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ECONOMY | 09-11-2019 11:35

Contenders line up with YPF likely to take on new leadership

Current chairman Miguel Ángel Gutiérrez looks set to retire with change of government – here’s five names who could lead the state energy giant under the Alberto Fernández administration.

The results of Argentina’s presidential election will probably mean a change at the helm of YPF state energy company, with a focus on boosting production from the vast Vaca Muerta shale formation.

Current chairman Miguel Ángel Gutiérrez – appointed by outgoing President Mauricio Macri – will retire according to informed sources, who also say that CEO Daniel González has expressed a desire to stay on. Neither Gutiérrez nor González gave an immediate response to a request for comment from Bloomberg, and nor did YPF. Gutiérrez took over in 2016 when the top job was divided between the presidency and a CEO.

The new leadership will have to apply the vision of presidentelect Alberto Fernández, which could include regulating energy prices. YPF is also working to boost production at Vaca Muerta, whose wealth of shale oil and gas has the potential to turn Argentina into a global energy supplier again.

There are various possible successors for Gutiérrez. His exit and the arrival of his replacement will probably not be made official until April, when YPF’s shareholders will be holding their annual meeting.

Here are five names considered the most probable candidates for the post:

JORGE SAPAG

Sapag, 68, is a heavyweight within the province of Neuquén, which contains most of the Vaca Muerta formation. He was governor in 2013 when YPF signed a joint venture with Chevron Corp, the site’s first major investment. The Sapag family have dominated provincial politics for decades and Jorge himself is thought to have pulled the strings behind the scenes since leaving government house in 2015. A Sapag aide said that he has not received a formal offer for the post.

MIGUEL GALUCCIO

Galuccio, 51, a veteran of the oil sector and a member of the board of Schlumberger Ltd, was the YPF CEO for four years as from 2012. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president turned vice-president-elect, named Galuccio to the post after nationalising the company that year. Galuccio still enjoys her respect and recently met up with her in Cuba to talk about Vaca Muerta. But he is unlikely to return to YPF because he recently created a new company for shale extraction in Argentina with investment from private capital. Galuccio declined to comment.

DIEGO BOSSIO

Fernández won the elections by re-uniting Peronism, including the splinter movement headed by deputy-elect Sergio Massa, who has criticised YPF strategy. Diego Bossio, a Massa ally, has emerged as a candidate to head YPF. Bossio, 40, is an economist who directed the ANSES social security administration during the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner presidency.

GUILLERMO NIELSEN

Nielsen, 68, former finance secretary, has emerged as one of the closest economic advisors to Alberto Fernández and is drafting a bill to boost the development of Vaca Muerta and thus gaining the support of powerful trade unionists in the sector. He is also under consideration for an Economy Ministry post. Nielsen declined to comment.

DORIS CAPURRO

Capurro, a long shot for the post, was vice-president for corporate affairs for YPF for three years after its nationalisation in 2012. She was very close to Fernández de Kirchner. In recent years she has been directing a renewables company, Luft Energia, developing wind and solar energy projects in Argentina with the backing of the investment firm Castlelake.

Bossio and Capurro gave no immediate response to a request for comment.

by BY JONATHAN GILBERT AND PABLO GONZÁLEZ

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