SAO PAULO, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Petróleo Brasileiro SA may take over some thermal power stations run by Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras SA in exchange for forgiving some of Eletrobras’ billions of dollars in debt, newspaper Valor Econômico reported on Tuesday.
An agreement would help both companies cut debt and focus on core operations, a key step in the sale of Eletrobras subsidiary Amazonas Energia and the possible initial public offering of Petrobras unit BR Distribuidora SA.
Power utility Eletrobras’ overdue fuel bills with Petrobras are close to 16 billion reais ($5 billion), according to the newspaper. The state-controlled oil company has supplied Eletrobras’ thermal power plants for years but is now looking to collect the overdue bills as it seeks to raise cash.
Brazilian Energy Minister Fernando Coelho Filho said a sale of some assets currently operated by Amazonas could open the way for Eletrobras to reduce debt and allow for Amazonas’ privatization plans to go ahead, according to Valor.
One asset would be gas-fired thermal power plant Mauá 3, opened last year with capacity to produce 570 megawatts.
Coelho Filho said another option could be to sell assets such as Mauá 3 to buyers other than Petrobras and use the proceeds to reduce Eletrobras’ debt to the oil firm.
A deal is important for Petrobras since a large part of the debt is held by its fuel distribution subsidiary BR Distribuidora, which would help its chances as an IPO. Investors would be more interested in looking at BR Distribuidora if the debt with Eletrobras is resolved. ($1 = 3.19 reais) (Reporting by Bruno Federowski and Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)