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Brazil’s Petrobras plans to invest a total US$105 billion in the five years to 2023 and divest assets worth US$35 billion, chief executive Roberto Castello Branco said this week as quoted by Reuters. Before Branco took the helm, the five-year investment program stood at US$84.1 billion and divestments were planned at US$26.9 billion.
The news comes on the heels of a deal Petrobras struck with the Brazilian antitrust regulator that will allow it to sell several downstream assets in a bid, the company said, to encourage greater competition in the industry. The assets up for sale include eight refineries in seven states.
Last week, the company also cleared a major obstacle to further divestments when the Supreme Court of Brazil ruled that Petrobras could sell its subsidiaries without having to first obtain approval from Congress.
This last piece of news is welcomed by the new Brazilian government, which has ambitious privatization plans. In January, the secretary of privatization, Salim Mattar, said that Petrobras should sell most of its 36 subsidiaries as part of the government’s plan to generate US$20 billion from state companies’ asset sales this year.
Interestingly, Petrobras’ new chief executive, who took the helm in January, had advocated for a full privatization of the state energy giant. However, since he was picked to lead the oil firm, Castello Branco has ruled out a Petrobras privatization, but still wants to sell non-core assets of the company to reduce its massive net debt of US$72.888 billion as of the end of the third quarter of 2018.
Petrobras is the world’s most indebted listed oil company. Since he was picked to lead the oil firm, however, Castello Branco has ruled out a Petrobras privatization, but still wants to sell non-core assets of the company.
The first asset on the line following the Supreme Court ruling would likely be Petrobras’ pipeline unit, TAG, which the company had agreed earlier to sell to France’s Engie for US$8.6 billion.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.