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Argentina confirmed on Monday it would seize the country’s biggest oil company YPF which is currently controlled by Spanish energy giant Repsol.

Officials said the government would send a bill to Congress and take a 51 percent stake in what been described as “the public interest”.

The decision by President Cristina Fernandez looks
likely to force a head-on confrontation with Spain. Madrid has warned the move would turn Argentina into “an international pariah”.

Buenos Aires has been pushing YPF to raise production to reduce the burden of fuel imports on the Argentinian economy.

A plan by Repsol, which has a near 60 percent stake in YPF, to boost investment in the company was rejected as inadequate.

YPF generates about 25 percent of Repsol’s operating profits.

Shares in YPF on Wall Street dropped nearly 20 percent after the announcement.

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