BUENOS AIRES - Argentina's largest oil and gas producer, state-run YPF SA, is in talks with local banks and brokerages to award a mandate to sell about $250 million in U.S. dollar-linked bonds, newspaper El Cronista reported.
YPF could hire the lead placement agents within the next 15 days, the paper said Thursday, citing unnamed financial-market sources.
The government of President Cristina Kirchner is negotiating with the banks and prospective buyers, including YPF's suppliers, to accept an interest rate on the bonds of about 9%, the paper said.
A YPF spokesman declined to comment.
YPF will ask shareholders on Sept. 13 to approve the sale of up to $2 billion in new debt on top of the $1 billion that shareholders have already approved.
The plan to sell new bonds comes as YPF seeks ways to fund the $35 billion it wants to spend on oil and gas exploration between 2013 and 2017.
YPF Chief Executive Miguel Galuccio recently said he wants to finance that investment program with the company's cash flow and find partners and investors to share development costs.
The Kirchner administration, which earlier this year seized a 51% stake in YPF from Spain's Repsol SA, has made raising oil and gas production a top priority after Argentina became a net energy importer for the first time in almost two decades.
The government is pushing to reduce energy imports, which last year cost $9.4 billion and are expected to rise even more this year.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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