Top execs quit Brazil’s Petrobras, Eletrobras

RIO DE JANEIRO: Two of Brazil’s top executives overseeing privatisation efforts at state-run oil and electricity companies Petrobras and Eletrobras has stepped down, raising questions about the future of President Jair Bolsonaro’s asset sale programme.

Wilson Ferreira Jr, the chief executive of state-run power firm Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras, or Eletrobras, resigned, saying he had lost faith that there was the necessary political support for the privatisation drive.

Ferreira, who led Eletrobras for nearly four-and-a-half years, will take the helm of recently-privatised fuel distributor, Petrobras Distribuidora SA, which operates Latin America’s largest gas station chain known as BR Distribuidora, the two companies said.

Later on Monday, Anelise Lara, Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s refining unit chief, also announced plans to retire, two people familiar with the decision said.

The departure of Lara, who was leading the company’s efforts to privatise half of Brazil’s fuel production capacity, is not expected to disrupt Petrobras’ first refinery sale of its RLAM plant in Bahia state, due before March, the sources said.

Petrobras did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ferreira was appointed Eletrobras CEO in 2017 by then-President Michel Temer with a mission to privatise the company.

He told analysts and journalists on conference calls on Monday that although his effort enjoyed the full backing of the Economy and Mines and Energy ministries, he was not sure that Brazil’s Congress would sign off.

“If I can’t see a clear chance for this process to happen, my contribution to the company is compromised, ” said Ferreira Jr, who will leave his post on March 5.

The government has said the Eletrobras sale could generate up to 20 billion reais (US$3.7bil).

Eletrobras’ US-traded stock closed down 11.8%. Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa index was closed on Monday for a Sao Paulo holiday.

At BR Distribuidora, Ferreira will replace Rafael Salvador Grisolia, who is due to step down on Jan 31. Grisolia won praise from investors for successfully conducting the company’s privatisation.

Ferreira, regarded as a more experienced executive to lead the company as a private entity, was chosen by the board, which is packed with former executives from international oil companies.

Analysts saw the changes as negative for Eletrobras and positive for BR Distribuidora. — Reuters

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