Petrobras Erases Corruption Probe Losses After Audited Results

How the Petrobras Scandal Shows a Microcosm of Brazil

Petroleo Brasileiro SA wiped out the stock plunge sparked by Brazil’s largest kickback investigation after releasing long-delayed earnings.

The state-controlled oil driller rose as much as 6.7 percent to 13.78 reais on Friday, erasing losses accumulated since Nov. 13, the day before police arrested more than 20 people during an investigation into whether company executives demanded bribes in exchange for contracts. The stock has surged 67 percent from an 11-year low in January, leading gains on the Ibovespa equity gauge, which has rallied 21 percent during the span, approaching a bull market.

Investors have piled into Petrobras shares after Chief Executive Officer Aldemir Bendine, who took over in February, announced plans to sell $13.7 billion in assets this year and next to cut debt. The oil producer also reported its 2014 results on Wednesday, ending a five-month debate on writedowns related to the corruption scandal.

The company disclosed an impairment of 44.6 billion reais ($15 billion), mainly from overpriced and unfinished refinery projects, and a corruption-linked writedown of 6.2 billion reais. The charges drove a 2014 net loss of 21.6 billion reais that wiped out dividend payments. Petrobras had postponed the release of third-quarter results since November because of a lack of consensus over the size of graft-related writedowns.

The rebound in crude prices has also lifted Petrobras shares as it boosted the outlook for the company’s offshore investments. Oil, while still down 47 percent from its high last year, has jumped 17 percent since Petrobras bottomed out on Jan. 30.

The Rio de Janeiro-based company wants to sell a stake in petrochemicals maker Braskem SA, Agencia Estado said April 13. Earlier this month, six people with knowledge of the matter said Petrobras is considering selling fields in its fastest-growing deepwater oil region.

The shares are still trading 45 percent below last year’s high of 24.56 reais reached in September before the presidential elections in Brazil.

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