UPDATE 1-Scandal hit Petrobras may release audited data on April 22

lunes 13 de abril de 2015 19:53 GYT

(Recasts with details, background, share performance)

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Roberto Samora

SAO PAULO, April 13 (Reuters) - Petrobras hopes to release third-quarter and full-year 2014 financial results after a board meeting on April 22, after more than five months of delays in the wake of a corruption scandal that has spread to the highest levels of government.

In a securities filing on Monday, state-controlled Petróleo Brasileiro SA said it expects to release the audited data once the board approves the numbers.

The world's most indebted listed oil company must release results before the end of next month to avert a default on as much as $54 billion in bonds.

Rio de Janeiro-based Petrobras delayed the release of its results after accusations it systematically overpaid for assets and work by contractors. The excess funds might have been funneled to political parties, including President Dilma Rousseff's ruling Workers' Party, prosecutors said.

Back in November, auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers refused to certify Petrobras' financial data because the bribery and money-laundering scandal raised questions about its accounting methods. Since the scandal gained traction in early October, Petrobras preferred shares have shed more than 41 percent.

Petrobras did not say whether the board will discuss any asset impairments related to the scandal or to other issues. The failure to assess the size and extent of losses from the scandal has been the main reason for the delay, which if prolonged could lead investors to demand early repayment of the bonds.

Last week, JPMorgan Securities analysts led by Marcos Severine said in a client note that Petrobras might report third- and fourth-quarter earnings this month and book a one-off average asset impairment of 29.4 billion reais ($9.2 billion) because the graft may have inflated the value of some holdings.

The release of audited financial data might be the beginning of the end of the problems afflicting Brazil's largest state company that began last year with a corruption investigation known as "Operation Car Wash."

The problems intensified with the plunge of oil prices, the decision by Moody's Investors Service to cut the company's debt rating to below investment grade and a tumbling Brazilian currency. (Editing by Chris Reese and Andre Grenon)