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Sunday, April 15, 2012

YPF row: Spain sees respite

Spanish Industry Minister José Manuel Soria said yesterday that “things seem to be on course” when asked about the possible takeover by Argentina of the oil company YPF. However, President Mariano Rajoy’s administration warned about commercial consequences if Spain’s Repsol loses control of YPF.

Spain did not rule out its commercial policy, even banning the entrance of Argentine products such as meat and soy, according to the information published in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

Nevertheless, as speculations about the future of YPF continued, Soria stated: “In the last 48 hours things seem to be on course and we expect it to continue to be like this.

Soria said he had not been in touch with Argentine authorities in the last hours and that Spain “wishes to have good relations with all the countries, especially with Latin American ones.”

Soria had warned on Thursday in an official statement that any “gesture of hostility” against Spanish companies’ interests would be considered as hostile towards Spain and would carry “consequences.”

While the announcement about how the Argentine State would take over YPF was delayed, the Spanish government feverishly increased its lobbying to defend the interests of Repsol, which is YPF majority shareholder with 57.43 percent of the stock.

Juan Antonio García Margallo, Spain’s foreign minister, unexpectedly held a 45-minute meeting with Carlos Bettini, Argentine ambassador to Spain, on Friday. Bettini was told about Spain’s concern about the future of the company.

While Bettini left the headquarters without making any statement, García Margallo held a press conference and confirmed that it was “time to open a dialogue” between both governments and that “any aggression that violates the principle of legal security will be understood as an aggression to Spain.”

Another key player who has been in Argentina more than originally planned has been Antonio Brufau, the head of Repsol-YPF. Brufau met Planning Minister Julio De Vido on Thursday in order to convey his uncertainty about the future of the company.

Also yesterday, the European Union gave Spain its explicit support to defend its interests in Argentina. Olivier Bailly, UE community spokesperson, stated that the “European Commission is on the Spanish side.”

— Herald staff with news agencies

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