Argentina's new directors, CEO firmly control YPF

(AP) Argentina's new directors, CEO firmly control YPF
By ALMUDENA CALATRAVA
Associated Press
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina
Argentina's YPF oil company on Monday held its first shareholder meeting since being expropriated by the government, naming a board of directors reflecting the stunning reversal of fortune of its former owner, Spain's Repsol.

Repsol, whose stake in YPF has grown again to 12 percent since losing its controlling shares, was given just one of 17 seats on the board of directors. Most of the rest went to Argentina's national and provincial governments. YPF workers got one seat, and there are four independent directors.

Axel Kicillof, the deputy economy minister who lobbied President Cristina Fernandez to take over the company without paying a centavo in advance as compensation, was confirmed as the government's main representative on the board. Miguel Galluccio, an Argentine veteran of the oil industry, was formally named chief executive.

Argentina's Congress voted overwhelmingly in May to approve the expropriation of most of Repsol's shares in YPF. The recovery of the national oil company, which was privatized in the 1990s, has been hugely popular inside Argentina, despite warnings from Europe and the United States that it could further isolate the South American country economically.

Repsol wants $10.5 billion for its expropriated shares, but Kicillof has said the company's debts and environmental cleanups must first be deducted.

Repsol CEO Antonio Brufau said that in 12 years of operating in Argentina, the company was never once cited for damaging the environment outside of what it had already reported and made provisions for _ and that it spent $151 million in environmental remediation while setting aside an additional $107 million for "environmental impact situations."

"Argentina wants to avoid paying what it owes by creating environmental impacts which never existed during the 12 years we were in Argentina," Repsol spokesman Kristian Rix said in Madrid. "Mr. Kicillof seems to think by repeating a lie often enough he can make it fact."

Kicillof and Planning Minister Julio de Vido reported on their 30-day intervention in the company, saying their examination of the books showed Repsol carried out a "planned disinvestment" in YPF, which they blamed for the energy deficit in a country that sits on the world's third-largest unconventional oil and gas deposits.

Repsol emptied the company even though YPF is vital for Argentina's self-sufficiency, Kicillof and de Vido said, claiming that oil production has increased 4.2 percent in the first month since the company was back in Argentine control.

___

Associated Press writer Alan Clendenning in Madrid, Spain contributed to this report.

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