The government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reached a preliminary agreement with Verizon Communications that would give the state control of Verizon’s 28.5% stake in Venezuelan telecom carrier CANTV for U.S. $572 million. The deal announced this week represents the latest step in a nationalization program launched by Chavez last month through which the government would regain control of telecom, utility and other firms that were privatized years ago. Denying that profit is a motive, Venezuelan telecom minister Jesse Chacon said the government’s goal is “expanded service.” Under the terms of the deal, the state would pay $17.85 for each of Verizon’s shares. Although Verizon has long sought to sell its interest in CANTV, sources say the government’s purchase price is lower than the $676.6 million offered by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim for Verizon’s stake last year. On the heels of the announcement, CANTV Chairman Gustavo Roosen resigned to “facilitate a quick transition that guarantees smooth operation of the company.” Applauding the sale, Chacon promised: “we will focus telecom rates on justice.”