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Pena Nieto Says He’ll Reach Energy Pact as Majority Elusive

Enrique Pena Nieto, who preliminary data show won the Mexican presidency yesterday, is optimistic he can push through a bill to loosen the state’s oil monopoly even as preliminary results showed his party failed to secure congressional majorities.

Pena Nieto said he’ll reach agreements with other parties to help him pass a law to open Petroleos Mexicanos to more private investment, in a meeting with reporters today. His coalition of the Institutional Revolutionary Party and allied Green Party will get at most 249 out of 500 seats in the lower house and 61 out of 128 seats in the Senate, according to projections by polling company Consulta Mitofsky of preliminary data.

The candidate will need two thirds of Congress along with a majority of state legislatures to pass a constitutional amendment to allow joint ventures in the nation’s oil sector. Pena Nieto said he has yet to decide on whether he’ll push for a second round of legislation to allow the sale of Pemex shares on Mexico’s stock exchange, or Bolsa.

“I’m convinced we’ll achieve an accord with other political forces” on a Pemex bill, Pena Nieto said. At a later time “we’ll decide if eventually the company will float shares on the stock exchange.”

The candidate had said in a Nov. 16 interview that he’d stake his administration’s success on attracting private investment to the oil industry and eventually pave the way for selling shares in Petroleos Mexicanos to the public.


The PRI may have a difficult time passing even the initial bill allowing joint ventures and shared risk contracts if projections it won’t secure a majority in either congressional house are confirmed, Carlos Ramirez of Eurasia Group, a Washington-based policy analysis firm, wrote in a note to clients.

“The result will complicate Pena’s plan for reforms and reinforces our view that while fiscal, labor and social security reform will probably advance, a constitutional reform to open the energy sector remains unlikely in a Pena administration,” Ramirez wrote.

While Pena Nieto will push for “deep reform” to Pemex, a possible share sale in the state oil company would be part of a second round of changes that may not arrive during the next six-year term, his campaign chief Luis Videgaray said in an interview yesterday.

“It’s something that surely wouldn’t occur for various years, it probably wouldn’t even correspond to our administration,” he said.

Pena Nieto said today that Videgaray, who served as his finance minister when he was governor of the central state of Mexico, would be part of his transition team.

With more than 90 percent of the votes counted, the PRI will likely get about 241 lawmakers in the 500-seat Chamber of Deputies, Pena Nieto’s deputy campaign chief, Jorge Carlos Ramirez Marin, said in a telephone interview today.

The PRI may try to extend its coalition with the Green Party to include the New Alliance Party, which would give it the majority it needs, said Roy Campos, who heads Mitofsky, the polling company. “They can get the lawmakers they need for the majority,” Campos said. A lack of majority “makes it a bit difficult to reach political accords.”

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