Friday, May 4, 2012

Argentine Congress approves bill to nationalize YPF

Source: Press TV

Argentina’s Congress has overwhelmingly approved a takeover of the country's largest energy company, YPF, from its Spanish controlling shareholder.

The Argentine lawmakers gave their final approval to the nationalization bill on Thursday, giving President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner the green light to expropriate a 51 per cent stake from Spain’s Repsol, Reuters reported.

The Chamber of Deputies voted 207-32 in favor of the bill, which enjoys nationwide popularity. The nationalizing bill, which was also cleared in the Argentina's senate last week, heads to the President’s office to be signed into law.

The vote reflects a political victory for Kirchner, who could reach the two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress in order to pass the bill. Meanwhile, people in Buenos Aires staged a massive protest on weekend to support the President’s move.

YPF was privatized in the early 1990s and the Spanish energy giant, Repsol, acquired a majority of the company’s stake in 1999.

Buenos Aires accused Repsol of failing to invest enough in Argentina's energy future as well as taking profits out of the country in the form of dividends.

Repsol denied the accusations, pledging to fight the takeover as it has invested billions over the years.

“Beginning now, our oil will stop being a commodity for Repsol but a basic good to be used for the development of the country,” ruling party lawmaker Agustin Rossi said.

Argentina’s move has infuriated the European Union and the Spanish government, prompting Madrid to warn of retaliatory measures against Buenos Aires.

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