Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has acquired an 8.4 percent stake in YPF, Argentina’s recently nationalized oil and gas producer, according to a statement filed Thursday to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
The 32.9 million Class D shares are worth $345 million, Bloomberg reported today.
The purchase comes two months after the Argentine government seized a 51 percent controlling share of YPF from the company’s Spanish owner, Repsol.
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The controversial move infuriated Madrid and sparked concern in the United States and Europe about the safety of foreign investments in the South American country.
But Argentina’s center-left government said the move was necessary to protect a “vital resource”. It had accused YPF of failing to invest enough in local oil fields and reduce the country’s soaring import bills.
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According to Agence France-Presse, YPF chief executive Miguel Galuccio said Slim’s purchase would send a "clear signal to international markets" and was a "show of confidence in Argentina and the new plans for the company."
Forbes ranks Slim as the world’s richest man, with a fortune of $69 billion.
Reuters quoted Slim’s spokesman, Arturo Elias Ayub, as saying the Mexican tycoon and his family did not plan to increase their stake in YPF for now.
YPF’s American depositary receipts surged as much as 19 percent in morning trade in New York, the most since March 2009, Bloomberg said. The company’s shares had fallen 70 percent this year as of yesterday’s close.
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