--Grupo Petersen Misses $400 million loan payment
--Banks entitled to seize YPF shares as collateral
--Talks with creditors continuing
(Adds comments from person with links to Grupo Petersen and background on the YPF nationalization.)
By Shane Romig
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
BUENOS AIRES -(Dow Jones)- Argentina's Grupo Petersen missed a $400 million payment to creditor banks on Wednesday, which could allow them to seize the shares of oil company YPF SA (YPF, YPFD.BA) backing the loan.
So far, the banks haven't indicated that they plan to seize the shares and talks with the creditors are continuing, a person with close links to Grupo Petersen told Dow Jones Newswires.
Grupo Petersen owes the banks just over $1 billion, he said.
The default comes less than two weeks after Argentina expropriated a 51% stake in YPF from Spain's Repsol YPF SA (REP.MC, REPYY), putting the Petersen group in a tight spot.
The Eskenazi family's Grupo Petersen holds a 25.5% stake in YPF, which it had acquired by borrowing heavily.
In 2008, Grupo Petersen financed a 14.9% acquisition of YPF with a $1 billion senior secured loan from a group of banks led by Credit Suisse, according to information posted on the website of law firm Cleary Gottlieb, which represented Grupo Petersen in the transaction. Grupo Petersen also obtained a $1 billion loan and equity from Repsol.
In 2011, Grupo Petersen purchased an additional 10% stake, funding the deal with a $700 million senior secured loan from a group of banks led by Banco Itau and Credit Suisse. Repsol pitched in with another loan of about $625 million, according to Gottlieb.
Grupo Petersen was counting on hefty dividends from YPF to make its loan payments. But the Argentine government has said YPF will no longer pay dividends, rather it will reinvest its earnings to boost production.
The terms of the loan stipulate that the nationalization of YPF or a steep drop in its share price could trigger a default on the loans, both of which have now happened.
A week ago the banks notified Grupo Petersen that it considered the loans in default, the person said.
YPF's shares traded in New York fell more than 7% Wednesday, closing at $13.18. So far this year, YPF's shares have plunged 62%.
-By Shane Romig, Dow Jones Newswires; 54-11-4103-6738; firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 16, 2012 17:27 ET (21:27 GMT)
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