Mexican billionaire cuts back ownership from 8.2 percent to 5.6%, according to filing
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and his family reduced their stake in Argentina’s state-controlled energy company YPF, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) presented yesterday.
Although the news was only revealed now, Slim’s exposure to YPF was reduced last year, after just over 10 million shares were sold by his group.
The businessman, his family and their companies now directly and indirectly hold 22,070,000 YPF shares, equivalent to a 5.6 percent stake, down from 8.2 percent in their last filing a year earlier.
Slim and his family hold the YPF shares through their holding company Inmobiliaria Carso and their bank, Grupo Financiero Inbursa, the filing showed.
The Mexican billionaire’s move was part of a broader portfolio shift, in which his family, through Inmobiliaria Carso, also purchased 1,335,202 shares for a stake of 6.6 percent in a US pharmaceutical company called Atara Biotherapeutics.
Slim, a telecomunications magnate in Mexico, was considered in 2013 the richest man in the world according to Forbes magazine, and owns a 17 percent stake of the New York Times.
The Mexican was only one of a series of high-profile investors getting a stake in YPF recently, as billionaire hedge-fund magnate George Soros also acquired more than 8.47 million depositary shares in 2014, a move that accounted for 3.5 percent of the energy company’s traded paper and made YPF Soros’ “largest position” according to Bloomberg’s news service.
Dispute over meaning
When the initial information of YPF’s arrival into Slim’s investment portfolio became public, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered it “good news,” highlighting the mixed public-private nature of the company after the state decided to nationalize 51 percent of its shares.
YPF’s shares soared as a result, rising as much as seven percent in New York.
At the time, YPF also said in a statement that the Slim acquisition was a “long-term investment.”
Shortly after that, however, Slim’s son Carlos Slim Domit said they hadn’t exactly bought the company’s shares, but obtained them after the Enrique Ezkenazi-controlled Petersen Group defaulted on debt that had YPF shares as collateral.
“In Argentina they wanted to show this situation as a purchase that we did after the changes at the company, but the truth is we have been working on this in the last four years. It wasn’t a purchase,” Slim Domit said, sparking a debate on whether Argentina had tried to add a positive spin to the story.
Domit did state, however, that the company was “very solid” and had “potential,” as did Slim’s Arturo Elías Ayub. When asked if there were plans to increase the stake at YPF, Dayub said they would analyze their options for the future.
In the end, Slim’s group opted for partially reducing that stake, in a context of plunging oil prices during 2014, which made many investors around the world reduce their exposure to energy companies.
Since its peak in June, 2014, benchmark benchmark US oil (WTI) lost 60 percent of its value, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said recently.
In that period, minority stake-holders George Soros, Daniel Loeb and Richard Perry also sold a small portion of their shares in the company.
Date: February 18, 2015