UPDATE 2-Petrobras may delay dividends, cut investment amid cash crunch

jueves 29 de enero de 2015 16:34 GYT
 

(Adds additional Petrobras comment from presentations about third-quarter financial results, updates prices)

RIO DE JANEIRO Jan 29 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA said on Thursday it plans to sell assets, cut investments and probably delay dividend payments to face a credit crunch resulting from a massive corruption scandal.

Petrobras' new investment plan for 2015-2019 will be "more selective" and will remain focused on controlling debt levels, Chief Executive Maria das Graças Foster told investors and reporters during a presentation of the company's third-quarter earnings.

Petrobras published its quarterly unaudited results on Wednesday after an nearly three-month delay, further disappointing investors as the numbers did not include writedowns for the financial impact of the multibillion-dollar corruption scandal.

Fourth quarter audited financial statements, due by the end of April under bond covenants, or contractual obligations to bond-holders, could be delayed until June or later, Chief Financial Officer Almir Barbassa told reporters.

Such a delay would require negotiations with creditors, he added. Without such negotiations lenders could declare Petrobras in default, a move that could force the early payment on as much as $54 billion of bonds.

Petrobras' preferred shares, the company's most-traded class of stock dropped 3.1 percent in Sao Paulo on Thursday to 8.75 reais and extending its losses since yesterday's third-quarter release to 14 percent.

Common shares fell 1.9 percent to 8.47 reais.

Petrobras, the world's most indebted and least profitable major oil company, has been unable to raise cash in international capital markets as it struggles to publish financial statements that fully reflect corruption-related writedowns.

Meanwhile, the company plans to raise $3 billion from asset sales in 2015 while reducing its exploration plans to the "minimum necessary" this year, Foster said. (Reporting by Jeb Blount; Writing by Walter Brandimarte; Editing by Bernard Orr and Andrew Hay)