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Statements from the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and for Industry regarding Repsol-YPF

Monday 16 April 2012
García-Margallo y Soria

The Spanish Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and for Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria, held a press conference in order to make a number of statements in condemnation of the arbitrary and discriminatory decision taken by the Government of Argentina regarding Repsol-YPF.

The statements made by the two ministers are included below:

José Manuel García Margallo (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation)

The Government of Spain absolutely condemns the arbitrary decision taken by the Government of the Republic of Argentina to expropriate the shares held by Repsol in YPF.

Secondly, the Government of Spain states that this arbitrary measure has destroyed the climate of understanding and friendship that has traditionally existed between Argentina and Spain. It should be remembered that Spain came to the aid of the Republic of Argentina when the country was experiencing its darkest hours.
Thirdly, the Government of Spain states that this measure breaks the verbal agreement that was reached in Buenos Aires on 28 February between Minister José Manuel Soria on behalf of the Government of Spain and Ministers Julio de Vido and Hernan Lorenzini on behalf of the Republic of Argentina. Under this agreement, it was decided that any possible disputes between Repsol YPF and the Government of Argentina would be settled through dialogue and negotiation, as would be standard procedure, the rule of thumb, between two countries with amicable relations such as Argentina and Spain.

Fourthly, the Government of Spain announces that it will take every step it deems necessary to defend the legitimate interests of Repsol and of all Spanish companies and interests overseas.

Please note that this measure by the Government of Argentina is especially harmful to millions of small shareholders who have invested their savings in Repsol. The Government of Spain has been in touch with the European Commission and EU institutions to report on this arbitrary decision and has asked that, via urgent channels, this measure be discussed at the plenary session currently taking place in Strasbourg.

And lastly, the Government of Spain wishes to highlight that this measure is extraordinarily harmful to the people of Argentina. This arbitrary decision destroys the climate of confidence that is needed to attract the savings and investments that Argentina needs in order to grow and emerge from the situation in which it finds itself. An awful decision for Spain, an awful decision for Argentina and extremely bad news for the legal security that should exist between two countries that are friends and allies.

José Manuel Soria (Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism)

Furthermore, this decision is discriminatory from the perspective of both those who hold shares in YPF and those who operate in the hydrocarbons sector in Argentina.

It discriminates against other operators because it announces a nationalisation law in the sector but measures are only taken with regard to one specific company, YPF, of which Repsol, a Spanish company, is the legitimate owner of a majority stake. However, it also discriminates against other YPF shareholders, who include other Argentinian shareholders besides Repsol, regarding whom the decision to nationalise says nothing. The decision is thus discriminatory on two fronts.

Moreover, it is a decision that breaks the verbal agreement reached between our two governments on 28 February, represented by the Planning and Economy Ministers on behalf of the Government of Argentina and by myself as a Minister for the Government of Spain. This agreement established that any kind of dispute regarding YPF should be resolved amicably by the working groups duly set up by our governments.

Upon my return from that trip to Argentina, on which I was accompanied by other members of the Government of Spain, such as the State Secretary for Energy and the Director-General of the Diplomatic Information Office, as well as members of the Spanish Embassy in Buenos Aires, I again contacted the Government of Argentina, in writing, to ask that a date and time be set for the start of talks. I never received a reply.

This decision not only affects one company in an isolated fashion but also affects the thousands of other shareholders who own shares in Repsol, shares that represent the invested savings of Spanish investors.

So, this is also a decision against Repsol shareholders and, as we've said before, in general terms, any act of hostility against a Spanish company anywhere in the world will be interpreted by the Government of Spain as an act of hostility against Spain and its Government.

As things stand, the decision adopted by the Government of Argentina announcing the nationalisation of an important part, the majority, of the shares held by Repsol in YPF is a hostile decision against Repsol, against a Spanish company, and therefore against Spain and the Government of Spain. The Government of Spain will act in consequence and that means we have begun to work this afternoon on measures related to this decision, measures that will be announced over the coming days.