Spain’s minister of industry, José Manuel Soria, has warned Argentina that any action taken to the detriment of Spanish company Repsol—the majority stakeholder in Argentine oil company YPF—will be interpreted as an act of hostility toward the Spanish government.
“If there are gestures of hostility,” Soria said, “there will be consequences.”
The tension comes amid speculation that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, after her meeting today with the governors of the Federal Organisation of Oil Producing States (OFEPHI), will reveal a plan to convert YPF into a mixed-capital company.
“The [Spanish] government defends the interests of Spanish companies in and outside the country,” said an official statement. “If somewhere in the world there are gestures of hostility against those interests, the government interprets them as gestures of hostility toward Spain and its government.”
While an announcement from President Fernández de Kirchner is not expected to come until this evening, there has been conjecture about the eventual distribution of shares in the company.
After several provinces expired their concessions with YPF, it is uncertain exactly what level of state management will result from today’s discussions. While some believe that the governors could be interested in up to 51% of the company, others believe there will be a split of 33% for the state, a similar part for Repsol, and a division of the rest among a pool of investors.
Argentina’s provinces have continued to withdraw concessions to YPF as shares of the private company, currently under 57.43% ownership of Repsol, have declined in New York and Buenos Aires.
Repsol originally took majority control of YPF in 1999, after the company was privatised by the Menem administration in 1993. 25.46% of the company is also in the hands of the Argentine Peterson Group, which has held shares since 2007.