U.S.-based cereal maker Kellogg Co (K.N) on Tuesday pulled out of Venezuela due to the country’s deep economic crisis, and an angry President Nicolas Maduro said its units would be taken over and given to workers.
Kellogg confirmed later on Tuesday that its manufacturing plant had been seized by the leftist government, the latest company to jump ship amid Venezuela’s tough business climate.
“I’ve decided to hand the company over to the workers so that they can continue producing for the people,” Maduro said at a campaign rally ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.
“We’ve begun judicial proceedings against the business leaders of Kellogg’s because their exit is unconstitutional,” Maduro added to cheers from red-shirted supporters.
Maduro blames Venezuela’s crisis on an “economic war” he says is waged by Washington, greedy businessmen and coup-mongers.
Kellogg announced its retreat earlier on Tuesday, making it the latest multinational to exit the oil-rich country, which is heaving under hyperinflation and strict price controls.
“The current economic and social deterioration in the country has now prompted the company to discontinue operations,” Kellogg said in a statement, noting that it had already written off the value of its Venezuela holdings.