New Petrobras CEO rules out privatisation, wants non-core asset sales

RIO DE JANEIRO: A University of Chicago-trained economist named to head Brazil’s Petrobras will not privatise the state-run company, but wants to push ahead with selling non-core assets and to focus on oil exploration and production.
Brazil’s incoming far-right government announced Roberto Castello Branco (pictured) as the next chief executive of Petroleo Brasileiro SA, amid a debate over how far to pursue asset sales at the indebted company, Latin America’s largest by market capitalisation.
Castello Branco’s appointment is the latest in a string of market-friendly selections by President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, many of them influenced by his adviser and future Economy Minister, Paulo Guedes.
The appointments have raised hopes among investors that the former army captain, who takes office on January 1, will deliver significant reforms needed to improve Brazil’s creaking public finances, including a pension overhaul.
Castello Branco, who in the past has spoken in favour of privatising Petrobras, said he had not been tasked with selling off the company but signalled his intention to cut costs, do away with some of the company’s downstream operations and focus on its core business. — Reuters