The clock is ticking for Empresas Polar. The company is hoping that Venezuela's Supreme Court will grant its appeal against the state's plans to expropriate its Barinas maize plant before it is seized next week.

"We are confident that we are right and that the law will rule in our favour," an Empresas Polar laywer told just-food.

Venezuela's populist president Hugo Chavez has launched a campaign to expropriate unproductive corporate assets in Venezuela as part of a push to finance his ambitious socialist programmes.

In late August, the state called for the Barinas expropriation, alleging that the assets were run inefficiently. Barinas is located outside the city Barinas, the capital of that namesake state.

Barinas regional government supports Chavez and intends to begin the expropriation through a temporary seizure of the 600-strong factory late next week, the lawyer said.

However, Polar, Venezuela's largest brewer and a drinks and food major, hopes that the court will grant the appeal before the government takes over. If it doesn't "we will have a very difficult situation", the lawyer said.

In its appeal, Polar argues that the expropriation is unconstitutional, arbitrary and breaches property laws.

"We were never asked for our okay about this," the lawyer said, adding that many government claims supporting the expropriation are false. "They say that the plant undermines food security and that it is necessary for storage when in truth, there are no food security problems in Venezuela and the plant's storage capacity is too minimal to be considered," the lawyer said.

The Barinas plant processes corn for Polar flour and food factories in Venezuela.