February 12, 2019 / 3:59 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Petrobras expects new bids for TAG in March -source

(Adds share performance, paragraph 5)

By Tatiana Bautzer

SAO PAULO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petrobras is expected to require new bids for the acquisition of its gas pipeline network TAG in March, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

The new court-required bidding comes as Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, is in final discussions with France’s Engie SA over the sale contract. Engie won the right to hold exclusive talks to discuss the sale contract early last year.

The source, who asked for anonymity because the talks are private, added that the groups, including Engie and ones led by Australia’s Macquarie Bank and by sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co, associated with EIG Partners, will have the opportunity to raise the value of their bids in March.

The bids so far are the same as the ones delivered early last year. All three groups bid higher than $7 billion, and Engie’s bid is estimated to be close to $8 billion.

Shares in Petrobras were up 3.9 percent, at 25.81 reais, in late afternoon in Sao Paulo, as investors expected the company’s divestiture program to accelerate under new Chief Executive Officer Roberto Castello Branco.

Newspaper Valor Economico reported that Engie and Petrobras would finish talks over the sale contract next week. Exclusive talks were interrupted by court decisions last July and resumed last month.

The rebidding was set by Brazil’s audit court as a way to increase transparency in the Petrobras divestment program. Petrobras declined to comment. ($1 = 3.7337 reais) (Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer; editing by Louise Heavens, Jeffrey Benkoe and David Gregorio)

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