Petrobras chairman Ferreira takes temporary leave

The body blows keep coming for Brazil’s state oil giant Petrobras which saw its chairman Murilo Ferreira announce on Monday he is taking an almost three-month break from the hot seat of the scandal-engulfed, debt-drenched company, according to Bloomberg and Reuters.

Ferreira has been at the helm only since April when he agreed to split his duties between Petrobras and his job as chief executive of mining conglomerate Vale.

It’s hard to interpret Ferreira’s decision as anything other than a sign of the turmoil at Rio de Janeiro-headquartered Petrobras, because whatever his reasons, they haven’t proven enough for him to step aside from Vale where he will continue his role.

Many analysts are reading it as a sign of turmoil in the Petrobras boardroom. Last week the company was downgraded two notches by rating agency Standard & Poor’s. It remains the world’s most indebted oil firm. The dire price of oil hurts its bottom line.

And, worst of all, the bribery-for-rigged-contracts corruption scandal surrounding it shows no sign of abating. Company executives of Petrobras and of contractors it dealt with have been investigated, not to mention high-ranking political figures.

Last week two members of national President Dilma Rousseff’s Cabinet were put under investigation. And many feel Rousseff herself, chairwoman of Petrobras in the years when much of the graft allegedly occurred (2003-2010), is not yet out of the woods.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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