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Brazil govt aims to sell at least $20 billion in assets this year
A car departs from a Petrobras gas station in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Brazil govt aims to sell at least $20 billion in assets this year

SAO PAULO: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s government wants to sell at least $20 billion in assets of state-owned companies this year including parts of Petrobras and Banco do Brasil, the country’s secretary of privatization said.

Salim Mattar said the government wants state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA and lenders Banco do Brasil SA and Caixa Economica Federal to sell most of their subsidiaries within four years.

Mattar, a former businessman, estimated that Brazil could raise up to 800 billion reais ($214 billion) by selling state-owned companies. The privatizations, along with cuts in spending on pensions and social security, are key to Economy Minister Paulo Guedes’s plan to reduce public debt, now equivalent to 77 percent of gross domestic product.

“If we reduce the debt, the amount of interest we save annually would allow us to increase expenditures in education and health,” Mattar said.

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In his presentation, Mattar listed all Caixa’s insurance subsidiaries and Banco do Brasil’s asset manager BB DTVM as potential privatization targets.

“Why does the Brazilian state have to sell insurance products? It makes no sense,” Mattar said during a speech at an investment conference hosted by Credit Suisse Group AG in Sao Paulo.

Mattar, founder of car rental company Localiza, said Petrobras should sell most of its 36 subsidiaries, while Banco do Brasil could sell up to 16.

He added that he expects those divestitures to be far easier than privatization of state-owned companies controlled by government ministries, such as the post office or Infraero, which owns state stakes in airport operators.