Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- YPF SA, Argentina’s largest energy company, dropped the most in the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange’s leading index after the federal tax agency banned it from importing and exporting because of an unpaid tax bill.
YPF declined 4.1 percent to 153.5 pesos in Buenos Aires today, the biggest decliner in the Merval index. The shares have plunged 24 percent in the last 12 months.
YPF is prohibited from importing or exporting any goods until it pays $8 million of overdue natural gas-export levies, an official from the tax agency known as AFIP, who declined to be named because of internal policy, said by telephone from Buenos Aires today. State news agency Telam reported the sanctions earlier today.
A YPF official in Buenos Aires, who asked not to be identified because of corporate policy, declined to comment.
The Argentine oil producer’s shares have plunged 16 percent since Jan. 29, when Pagina/12 newspaper reported that government officials discussed re-nationalizing the company that was bought by Repsol YPF SA in 1999. The paper didn’t say where it obtained the information.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has stepped up pressure on YPF to increase investments in oil production, blaming it and other companies for a doubling of imports in 2011. The government on Feb. 3 withdrew a plan that provided financial incentives for investment for YPF, BP Plc, Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Exxon Mobil Corp., citing an increase in local crude prices.
YPF, which said last week that its 30,000 square kilometer Vaca Muerta formation in southern Argentina holds at least 23 billion barrels of oil equivalent, lost eight potential investors after the government’s measures made oil investment less attractive, a person familiar with the talks said Feb. 13.
Companies from the U.S., Canada and Europe abandoned negotiations after the government withdrew financial incentives for producers and forced companies to repatriate export revenue, the person said, declining to be identified because talks are private. Six of the producers cited unpredictable policies, this person said.
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