Petrobas eyes top share sale

City A.M. Reporter
PETROBRAS, the Brazilian state oil company, has filed one of the largest rights issues to date as the firm plans to sell up to $64.5bn (£41.7bn) of new stock.

The global stock offer could be expanded to as much as $74.7bn if underwriters exercise a “greenshoe” option to sell an additional 564m shares to meet extraordinary demand as the company raises funds for the world’s biggest oil exploration program.

Petrobras filed to sell 1.59bn new preferred shares and 2.17bn new common shares. At Thursday’s closing prices, it would raise 67.8bn reais (£25.3bn) with the common shares sale and 43.8bn from the preferred shares.

Included in the offer is a $43bn state-backed swap of oil for shares in which Petrobras will trade new shares for rights to produce 5bn barrels of offshore oil.

The plan has become the financial cornerstone of the company’s $224bn, five-year investment plan meant to turn Brazil into a major oil exporter by tapping crude buried deep under the ocean floor in a region known as the subsalt.

But, the company faces skepticism from some investors who have questioned the price of $8.51 per barrel for the reserves to be used in the oil-for-shares swap, considerably higher than the $5 to $6 per barrel that analysts said was fair.

Petrobras expects to begin bookbuilding on Friday and price the share sale on 23 September.

It currently ranks fifth in oil and gas production among the world’s publicly listed oil companies, according to its own figures, with output of 2.53m barrels of oil equivalent, an amount nearly equal to that of US-based Chevron.

The Petrobras move tops the record rights issue launched by Prudential when the insurer attempted to raise £14.5bn to fund its takeover of AIA.