(Recasts first sentence with two additional sources, adds Petrobras comment)
SAO PAULO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, has hired seven investment banks to sell a stake in its fuel distribution unit, Petrobras Distribuidora SA, three people with knowledge of the matter said.
The investment banking units of Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Itau Unibanco Holding SA, XP Inc, Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc will manage the offering, the sources said.
Petrobras, as the state oil company is known, is working to sell some $20 billion-$30 billion in assets over the next five years to reduce its hefty debt load.
Among the assets on the block is a 37.5% stake in BR Distribuidora, although it is not clear if Petrobras will sell the entire stake, worth about 12.5 billion reais ($3 billion), all at once. One of the three sources said Petrobras had lined up the banks but was still finalizing internal approval of the deal.
Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico first reported the hiring of the banks.
Petrobras denied it has already hired banks, but said it has already started studying how to structure the divestment.
“There has still not been a decision by the company’s internal organs about how much of its stake should be sold, the ideal structure of the deal or even whether it will happen,” a Petrobras representative said in an emailed statement.
BR Distribuidora and the banks did not immediately comment on the matter. ($1 = 4.18 reais) (Reporting by Carolina Mandl in Sao Paulo Editing by Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis)
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