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Oil firms battle for right to bid on YPF

CHINA National Offshore Oil Corp and China National Petroleum Corp are battling for approval to bid on YPF, the Argentinian unit of Spanish oil major Repsol, sources said yesterday, in a deal that could be worth about US$17 billion.

A deal would mark the latest in a recent string of foreign takeovers by China's oil majors, including Sinopec Group's US$7.2-billion bid for Swiss oil explorer Addax Petroleum.

While the auction for the Repsol business is in its early stages, the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body, is involved in the process, the sources said. The commission has historically decided which company can ultimately proceed with an offer on deals involving multiple domestic bidders.

CNPC, parent of Asia's top oil and gas producer PetroChina, and CNOOC, the country's main offshore producer, are working with advisers to explore a possible deal for the Argentinian business.

Repsol has been looking to sell a stake in its Argentine unit for some time and has been considering a public share offer.


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