Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez has approved a payment plan of US$690m to acquire the majority stake in Cativen, a Casino subsidiary.

The government will take an 80% stake in the retailer, which ran the Exito and Cada chains. The Venezuelan authorities seized control of the Exito hypermarket chain in January, after the country’s President Hugo Chavez reportedly accused the retailer of pushing through “speculative” and “illegal” price increases after the government devalued the local currency.

The supermarkets will become part of a new state chain called Bicentanario, which Chavez said will “strengthen the transition to the socialist economic model”.

The government said it would pay 60% of the price in cash and the other 40% with debt, and the first payment of 20% (US$138m) will be paid on 7 September.

Casino has not yet responded to requests for comment.