(Adds context on Parente in paragraph 5 and details on upcoming auctions in paragraph 7, updates share price)
SAO PAULO, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Pedro Parente on Tuesday said he has no timetable to step down as chief executive officer of Petróleo Brasileiro SA, vowing his commitment to a long-term turnaround of Brazil’s state-controlled oil company.
Speaking at a seminar sponsored by Credit Suisse Group AG, Parente said the turnaround he began implementing in May has already helped the company’s shares generate the highest return among global oil companies over the past year. There is still work to do to revamp Petrobras, Parente added.
“I have no timetable to leave the company,” Parente told investors. “If it were up to me, I would continue to implement this strategy.”
His remarks helped dispel concerns of an early departure of an executive investors credit with steps to rid Petrobras of years of state meddling.
The government, as Petrobras’s controlling shareholder, names the company’s top brass. Political uncertainty related to a massive corruption scandal that helped topple the prior government and next year’s presidential election had fanned worries of a possible Parente exit.
Preferred shares of Petrobras, the company’s most widely traded class of stocks, gained 1.9 percent to 15.30 reais on the Sao Paulo exchange.
Parente also said the company will analyze whether to exercise its preference right in upcoming oil auctions, if conditions are “very good”.
Under Parente, Petrobras has cut capital spending, sold assets and stepped away from low-return refining and logistic projects to cut the company’s debt that currently stands at about $120 billion. Petrobras has the largest debt burden among global oil companies.
He listed debt reduction and accident prevention as the company’s top priorities for this year. Parente listed as risks for Petrobras’ operations and financial performance the impact from escalating geopolitical tension in the Middle East, uncertainty regarding the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump and the slow economic recovery in Brazil. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Writing by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)