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Argentina appoints oil company boss

Argentina has officially recovered its leading energy company from private control as President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner signed her expropriation measure into law and named a youthful compatriot as its chief executive.

The country's leading politicians and all her top appointees gave her a standing ovation as she signed the measure sealing the fate of Repsol.

The Spanish company now has little chance of seeing the 10.5 billion US dollars it says its shares in YPF SA are worth until years of legal battles are resolved, if then.

She praised congress for overwhelmingly approving the takeover, and called it an affirmation of Argentinian sovereignty that is far more important than any party differences.

"We want an YPF with an absolutely professional profile," Ms Kirchner added, describing her search for Argentinians with deep experience in the global oil industry to run the company.

Her choice: Miguel Galuccio, an Argentinian engineer who left YPF after Repsol bought it in the 1990s and rose through the ranks of Houston, Texas-based oil services giant Schlumberger Ltd.

She stumbled slightly in pronouncing Mr Galuccio's name and then urged him to stand up from front-row his seat alongside Axel Kicillof, the economist she appointed to root through YPF's books for clues to its true worth. Both represent the future, she said.

"These are young men who want to take on historic challenges, to take responsibility for them and make sure that government is part of the solution," she beamed.

Mr Galuccio resigned as president of Schlumberger's production management division in London and told his staff he was returning to Argentina on April 16, the same day Ms Kirchner decreed the YPF takeover, the daily Ambito Financiero newspaper reported.

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