Para los accionistas de Repsol, esta noticia desde Argentina es de mucho interes
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Resource nationalism is a familiar risk in the energy sector. For Repsol YPF, REP.MC +1.16% the risk has become a reality. The Spanish oil major was stripped of two oil-field concessions by the Argentine province of Chubut late Wednesday, amid an escalating row over its alleged underinvestment. While those concessions were small, the move has fueled fears that Repsol's 57%-owned Argentine subsidiary, YPF, YPF +2.17% could ultimately be nationalized. Those fears have already contributed to a 19% fall in the shares this year. But they may be overdone.
Investor nervousness is understandable: YPF contributes 25% of Repsol's operating profit and is sitting on Repsol's largest-ever oil find, made late last year off Argentina's coast. Already-declared recoverable reserves are potentially worth €1.4 billion ($1.82 billion)—equivalent to 6% of Repsol's current market capitalization—and the total resource could be nearly 25 times larger, according to a February audit. Repsol's market value has fallen by €6 billion this year, almost equal to the value of its stake in YPF, according to UBS estimates.
But Buenos Aires has good reason to avoid outright nationalization. Sure, it is worried about Argentina's growing dependence on imported energy and wants more oil profits reinvested domestically. It believes YPF can grow production by 15% a year. But nationalizing YPF outright would send a terrible signal to other foreign investors in Argentina, while buying Repsol's stake could cost the government a hefty €6.1 billion.
YPF also needs to defuse the row. Its options are limited. Repsol might struggle to find a buyer for its stake even if it wanted to sell. Its best option may be to halt YPF's dividends, at least temporarily. That would harm Repsol's own dividend: YPF funds around half of the current payout. But a suspension would address concerns over capital outflows, and buy Repsol and YPF more time to reset what it sees as Buenos Aires' unrealistic expectations.
If Repsol can remove the nationalization risk, the shares could recover much of the lost ground.