Monday, April 16, 2012

Argentina to nationalize YPF

13 years ago, in one of the last decisions of the catastrophic Menem presidency, Argentina privatized the national oil company YPF, which was bought by its Spanish counterpart Repsol, which had been privatized a decade before under EU pressure. 

However it seems that Repsol YPF has developed in Argentina, as in Mexico, a pure colonialist policy (the so-called Potosí model: take the silver and leave a hole) by which nothing reverted to the country or provinces that provided the oil. It is unclear why exactly the Fernández government has chosen this moment and not, say three or six years ago, but the fact is that the Argentine government is pushing for re-nationalization of the company YPF, which is right now owned at 57% by Repsol (other 25% belongs to Petersen Group, an Argentine conglomerate led by Enrique Eskenazi, that also controls 15% of Repsol). 

The exact process is not clear because President Cristina Fernández (also known as Kirchner, for her husband and predecessor) seems to insist on that it is not a mere reversion to state control, which was back in the day criticized for being partisan and inefficient, and what is emphasized is the Argentine state regaining control over the hydrocarbons under its soil, guaranteeing the oil supply to Argentina itself (in 2011 Argentina had to import gas and oil for the first time in many years) and that the benefits of its production revert to the country (and are not just sent to pay distant stockholders instead).

The rumors of the nationalization caused an irate response by the Spanish government, several of the ultra-conservative ministers losing their temper for the cameras and making threats of international ostracism and what not. 

Argentina also re-nationalized Aerolíneas Argentinas in 2008, preventing that way that it succumbed with the infamous collapse of its Spanish owner, Grupo Marsans in 2010. 

Source: Página12[es].

Update (Apr 17): (source: Gara[es]) The norm that declares YPF subject of public utility and subject to expropriation up to 51% of its equity has already been sent to Parliament for approval.

The Spanish government has made an emergency meeting and announced vague "strong measures". Madrid considers it an aggression against Spanish investors. The big question is: shouldn't they be more worried about the aggression against Spanish workers that they are pushing themselves? Obviously we live in an oligarchic class regime where the interests of the few wealthy ones matter to our rulers and the interests of the vast majority of workers do not at all. 

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