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Argentina's YPF names Total's Ricardo Darre as chief executive

YPF, Argentina's state-controlled energy firm, named Total managing director Ricardo Darre as CEO to lead the country's biggest company.

Darre, the head of the U.S. exploration and production unit since August 2014 at France's largest oil company, will start July 1, according to an emailed statement from Buenos Aires-based YPF.

"With the incorporation of Darre we are reaffirming our compromise with an absolutely professional management," Chairman Miguel Gutierrez said in the statement. "This is essential to maximize our investments and the leading role of the company in the search for energy self-sufficiency for the country."

The Argentine engineer, who started his career at Schlumberger Ltd., will be charged with boosting output at Vaca Muerta, one of the world's largest shale plays, while also attempting to balance salary demands from unions and push for competitive gasoline prices domestically. YPF earnings slumped 60% in the first quarter as the peso's depreciation eroded sales in dollar terms.

Darre replaces another Schlumberger alum, Miguel Galuccio, who led the company from 2012 following the nationalization from Repsol SA until late April as part of a shake up under President Mauricio Macri, who took office in December. CFO Daniel Gonzalez held the post on an interim basis.

He joined Total in 1987 and held assignments in Norway, Thailand, Argentina, Russia and France, according to a biography description for an event by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers.

Darre was reported to be shortlisted for the company's top job as well as Gonzalez and steel-maker Tenaris's president for North America, German Cura.

"I'm proud and excited to have been selected to contribute to YPF's development," Darre said in the statement. "The company has great geological areas and a solid industrial base that is highly competitive in all stages of the process, from wells to our clients."

YPF's American depositary receipts rose 0.2% to $21.35 on Monday and have rallied 36% this year. The energy producer's $1 billion of bonds issued in March rose 0.4 cent to 105 cents on the dollar to yield 7.23%.

[Source: By Daniel Cance and Carolina Millan, World Oil, Bloomberg, Bs As, 06Jun16]

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