Venezuela to Sell $4 Billion in Bonds

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela is selling $4 billion in government
bonds as part of an effort to slow inflation and strengthen its
currency, the Finance Ministry said Monday.

The government offered $1 billion more than initially planned in the
dollar-denominated bonds because demand was strong. The Finance
Ministry said orders for the bonds had topped $9.3 billion.

The bonds are attractive to companies seeking to skirt Venezuela's
currency exchange controls to obtain hard currency needed for imports.

The bonds are being sold in Venezuelan bolivars at an exchange rate
of 2.8 strong bolivars to the U.S. dollar _ between the fixed, official
rate of 2.15 bolivars to the dollar and the black market rate of more
than 3 bolivars to the dollar.

President Hugo Chavez's government has periodically issued
government bonds in part to help restrain inflation, which last year
was the highest in Latin America at more than 22 percent.

The government, which has used Venezuela's booming oil earnings to
increase public spending, is aiming to hold inflation under 20 percent
this year.