BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina’s government concluded its takeover of the nation’s biggest oil company on Monday by naming a new chief executive and directors, although YPF’s former owner - Spain’s Repsol - kept one seat on the board.
During the first shareholder meeting since President Cristina Fernandez seized control of YPF in April, Miguel Galuccio - a former executive at global oilfield services giant Schlumberger Ltd - was confirmed as chief executive and chairman.
Galuccio, an engineer who led the integrated project management unit of Schlumberger (SLB.N), was named general manager last month, and Monday’s announcement was seen as a formality.
Sixteen of the company’s 17 directors were appointed by the state. Repsol managed to nominate the remaining directorship.
Fernandez won strong domestic support for her expropriation of a 51 percent stake in the company from Repsol (REP.MC), which she accuses of failing to invest to boost production and oil and natural gas, forcing the country to turn to costly imports.
Repsol still owns 6 percent of YPF and now holds the voting rights on another 6 percent of the company that had been put up as guarantees from fellow YPF shareholder, Argentina’s Petersen Group.
Besides Galuccio, the government-appointed directors include Deputy Economy Axel Kicillof - the young, leftist economist seen as the brainchild of the takeover.
Argentina’s main energy-producing provinces - Neuquen, Santa Cruz, Chubut and Mendoza - got one seat each on the board. Another six energy provinces will have one rotating seat.
The board reiterated that company shares would continue to trade at the Buenos Aires stock exchange and in New York, YPF said in a statement.
The company said last month it was at risk of having its American Depositary Shares delisted by the New York Stock Exchange because it was not complying with auditory regulations.
“In a first phase, YPF will embark on a period of significant growth and investment during which profits will be re-invested,” the statement added. “In a second phase, a dividend policy suitable for a growing company will be defined.”
Repsol’s representatives said Monday’s meeting was void. The Spanish company, which considers the expropriation illegal and has started legal action against Argentina, is demanding compensation of $10 billion.
“(We proposed a director) to mitigate the damage to our interests and to defend our investment,” Repsol representative Pablo Blanco told the meeting.
An Argentine valuation panel that is part of the executive branch will decide what the government must pay but officials have already indicated it will be less than Repsol is demanding.
Some analysts think they may offer Repsol nothing, citing accusation of inadequate investment and environmental damages.
Reporting by Alejandro Lifschitz; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Gary Hill