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Scandal-hit Petrobras hit by record loss

Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 02:29

Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras has reported its biggest-ever loss, after a $17 billion write-down. The company's CEO has promised 'a return to normality' in the wake of a massive corruption scandal, but as Ivor Bennett reports, it may not be that easy.

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A full tank for so long - now, fast running out. Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras reporting a 7 billion dollar annual loss. It's the company's first loss in decades and its biggest ever. Triggered by a 17 billion dollar write-down - in turn brought on by a massive corruption scandal that continues to unravel. CEO Aldemir Bendine. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PETROBRAS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ALDEMIR BENDINE, SAYING: "Brazilian society is going to respond really soon to our ability to deliver, the quality we deliver, and how much we contribute to the Brazilian economic model and Brazilian society. Yes, I apologise enormously in the name of the employees of Petrobras, because today I am one of them." 97 people have been indicted so far in the corruption probe. Including four of the company's senior managers... ...and dozens of executives from Brazil's biggest construction and engineering firms. They're alleged to have paid bribes to Petrobras in return for lucrative contracts. Accusations that have triggered mass protests against Brazil's President Dilma Rouseff. She chaired the board of Petrobras for much of the time the alleged bribery took place. Though she's been exonerated, 47 leading politicians are still under investigation. All but one from the ruling coalition. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PETROBRAS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ALDEMIR BENDINE, SAYING: "Just because a group of people did some misdeeds in the company, doesn't put under suspicion the reputation and the capabilities of the 86,000 families who represent Petrobras today. So we are going to look even further into… to target this culture… of corporate governance." The write-down is a crucial step in restoring Petrobras' access to capital markets. It was cut off after a delay in publishing audited accounts. But moving on won't be easy, says CIBC's Jeremy Stretch. SOUNDBITE (English) JEREMY STRETCH, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, CIBC, SAYING: "I think this is a story which hasn't got anywhere near to its conclusion yet. So I think we will continue to see the pressure building not only on the company but also on the government, in light of the revelations that continue to be dropping out of this whole process." Petrobras was supposed to be Brazil's golden ticket. It's sitting on top of some of the world's largest oil discoveries of the last 40 years. They had driven up the company's market value to nearly 300 billion dollars in 2008. Now it's just 56 billion, with capital spending cuts the next move.

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Scandal-hit Petrobras hit by record loss

Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 02:29