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Brazil Replaces Petrobras CEO

Brazil’s government has removed the chief executive of Petrobras Jean Paul Prates and replaced him with the former head of the state oil and gas regulator, Magda Chambriard.

The news sent Petrobras shares down, Reuters said in a report on the reshuffle, with investors preparing for more state interference in the business of the company.

The change at the top comes a day after Petrobras reported a 38% decline in net profits for the first quarter of the year on 15% lower revenues. It also adds to bad news about shareholders after late last year outgoing CEO Prates informed them dividend payments would be kept lower for a while as Petrobras tried to expand into low-carbon directions.

"In our view, the exit of Prates is a deterioration of Petrobras governance and a downside risk for the investment thesis," Citi analysts said in a note quoted in the Reuters report.

"The new CEO arrives with the pressure to fulfill the investment plan and accelerate the capex expansion, which may negatively impact the company's dividend payment."

Expectations from the new leader are that she would prioritize the government’s desire for lower fuel prices, higher capital spending and consistently lower dividends.

Petrobras already planned a substantial boost to its capital spending for the next five-year planning period, with the total seen at $102 billion. This is a 31% increase on the previous five-year investment period and aims to increase oil and gas production to some 3.2 million barrels of oil equivalent daily. That would be u from 2.8 million bpd at the moment.

At the same time, former CEO Prates had a plan to squeeze the share of oil and gas in the company’s business to 50% of revenues, with the other 50% coming from wind, solar, and biofuels in barely a decade.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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