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Petrobras (PBR) Applies for Loan worth $1 Billion in China

According to a report published by Bloomberg, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. PBR or Petrobras has sought a $1 billion loan from the Export-Import Bank of China to pay for goods and services already contracted with Chinese firms.

Petrobras has signed a preliminary deal with the Chinese lender to loan the amount earlier than previously scheduled in order to survive the weakness in oil markets and the surge in the debt servicing costs. The loan, if sanctioned, would allow the company to pre-finance resources needed for 2017 and diversify its sources of funding.

Petrobras – with around $100 billion in liabilities – is the most indebted energy company in the world. The negative impact of the oil price slump and changes in management because of this Brazilian energy behemoth’s corruption scandal, have resulted in the company’s dwindling operating cash flows and return on equity. It has also exposed the company to high debt management risk. Hence, raising money from either the bond or the stock market has become increasingly difficult for Petrobras.

In order to offset the effect of such headwinds, Petrobras has resorted to measures such as asset sales, staff layoff, reduction in capital spending, borrowings from countries such as China that are seeking oil supplies, and improvement in its sales in Brazil.

Notably, Petrobras secured a loan worth $10 billion from the China Development Bank at the start of 2016. This is expected to help the company pay a large chunk of its maturing obligations worth $12 billion this year. In exchange for the loan proceeds, Petrobras will supply crude to the Chinese firms. 

Moreover, the company recently received a loan of $1 billion from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Leasing (ICBC) to help finance its P-52 offshore oil platform.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Petrobras is one of the largest energy players in Latin America. After the completion of its asset sale program in 2015, Petrobras is on its track to generate as much as $15 billion from its asset divestment program by the end of this year. The cut back in capital spending is expected to lead to savings of around $32 billion through 2019. Notably, the company is also planning to lay off 15% of its staff, which is expected to save an additional $9.2 billion through 2020.

Currently, Petrobras carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), implying that it will perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.

Some better-ranked players from the broader energy sector are PetroChina Co. Ltd. PTR, Superior Drilling Products, Inc. SDPI and McDermott International Inc. MDR. All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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