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Petrobras: from 23rd to 4th – Lula Gets His Piece of Flesh

Lula laughsThe consulting company on energy, PFC, brought to public official results of an analysis on market value it did on several companies, and Brazilian oil giant Petrobras ranked number 4 among the 50 biggest energy companies of the world. Ahead of Petrobras are PetroChina, Exxon and BHP Billiton.

This is quite an achievement for Petrobras, a company that spent decades being major in Brazil but had very little or no world recognition or even any perspective to reach the status of a global force in the energy industry. Third world it was, third world remained. Or so it was thought. Not too long ago, eight years more precisely, Petrobras ranked number 23, in an analysis done by the very same PFC.

Now things have changed rather drastically. The Brazilian company presented a growth in the value of its shares throughout 2009, of 103%, bigger than any other company in the industry, even the three rated above Petrobras. This is, understandably bringing attention to number 4, more so than the three topping it on the list and PFC uses Petrobras as one of the headlines of the announcement. 

In the last eight years, Petrobras has more than doubled its market value, from 96.8 billion dollars to 199.2 billion. PFC also brought another Brazilian company among the 50 biggest in the energy industry made public, OGX, the oil side of Eike Batista’s group. Nothing helps to push a company’s value more than having its value officially announced.  Since PFC’s report, the price of market shares of Petrobras went sky high.

Not too long ago, only specialists knew about Petrobras but this is no longer true; today, the simplest person looking for good investment options will find that Petrobras is a safe and reliable company to invest in. The Brazilian oil giant has finally made it to the spotlight.  Not just among big people who talk big money, but for anyone with some money to invest. Quite a change.

President Lula da Silva is known for, among other traits, his informal and almost too colloquial speeches. Some say the president has a hard time biting his tongue. Sometimes he might do it just for fun, to shock or even for the pleasure that no matter what, people love and respect him. But sometimes it could be that Lula is just taking pleasure in getting his little piece of flesh, like what happened recently in the state of Pernambuco, northeast Brazil, where Lula was born.

The national press was all over the president, and everyone talked about it for days.  Lula was quoted as saying that, because of the stable economy, Brazil could now speak from the top but that the country spent years being stepped on.

He went on to say that now, being a third world country being treated poorly by world authorities, feels like that happened a long time ago, ‘once upon a time,’ but it has not been too long since IMF, now with Brazilian money to thrive on, thank you very much, paid official visits to Brazil to discuss the debt and humiliated the Brazilian government with arrogance, by imposing rules and telling them what to do.  

Any Brazilian remembers that and Lula da Silva better than many, because at the time, he was a union leader protesting the ways of the IMF and urging the country not to succumb to the imperialistic manners of the institution and even not to honor the debt, a proposal, which then gave him the image of a radical leftist.  

But time went by and there is nothing like time and circumstance to bring new perspectives and rules to games. As president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, no longer an enraged union leader, but the leader of South America’s giant, led to not only paying the debt Brazil had with IMF, as to bringing money to the institution during the economic hardships of last year.

In Pernambuco, Lula rubbed it in, in the very place where he had been born a poor child, saying that “from the humble dog with his tail between his legs” Brazil had become a proud patron. The president seemed to be particularly at-home on that day; his remarks fed the news and many sharp articles, opinions and analysis coming from all sides were written on the recurring theme of ‘Lula hits again.’

Lula mentioned the first time he went to Davos, in 2003, when he heard from everyone how Brazil was going to go broken, that inflation would be back and all kinds of pessimistic remarks that would make one think that he was the leader of a country on the road to ruin. Enough to get any new president depressed and, not surprisingly, enough to make one not to forget.

At the end of January Lula was supposed to go to Davos to be honored for his “global statesmanship” for eight years of model leadership. Too bad President Lula da Silva got sick and could not make it to the event in person.

And here I humbly confess to what I really think: I imagine that he was indeed honored and happy but I have a feeling that there, behind the satisfaction of conquering world recognition, Lula is really also getting a kick out of the whole thing. And who can blame him?
“The times, they are a-changing.”

Visit www.liciafabio.com.br and read Clara Angelica’s column on Revista Lícia

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