YPF In Talks to Sell Stake in Power Unit to Asian Fund

(Bloomberg) -- YPF SA, Argentina’s state-run oil company, is in advanced talks to sell a minority stake in its power unit to an Asian fund, said two people with direct knowledge of the plan.

The fund, which the people declined to name, would get a 24.99 percent stake in YPF Energia Electrica SA, they said asking not to be identified as talks are private. YPF, which sold a similar stake to General Electric Co. in March for about $300 million, will retain operational control and use proceeds of the sale to finance the unit’s aggressive business plan.

YPF wants to expand its power generation business in Argentina, Latin America’s third-largest market, by adding partners to finance the expansion. The bond market has been closed for Argentine companies since May because of a currency rout and selloff in emerging-market assets.

Power generation is one of only a few sectors that have remained largely untouched by Argentina’s second recession in three years -- with profits continuing to be made in dollar terms as electricity tariffs rise.

YPF Energia Electrica is being rebranded as YPF Luz. It aims to have power generation capacity of more than 5,000 megawatts by 2023 compared with just 1,800 today. The unit needs to raise money through bonds, or project and export finance, according to an Aug. 8 earnings call.

Lazard Ltd., the bank that’s been working with YPF on the deal, declined to comment. YPF’s press office didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

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