October 22, 2014
Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 10/21/2014
Sometimes all it takes is a celebrity investor to say something bad about a market and the investor riff-raff go running for the door. On Monday, famed investor and regular CNBC guest Jim Chanos said Brazilian state owned oil company was not an investment, but an investment scheme. He was referring to what most Petrobras watchers already know — that the company is used by the government as a revenue stream, and as a means to control inflation as it keeps a lock on gasoline prices.
Chanos said this on a day when Petrobras shares had down their usual mega-drop, falling 6% in a day. Less than 12 hours later, the stock opened 6% lower on Tuesday following Chanos’ guidance. He’s laughing all the way to the bank this week.
And while every broker and trader on the Bovespa floor in São Paulo needs something to tell newswire reporters about the wild drop in Brazilian equities today, it is very unlikely that the recent poll by Datafolha showing incumbent Dilma Rousseff neck and neck with challenger Aécio Neves is any reason for investors to sell Brazil. Business Insider gets it. Linette Lopez wrote in a headline today that Chanos Tanked Brazil.
October 21, 2014
Antonio Prata – The New York Times, 10/21/2014
We Brazilians suffer from a curious cognitive dysfunction, which occurs with the same frequency in our population as lactose intolerance does among the Japanese, or the inclination for punning among the English. We have the ability to be outraged by corruption, while engaging in our own petty versions of it.
As the second round of presidential voting approaches on Sunday, this evil is spreading like an epidemic. In bars, on the streets and on social networks, advocates of Dilma Rousseff, the Workers Party candidate for re-election, and Senator Aécio Neves, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, never tire of reminding us of the “robberies” that their rivals commit.
Workers Party supporters cite the re-election scandal in which Social Democrats were accused of bribing congressmen to approve a constitutional amendment allowing Fernando Henrique Cardoso to compete again for the presidency in 1998. Social Democrats’ supporters mention the “Mensalão,” a case in which congressmen allied with the Workers Party regularly received money diverted from Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s illegal campaign contributions. Those not involved in the party squabbles tend to blame all the politicians, as if the politicians were a separate species, able to corrupt our reputable citizens.
October 21, 2014
Sabrina Valle and Juan Pablo Spinetto – Bloomberg Businessweek, 10/20/2014
When in April 2012 Paulo Roberto Costa was eased out of his job as the refinery chief for Brazil’s Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4), the state-run oil giant, it was treated as a routine shakeup, with Chief Executive Officer Maria das Gracas Foster praising him as a “dear colleague” who would be “hard to replace.”
Costa, who was also a company director, seemed unruffled. Within months, he had set up a consulting company in Rio de Janeiro’s up-and-coming Barra de Tijuca beach district, with ambitions to raise about $120 million to build a shipyard and marine repair terminal.
This would be a family affair. During a champagne party to celebrate, he showed reporters the tidy office –- holding mementos from his 35 years at the company known as Petrobras –- that he said his wife had decorated and that he planned to share with one of his two daughters who would work alongside him.
September 23, 2014
Jon C. Ogg – 24/7 Wall St., 09/22/2014
Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, is showing how dangerous it can be for one company to be considered such a key market barometer for upcoming elections. With Brazil having tipped from a great emerging market back into a red-tape economy, and now into an economy that keeps weighing social issues over that of domestic and international finance, the question to ask is whether Petrobras is simply becoming too much of a daily barometer for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections.
As the October 5, 2014, presidential election comes closer and closer, Petrobras shares seem to rise and fall drastically around predictive polling and news flows each day. From an outsider’s view, it is easy to see how and why a socialist-leaning president would be more liked by the bulk of the population — after all, Brazil’s general population is far from wealthy.
The flip side is also easy to see, and that is that international money is not going to flow into a nation that treats capital so poorly. To say that common stock investors of Petrobras are treated poorly in the capital structure would be the understatement of the year. If Petrobras was an international oil giant that acted like most of its large peers in the Americas and Europe, investors would likely flock back into Petrobras (and likely elsewhere in Brazil).
September 18, 2014
Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 09/17/2014
The brutalist headquarters of South America’s biggest company, Petrobras, offers a harsh riposte to those who try to romanticise Brazil as a land of golden beaches and endless forest. This week, the concrete edifice in central Rio de Janeiro was the focus of a pro-oil rally by thousands of petrochemical workers amid a presidential election debate dominated by how to manage the nation’s vast fossil fuel reserves.
It is a question that has opened up the biggest gap between President Dilma Rousseff, an old industry champion of the Workers Party, and her main challenger Marina Silva, a former environment minister who has pledged to shift priorities towards alternatives energies like wind, solar and ethanol.
This is more than just a Brazilian rerun of George Bush and Big Oil versus Al Gore and climate concern, because state-run Petrobras is no ordinary company and – with the company also mired in a massive corruption scandal – this is no ordinary time.
September 9, 2014
Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 09/08/2014
President Dilma Rousseff sought to shield her re-election bid from a new scandal at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA by asking prosecutors on Monday for any details involving officials in her government.
Brazilian magazine Veja reported on Saturday that a jailed former executive at Petrobras named Energy Minister Edison Lobao and two dozen other politicians as people who received kickbacks from the company’s contracts.
The scandal threatens to further complicate Rousseff’s chances of winning a second term in October in a tight contest, with polls showing her behind environmentalist Marina Silva in a potential runoff. Rousseff told reporters Lobao had “vehemently” denied the allegations. She asked Brazil’s top prosecutor for details of the plea bargain testimony leaked to Veja to see if any government officials are involved so she can take action.
September 9, 2014
Will Connors, Luciana Magalhaes and Jeffrey Lewis - The Wall Street Journal, 09/07/2014
Leading opposition presidential candidate Marina Silva was forced on Sunday to confront a scandal involving Brazil’s biggest company that already tarnished the country’s president and has added another level of complexity to October presidential elections.
A former executive of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.BR -4.91% alleged that dozens of prominent Brazilian politicians—including Ms. Silva’s former running mate Eduardo Campos —took part in a kickback scheme for Petrobras contracts, according to a story published Saturday by a Brazilian newsweekly.
Ms. Silva, a former environment minister who replaced Mr. Campos as the socialist party candidate after his death last month in a plane crash, currently leads incumbent Dilma Rousseff in the polls and has made clean government one of her main selling points.