Petrobras becomes continent's fourth largest corporation

Petrobas CEO José Sergio Gabrielli at the oil giant's head office in Rio de Janeiro.

Petrobas CEO José Sergio Gabrielli at the oil giant's head office in Rio de Janeiro.

Omar Bonilla

LATIN AMERICA – In the face of the international financial crisis, Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras is showing signs of recovery and increased robustness and now ranks fourth on the list of the American continent’s largest listed companies.

According to a report published by consulting firm Economática, Petrobras shares spiraled upward by 81.1 percent between Dec. 31, 2008, and Aug. 4, 2009.

The market value of the Brazilian national oil company now stands at approximately US$173.5 billion, while in December 2008, reported AméricaEconomía, its stock was valued at US$95.8 billion.

The news was received enthusiastically by President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva and his government, who saw it as an important step to recovery from the crisis for Brazil's economy. In late 2008 the company was ranked 17th on the list, despite being Latin America's largest company.

Chief Analyst at Modal Asset Management Eduardo Roche told O Estado de Sao Paulo that Petobras had climbed greatly in value owing to the “more negative impact” of the financial crisis, which began in mid-2008, on North American companies. “The recovery was much swifter” in South America, said Roche.

According to DPA, Petrobras ranked fourth behind multinationals Exxon Mobil (1st), Microsoft Corp. and the Wal Mart chain (2nd and 3rd, respectively). In this way Petrobras achieved a higher value than industrial U.S. giants like Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, General Electric, Google and Coca Cola, among others.

The only other Latin American company in the top 25, reported EFE, was Brazilian mining conglomerate Vale, in 22nd place with a market value of US$102 billion.

Other Latin American companies featured in the top 50 included Mexican teleco América Móvil (28th); Brazilian bank Itaú-Unibanco (30th), Colombian oil company Ecopetrol (40th) and another Brazilian bank, Bradesco (47th).

The Economática report looked at companies trading publicly in the U.S. Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

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