(Adds context, information on Guarani assets)
By Sybille de La Hamaide and Marcelo Teixeira
PARIS/SAO PAULO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - French sugar group Tereos said on Friday Brazil’s Petrobras had raised its stake in their sugar and ethanol joint venture Guarani to 45.9 percent through a capital injection of 268 million reais ($69.75 million).
Tereos, which said this was the final step of a strategic partnership signed with Petrobras in 2010, remains the majority shareholder with 54.1 percent of the capital.
The 268 million reais would be paid up by Petrobras on Jan. 5, 2016 and finalizes a total investment of 1.611 billion reais, Tereos said in a statement.
The agreement on Guarani assets foresaw a gradual increase in the Brazilian oil company’s stake, depending on some investments. Friday was the last day for Petrobras to confirm it would make the final payment, according to the agreement.
The Brazilian state-run oil company has the largest debt load of any oil major in the world and is trying to overcome a massive corruption scandal, so there was doubt in the sugar sector if it would complete its investment in Guarani.
“Petrobras carried out today the final subscription which enabled it to increase its participation in Guarani’s capital to the level set in the agreements,” said Tereos.
A Petrobras representative could not immediately be reached for comment. Sao Paulo-based Tereos Internacional declined to comment further.
Guarani has seven mills in the top sugar producing state of Sao Paulo. The plants have a combined production capacity of 1.73 million tonnes of sugar and 903 million liters of ethanol per year.
Back in June, Petrobras told Tereos officials in meetings in Sao Paulo that it would like to sell its stake in Guarani as part of a large divestment plan it is looking to implement, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
But the oil company wanted far more for the stake than the $200 million Tereos offered, the sources said. Tereos has not confirmed it was negotiating to buy back Petrobras’ stake.
It is not known the penalties, if any, Petrobras would have been subject to if it had chosen not to make the final payment. ($1 = 3.842 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, in Paris, and Marcelo Teixeira, in Sao Paulo; editing by Bate Felix and Grant McCool)