Wilson Ferreira, chief executive officer of Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA (Eletrobras), speaks during an interview in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. (Photographer: Lianne Milton/Bloomberg)

Latin America's Biggest Utility Moves Closer to Privatization

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Michel Temer signed a provisional measure that paves the way for the privatization of state-run utility Eletrobras, according to a government official.

Eletrobras can now to be added to Brazil’s privatization program with a decree, which is ready to be signed, according to Paulo Pedrosa, executive secretary for the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Its shares jumped as much as 5.5 percent in Sao Paulo.

The measure kickstarting the formal process of selling the state’s controlling 67-percent stake in the utility giant comes as Temer tries to fix a deep budget crisis. He’s seeking to attract investors to jump-start the economy following prolonged political turmoil that’s included one president being impeached, another charged with corruption and dozens of executives and politicians imprisoned over a massive kickback scheme.

The planned selloff is also part of a broader effort to overhaul Brazil’s energy sector. A new regulatory framework is geared toward undoing interventionist policies created under former leaders Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. Seven out of 10 Brazilians are against the privatization of state-owned companies, according to pollster Datafolha.

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