Lula to appoint Prates as Petrobras CEO, aide says

(Reuters) – Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will appoint Senator Jean Paul Prates of his Workers Party to be the next chief executive of state-run oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA), a member of his transition team said on Thursday.

Deyvid Bacelar, the head of oil workers’ union FUP, revealed Lula’s choice on social media minutes after the leftist leader announced 15 picks for his future cabinet and said his vice president, Geraldo Alckmin, will double as industry and trade minister.

“Based on the diagnosis, alerts, recommendations and information we made available to the president-elect during this complex transition period, he decided to name Senator Jean Paul Prates as Petrobras’ CEO,” Bacelar said in an Instagram post.

He added that Senator Alexandre Silveira had been chosen by Lula as his mines and energy minister, even though the president-elect did not mention either Prates or Silveira during his Thursday announcement.

In an interview, Silveira said he had not yet been offered the role, but was willing to accept any position Lula presents to him.

The transition team, Prates and Petrobras did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prates, already seen as a strong candidate for the job after being appointed to the transition team’s mining and energy group, had previously said the incoming government would not have an interventionist stance on Petrobras.

“I think Prates is a good choice. I like him very much,” said Bento Albuquerque, a former mines and energy minister under outgoing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whom Lula narrowly defeated in the October elections.

“He’s not radical and knows about the oil and gas sector.”

Preferred shares of the oil company rose more than 2% after Bacelar’s post, outperforming Brazil’s benchmark stock index Bovespa (.BVSP).

Market participants have been showing concern over how the Lula administration might run Petrobras, with shares in the firm down more than 15% since his election victory.

Prates, however, said last month that the incoming government had no intention of causing a “breakdown” of the company and that everything would be discussed with investors.

CABINET APPOINTMENTS

Lula said economist Esther Dweck would lead a newly created Management Ministry that will be responsible for planning, while business-friendly congressman Alexandre Padilha was appointed to be institutional affairs minister, dealing with political relations with Congress.

Among the half-dozen women appointed to his future cabinet, Lula named Anielle Franco, the sister of Rio de Janeiro city counselor Marielle Franco — whose murder in 2018 has yet to be solved — to be minister of racial equality.

Lula still has to announce almost half of the positions on his planned 37-member cabinet. He said he would do that next week, before he takes office on Jan. 1.

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