Privatize Petrobras? Lofty ambition, higher hurdles

Brazil’s influential finance minister has convinced President Jair Bolsonaro to consider the once-unthinkable step of privatizing state-owned oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA), but stiff political opposition could stifle any effort to sell the country’s corporate crown jewel.

Petrobras, or Petroleo Brasileiro SA, was founded in 1953 by former president Getulio Vargas following a nationalist campaign that began in the 1940s with the anthem “The oil is ours”.

Selling the company would cap off the drive by Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, a Chicago school-trained economist and disciple of Thatcherite economics, to maximize privatization, deregulation and free-market activity.

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