Technicians from the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) have five working days to analyze whether they are going to ask for the suspension of the sale of the Landulpho Alves Refinery (Rlam) by Petrobras (PETR3; PETR4) to Mubadala, the UAE’s financial fund, announced on the last day 24. The measure aims to avoid “damage to the public interest”, as Minister Walton Alencar said in plenary, last Wednesday, 31.
TCU questions the amount of US $ 1.65 billion closed with Mubadala, which would be below the market price of US $ 3.04 billion, defined by Petrobras itself.
“I received a letter from the Deputy Attorney General, Lucas Rocha Furtado, highlighting the recent decision by the Petrobras board of directors to sell the Landulpho Alves Refinery (Rlam) at prices below its market value,” said the minister, in yesterday’s session.
When questioned, the company sent the court the reasons why its board of directors and refinery approved the sale of the refinery below this amount. With the documents in hand, the minister handed over to the technical area the responsibility for definitively analyzing the case.
“Given the risk of concluding the deal before this Court can deal with the matter, with possible damage to the public interest, as well as considering the consequences that this decision may have on the sale of the other refineries, I believe it is essential to determine that the Technical Unit submit to this Rapporteur, within 5 working days, a conclusive analysis regarding the need or not to grant injunctions for the suspension of the sale in progress ”, affirmed Alencar, in plenary.
Since the negotiations with Mubadala were concluded, the amount of US $ 1.65 billion, to be paid by the fund, has been questioned by the market. The Institute for Strategic Studies of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (Ineep) estimated Rlam at US $ 3 billion. While BTG Pactual bank analysts say that the total to be paid for the asset is 35% below the lower limit projected by them. XP Investimentos estimates that, with this money, Petrobras will be able to achieve a very small portion of its financial goals.
The criticisms led the president of the oil company, Roberto Castello Branco, to distribute a letter to his employees, last Monday, to justify the sale of Rlam. He will step down next month. “There was no exaggerated haste, there was no approval to turn off the lights of the current administration,” he said.
The president of Petrobras also said that the sale was not a job or “decision of a person or a small group” and that “lying is the main weapon of the radicals”. In the end, he apologized for the long text, arguing that he owed the employees clarification.
One of the justifications presented by the executive to close the deal with Mubadala is that, with the entry of the private sector in the refining sector, the chances of governments to position themselves on fuel prices decrease. In refineries, oil is transformed into derivatives, such as gasoline and diesel.
According to Castello Branco, Petrobras is “the favorite target of political pressure to subsidize fuels for the benefit of interest groups”. He adds that successive governments have put pressure on the company for this, which, in his opinion, creates administrative instability for the state company.
“Between 2018 and 2021, two presidents (he and Pedro Parente, who resigned) of the company were dismissed for their insistence on practicing market prices,” said the executive, adding that “in 67 years of existence, Petrobras has already it had 38 presidents, unusual turnover in company management worldwide ”.
Petrobras’ president was dismissed on February 19 after readjusting gasoline and diesel oil by about 50% in just over two months. His departure was announced by the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, through social media, after successive criticisms of his administration. Bolsonaro was especially irritated by Castello Branco’s speech, in a virtual event, that the problem of fuel prices is not the state’s, but the age of the fleet of autonomous truck drivers and the poor quality of the roads.
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