* 184 million euro writedown against potential YPF deal
* Analysts say move may put pressure on Repsol to do a deal
* Caixabank shares up 1.1 percent, Repsol down 1.3 percent
By Andrés González
BARCELONA, Jan 31 Spain's Caixabank
has written down the value of its stake in Repsol by
184 million euros ($250 million) in anticaption the oil firm
will reach a compensation deal with Argentina over the seizure
of its stake in energy firm YPF.
Repsol, whose largest shareholder is Caixabank with 12
percent, is negotiating a $5 billion settlement with Argentina
over the 2012 expropriation of its majority stake in YPF.
Repsol had initially demanded $10 billion.
Barcelona-based Caixabank, owned by powerful Catalan
financial group La Caixa, announced the writedown alongside its
2013 results on Friday, in a move some analysts said could put
pressure on Repsol to reach a deal with Argentina.
The two parties began negotiations in December but talks
have stuttered due to Repsol's demands that the compensation be
backed with guarantees, a challenge for Argentina, which cannot
access international debt markets after a 2002 sovereign default
and is now facing a currency crisis.
However, some shareholders - particularly Repsol's third
largest shareholder Pemex of Mexico - and politicians are keen
for Repsol to reach a deal and close a tense chapter in
bilateral ties between the two countries.
"We thought it was prudent ... to make an estimate in our
results to account for a possible agreement that Repsol could
reach with Argentina in the coming weeks," Caixabank Chairman
Isidro Faine said at a news conference.
The bank said it could adjust the value of the writedown if
Repsol came out with a substantially different estimate when it
publishes 2013 results on Feb. 26.
Earlier, Caixabank reported a jump in 2013 net profit,
thanks to positive trends in net income revenue, joining a
tentative Spanish banking recovery seen in other leading
lenders BBVA and Santander.
But analysts highlighted the Repsol writedown as one of the
most negative aspects of the results, and JP Morgan said the
loss could accelerate the sale of Caixabank's equity stakes.
Caixabank has been one of the most powerful shareholders of
major Spanish firms, with big stakes in utility Gas Natural
Fenosa, infrastructure firm Abertis and
Telefonica, in addition to its Repsol holding.
It and other lenders are under pressure to end a long
history as shareholders of listed companies in order to meet
stricter international solvency rules ahead of a Europe-wide
review of banks' assets this year.
In November, Caixabank raised 594 million euros from bonds
that could be exchanged into part of its stake in Repsol in what
some analysts viewed as the first step to selling down its full
Separately, Repsol shareholder Pemex has opened the door to
selling its 9 percent stake after criticising the oil firm's
chairman Antonio Brufau, a move that triggered media speculation
of broader discontent on Repsol's board and the possible exit of
Caixabank's Faine played down tensions, telling reporters in
Barcelona that his "stance is to support the chairman".
Repsol's shares were down 1.3 percent at 17.385 euros at
1610 GMT, tracking heavy losses on Spain's blue chip index
, while Caixabank was one of the few gainers, up 1.1
percent at 4.535 euros.
($1 = 0.7373 euros)
(Additional reporting and writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by