Petroleo Brasileiro SA is looking to sell about 25 percent of its fuel distribution unit in what would be Brazil’s biggest initial public offering in more than two years, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The Petrobras Distribuidora SA unit, known as BR, is Latin America’s largest distributor and marketer of petroleum derivatives and biofuels and was valued by banks at 30 billion reais to 40 billion reais ($8.7 billion to $11.6 billion), one of the people said, asking not to be named because talks are private. Bankers and lawyers met for the first time on July 30 ahead of a proposed October or November share sale, five people said.
Citigroup Inc. is leading a group of advisers that also includes Banco Bradesco BBI SA, Banco Itau BBA SA, Banco do Brasil SA and Bank of America Corp., the people said.
All the banks declined to comment. Petrobras didn’t reply to an e-mail request for comment.
In a July 31 press conference at the company’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Chief Executive Officer Aldemir Bendine said Petrobras was holding meetings with banks and hasn’t yet decided which ones will coordinate the transaction.
He told Globo News in a July 2 televised interview that Petrobras may list at least 25 percent of the gas-station network, and Bank of America Corp. analysts speculated in a report that a sale of as much as 48 percent was possible.
Shares of Petrobras rose 1.6 percent to 10.18 reais at the close in Sao Paulo, trimming a 12-month fall to 48 percent.
State-controlled Petrobras has put up for sale almost $60 billion in assets through 2018. The plan calls for $15 billion in divestments by the end of 2016 and an additional $42.6 billion by 2018, part of which will come from restructuring.
Bendine’s strategy is to cut debt without abandoning plans to develop oil discoveries 200 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. The new divestment plan — a significantly upsized version of one first unveiled earlier in the year — is intended to preserve Petrobras’s investment-grade credit rating, after Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings assigned a negative outlook to its BBB- score.
The assets are coming to market as a collapse in oil prices weighs on values and the resources of would-be buyers. Crude oil futures have declined 54 percent in the past year.
BR controls the largest gasoline station network in Brazil, with about 8,000 units and more than 1,000 convenience stores. It also sells fuels including diesel and ethanol. The business generated revenue of 120.6 billion reais last year, according to Petrobras’s annual earnings release.