President Jair Bolsonaro has fired three presidents of state oil giant Petrobras as fuel prices soar in Brazil – Copyright AFP/File DENIS CHARLET
The price of shares in Brazil’s state oil giant Petrobras fell Tuesday in reaction to President Jair Bolsonaro firing its boss after only 40 days on the job.
Bolsonaro dismissed Petrobras CEO Jose Mauro Coelho on Monday in a tug-of-war over rising fuel prices, which are set by Petrobras but tied to international market movement.
Petrobras shares lost more than four percent in afternoon trade on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange, before recovering somewhat to 2.85 percent lower than Monday’s worth.
The movement reflects investor concerns of a possible intervention by the State, the main shareholder in Petrobras, in its autonomous pricing decisions.
Coelho took over last month for what should have been a one-year term. He became the company’s third CEO in just over a year after Bolsonaro also fired his predecessors.
Fuel prices in Brazil have risen more than 33 percent in the past year, according to official figures, driving annual inflation of more than 12 percent and hurting Brazilians’ wallets in an election year.
The far-right Bolsonaro trails leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in opinion polls ahead of elections in October.
Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy announced Coelho’s dismissal, saying the country was “experiencing a challenging moment, due to the effects of the extreme volatility of hydrocarbons in international markets.”
The government has proposed for Coelho to be replaced by Caio Mario Paes de Andrade, an official in the Economy Ministry.
He must be confirmed by the company’s board of directors.
Earlier this month, Bolsonaro also replaced his longtime energy minister, Bento Albuquerque, days after Petrobras reported record quarterly profits.
Bolsonaro said those profits amounted to “rape,” and called on Albuquerque and Coelho to stop Petrobras from raising prices.
Petrobras went on to hike diesel prices by an additional 8.9 percent.