BRASILIA, April 21 OGX Petroleo e Gas SA
, the flagship of Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista's
troubled EBX group, is negotiating the sale of a 40 percent
stake to Russia's Lukoil in a rescue plan that also
involves Malaysia's Petronas, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
The Folha de S.Paulo said negotiations were at an advanced
stage with Russia's second-largest crude producer Lukoil, which
is interested in operating in Brazil to tap major off-shore
reserves discovered in recent years.
OGX, which produces oil in Rio de Janeiro's Campos Basin, is
also negotiating the sale of 40 percent of its Tubarao Martelo
oil field to Petronas for $1 billion, the newspaper reported.
This sale would bring needed cash to the company in which
Batista last year had offered to buy up $1 billion in stock with
his own money.
Folha said OGX is seeking partnerships with Brazilian
state-led giant oil company Petrobras in oil fields
that are already in operation.
OGX said in a brief press statement that the newspaper
report on the rescue plan was not accurate.
OGX's shares have fallen dramatically over the last year as
the company struggles to meet production targets. OGX is the
worst-performing stock this year in Sao Paulo's Bovespa stock
exchange, with a decline of 63 percent.
Batista built a commodities empire that early last year was
valued at $30 billion, but is now worth less than two-thirds of
that as investors lose confidence in his companies due to their
disappointing results and delays of some flagship projects.
The share decline and investor concerns recently led Batista
to seek a partnership with Andre Esteves, a fellow Brazilian
billionaire and chief executive of BTG Pactual Group
, an investment bank. Esteves recently said Batista's
controlling stake in OGX may fall.
Lukoil has long been studying the possibility of operating
in Brazil. Its oil production has been falling at its aging
Siberian fields and it has been actively seeking participation
in overseas projects.
Folha newspaper said EBX hoped to close a deal with Lukoil
in early May in time for the first auctions of off-shore oil and
gas exploration contracts by Brazil since 2008.