of Venezuela’s solicitor general added in the statement.
In 2010, the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez nationalized the Dutch subsidiary OI European Group ’s majority interest in two plants in a move typical of his 14-year-governance.
“They’ve been exploiting workers, destroying the environment and taking Venezuelans’ money,” Chavez said at the time, according to the press release. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by David Gregorio)