* Report says companies have a non-binding agreement
* Repsol chairman says lots of interest shown in YPF
* Bankers doubt deal can be reached
* Argentina has unveiled plans to take control of YPF
* YPF pressured by Argentine government to boost output
HONG KONG/BEIJING, April 17 China Petrochemical
Corp (Sinopec Group) is in talks with Repsol to buy the
Spanish oil major's Argentine unit YPF, even though
YPF faces nationalisation, a Chinese financial news website
reported on Tuesday.
Citing a source close to Sinopec, Caixin.com said China's
second-largest oil company had reached a non-binding agreement
to take over YPF for more than $15 billion.
Huang Wensheng, a spokesman for Sinopec Group, dismissed the
report as rumour and said he had no comment on it. "We don't
comment on market rumours," he said by telephone.
Repsol Chairman Antonio Brufau said at a news conference
the company had received lots of international interest in
participating in YPF, but declined to comment on Sinopec.
The Chinese report said Sinopec believed YPF's oil blocks in
Argentina hold large development potential and it was confident
of meeting the Argentine government's requirement to accelerate
development and production.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez unveiled plans on
Monday to take control of YPF, drawing swift warnings from key
YPF has been under intense pressure from her center-left
government to boost production, and its share price has plunged
due to months of speculation about a state takeover.
Banking sources said they doubted a deal involving Sinopec
or another Chinese company would work out given the Argentine
government's move to seize control of YPF.
"Maybe it is an opportunity but it is a political
minefield," said one banker, who asked not to be identified
because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Some Spanish media speculated earlier this week that CNOOC
Ltd , China's largest offshore producer, was
looking at buying YPF.
But sources familiar with CNOOC's acquisition strategy said
CNOOC was unlikely to make such a move given its difficulties in
expanding in the Argentine market in the past.
They cited CNOOC unit Bridas Energy Holdings' decision in
November to terminate a $7 billion deal to buy BP Plc's
60 percent stake in Argentina-based oil-and-gas group Pan
American Energy LLC (PAE). Insiders said the deal
collapsed because CNOOC could not win Argentine regulatory
Sinopec Group, parent of Asia's largest refiner Sinopec Corp
, has launched at least 74
acquisition deals worth $48.1 billion since 2005, Thomson
Reuters data shows, as part of China's attempts to secure
resources to feed the country's growth.
Sinopec Group, which bought Occidental Petroleum Corp's
Argentine assets for $2.5 billion last year, has vowed
to more than double its equity oil output from overseas projects
to over 1 million bpd by 2015 from 2011.