Mexico City – Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos has "absolutely nothing against" Repsol-YPF's chairman and CEO, a Pemex board member said a week after the firm took a bigger stake in the Spanish oil major and announced a desire to separate Antonio Brufau's job into two separate roles.
Fluvio Ruiz Alarcon said Pemex believes that "concentrating the roles of chairman of the board of directors and CEO in a single person is not a very advisable practice" from the point of view of good corporate governance.
In an interview Thursday in this capital with Efe, Ruiz Alarcon said in the case of Pemex the board of directors is headed by Energy Secretary Jose Antonio Meade, while Juan Jose Suarez Coppel is the company's CEO.
The independent board member and consultant said Pemex has "no desire to push anyone or anything out" but only wants to divide those two roles in the interest of improved corporate governance.
"It would be a very bad move on our part to undermine the current administration in any way," he added, alluding to Pemex's agreement to vote as a bloc with Spanish construction company Sacyr Vallehermoso, Repsol's leading shareholder.
Sacyr has been at odds with Brufau's management of Repsol and particularly his decision to give greater priority to oil exploration at the expense of higher dividend payouts to shareholders.
As part of its deal with Sacyr, Pemex acquired an additional 56.3 million shares in Repsol-YPF for $1.7 billion (1.2 billion euros) on Sept. 2, boosting its stake in the oil company to 9.8 percent. The pact lifted the companies' combined stake in Repsol to around 30 percent.
Although Brufau has said the Pemex-Sacyr pact amounts to an "assault" on the company by the two shareholders, Ruiz Alarcon defended the move and said it was needed to give the Mexican firm more influence over Repsol's decision-making.
"At the end of the day, we're the oldest shareholder, if I'm not mistaken, and also the shareholder that's an oil company," the consultant added.
He said Pemex's board - made up of six Mexican government officials, five representatives from the company's labor union and, since 2008, four independent professional commissioners proposed by the president and ratified by Congress - was not informed of the details of the pact with Sacyr and accompanying share hike.
"I think it would have contributed a lot to cohesion ... to have been informed" about the operation "even if there hadn't been a board meeting," Ruiz Alarcon said.
Pemex's board held its last extraordinary meeting on July 26 but the minutes show that no mention was made of operations affecting Sacyr and Repsol even though the Mexican firm had announced the purchase of 825,150 shares of Repsol the day before.
The acquisition of another 56.3 million shares came later and boosted Pemex's total stake in Repsol to 9.8 percent.
On July 5, the board of directors approved Pemex's 2012-2016 business plan, which reflected an "international will" that did not exist before, Ruiz Alarcon said.
He added that considering the "global nature" of the oil industry, in which "only 40 percent of the oil is consumed in the same place where it is produced," it has been "an anomaly for Pemex not to have an international outlook" until now.
Pemex is the world's third-largest crude producer, the 12th-biggest oil company by reserves, 13th-largest by refining capacity and 15th-biggest in natural gas production.
The company earns some $120 billion in annual revenue, equivalent to about 8 percent of Mexico's gross domestic product.
According to Ruiz Alarcon, Pemex's payments to Mexican government coffers account for roughly 30 percent of the federal budget.