Top Petrobras executives leave after clashing with incoming CEO

Several top executives of state-owned Brazilian oil company Petrobras decided to leave the company following the end of their mandate on 20 March.

Petrobras headquarters; Source: Petrobras

Petrobras said last week that the executives leaving were the financial and investor relations chief Andrea Almeida, sales and logistics chief in charge of the price policy André Chiarini, exploration and production head Carlos Alberto Pereira de Oliveira, and executive head of development and production Rudimar Lorenzatto.

According to Petrobras’ announcement from last week, the four executives told the board of directors they will step down, though will remain in their positions until 12 April, when new executive management should be approved at an extraordinary board meeting.

The board of Petrobras also called for an extraordinary shareholders meeting per a request made by the nation’s Mines and Energy Ministry to replace the company’s CEO Roberto da Cunha Castello Branco with former Defense Minister Joaquim Silva e Luna.

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Apart from the four executives and the replacement of the CEO, five board members of Petrobras previously announced that they would be leaving after moves by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to replace Castello Branco. The five in question are João Cox Neto, Nivio Ziviani, Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva, Omar Carneiro da Cunha Sobrinho, and Leonardo Pietro Antonelli.

Very quickly, the Brazilian government found replacements for the departing board members and nominated Silva e Luna, Eduardo Bacellar Leal Ferreira, Ruy Flaks Schneider, Márcio Andrade Weber, Murilo Marroquim de Souza, Sonia Julia Sulzbeck Villalobos, and a few days later, Cynthia Santana Silveira and Ana Silvia Corso Matte.

As for the departure of the executives, Reuters cited a person close to the matter that the quartet decided to leave the state-controlled producer after clashing with plans of the company’s incoming chief executive.

According to the source, topics of disagreement between the current management and the incoming CEO Silva e Luna include his plans for Petrobras’ fuel price policy.

The media outlet added that Silva e Luna told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that he considered keeping the management team when he takes over in April, though he knew at least two executives were planning to leave.

It is worth noting that Petrobras’ director of refining and natural gas Anelise Lara and chief compliance officer Marcelo Zenkner announced they would resign from their positions back in late January. Reuters claims that they departed due to fear of government interference at the company.