HALF MOON BAY, California, Nov 20 (Reuters) - There is no immediate need for a capital injection at Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras, Finance Minister Joaquim Levy said on Friday, downplaying media reports about a possible government plan to bolster the capital of the heavily indebted company.
“They have enough cash to run,” Levy told reporters on the sidelines of an infrastructure conference in Half Moon Bay, a coastal town south of San Francisco.
“Of course the government could always act as a major shareholder. But we should not be seeking easy solutions. We have budget constraints,” he added.
Agência Estado news agency on Thursday reported that Brazil’s government is considering transferring hybrid securities to Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally known.
Hybrid notes, which combine elements of debt and equity securities, have been used by the government to pump money into state banks since 2009, allowing them to boost lending.
Such a plan would make Brazilian taxpayers pay to prop up Petrobras, the world’s most-indebted oil company. Petrobras is in a deepening cash crunch caused by over-ambitious expansion spending as a massive corruption scandal undermines its ability to refinance more than $130 billion of debt.
Petrobras has repeatedly said it has no plans to sell new stock.
“I‘m comfortable with their situation. They have cash for a reasonable amount of time,” Levy said. “There are a lot of aspects to look at before considering easy capital injection.”
Earlier on Friday a key Petrobras workers union voted to end a 20-day strike that disrupted output. (Reporting by Rory Carroll; Writing by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Leslie Adler)