(Adds context on case, background)
CARACAS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - A World Bank tribunal has issued an arbitration award ordering Venezuela pay steelmaker Tenaris some $172.8 million for the takeover of its Matesi Materiales Siderurgicos SA unit, adding pressure on the cash-squeezed country.
Venezuela has six months to pay Tenaris an $87.3 million award plus about $85.5 million in interest payments, a tribunal at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) said in its decision. (bit.ly/1WhIdjd)
Venezuela faces some 20 major arbitration awards, most stemming from high-profile nationalizations during the presidency of the late leftist Hugo Chavez.
It has requested various reviews or annulments of recent ICSID decisions, which critics see as attempts to stall the payment of fines amid a biting recession.
It was not immediately clear if the OPEC country would contest the decision in favor of Tenaris, the world’s top producer of seamless steel pipes for the energy industry.
A lawyer representing the government did not respond to an email seeking comment.
While the award adds pressure to Venezuela’s finances, the amount is well under the $789.1 million in compensation, including pre-award interest, that Tenaris had sought.
“The tribunal recalls that whilst the claimants have succeeded in this case in establishing an illegal expropriation, and have secured a substantial award in their favor, they have not been entirely successful,” the ICSID decision read, adding pre-expropriation claims were not awarded.
Tenaris acquired Matesi in 2004. Chavez took it over in 2009. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga and Alexandra Ulmer; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Bill Trott)