* Petrobras hopes to sell Braskem stake by end of June
* Odebrecht unlikely to buy stake from Petrobras -source
* Brazil gasoline 15 pct above world price, diesel 30 pct
* Company has ruled out fuel-price cut in 2016 (Adds value of Petrobras shares in Braskem, paragraph 3)
By Rodrigo Viga Gaier
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Brazil’s state-led oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA is on the verge of selling its stake in Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem SA and expects to complete the sale by the end of June, a Petrobras source told Reuters on Friday.
Petrobras, as the company is known, has received interest from major international chemical companies for its 36 percent stake in Braskem’s total capital, the source said.
Petrobras owns 47 percent of Braskem’s common shares and 21.8 percent of its non-voting preferred stock. Those shares were worth 3.65 billion reais ($892 million) at Friday’s close in Sao Paulo.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the sale talks are private, said it was unlikely that Braskem’s controlling shareholder, Brazil’s Odebrecht Group, will have the interest or financial strength to buy the stake.
Odebrecht is at the center of a giant price-fixing, bribery and political kickback probe related to Petrobras construction projects.
Petrobras officials said last week they plan to speed up a long-stalled program to sell $15.1 billion of assets by the end of 2016. Chief Executive Officer Almir Bendine has said the sales are needed to finance expansion and pay down Petrobras’ $130 billion debt, the largest of any oil company.
A decline in oil prices and a failure to sell assets led the company to cut its five-year investment plan by a quarter on Jan. 12, its third cut in a little over six months.
The source said the recent signing of a long-term naphtha supply contract for Braskem has helped the company’s stock recover from recent declines, making a sale more attractive for Petrobras. Petrobras has faced accusations of selling key assets at fire-sale prices.
The source also said Petrobras has no plans to cut gasoline and diesel prices in the Brazilian market in 2016 and that it expects to reduce refined product imports this year to between 100,000 and 150,000 barrels a day.
Petrobras’ wholesale price for gasoline in Brazil is now about 15 percent above world market prices and its diesel price 30 percent above, the source said. This has led more Brazilian distributors to buy fuel abroad and sell it in Brazil, a factor that will help Petrobras cut its imports.
Petrobras is selling fuel at a premium to world prices to recover about 50 billion in losses on government-mandated fuel subsidies in recent years, a key factor behind its giant debt.
$1 = 4.09 Brazilian reais Writing and additional reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Will Dunham