Argentina’s oil corporation YPF signed a purchase option for 54.67% of the British Gas controlled GASA group that is the country’s largest distributor of gas. The purchase option expires August 31.
British Gas controls indirectly Metrogras, Argentina’s main gas distributor through the Argentine Gas Consortium, GASA, in which Repsol-YPF already holds a 45.33% stake. However GASA and Metrogras have gone under administration, which the company attributes to the Argentine government policy of freezing utility rates.
In a release YPF pointed out that the purchase will only become effective if it reaches a negotiation process with GASA and Metrogas creditors in terms that allow the sustainability of the company, as well as the pertinent authorizations and certification from the Argentine government. YPF adds that the option “does not oblige YPF to purchase the shares under negotiation”.
This is because BG has taken its case to the World Bank Arbitration Tribunal regarding the “pesification” of utility rates. YPF wants BG to desist from its demand.
Metrogras stake is made out of 70% belonging to GASA with BG Argentine Investments holding a 54.67% stake and YPF the remaining, 45.33%. Another 20% are traded in the Buenos Aires and New York markets while another 10% belong to the company’s staff through the Participated Property Program.
In mid 2010 Metrogras went under administration when it was unable to cancel 20 million USD in debt. The Argentine government then had the company intervened. Metrogas distributes gas to over two million clients in the City of Buenos Aires and Metropolitan Buenos Aires.