March 12, 2014
Bill to seize Papel Prensa unveiled
A group of Victory Front (FpV) deputies yesterday submitted a bill proposing the expropriation of a 24 percent share of Papel Prensa, the newsprint company that currently has media groups Clarín and La Nación as controlling shareholders.
The state currently holds ownership of 27.5 percent of shares and it would go on to hold a majority 51.5 percent should the draft be passed as law.
Kirchnerite Deputy Carlos Kunkel is the main sponsor of the bill, which seeks to declare the “public utility and subject to expropriation” of 24 percent of the desired Class A and C shares.
Another tense chapter in the Kirchnerite administration’s battle against Grupo Clarín over compliance with the new Broadcasting Law is seemingly brewing, as the firm presently holds shares in Papel Prensa. The daily La Nación also holds shares, while the remaining one percent is comprised by minority shareholders.
Should the draft be passed as law, Papel Prensa, which controls and sets the only existing price of newspapers printing paper, would continue to operate as a public company, “without being subjected to the applicable legislation or administrative norms that regulate the administration, management and control of the companies or entities in which the state or provincial states participate.”
The presentation of the bill at the Lower House was confirmed by Kunkel’s office, while a copy of the draft was later divulged carrying the signatures of lawmakers Diana Conti, Dulce Granados, Adriana Puggrós and Andrés García, María Teresa García, Gastón Harispe, Gloria Bidegain, Luis Cigogna, Graciela Giannettasio and Kunkel.
Article 2 of the initiative specifies that the future transfer of the same 24 percent to be expropriated will be prohibited unless approved by two-thirds of Congress.
Also clarified is that the Executive will act as expropriator and that the appraisal will be overseen by the National Tribunal.
If the law is enacted, the National Stock Market Committee (CNV) will call for a shareholder assembly in order to address the “removal of all current and substitute board and union members and the appointment of the new company’s leadership.”
Papel Prensa SAICF y de M is an Argentina-based company primarily engaged in the production of newsprint.
It is also involved in the forestry sector and obtains the raw material used in the production process from its white willow tree plantations located in the Paraná River-Delta forestall areas.
The company’s facilities include an industrial complex established in the city of San Pedro, Buenos Aires province.
In addition, the company supplies its products to La Nación, Clarín and La Razón (part of the Clarín Group) dailies, among other Argentine newspapers.
The development is not without precedent, as the Kirchnerite administration has been quarreling with Clarín, Papel Prensa’s controlling shareholder, for years.
For similar actions to those seen during a recent Clarín Group shareholders’ assembly, a court ruling in December, 2010, citing “intemperate behaviour” at one point barred Domestic Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno Papel Prensa from attending board meetings after repeated judicial warnings.
Judges José Luis Monti, Juan Garibotto and Alfredo Kölliker Frers deemed Moreno‘s actions “unnecessary obstacles” to the meetings.
A month earlier, Border Guards raided Papel Prensa’s offices following shareholder José Pirillo accusation over the existence of an intelligence centre there, working under Clarín’s orders.
At press time last night, Clarín and La Nación, which would be affected a great deal if the initiative advances in Congress, had not published any articles or reactions to the news of the bill.
Judicial controversy remains over how the Clarín and La Nación groups attained majority shareholder control over Papel Prensa during the last military dictatorship.
Herald with DyN, Télam, Ambito.com