Is Petrobras Becoming Too Tied to Brazil Elections and Sentiment?

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).

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Brazil’s Rousseff moves to limit damage from Petrobras scandal

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.

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Kickback Allegations Ensnare Brazil’s Presidential Campaign

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.

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Brazil squanders oil bonanza even as Rousseff declares victory

September 3, 2014

Jeb Blount – Reuters, 09/02/2014

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has put her government’s oil policies front and center in her re-election campaign.

TV ads show dramatic views of giant, floating oil platforms and new refineries under construction. The message: her leftist government is turning an offshore oil bonanza into schools, hospitals and jobs, propelling Brazil into the ranks of developed nations.

But there’s a problem. Brazil’s oil industry may be large and growing, but little of what Rousseff promised when elected in 2010 – or before then as energy minister or chairwoman of state-run energy giant Petrobras – has come to pass.

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Environmentalist Surges Ahead In Brazilian Presidential Polling

August 28, 2014

Nick Cunningham – Oilprice.com, 8/28/2014

Political change could be coming to Brazil. A new Ibope poll in Brazil shows that an unexpected challenger in the 2014 presidential election would defeat incumbent President Dilma Rousseff in a hypothetical run-off.

Rousseff was once thought to be in a strong position for reelection, but Marina Silva, an ardent environmentalist, has vaulted to the front of the pack.

The daughter of a rubber tapper, Silva had humble beginnings. She grew up poor and was illiterate until she was a teenager. But after years of activism in union politics, Silva was eventually elected senator from her home state of Acre.

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China, Brazil close plane, finance, infrastructure deals

July 18, 2014

Anthony Boadle and Alonso Soto – Reuters, 7/17/2014

China and Brazil sealed their expanding commercial partnership on Thursday with a $5 billion credit line for Brazilian miner Vale and the purchase of 60 passenger jets from Brazilian planemaker Embraer.

In a raft of energy, finance and industry accords signed before presidents Xi Jinping and Dilma Rousseff, the two nations agreed to join forces to build railways to help Brazil cut its infrastructure deficit and feed China’s appetite for commodities.

Trade between China and Brazil soared to $83.3 billion last year from $3.2 billion in 2002, with iron ore, soy and oil making up the bulk of Brazilian exports, making China the South American nation’s biggest trade partner.

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Industrial accidents test Brazil fuel plan

January 7, 2014

Jeff Fick – The Wall Street Journal, 01/06/2014

Brazil’s state-owned energy giant has suffered a series of industrial accidents in recent weeks as it strives to meet the country’s growing fuel needs.

Petróleo Brasileiro’s most recent accident set a fuel refinery ablaze outside Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. No one was injured in that event, but workers have suffered burns and other injuries in incidents at the same refinery and others, union officials say.

Petrobras, as the company is known, has pushed its refineries to their limits, union officials and industry experts say, in an effort to reduce expensive fuel imports that have eroded the company’s profits and Brazil’s trade surplus in recent years.

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