Brookfield-led group to buy Petrobras pipeline unit for $5.2 bln: Reuters

Brazil’s state-run oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA agreed to sell 90 per cent of its natural gas pipeline unit to a group of investors led by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management for US$5.2 billion, a source with direct knowledge of the deal said on Tuesday.

The investor group includes British Columbia’s pension fund and Chinese and Singaporean sovereign wealth funds CIC and GIC. The preliminary agreement will be submitted to the companies’ boards and the transaction is expected to close in late September, said the source.

Brazil’s state oil company, known as Petrobras, declined to comment on the matter, and Brookfield also declined to comment.

The deal will be the largest divestment so far in the heavily indebted oil company’s US$15 billion asset sale plan.

Reuters reported in May that Brookfield had entered exclusive talks to acquire Nova Transportadora do Sudeste SA, or NTS as the Petrobras subsidiary is informally known. The exclusivity period expired on August 12.

The talks took longer than expected because the parties and their financial and legal advisers had to agree on terms of new contracts establishing the commercial relationship between Petrobras and NTS, according to the first source and two other people with direct knowledge of the matter. All three asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

During the exclusive talks, the investor group led by Brookfield raised the stake it was offering to acquire in NTS to 90 per cent from 82 per cent.

The investment banking unit of Banco Santander Brasil SA advised Petrobras on the deal.

The sale should give a boost to downsizing efforts at Petrobras, which hinge on divestments to cut the largest debt burden of any global oil firm, at around US$130 billion.

So far this year, Petrobras had sold US$3.9 billion in assets, of a total US$15.1 billion target for divestments expected by the end of this year.

NTS has nearly 1,560 miles (2,511 km) of pipelines in southeast Brazil.

By Tatiana Bautzer

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Matthew Lewis)

(This story has been edited by Kirk Falconer, editor of PE Hub Canada)

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Paulo Whitaker