US court orders Argentina to pay $16 billion over oil firm takeover

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In a dispute against the government of Argentina, a US federal judge has entered a $16 billion verdict in favor of former owners of energy company YPF, who were supported by Burford Capital.

The Argentine government has been ordered to pay $8.4 billion in damages and $7.6 billion in interest to two defunct YPF investors, Petersen and Eton Park, following the country’s seizure of a majority stake in the oil and gas business in 2012.

Burford Capital, a litigation finance behemoth that mostly funded the plaintiffs’ claims, saw its stock jump 28% in US trade shortly after the judgement was released on Friday.

The Argentine government termed the verdict “unprecedented and erroneous” in a statement, adding that it would appeal.

“This case over the rights of former shareholders of an Argentine company under the Argentine company’s bylaws does not belong in a US court,” according to the statement.

Buenos Aires took control of 51% of YPF in 2012 after accusing its largest shareholder, Repsol SA of failing to spend adequately in oil production. The parties negotiated an agreement in 2014, under which the Spanish corporation earned $5 billion in compensation.

Burford Capital later acquired the bankrupt firms that had 25% of YPF shares prior to nationalization.

“We will continue to defend energy sovereignty and our state company YPF against vulture funds,” said Gabriela Cerruti, an Argentine government spokeswoman, on X (previously Twitter).