Batista Loses Malan in OGX Board Departures After Stock Rout

Billionaire Eike Batista’s OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA said three of its five independent board members, including a former Brazilian finance minister, left the company as shares trade near record lows.

Pedro Malan, Rodolpho Tourinho Neto and Ellen Gracie Northfleet are no longer members of OGX’s board of directors, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said in a statement today, without giving reasons for the departure. OGX’s press office declined to provide additional comments.

Batista is selling assets, restructuring debt at his holding company EBX Group Co. and trimming projects as his six publicly traded units accumulate losses. OGX tumbled 91 percent in the past year, the worst performer in Brazil’s Ibovespa index, amid lower-than-expected production and missed targets.

“The lack of a explicit justification for why they left sends a negative message,” Luana Helsinger, an analyst at brokerage GBM Grupo Bursatil Mexicano, said by phone from Rio.

Malan, Brazil’s longest-serving finance minister and one of the architects of the Plano Real that tamed hyperinflation in 1990s, and Tourinho Neto, a former chairman of Petroleo Brasileiro SA, joined OGX’s board in 2008, according to the company’s website. Gracie, a former Supreme Court Chief Justice, had served on the board since 2011. OGX’s two remaining independent members are Luiz do Amaral and Samir Zraick, according to its website.

Cost Cuts

Batista, who dropped from the ranks of the world’s 200 richest people earlier this month, sold OGX shares in May for the first time, accelerating a decline in the stock’s price. The sale represents a “minimum adjustment” to EBX portfolio related to extension of debt profile and reduction of costs, the billionaire said June 13, adding that he doesn’t expect to sell more OGX shares on the market.

Fitch Ratings last week cut OGX’s rating to CCC, or seven levels below investment grade, citing increased uncertainty about Batista’s ability to honor a $1 billion put option available to the company to fund its investment program.

OGX slumped 5.8 percent to 82 centavos at the close in Sao Paulo. The stock reached a record low 78 centavos on June 19.