The Jair Bolsonaro government is in the final phase of drafting a bill to try to advance the discussion of privatization of Petrobras. As anticipated by GLOBO columnist Lauro Jardim, the matter is being led by the Minister of Mines and Energy, Adolfo Sachsida.
The discussion takes place amid yet another adjustment in fuel prices, which put pressure on the state-owned company. Petrobras has become a target of the government and Congress, which is preparing measures to contain the readjustments and “frame” the company’s board.
Enter the Brasil Econômico channel on Telegram and stay on top of all the news of the day. Also follow the general profile of the iG Portal
For supporters of the measure, the price increase announced on Friday (17) creates a favorable political environment for the issue in Congress. According to this understanding, one of the reasons is that a private Petrobras would take the focus away from discussions on fuel prices.
In addition, members of the government, the project can serve to feed the president’s speech that he is doing something to solve the problem. The project may also calm the market.
The possibility of Congress advancing on this issue in an election year, however, is doubtful. Bolsonaro has already admitted that a privatization process would take at least four years.
The date of sending the project to Congress depends on discussions with parliamentarians and also on Bolsonaro’s approval.
The government is evaluating a model similar to the privatization of Eletrobras: the dilution of the Union’s participation to less than 50% of the shares. In the case of Petrobras, however, capitalization would not be necessary.
According to the economic team’s plans, it would be enough to take the company to the Novo Mercado of B3, converting Petrobras’ preferred shares (prioritized in the distribution of dividends, but without voting rights) into common shares (with voting rights at the shareholders’ meeting).
This move would take control of the company out of the hands of the government. An excerpt from the project obtained by GLOBO says that Petrobras is “authorized to convert all of its preferred shares into common shares, in accordance with corporate law”.
The approval of the National Congress is necessary because the current legislation prohibits the government from giving up its control over Petrobras. To raise funds, the government would sell shares held by BNDES.
Although the project is advanced, there is still the possibility of the Union getting out of control through the direct sale of shares and some technicians defend the sale of parts of the company where it is a monopolist (as in refining).
The company was included in the Investment Partnership Program (PPI, which handles privatizations and government concessions) in early June, after Sachsida took over the MME.
The main concern with the project is not to exchange a public monopoly for a private one. For the government, it is the lack of competition in refining that generates high prices. The Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Cade) has already ordered Petrobras to dispose of several refineries, but the timetable is delayed.
Petrobras has 7,442,454,142 common shares, 50.30% of which are held by the Federal Government. There are still 5,602,042,788 of preferred shares, 18.4% of which belong to BNDES, 9.63% to ADRs, 39% to foreign investors and 33.3% to other individuals and companies.