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São Paulo mayor and potential presidential candidate João Doria called for the gradual privatization of state-run oil company Petrobras in order to reduce the size of the Brazilian state and protect the company from corruption.
"Petrobras was a target of a gang, which stole the company in past years. We have to privatize the company to protect it from politicians. As it is a huge company, the privatization needs to be carried out gradually," Doria told BNamericas on the sidelines of an event.
Petrobras plans to sell US$21bn of assets in 2017-18 as it seeks to pay off debt and bankroll new offshore oil production.
Doria also called for the merger of state-run banks Banco do Brasil and Caixa Economica Federal. "There is no reason for the government to keep two state-run banks. It will be much better to have just one bank, in this case, still controlled by the government to compete with private-sector banks," he said.
The mayor took part in an infrastructure forum to present the privatization and concession plans of Brazil's biggest city.
In that sense, he reiterated his plan to privatize the Interlagos motor race track and the Anhembi events complex. The tenders are likely to generate revenues of up to 8bn reais (US$2.58bn), over 7bn reais more than previously expected, Doria said.
"As the economy is improving, it's possible to raise more cash from auctions," he said, adding that tenders are likely to be launched later this year on the São Paulo stock exchange.
Questioned if he'll be the presidential candidate of his PSDB party, Doria said a decision should take place between December and March 2018.
Doria is challenging São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin for the PSDB nomination.