SAO PAULO, May 23 (Reuters) - Brazil’s state-controlled power holding company Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras SA is still seeking to sell assets to cut debt despite concern that a political crisis could spook potential buyers, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
Eletrobras CEO Wilson Ferreira was in New York meeting with investors last week when news broke about the plea bargain deal of Joesley and Wesley Batista, owners of meatpacker JBS SA , which set off a political fire storm and calls for President Michel Temer to resign.
Brazilians who have become inured to a massive, three-year corruption investigation were shocked last week by the disclosure of a recording that appeared to show Temer condoning the payment of hush money to a jailed lawmaker.
Eletrobras’ meetings with investors had been going well until Thursday when they became worried about the release of the taped conversation between Joesley Batista and Temer and started asking about its consequences, Ferreira said on the sidelines of an event in Sáo Paulo.
He said the company would keep looking for buyers for the assets and not change the sale schedule.
“We may have trouble selling for the prices we were expecting,” he told journalists.
Eletrobras plans to raise up to 4.6 billion reais ($1.4 billion) in asset sales to reduce debt. The company expects to raise half of it this year.
Ferreira declined to speculate whether he would stay at the company’s helm should Temer resign or forced to leave. But he pointed out that Energy Minister Fernando Coelho Filho had defended Eletrobras’ restructuring and new rules to attract foreign investors to the sector.
The minister’s party, PSB, is supporting Temer’s resignation and also wants Coelho Filho to resign and leave the government.
$1 = 3.2755 reais Writing by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Christian Plumb and Richard Chang