Prosecutors Put Pressure on Govt Over Petrobras, YPFB Talks

Federal prosecutors in Brazil will follow talks between federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) and Bolivian authorities over the price of natural gas exports and compensatory measures for the expropriation of its hydrocarbons assets in Bolivia.

"The company [Petrobras] cannot make a decision that will either hurt Brazil's national interests or those of minority shareholders," the statement said. If such interests are not protected, prosecutors can sue Petrobras directors for mismanagement of public assets.

Petrobras is in talks with Bolivian state-controlled company YPFB over the price of gas exported to Brazil and with Bolivian government authorities over compensation for investments made by Petrobras in Bolivia, which nationalized its hydrocarbons assets in May.

Talks are due to end in November.

Prosecutors are concerned that Petrobras could agree to pay more for the gas and not pass on the extra costs to end-consumers, causing a financial loss to the company, the statement said.

Prosecutors sent an official communiqué about its concerns to the mines and energy ministry, Brazil's securities and exchange commission CVM and Petrobras CEO José Gabrielli.

Brazil's government controls Petrobras through a 57.6% voting right stake in the company. The rest is distributed among private investors, including 27.5% owned by foreign and Brazilian investors in ADRs traded on the NYSE.

Many Brazilians feel the government did not take forceful enough action against Bolivia's nationalization decree, which many feel threatens Bolivian gas supply to neighboring countries.

Opposition parties have focused on the issue as well.

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