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Chilean family group interested in taking over Shell assets in Argentina

Monday, August 15th 2011 - 22:32 UTC
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Chile's Luksic family group plans to buy Royal Dutch Shell Plc's assets in Argentina, which include service stations and the country's second-biggest oil refinery, financial daily Ambito Financiero reported on Monday.

Argentine Planning Minister Julio De Vido learned about the the deal -- brokered through the family's holding group Quinenco SA -- last Friday, Ambito said, without citing sources or giving the value of the sale.

De Vido met on Monday morning with Chile's Energy and Public works ministers Laurence Golborne and Rodrigo Alvares, but after the meeting Chilean officials said they had no information on the deal.

Shell has been at odds with President Cristina Fernandez's government over the administration's price caps on fuel despite soaring Argentina inflation estimated privately at about 25% per year.

With the purchase, Luksic would control assets including Shell's 700 service stations in Argentina and the 113,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Buenos Aires province, Ambito Financiero said.

The Luksic family has an indirect stake in Banco de Chile, the country's No. 2 bank. It is also involved in copper manufacturing through Madeco and in mining via Antofagasta Minerals.

According to sources, in order to clinch the deal, De Vido required Andrónico Luksic that Shell Argentina CEO, Juan José Aranguren, cannot stay at the helm of the company, plus the minister encouraged the Chilean group to sit down and start a round of conversations with retail distributors to ensure job security.

If the deal finally goes through the Chilean Luksic group will be controlling 18% of the Argentine petrol business which is headed by YPF with 55%, followed by Exxon with 13.5%; Petrobras with 9.4% and Oil Combustibles with 4%.

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