UPDATE 1-Petrobras asset sale plan aims at minority stakes - source
(Adds details of asset sale plan, background on Petrobras financial situation, comment from source)
By Rodrigo Viga Gaier
RIO DE JANEIRO, March 3 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras will focus its $13.7 billion asset-sale plan on minority stakes, a move aimed at raising cash without giving up control of its oil fields, power plants and utilities, a source with direct knowledge of company plans said on Tuesday.
Petroleo Brasileiro SA , as Petrobras is formally known, announced the plan to sell the assets over two years on Monday as it scrambles to raise cash as it grapples with a corruption scandal. The fallout from the misconduct has delayed the release of audited financial statements and cut it off from debt markets for financing its $221 billion, five-year growth plan.
Despite the need to raise cash quickly, Petrobras is not willing to sell assets "at any price," despite the recent sharp decline in oil prices, said the source, who was not authorized to speak to the press.
"It's not the best moment, but it's the moment that the company needs to meet its goal," the source said. "It won't sell just to sell. It will only be done if it will be a good deal. Bad deals won't be done."
Selling assets could be difficult. In 2012, when oil prices were high and the company sought to cover soaring costs and speed up delayed projects, it announced a $14.8 billion five-year plan to sell assets, only to cut it by 40 percent to $9 billion a year later.
Market conditions and demand for oil assets are not as robust today as in than in 2012.
No final list of assets to be sold has been decided, but about 30 percent are expected to come from the exploration and production division, 30 percent from refining and supply, and 40 percent from its gas and energy unit.
The gas and energy unit plans to sell minority stakes in thermal power plants if it can find a suitable buyer, the source said. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Jeb Blount; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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