Petrobras Sells $270 Million Stake in Natural Gas Asset to Cemig

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the world’s most indebted publicly-traded oil company, agreed to sell a stake in a Brazilian natural gas distributor as it seeks to raise cash and divest lower return assets.

Petrobras, as the Rio de Janeiro-based crude producer is known, is selling a 40 percent stake in Gasmig to controller Cia. Energetica de Minas Gerais for 600 million reais ($270 million), the company said in a statement late yesterday. Cemig, as the utility is known, currently owns 59.6 percent of Gasmig, which is the only distributor of piped natural gas in the southeast Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, Petrobras said.

“This transaction is part of the Petrobras gas and energy portfolio restructuring process,” the company said, adding that the transaction needs to be approved by antitrust authorities.

Chief Executive Officer Maria das Gracas Foster is looking to counter more than $40 billion in operational losses at the company’s refining and distribution unit since 2011 when President Dilma Rousseff started using Petrobras to subsidize fuel imports to rein in inflation. Foster has sought to close the gap between domestic and foreign prices, while cutting operating expenses, increasing production and selling less profitable assets.

Petrobras said it will retain its current long-term contracts to supply natural gas to Gasmig as part of the agreement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto in Rio de Janeiro at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at Jonathan Roeder