SAO PAULO, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Ultrapar Participações SA , which owns Brazil’s largest natural gas distribution company, is interested in acquiring some assets from state-controlled Petróleo Brasileiro SA that could be listed as early as this year, O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported on Monday.
Ultrapar would be willing to acquire Liquigás, a rival controlled by the state firm commonly known as Petrobras, Chairman Paulo Cunha told Estado in an interview. However, such a move could face tough regulatory scrutiny, Cunha told the paper.
The company was also interested in some assets controlled by BR Distribuidora SA, a fuel distribution firm that Petrobras plans to list on the local exchange within months, Estado said.
Ultrapar wants the fuel and gas distribution assets operating in Brazil’s northern and northeastern regions that Petrobras and BR Distribuidora kept as part of a $4 billion joint acquisition of Grupo Ipiranga SA with Ultrapar in 2007, he told Estado.
The company “would pay more for those assets than they could get in an initial public offering,” Cunha said.
A formal proposal has not been made for Liquigás and the BR Distribuidora assets, he said.
Cunha’s interest in the assets comes as Petrobras relies increasingly on asset sales, spinoffs and investment cuts to stabilize rapidly growing debt in the face of a corruption scandal. Saddled with the debt amid weak oil prices, Petrobras plans to put on the block almost $60 billion in assets through 2018.
Efforts to contact Ultrapar, Brazil’s No. 4 conglomerate by revenue, to confirm the content of the interview were unsuccessful. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Bernadette Baum)