SAO PAULO, July 6 (Reuters) - State-controlled oil producer Petróleo Brasileiro SA could sell a stake in Brazil’s Braskem SA and build provisions against tax debts nearing 40 billion reais ($12.7 billion) to reduce costs and make finances sustainable, Valor Econômico newspaper said on Monday.
The company, known as Petrobras, could dispose of the 36.1 percent it owns in Braskem if bidders show up, Valor said, without saying how it obtained the information. By exiting Braskem, Petrobras could resolve the problem of selling naphtha to a client in which the company has a significant financial interest, the newspaper added.
According to Valor, other divestitures could include selling exploration units in Africa, which are owned jointly with Grupo BTG Pactual SA’s merchant banking unit, and refining and distribution businesses in Argentina.
Braskem, which is the largest Latin American producer of resins, is controlled by engineering conglomerate Odebrecht SA. Petrobras declined to comment on the Valor report.
Petrobras wants to improve corporate governance practices, including revamping the way tax liabilities are accounted, Valor said. As per request of Chief Executive Officer Aldemir Bendine and his team, such liabilities will have to be provisioned against the balance sheet, the newspaper added.
The report comes as Petrobras trimmed capital spending for the next five years by about 41 percent, a move that investors said was an admission that expansion plans imposed on it by more than 12 years of Workers’ Party governments were unrealistic. The company is increasingly relying on cost reductions to improve operational performance.
Petrobras is also stepping up assets sales to raise funds to finance capital spending and reduce debt.
$1 = $3.1496 Brazilian reais Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama