February 26, 2018 / 9:24 PM / 4 months ago

Likely centrist Brazil presidential contender says he would sell Petrobras

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The governor of Sao Paulo and likely centrist presidential candidate Geraldo Alckmin said on Monday that he would privatise Brazil’s state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA if he wins the elections in October.

Alckmin, who has single digit support in opinion polls, said during a television interview with Band TV that he favoured private ownership of Petrobras, as Brazil’s biggest company is known, as long as the sale was conducted within a strict regulatory framework.

Once a taboo issue in Brazilian politics because of national sovereignty concerns, the privatisation of Petrobras is set to become a campaign issue this year as Brazil struggles to bring an unsustainable budget deficit under control.

Brazil’s left fiercely rejects the sale of Petrobras, but the leftist leader leading early opinion polls, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will likely be barred from running because of a corruption conviction and there are no obvious politicians who can fill his shoes.

It is not clear where the far right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is currently second in opinion polls, stands on relinquishing state control of Petrobras.

But his economic policy advisor Paulo Guedes told Valor newspaper in an interview published on Monday that he favoured selling all state companies to raise 700 billion reais that would help pay off one fifth of Brazil’s public debt.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Grant McCool

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