(Adds comment from Sinedino, third board member, share price,
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO, June 26 A board member of
Brazil's state-run Petrobras lashed out at the government on
Thursday and said he may ask the country's securities regulator
to sanction the oil company for failing to inform him and other
board members of a 15 billion real ($6.8 billion) oil-rights
Board members Silvio Sinedino and Mauro Cunha told Reuters
on Thursday that they knew nothing of a government plan to sell
as much as 15.2 billion barrels of offshore oil rights to
Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally
known, until it was announced in a securities filing on Tuesday.
Sinedino said he is considering a complaint to securities
regulator CVM because of the government's heavy hand in the
company's affairs under President Dilma Rousseff. On her watch,
Petrobras has become the world's most indebted and
least-profitable major oil company.
"I'm not against buying the oil, I'm just not sure the terms
are a good deal," Sinedino said. "The government has been doing
everything it can to suck money out of Petrobras to balance its
A senior government official, speaking on condition of
anonymity, told Reuters that government officials who drafted
the plan felt they had no need to inform the Petrobras board.
Petrobras shares have slipped 5.4 percent since the
decision. A Petrobras spokeswoman declined a request for
While the government owns a majority of voting shares,
non-government investors own most of the company's capital, but
most of that is made up of non-voting preferred shares.
"If the government finds the minority shareholders or
employee representatives or the by-laws to be a nuisance they
have a remedy: they can fully nationalize the company, buy up
the minority shares," said Sinedino, who represents Petrobras'
union employees on the board.
"But as long as they have minority shareholders, they have
to obey the rules," he added.
In addition to paying the government about 15 billion reais
by 2018, the plan increases annual Petrobras spending by about 3
percent and requires the purchase of billions of dollars worth
of oil production vessels and equipment.
On Tuesday, Petrobras Chief Executive Officer said that the
plan had been under discussion for two years. It was approved by
the country's National Energy Council earlier on Tuesday.
This latest move comes as the government's refusal to let
Petrobras raise domestic fuel prices in line with world prices
has led to large losses on fuel imports. This has caused the
company's debt to soar beyond its own internal limits as it
seeks cash to pay for a $221 billion five-year expansion plan.
Cunha, who represents minority shareholders on the board and
is also a member of the company's fiscal committee, voted
against approval of the company's 2013 results earlier this year
after complaining that the company did not give him or his
colleagues sufficient time to review them.
($1 = 2.20 Brazilian reais)
(Editing by Brian Winter, Jonathan Oatis and Eric Walsh)