Caixabank’s president Isidre Faine will be travelling to Argentina this week as part of a Business Council for Competitiveness tour to promote the ‘Spain brand’. But in Faine’s agenda there is also noted down the need to meet with the country’s leader Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, whose decision to nationalise YPF in April last year affected the Spanish oil corporation Repsol–Caixabank owns a 13 percent stake in Repsol and Faine is its vice-president.
If Kirchner finds time for Faine, it won’t be the first time they maintain such a conversation. Although there have been no agreement in previous occasions, Argentinian commentators describe Faine as more ‘open-minded’ than Repsol’s president Antoni Brufau, who would favour legal action against the Kirchner government for having seized Repsol-YPF assets.
But time runs against president Kirchner. Her cabinet and the new management of YPF cannot seek partners to operate the Vaca Muerta deposits as Repsol has blocked their exploitation in court. A year after the expropriation, the Argentinian government has been unable to deliver any of the promises with which Kirchner supported it: energy imports are still high, and foreign investors’ confidence has almost vanished.
Rumours had it that Repsol would be offered a 19 percent stake in a company that would be given one third of the Vaca Muerta assets seized in 2012, but the Spanish corporation said in a press release that the offer never happened, even if there had been “contacts at a non-official level.”
Repsol stated that it was willing to maintain talks to reach a solution and receive a compensation or a restitution of the assets. Repsol has challenged the Argentinian government in its national courts, in Spain and in the US, too–the Chevron, Bridas and the Bank of New York Mellon cases.