MADRID May 31 Spanish oil company Repsol
will seek punitive damages from Argentina for the
seizure of its Argentine energy unit YPF, its chairman warned,
in a move backed by fuming shareholders on Thursday.
Fresh demands would step up the stakes in a potentially long
legal battle. Repsol has already sued Argentina for $10 billion
in compensation over the seizure of its majority stake in YPF
in mid-April, in a case that could drag on in
arbitration and the courts for years.
"This was an act of piracy," Repsol shareholder Rafael
Gonzalez said at the company's annual meeting in Madrid,
pleading with Chairman Antonio Brufau to keep up the fight
Repsol's shares have lost almost half their value so far
this year, hit by Argentine president Cristina Fernandez's
expropriation of its 51 percent stake in YPF on April 16.
Fernandez contends that the Spanish company did not invest
Repsol has also taken steps to file a complaint at the World
Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment
Disputes (ICSID), though analysts noted Argentina's track record
in ignoring past ICSID fines.
Brufau opened the door to negotiations with Argentina to
reach an agreement suitable to both sides and avoid a drawn-out
"It's not good for Argentina to have a lawsuit of this
magnitude for years, so the best would be for us to sit down and
negotiate," Brufau told shareholders.
Repsol unveiled a four-year strategic plan earlier this
week, pledging heavy investment in its exploration business in a
bid to recover from the blow of the loss of YPF.
(Reporting By Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Will Waterman)