Petrobras candidate rejects top job after football team’s defeat

The man whom the Brazilian government appointed to chair the board of directors of Petrobras, the country’s largest company, quit his post on Sunday after the football club he leads lost a regional championship.

Rodolfo Landim, the president of Rio de Janeiro team Flamengo, was picked last month by the Jair Bolsonaro administration to oversee the $90 billion oil and gas major as part of a shake-up top brass that raised concerns about the company’s management.

But after Flamengo lost the Rio State Championship to rivals Fluminense on Saturday night, the 65-year-old decided to decline the nomination, which would have been confirmed at a shareholders’ meeting in the coming weeks. .

“Despite the size and importance of Petrobras for our country. . . I would like to inform you that I have decided to renounce this appointment, focusing all my time and dedication on the even greater strengthening of our Flamengo,” Landim said, after Brazil’s most popular team matched draw 1-1, losing the Carioca Championship on aggregate. , a tournament that has been running since 1906.

“Recent events have shown me the need for all of us to commit to an even greater degree of dedication and focus to the club.”

Unlike English football teams, which have generally adopted corporate structures, most Brazilian teams are still run as traditional sports associations, exempt from certain taxes and owned by supporters, who elect powerful leaders. Critics say the model encourages financial irresponsibility and gives too much power to management.

A former petroleum engineer with decades in the oil and gas industry, including 26 years with Petrobras, Landim’s appointment as chairman of the state-controlled company’s board has been widely welcomed by markets. He was appointed alongside economist Adriano Pires, who is due to replace General Joaquim Silva e Luna as chief executive in the April reshuffle.

Although both appointments were seen as technocratic choices, the reshuffle fueled fears that the government could again try to intervene at Petrobras to cap fuel prices ahead of the October election.

In recent weeks, Bolsonaro has criticized the Rio de Janeiro-based company over gasoline, diesel and cooking gas prices, which were raised last month due to a jump in global crude benchmarks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At the pump, diesel has risen by a quarter and gasoline by 10% since the start of this year alone, hurting living standards, especially in poorer communities.

Under the previous leftist Workers’ Party government, Petrobras was forced to keep fuel prices artificially low, a policy that nearly bankrupted the listed company.

About Betty J. Snyder

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