July 22, 2020 / 9:27 PM / 12 days ago

Brazil minister calls Eletrobras privatization a 'priority'

SAO PAULO, July 22 (Reuters) - Privatizing Brazilian state power company Eletrobras is a priority for the government, the energy minister said on Wednesday, the day after his ministry made public a request for funding to carry out the privatization process.

The privatization of Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA , as the company is formally known, would require the approval of Congress and faces an uphill political battle. Still, the possibility has caused brief rallies in its shares in recent years.

In the documents released Tuesday, the Mines and Energy Ministry requested 4 billion reais ($781 million) in its 2021 budget to create a separate state firm to hold some vestigial Eletrobras assets, should it be privatized.

“Within the Pro-Brazil agenda, it’s one of the priorities,” Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque told journalists on Wednesday, referring to a federal government program to reignite growth amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. “It’s a priority of the government.”

($1 = 5.12 reais)

Reporting Luciano Costa; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Brad Haynes and Leslie Adler

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