YPF expropriation case: Argentina requests extension until Milei settles in

U.S. Judge Loretta Preska had ordered Argentina to pledge its shares in the oil company to postpone a December 5 deadline, which it has requested be changed to January 10

Argentina has requested U.S. Judge Loretta Preska to extend the stay on the YPF expropriation’s final ruling, currently set for December 5, to January 10. The main argument presented by Robert J. Giuffra, Jr., the attorney representing the country, was that far-right economist Javier Milei is set to be sworn in as Argentina’s next president just five days after the current deadline.

Giuffra Jr.’s two-page letter, sent on Monday, said that the extension would give the new president 30 days to evaluate the conditions Preska imposed for the stay.

In September, Preska gave her final ruling on the case, ordering Argentina to pay a total of US$16.09 billion to the plaintiffs represented by Burford Capital. Argentina appealed at New York’s Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

On November 21, Preska issued a memorandum ordering Argentina to pledge certain assets as a condition to postpone the enforcement of the lawsuit beyond December 5 — namely, part of the country’s equity interest in YPF and Paraguay’s upcoming payment for the Yacyretá dam. If Preska accepts Argentina’s request to extend the stay, the decision on whether Argentina would try to offer YPF’s shares as collateral for the lawsuit would be in the hands of Milei’s administration.

President-elect Javier Milei has pledged to privatize YPF. As per Article 10 of the country’s 2012 expropriation law, transferring the state-owned YPF’s shares would require approval by a two-thirds majority in Congress.

“The new deputies and senators elected on October 22, who would participate in any congressional intervention required for this purpose, will also take office on December 10, 2023,” Giuffra Jr.’s letter said.

In 2012, Argentina expropriated 51% of the shares of oil and gas company YPF from Spanish multinational Repsol, at the time the majority shareholder. Three years later, Burford Capital bought the trial rights from two companies belonging to the Argentine Eskenazi family, Petersen Energia Inversora and Petersen Energía, and another company, Eton Park. They considered that Argentina failed to make a tender offer for their YPF shares in 2012, and Preska ruled in their favor in September.

According to Giuffra Jr.’s letter, Argentina’s counsel has conferred with Burford, who said that they would oppose any extension unless the country agrees to an expedited schedule for the appealing process. However, he said that Argentina could not agree to that condition since it would deprive the new administration of the ability to evaluate the totality of Preska’s order.

Moreover, Argentina has a January 23 deadline for its opening brief at the appeal hearing, and Giuffra Jr. emphasized that the new administration will already have limited time to analyze the “complex issues” at play.

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