SAO PAULO: A group led by Brazil’s Itausa Investimentos SA offered about 3.5 billion reais (US$850mil) for Petrobras’s bottled gas distributor, a person with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be named because the discussions are private.
Petrobras said in a filing that Itausa, the holding company for the Setubal and Villela families, in a consortium with Copagaz Distribuidora de Gas Ltda and Nacional Gas Butano, offered the highest bid for Liquigas Distribuidora SA.
Itausa and Copagaz declined to comment. Petrobras and Nacional Butano didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Other bidders included a group led by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co. and another led by Dutch gas distributor SHV Holdings NV, people familiar said earlier this month.
Petrobras expected the bids to go as high as 2.8 billion reais, people previously said.
The supplier of liquefied petroleum gas for cooking to about 35 million homes is one of the assets put on the block by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the state-controlled oil producer is officially known, in an effort to cut debt and focus on deep-water exploration.
Bottled LPG is the only source of cooking gas for millions of consumers in Brazil. Liquigas has 22% of the market, trailing rival Cia. Ultragaz SA’s 24% share, according to Brazil’s petroleum regulator.
Itausa chief executive officer Alfredo Setubal said in February that the firm was “looking at all the Petrobras privatisations.”
Petrobras agreed to sell Liquigas for 2.8 billion reais to Ultrapar Participacoes SA, owner of Ultragaz, in 2016 but Brazil’s antitrust regulator rejected the deal last year.
Petrobras bought Liquigas from Rome-based Eni SpA in 2004 as the Brazilian producer sought to expand its reach to different energy markets. Under CEO Roberto Castello Branco, the company is selling assets to shore up its balance sheet and focus on oil exploration and production. — Bloomberg
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