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Argentina nationalises oil firm YPF

May 04 2012 10:55 Reuters

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Buenos Aires - Argentina's Congress nationalized the country's biggest oil company, YPF, by an overwhelming lower house vote that underscored wide popular support for a measure that has rattled foreign investors and trade partners.

The Chamber of Deputies voted 207-32 in favor of expropriating YPF, clearing the way for President Cristina Fernandez to sign the bill into law. The Senate last week approved the measure by a similarly overwhelming margin.

Fernandez, a combative career politician who has tightened state control of the economy, unveiled the plan to seize a majority stake in YPF from Spain's Repsol six months after her landslide re-election.

She justifies the renationalisation of the company, which was privatized in the 1990s, on the grounds of slack investment to boost oil and natural gas production that has failed to keep up with growth in Latin America's No. 3 economy.

Repsol denies under-investing, but her message has struck a chord with Argentines, many of whom are suspicious of foreign companies and blame the free-market policies of the 1990s for setting the country up for its 2001/02 sovereign debt default.

"All oil companies that operate in Argentina, Repsol and the rest, have to work in the public interest, which in this case means energy self sufficiency for Argentina," Agustin Rossi, leader of the official bloc in the lower house, shouted in a speech just before the vote was taken.

repsol  |  ypf  |  nationalisation
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