BUENOS AIRES — Recently-nationalized Argentine oil company YPF announced Wednesday it is increasing investment and slashing dividend payments in a bid to boost oil production.
YPF will pay out dividends of 303 million pesos ($66.3 million), or just under 6 percent of last year's profit, according to a statement released late Tuesday after the first shareholder meeting since the company came under public control.
"The change in dividend distribution policy reverses the policies adopted in recent years, when dividend payments exceeded 80 percent of profits," the statement said.
In addition, YPF will allocate 5.751 billion pesos ($1.258 billion) of earnings for investment, "a significant advance towards the goal of ending 2012 with about a $3.5 billion investment," the statement continued.
Argentina declared YPF a public utility on April 16, with the government seizing a 51 percent stake in the subsidiary of Spanish oil firm Repsol -- infuriating Madrid and sparking concern in the United States and the European Union.
Later the same week, it extended the move to YPF Gas, a separate company 85 percent owned by a division of Repsol.
President Cristina Kirchner has argued that the expropriation was justified because YPF crude production had dropped while oil and gas imports doubled in 2011. Imports are forecast to triple by the end of the year.
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