SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazil’s state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA has asked the Mines and Energy Ministry to clarify comments from President Jair Bolsonaro that a recent 39% hike in natural gas prices was “unacceptable” and that while he would not interfere in the company, its pricing policy could still be changed.
In a securities filing, Petrobras said it asked the ministry about information that “should have been released to the market.” The ministry has yet to respond, Petrobras said.
Investors gave Bolsonaro’s latest pronouncements on the running of Brazil’s largest company the thumbs down, pushing its preferred and ordinary shares down 1.7% and 1.9%, respectively, in early trading on Thursday..
At 11:10 am local time, they were two of the three worst-performing shares on the broader Bovespa index, which was up 0.1%.
Bolsonaro’s remarks on Wednesday helped wipe out gains in Petrobras’ preferred and ordinary shares and they closed that session virtually flat. The preferred shares closed 0.08% down. The selling continued on Thursday.
The controversy over fuel prices and alleged interference from Bolsonaro was ignited in February after the president dismissed then-Petrobras Chief Executive Roberto Castello Branco and replaced him with a retired Army general with no experience in the oil and gas industry.
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