Repsol, the Spanish oil company, announced this week that its longstanding executive chairman, Antonio Brufau, would hand over the job of chief executive to Josu Jon Imaz San Miguel, who has been running the company’s upstream operations.
Imaz San Miguel, 50, joined Repsol in 2008 and was promoted to its management committee in 2012. Since then, he has been credited with overhauling its refining operations, including modernizing its refinery in Cartagena, in southern Spain, at a cost of 3.1 billion Euros, one of the largest industrial investments ever made in Spain.
The management reshuffle comes after Repsol ended a bitter two-year dispute with Argentina in February, when Argentina agreed to pay 5 billion dollars to Repsol for its 2012 nationalization of YPF, which had been majority-owned by Repsol.
The Spanish company had initially sought at least 10.5 billion in compensation for Argentina’s decision to seize a majority stake in its extensive operations in the country.
The management change was decided at a board meeting. In a statement, Mr. Brufau, who will remain chairman, said that the overhaul “is being implemented at the right time, once an adequate compensation has been obtained for the expropriation of YPF, and Repsol is in an ideal position to face a new expansion.”
Brufau had also come under pressure from some shareholders to hand over more responsibilities and rejuvenate management. He became executive chairman in 2004. Brufau has also recently been feuding with Pemex, the Mexican group that owns almost 10% of Repsol and has accused the Spanish group of underperforming under Brufau’s leadership. Pemex also unsuccessfully tried to broker an earlier settlement over YPF, which would have seen Repsol receive less compensation than what it finally obtained.
YPF accounts for a third of Argentina’s oil production, but is also hoping to replicate in Argentina the rapid increase in shale production that is happening in the United States. The settlement with Repsol is expected to pave the way for investments by other international oil companies in Argentina, which needs financing and technical help to develop its vast energy assets.
Besides the money received for settling with Argentina over YPF, Repsol also significantly increased its cash reserves in January, when it sold to Royal Dutch Shell its liquefied natural gas business outside North America for 5.4 billion.