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The privatization process in Brazil

The Brazilian government has been engaged in a privatization process that in the last three-year period has sold more than 100 owned assets, either directly or through state-controlled companies.

State participation in the economy remains important, as the federal government currently controls 133 public companies (47 directly owned and 86 indirectly owned), but since 2019 the privatization of state-owned assets has been a key area of the program to liberalize the economy, attract new investors and promote competition in the domestic market.

According to the authorities, between 2017 and 2022, two directly owned companies have been privatized (Codesa and Eletrobras), two others have been liquidated (Codomar and Casemg), and one (Ceitec) is in the process of liquidation.

Privatization

In addition, according to the WTO, in the same period divestments (i.e., the sale of subsidiary assets, investments or divisions of a company) have been largely focused on the energy sector and have included 98 directly and indirectly owned public companies, including the following:

  • BR Distribuidora, the leading distributor and trader of petroleum derivatives and biofuels (ethanol) in Brazil and Latin America.
  • Transportadora Associada de Gás S.A. (TAG), the main natural gas transportation company in Brazil.
  • Liquigás Distribuidora S.A. (Liquigás), a former subsidiary of Petrobras (a government-controlled company) engaged in the bottling, distribution and marketing of liquefied petroleum gas.
  • Amazonas Energia.
  • Companhia Energética de Alagoas (CEAL).

In June 2022, the Brazilian Privatization Program (Programa Nacional de Desestatização -PND-) included 13 directly owned public companies in the sectors of food storage or distribution, information technology, machinery, energy, semiconductors, insurance, urban transportation and ports.

By the end of September 2021, the Investment Partnerships Program (Projeto de Parcerias de Investimento -PPI-) listed 72 completed projects, 3 projects on hold, and 164 ongoing projects, ranging from ports to energy and tourism; as of June 2022, 14 SOEs had been selected under the PPI for privatization purposes.

On February 15, 2022, the privatization was approved by the Federal Audit Court (Tribunal de Contas da Uniao or “TCU”) and on February 22, 2022 the shareholders of Eletrobras approved the privatization model proposed by the company’s management, which involved a public offering of the company’s share in Brazil and abroad to reduce the Federal Government’s participation in the voting capital to a percentage equal or lower than 45%.

On May 18, 2022, the Federal Audit Court also approved, by 7 votes to 1, the privatization model of Eletrobras.

 

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