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SAO PAULO, March 31 (Reuters) - Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run oil company, will not sell its fuel distribution arm as part of its ongoing asset sale plan, company board member Silvio Sinedino said on Tuesday.
In a live speech broadcast on Youtube, Sinedino said Aldemir Bendine, chief executive of the company, officially Petroleo Brasileiro SA, told a recent board meeting that BR Distribuidora would be excluded from the company’s $13.7 billion asset sale plan.
Sinedino, who represents Petrobras workers’ interests on the board and is one of three members not appointed by the government, said that in addition Petrobras is getting rid of third-party contractors to save costs.
“Petrobras is cutting many outsourced contracts, firing a lot of people,” he said.
Sinedino also pointed to potential conflicts of interest on the company’s next board, citing the nomination of Vale SA Chief Executive Murilo Ferreira as chairman and the selection of the president of Brazil’s national development bank BNDES, Luciano Coutinho, as interim chairman.
“How can a creditor be president of the board? I think it’s a clear conflict of interest,” Sinedino said of Coutinho.
He said in some cases, Ferreira’s confirmation would also represent a conflict of interest as Vale is a Petrobras business partner.
Vale, Brazil’s largest diesel consumer, pays Petrobras about 1 billion reais ($300 million) a year to fuel its mines and railways. Meanwhile, Petrobras buys raw materials from Vale for its fertilizer plants.
Shareholders will vote on Ferreira’s nomination on April 29. The next board will have to steer Petrobras through one of its rockiest periods ever, as it faces falling oil prices and a massive corruption scandal that has cut it off from capital needed to fund expansion.
Sinedino spoke a day after Petrobras announced the departure of Mauro Cunha, the board member elected by minority shareholders. Cunha said in a note he was leaving out of frustration with “the controlling shareholders’ inability to act with urgency to solve the numerous problems that have brought Petrobras to its current situation.”
The government is Petrobras’ controlling shareholder. Sinedino said the board’s function had become “rubber-stamping the government’s decisions.”
Petrobras did not respond to a request for comment on Sinedino’s speech.
$1 = 3.2 Brazilian reais Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Steve Orlofsky