BRASILIA, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The new chief executive of Brazil’s state-run oil firm Petrobras plans to cut investments and sell assets, and could offer shares in some of the company’s units to raise cash and cut debt, according to an interview in Valor Economico newspaper.
Aldemir Bendine also reiterated that potential asset writedowns caused by the graft scandal engulfing the company would be “much lower” than estimates of 88.6 billion reais ($30.9 billion) made in notes that accompanied the company’s unaudited third-quarter results.
The newspaper interview, published on Thursday, was one of the first since Bendine, previously chief executive of state-run lender Banco do Brasil, took the helm of Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) last week.
He faces the daunting task of restoring market credibility in Petrobras by publishing realistic estimates of graft-related losses and avoiding a default on its massive debt, the largest of any oil company in the world.
Petrobras results have been delayed since November, when the so-called Car Wash operation by Brazilian federal police led to the arrest of former company directors and executives at its suppliers.
Bendine’s three “immediate” goals, according to the interview, are downsizing Petrobras’ $206.8 billion investment plan, publishing audited earnings reports for 2014 as soon as possible, and implementing “deep changes” in corporate governance.
He ruled out raising capital by selling Petrobras’ shares in the market, but said some units could go public. During his stint as Banco do Brasil’s CEO, the initial public offering (IPO) of the lender’s insurance unit BB Seguridade was one of the world’s largest in 2013.
“If Petrobras manages to resume dialogue with investors and the market, there is the possibility of opening the capital of some assets. This is an alternative,” Bendine said.
Petrobras will focus on oil drilling and will divest in other areas such as refining, according to the interview. Bendine ruled out selling stakes in oil fields. “The increase in oil production is the company’s core, it is what brings in results,” he said.
An explosion on an offshore oil and gas platform operated by Petrobras killed at least three workers and injured 10 on Wednesday.
$1 = 2.87 Brazilian reais Editing by Pravin Char