Chris Swann is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist, based in New York. He writes about hedge funds, commodities and asset management. He joined from Bloomberg News, where he covered global poverty issues and the International Monetary Fund. From 1997 to 2006 Chris was a reporter at the Financial Times in a variety of roles including currency correspondent, economics reporter and columnist on Lex. He has a first-class degree in History from Oxford University, and has also studied piano performance at the University of Michigan and International Relations at Cambridge.
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The activist has won two board seats at the Canadian energy firm. But it was already clear that the $12 bln company needed to sell assets. With BP, Apache and Conoco also offloading wells, the problem is not so much the strategy as whether it can add value in a buyer’s market.
A west coast refinery to process domestic crude into products for Asia makes decent sense. What’s headline-grabbing is that the idea comes from David Black, a newspaper mogul, not from an energy specialist. Despite hints of Chinese financing, that makes the proposal seem flaky.
The energy group has surprisingly rebounded since Argentina confiscated Repsol’s stake 18 months ago. The shares have doubled and output is rising. But that doesn’t justify going shopping. YPF needs capital for its $37 bln shale project more than it needs additional wells.
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