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Argentina government to sell stakes in energy companies




By Reuters Staff

Petroleumworld 11 02 2017

Argentina plans to sell government-held stakes in several electricity generation and distribution companies, the Energy Ministry said in a decree published in the government's Official Gazette on Wednesday.

The sales, to be carried out through bidding processes over the next several years beginning in 2018, could raise at least $1 billion to help finance infrastructure projects, according to a ministry source who asked not to be named.

The move comes just over a week after President Mauricio Macri's coalition swept to victory in mid-term legislative elections, providing his government a dose of momentum to deepen its business-friendly reform agenda.

Since taking office in 2015, Macri has unwound interventionist policies put in place by his populist predecessor Cristina Fernandez, such as eliminating currency controls and rolling back export taxes on grains.

But he has largely steered clear of selling state-owned companies. Under Fernandez and her late husband and predecessor Nestor Kirchner the state took over a number of major companies, including oil company YPF SA and flagship air carrier Aerolineas Argentinas after a privatization wave in the 1990s.

Wednesday's decree authorized the ministry to sell its stakes in thermoelectric generator Central Termica Guemes SA , thermoelectric and hydroelectric producer Central Puerto SA and four other non-listed electricity generation and distribution companies.

To sell the shares, the ministry will merge two state companies into a new entity called Integracion Energetica Argentina SA, which will absorb the shares, according to the decree. That company would be responsible for major energy infrastructure projects underway, including two Patagonian dams and four gas pipelines.

Argentina expects an investment boom in its Vaca Muerta shale field, but is in need of better infrastructure to transport the additional natural gas produced. Gas transporter TGS has proposed an $800 million pipeline and gas treatment plant, while rival TGN has also expressed interest in building a pipeline.

Reporting by Luc Cohen and Hernan Nessi; Editing by Andrew Hay from Reuters.

reuters.com 11 01 2017

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