Petrobras CEO Says He Won't Step Down if Brazil's President Leaves Office

By Paul Kiernan Features Dow Jones Newswires

The chief executive of Brazilian state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA said Thursday he plans to stay at the company until his term ends in 2019 regardless of whether embattled President Michel Temer is forced to leave office.

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"As long as the conditions exist for us to do the job that we have been doing, the company's current management has the full intention of staying until the end of its mandate in April 2019," Petrobras CEO Pedro Parente told a small group of reporters over breakfast at the company's offices in Rio de Janeiro.

Since being appointed by Mr. Temer exactly one year ago amid the impeachment trial of ex-President Dilma Rousseff, Mr. Parente has focused on cutting costs and selling assets to reduce Petrobras' enormous debt burden. Mr. Temer's conservative government has been widely credited for taking a relatively hands-off approach toward state-controlled companies.

But with Mr. Temer placed under investigation for corruption last month, his political fate is hanging in the balance. Many political analysts view Mr. Temer as more likely to resign or be forced from office than to finish his term at the end of 2018 after a top businessman accused him of taking millions of dollars in bribes.

Mr. Temer denies wrongdoing and has vowed not to step down.

The uncertainty carries over to appointees such as Mr. Parente. Incoming Brazilian presidents have long treated the top job at Petrobras as one of their most valuable appointments and have tended to swap out the company's CEO upon assuming office.

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But Mr. Parente expressed hope that any future government would recognize the need for further efforts to put Petrobras' finances in order and said his job isn't over.

"My commitment is to Petrobras," Mr. Parente said. "I'm a firm believer in cycles. This cycle isn't over."

Write to Paul Kiernan at paul.kiernan@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 01, 2017 12:18 ET (16:18 GMT)