What are the chances of Brazil’s state-owned oil giant Petrobras going bankrupt? 32%, to be precise

December 11, 2013

Anderson Antunes – Forbes, 12/10/2013

Three years after raising almost $70 billion in the largest share issue ever, Brazil’s state-owned oil and gas Petrobras PBR -3.72% is in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis. As the company approaches its 60th anniversary, it has seen its market capitalization drop 45% since its peak in 2010, from $196.21 billion to the current $103.9 billion. At the same time, Petrobras’ debt soared to over 2.5 times before earnings, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), totaling $112.4 billion as of June 30, 17% more than a year earlier. Net debt, or debt minus cash and marketable securities, was $79.6 billion, resulting in the company’s recent downgrading by Moody’s on concern that fuel subsidies and huge investment commitments will cause its debt to grow until at least 2015.

But why has Petrobras — whose CEO Maria das Graças Silva Foster is one of FORBES’ Most Powerful Women — gone from heaven to hell at the very moment when it is announcing some of its biggest oil discoveries, including those in its Libra field, whose estimates for production were recently updated to as much as 12 billion barrels, twice previous estimates?

Simply put, for Petrobras — as for any other oil company out there in the world, and Brazil’s own bankrupt OGX is an example of that — more oil means more investments and debt. Considering that Petrobras also has the world’s largest corporate spending program, valued at $237 billion, it also means more trouble.

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Brazil’s Petrobras not facing cash flow difficulties – president

May 22, 2013

Fox Business/Dow Jones Newswires, 05/22/2013

Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras (PBR, PETR4.BR) remains well financed and isn’t facing cash flow difficulties as suggested by some market rumors, its president said Wednesday.

Responding to questions from lawmakers on a Brazilian congressional committee, Petrobras President Graca Foster said company initiatives to raise cash didn’t indicate it was undergoing problems.

“Petrobras has a cash reserve of $20 billion,” she said. “This information isn’t correct.”

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A break for Brazil’s Petrobras?

January 4, 2013

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 01/03/2013

Brazilian oil giant Petrobras (PBR) has been the ugly duckling of big oil companies. It’s high time it cleans up its act.

And, let’s be serious for a moment, Petrobras is a big oil company. It’s not Rosneft or ExxonMobil, but it’s a player. It discovered the biggest offshore oil find in years back in 2007, off the coasts of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo states. But ever since that discovery, and ever since a massive share offering diluted shareholder value in 2009, this prime Brazilian investment has been nothing but a dud. Investors have punished the stock for the last two years. Shares are down over 40 percent since Jan. 1, 2010.

New management took time getting used to, and as an investment, Petrobras has been nothing but a let down. Considering it and mining major Vale account for a large portion of the BM&F Bovespa‘s Ibovespa index, Petrobras’s lackluster two years has been a drag on the broader equity market in Brazil too, and for holders of the popular iShares MSCI Brazil (EWZ) exchange traded fund. It’s the worst performer of the BRICs. EWZ is down 22 percent since the start of 2011 while the MSCI Emerging Markets index is down just 3.06 percent.

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Graca Foster takes charge at Brazil oil giant Petrobras

February 9, 2012

Julia Dias Carneiro – BBC News, 02/08/2012

President Rousseff (left) and Graca Foster first worked together in 1998.

Maria das Gracas Silva Foster has worked for Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras almost all her career.

And now, after 32 years, she is set to take over the running of a company that is crucial to Brazil’s economic development.

Petrobras, ranked 34th in the Fortune 500 list of companies, aims to become one of the world’s biggest suppliers of oil, capitalising on the deep water reserves found off the Brazilian coast.

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Brazil oil industry, investors cheer new Petrobras CEO choice

January 24, 2012

Jeff Fick – Dow Jones/Fox Business, 01/23/2012

Picture of an oil platform belonging to the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras at the port of Rio de Janeiro (AFP/File, Vanderlei Almeida)

Brazil’s oil industry lauded the choice of Maria das Gracas Silva Foster to be the next chief executive at government-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR, PETR4.BR), while investors sent the company’s shares surging more than 4%.

Guido Mantega, Brazil’s finance minister and also the chairman of Petrobras, nominated Foster to succeed Jose Sergio Gabrielli, and the board of directors will vote Feb. 9. The government owns a majority of Petrobras voting stock, so the appointment is widely expected to be approved. Foster would be the first woman to serve as chief executive at Latin America’s largest company by market value.

Gabrielli, who couldn’t be reached, is expected to move into politics.

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The politics of oil: Brazil’s Dilma replaces Petrobras CEO

January 23, 2012

Agustino Fontevecchia – Forbes, 01/23/2012

Gabrielli, the former CEO, will make a move into the political sphere - Wikipedia

Amid a string of top management reshufflings, state-owned oil giant Petrobras announced CEO Sergio Gabrielli will step down as of February 9, when the board will formally appoint current Gas & Energy director Maria das Graças Silva Foster to succeed him.  The move was orchestrated by President Dilma Rousseff, who wanted a woman of her utmost confidence at the top job, while Gabrielli is expected to move into the public sphere, eyeing a governorship for 2014.

Petrobras, which is one of the world’s largest oil companies, is also a state-backed enterprise; despite being publicly traded, the government holds a 48% stake in the company.

The official announcement carried the name of Guido Mantega, president of the board and also Brazil’s outspoken finance minister.  Gabrielli had been appointed by former president Lula Da Silva and has led Petrobras from 2005 and through the important discovery of the highly valuable pre-salt fields.

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