OREANDA-NEWS. Argentinian state-controlled YPF?s planned $122mn purchase of two local petrochemical companies has fallen through because of a lack of hard currency.

The aborted acquisitions emerge on the eve of a major transition from outgoing president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who spearheaded the state?s takeover of YPF in 2012, and market-oriented president-elect Mauricio Macri.

In August, YPF signed preliminary agreements to buy a 50pc stake in Petroken, which is owned by LyondellBasell, and 46pc in locally owned Petrocuyo.

"For reasons beyond the control of the parties, the closing of the … transactions did not take place on the date contemplated by the parties," YPF said.

The deadline to complete payment for the acquisitions was 1 December. YPF did not receive the necessary authorization from Argentina's central bank to send the dollars abroad and complete the deal, a YPF official said.

"Everything was moving smoothly, we had received approval from anti-trust authorities and the operation was about to close. But we couldn't put up the money because there is no access to dollars," the official said. YPF was not able to get an extension on the deadline to close the deal.

Argentina's central bank reserves plunged almost $200mn yesterday, to $25.4bn, their lowest level since 29 June 2006. The drop in reserves has accelerated since Macri won a 22 November presidential run-off election. Expectations of a sharp currency devaluation after Macri takes office on 10 December means most exporters are delaying sales abroad, which has limited the inflow of hard currency in the country.

Petroken owns a 180,000 t/yr polypropylene plant in Ensenada, Buenos Aires province. The plant is located next to YPF's La Plata industrial complex, which houses the company's 189,000 b/d La Plata refinery – the largest in Argentina. Petrocuyo owns a 130,000 t/y polypropylene plant in Lujan del Cuyo, Mendoza, where YPF has a 105,000 b/d oil refinery.

Under the preliminary deal reached in August, YPF and locally owned GIP would each have held a 50pc stake in Petroken and 92pc in Petrocuyo, with the balance owned by Brazilian firm Kelvin.

Ever since Argentina expropriated a 51pc stake in YPF in 2012 from Spain's Repsol, the company has said it is seeking to restore its petrochemicals business.

There was immediate comment from the LyondellBasell or GIP.