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Venezuela to Pfizer: "Nice Factory Ya Got Here. Be a Shame if Anything Happened to It."

Pity poor Pfizer as it tries to perform a simple operations consolidation between two factories in Venezuela. The government just demanded $17 million in back taxes after auditing the company, and is threatening to seize and nationalize one of its factories in "a few days." Pfizer has offered to sell the plant to Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian Revolutionary government.

The audit was ostensibly related to Pfizer's acquisitions of Pharmacia assets, but as you can see from this CNN report, the backdrop is really about the government's attitude, which currently is: "Nice factory ya got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it."

Pfizer has offered to sell the plant to the government, but Trade Minister Eduardo Saman said he thinks the company is trying to avoid any sale and instead aims to rip out all the machinery in the plant to render it unable to compete with its own, imported products that provide more profits for the company.
You have to admire Saman's negotiating skills. That's quite a position to start the haggling from. Saman doesn't even believe Pfizer really wants cash for the plant:
Late last week, Saman told local reporters that Pfizer had no intention of selling the plant ...
Saman said another meeting is scheduled to take place between the government and Pfizer sometime this week, but that the plant could be seized within a few days if no agreement can be reached.