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YPF Falls on Government Pressure: Buenos Aires Mover

YPF SA, Argentina’s largest oil producer, fell to the lowest in more than 19 months after the government stepped up pressure on the company to boost output.

YPF dropped 7.5 percent to 147 pesos at the close in Buenos Aires, its lowest since June 2010. The stock plunged 24 percent in the 12 months through the Feb. 24 close. Markets were shut for a holiday in Argentina yesterday.

The local unit of Repsol YPF SA, based in Buenos Aires, is under mounting pressure from Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to boost production after she blamed oil companies for the doubling of fuel imports in 2011. The company on Feb. 23 barred three politicians from entering its board meeting, while the country’s top oil-producing provinces a day later demanded companies increase output by 15 percent in the next two years or face losing their licenses.

“Relations are pretty tense,” Carlos Aszpis, an equity strategist at Buenos Aires-based brokerage firm Schweber & Cia, said in an interview today. “They’re going to have to invest more and they won’t be allowed to pay as many dividends.”

The government’s representative on YPF’s board, Roberto Baratta, voted against two YPF dividends last year as Fernandez sought to contain capital flight. Baratta on Feb. 23 tried to enter the company’s board meeting with Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Cameron and two other officials, and walked out after being told only he could attend.

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