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Petrobras To IPO Fuel Unit

Brazil’s energy major Petrobras has prepared a proposal for the listing of its fuel unit, to be reviewed and approved by its board of directors, chief executive Pedro Parente told media. Parente added that "We see market conditions that are extremely favorable, with investors willing to pay high valuations to encourage good companies to list their shares."

The listing, which will involve a secondary placement of shares, according to Reuters, is part of Petrobras’ efforts to shrink its debt – the highest in the global industry at around US$100 billion. Its fuel unit, BR Distribuidora, was valued at US$10 billion by UBS Securities in 2015, but the divestment/spin-off plans of the parent were delayed by weak investor interest and other problems.

Petrobras has been struggling, besides its ballooning debt, with the weak price environment and a corruption scandal involving senior politicians, which led to the removal of President Dilma Rousseff. Earlier this year, the company announced a US$21-billion divestment and partnerships program, ambitious turn in an annual profit this year. The divestment plan includes, among other assets, 104 onshore fields in Brazil.

Related: Is There Still Hope For Higher Oil Prices?

This year could also mark the return of dividend payouts—which would be the first time since 2014—if Petrobras ends 2017 in the black. Chief executive Pedro Parente said, as quoted by Reuters, that “We really are keen to start paying dividends as fast as we can.”

The troubled company reported a net profit of US$1.417 billion for the first quarter of this year, up from a net loss of US$318 million for the year-earlier period. The company attributed the positive performance to 72-percent higher exports, at 782,000 bpd, at higher prices, as well as to lower oil and gas import costs. The latter were a result of higher production of oil and gas at home, which led to a 40-percent decline in imports.

By Irina Slav for Oilrpice.com

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