Repsol YPF in Talks to Find Minority Partner in YPF

Spanish oil major Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP) is interested in finding a local minority partner in its Argentine YPF subsidiary, Repsol YPF president Antonio Brufau said at a Repsol YPF shareholder meeting.

The stake could be from 15-20% of YPF, which is valued at roughly US$18bn, according to press reports, according to local press reports.

"In Argentina, it would be good if we had partners - private businessmen who respond to the philosophy of transparency in business, ethics and entrepreneurial values, like those at Repsol - because they could accompany us in this growth process," Brufau said.

Repsol YPF has begun conversations with various Argentine companies, Brufau said, declining to provide names of possible buyers. Brufau also declined to establish a date for the possible divestment.

In a separate process, Repsol YPF is considering offering a portion of YPF's shares on the Buenos Aires stock exchange. Currently less than 1% of the subsidiary's shares are placed on the bourse.

YPF posted January-March net profits of 1.20bn pesos (US$390mn), down 13.6% from 1.39bn pesos in January-March 2006.

Brufau highlighted that some main strategic objectives for upstream development in Argentina are maintaining production levels, offshore exploration and its development plan for Argentine fields (Plada).

Repsol YPF's Plada plan involves the development of higher-risk projects such as tight gas, heavy crude, tertiary recovery methods and deepwater, beginning in about 2009.

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