Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Brazil Power Giant’s $14 Billion Sale Nears Make-Or-Break Point

Visitors take pictures during the 90th Anniversary of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Elected one of the seven wonders of the modern world, the statue celebrates its 90th anniversary as Brazil's most famous landmark. Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Investors in Brazil’s state-controlled power utility Eletrobras are waiting for a key ruling that could allow the government to move forward with the company’s long-awaited privatisation plan. 

President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration is seeking to privatize Eletrobras through a capital increase in which the state’s stake would end up diluted, effectively giving up control of the Rio de Janeiro-based firm while retaining some veto rights. Lawmakers approved the sale process last year, but Brazil’s audit court still needs to green-light it. TCU, as the court is known, is scheduled to discuss the topic Wednesday, including the minimum price for the offering.

Common shares of Eletrobras could be worth up to 67.6 reais ($14.55) if the privatization is successful, according to estimates from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. That implies a potential 59% increase from Monday’s close and is near previous forecasts from Itau BBA and Bank of America Corp.

Eletrobras's common stock has bounced back ahead of privatization ruling

If the sale goes through, “we see an opportunity for the company to pursue efficiency gains, bring operating levels closer to where private players operate,” Goldman Sachs analysts led by Pedro Manfredini wrote in a report dated April 11, reaffirming a buy-equivalent rating for the stock.

The sale, however, is hardly a done deal. Despite a recent rebound, shares are still around 12% below their all-time intraday high, reflecting some skepticism about whether the privatization will advance. The government is racing against time to hold the share sale before volatility kicks in ahead of the October presidential election, and a longer-than-expected approval process at TCU could dim investor enthusiasm. Government officials have been expecting the sale to raise about 67 billion reais, or about $14.4 billion.

If the offering doesn’t occur by May 13, Eletrobras will need to update the sale’s prospectus with first-quarter results, delaying the operation to the third quarter, closer to the election. At TCU’s Wednesday session, one of the court’s ministers could request more time to review the matter, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Eletrobras remains “a binary case with more upside that can only be unlocked under a successful privatization in the next few months,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts led by Fernando Abdalla wrote in a report dated April 18. The bank’s price target of 50 reais assumes a 50% chance of the privatization taking place.

“If the privatization doesn’t happen in 2022 and the next president decides to put the process on hold, we anticipate downside risks to our valuation,” the team wrote.


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