Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s biggest oil company announced it filed a request with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to be able to sell shares representing as much as 15% of its Argentine unit YPF SA.
The request will offer Repsol a “flexible framework” to carry out the sale of YPF shares in the way that it considers more convenient at each moment, Madrid-based Repsol said in a regulatory filing.
The Spanish company wants to sell part of its 84% holding in YPF “sooner rather than later,” Repsol Chief Executive Officer Antonio Brufau said on April 29. The shares may be sold to institutions or in the stock market and Repsol will keep at least 51% of YPF, he said. In 2008 Repsol delayed a public offering of a stake in YPF.
Repsol may raise about 3 billion from the sale of a 20% stake in YPF through a stock offering in Buenos Aires and New York, Argentine investor Sebastian Eskenazi said on May 19. Eskenazi, whose family bought 15% of YPF from Repsol for 2.2 billion USD in December 2007, expects to exercise an option to boost the stake to 25% by 2012 this year.
The plan to sell up to 15% of its Argentine unit YPF is very timely, Argentine Planning Minister Julio De Vido told Reuters when asked about the operation on Thursday.
Argentina's government has the final word on any significant changes of ownership in strategic companies such as YPF, the country's biggest energy firm.
Oil and gas production at Repsol’s upstream division, which doesn’t include the YPF unit, rose 5.8% from a year earlier to 346,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the third quarter. Output from Buenos Aires-based YPF fell 2.7% to 551,000 barrels a day as mature fields declined.
Repsol forecasts annual production growth of as much as 4% through 2014 as projects in Brazil and Peru come on-stream. The company plans to invest 28.5 billion Euros in the period.