(CNN) -- President Hugo Chavez on Thursday ordered the nationalization of the Banco de Venezuela "to put it at the service of Venezuela" after denying approval for its sale.
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela says the banks owners aren't interested in selling but he's buying anyway.
The leftist president said in a televised address to the nation that he heard "a few months ago" that the bank's Spanish owner -- Grupo de Santander -- was planning to sell the bank, which was privatized a few years ago, to a Venezuelan banker.
The banker had asked the Venezuelan government for permission needed to complete the deal, Chavez said.
"I sent a message to the Spaniards: No. And to the Venezuelan banker: No," Chavez said. "Now the government wants to buy the bank, wants to recover it, because it's called the Bank of Venezuela, to put it at the service of Venezuela."
Chavez said he was told Wednesday that the owners now were no longer interested in selling.
"So now I am telling them I am interested in buying. We are going to nationalize the Banco de Venezuela."
In a written statement issued Friday, Banco de Santander said it had planned to sell the bank to a Venezuelan private investors group, but "found afterward that the Venezuelan government was interested in [acquiring] Banco de Venezuela, and conversations are under way to that effect."
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