BG Group Appoints Former Vale CFO as Finance Chief

BG Group Plc appointed Fabio Barbosa, the former finance chief at Brazilian miner Vale SA, as chief financial officer, less than two months after boosting estimates for its oil and gas resources in fields off Brazil.

Barbosa, 49, will replace Ashley Almanza, 47, who will step down from the role on March 31, the Reading, England-based company said in a statement. Almanza will continue to work on the conclusion of strategic projects before he leaves the group within two years, BG said.

BG plans to spend $20 billion to develop offshore fields in Brazil’s Santos Basin. The U.K.’s third-largest oil company raised gross resources estimates from the Tupi, Iracema, and Guara fields by 34 percent to 10.8 billion barrels of oil equivalent in November.

Barbosa stepped down from his position at Vale in June, to “pursue new professional challenges,” the mining company said in a statement at the time. The former CFO didn’t agree with investments being made in Brazil’s northern state of Para, Vale Chief Executive Officer Roger Agnelli told Valor Economico Nov. 5. Prior to joining Vale in 2002 he worked in the Brazilian finance ministry in positions which included acting as the country’s national treasury secretary.

The management change may signal a possible sale of BG’s assets in Brazil in the medium-term, said Jason Kenney, an Edinburgh, Scotland analyst at ING Wholesale Banking. The spinoff would allow BG to focus more on its gas projects in Australia, the U.S. and North Africa.

‘Brazilian Influence’

“For some the surprise announcement could indicate some uncertainty within the hierarchy of what is currently a very successful company,” Kenney wrote in an e-mailed report. At the same time, “Barbosa is expected to bring to the company” his “Brazilian influence and insight.”

BG has interests in six blocks in Santos basin, including a 25 percent stake in the Tupi and Iracema fields and a 30 percent holding in the Guara discovery, according to the company’s website. Its net share of output from the fields will reach 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day by 2020.

BG also holds a stake in Cia. de Gas de Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest gas distributor. Royal Dutch Shell Plc is also a shareholder in the pipeline company.

Barbosa also served as an adviser to one of the executive directors at the World Bank. “He has extensive financial leadership experience with one of the world’s largest resources companies,” BG Chairman Sir Robert Wilson said in the statement today.

Almanza has worked for BG and its predecessor company since 1993. Last year, he took interim responsibility for the management of the company’s operations in Europe and Central Asia until the nomination of Chris Finlayson as an executive vice president for the business in June.

Almanza has continued to supervise BG’s Karachaganak project in Kazakhstan. The Central Asian government said it wanted to secure a stake in the venture and has claimed unpaid taxes from the operator of the nation’s second-largest producing oil field.