BRASILIA, May 11 (Reuters) - Brazil could offer an improved rate of return for investment in multibillion-dollar projects aimed at overhauling its aging infrastructure and ease requirements as it seeks to lure more private capital, five officials close to policy talks told Reuters.
A fiscal austerity push that cut government financing has forced President Dilma Rousseff to sweeten the terms of a package of measures aimed bringing more competition to upcoming auctions of concessions for airports, roads and ports across Brazil.
Also playing into the decision to sweeten the terms was a corruption investigation at state-run oil company Petrobras that hurt the bottom lines of Brazil's biggest engineering firms.
The improved concession terms could be unveiled as early as this week, the officials said.
The concession sale plan is the latest attempt by Rousseff to raise fresh investment and offset the belt-tightening weighing on an economy that is expected to contract this year.
"With financing drying up and firms under stress, the government plans to raise the internal rate of return (IRR) to make those projects more attractive," said a senior senator with Rousseff's Workers Party who has been involved in policy talks and asked for anonymity to speak freely.
Three government officials and a top executive with state-run bank BNDES confirmed the administration will likely raise the rate of return on highway concessions. The IRR is a measure of return on an investment that takes both the size and timing of cash flows into account.
The government is also considering easing investment requirements for highway concessions to reduce the cash burden on builders, said a finance ministry official who asked not to be named because the matter was not public. In past auctions, the government required the winner of a highway to build a motorway in five years.
Previous attempts by the leftist leader to draw investors into infrastructure projects failed largely due to excessive state intervention that went as far as fixing the IRR.
The package is expected to include private concessions to upgrade and operate more airports in major cities - including Porto Alegre, Florianopolis and Salvador - and private management of state-owned terminals in 29 ports from Santos to the Amazon.
It will also seek investment to build thousands of kilometers of highways and private companies to operate railways that are under construction, though the concession model for railroads yet to be decided, sources said. (Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Christian Plumb)