Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chinese Oil Firms Bid for Repsol's Argentine unit

Chinese oil conglomerates China National Petroleum and Cnooc have offered to pay an estimated $17 billion usd for all of Repsol YPF's state in its Argentine unit called YPF.

You can read the Wall Street Journal's paraphrased article (the original costs money) at, by visiting this article.

Will this deal actually be completed? China South America reported on this possible deal back on July 7, 2009. You will notice, the offer at this point was only $14.5 billion for a 75% stake. China has since upped the offer and is now looking to buy the entire thing.

Why China? Are you angry over Australia rejecting your Rio bid? Are you feeling flustered that countries from the industrialized world, but also in Africa and Latin America are starting to think twice about selling the rights to their raw materials?

I don't blame them, after all, Australia is quite similar to South American commodity producing countries. Two note worthy and simple similarities include

  1. A large portion of GDP is generated from commodity exports
  2. The relative strength or weakness of domestic currencies such as the Ausie Dollar, Argentine Peso, Peruvian Sol and Brazilian Real, are all inherently linked to the global market price of the commodities the countries export. [ie: if the spot price for copper drops 50%, observe what happens to Peru and Chile's Peso's.

According to the WSJ article, the main obstacles to this deal include
  • Spain is hesitant to see some of its best assets in Argentina be sold to China
  • Argentina's government has no financial stake in YPF, but nonetheless under Argentine law has the right to veto decisions such as transfer of ownership. In my personal opinion, this translates into who is willing to pay more “under the table” to the Argentine government.
  • China National Petroleum and Cnooc are state owned organizations. Despite their growing influence and presence in oil markets around the world, many governments still remain weary of doing business with companies officially tied to a foreign government.