Under President Hugo Chávez, Venezuela seized assets or nationalised more than 1,000 companies in industries including oil, agriculture, telecommunications, electricity, steel, finance, cement, gold and tourism. In 2009, alone, Chavez seized assets from about 60 companies operating within the oil fields. To combat food shortages and price inflation, Venezuela also seized ranches, fertilizer plants, agriculture supply companies, rice mills, brewers, food processors and farms.
Amid the turmoil, which began in 2007, some companies simply walked away from projects.
In 2007, Houston-based ConocoPhillips decided to pull out of its Venezuelan venture after failed contract negotiations with the government that would have imposed tougher business conditions. As a result, the natural gas and oil explorer took a second-quarter $4.5 billion after-tax charge. The stock declined more than 12% in the following weeks.
Still, savvy — or lucky — investors gained if they bought some stocks during the disruption.
Shares of Mexican food company Gruma fell by more than 6% after Chavez seized the Venezuelan assets of company in May 2010. But the damage was short-lived. The stock has more than doubled from its low in the summer of 2010.
Shares of ConocoPhillips are finally trading near their July 2007 peak, after a period of volatility that was caused in part by the Venezuela-related charges.
The Caracas Stock Exchange General Index started moving higher once Chavez announced he had cancer in June 2011, having increased more than 2,100% since. The market is up about 190% since he died in March 2013.