Brazilian Government Sets Sights on Vale in ‘Reprivatization’ Push

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s government intends to make the mining giant Vale "private again" by selling its shares and pushing out quasi-state pension funds, a senior official said. Shares rose.

"Vale is a state company. Pension funds controlled by the government control Vale," Privatization Secretary Salim Mattar said on Wednesday at an event in Brasilia. "We’re here to reprivatize Vale."

State-development bank BNDES intends to sell shares in the miner, but has yet to find a good moment to do so, Mattar said. "It’s natural that, after a certain period of time, those shares could be sold without causing losses for taxpayers."

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration expects to raise $20 billion this year alone through the sale of state-controlled companies. Privatizations of public assets are central to the government’s pro-business economic agenda which is aimed at slashing debt, boosting fiscal accounts and accelerating growth.

Vale’s shares, which had lost around 28 percent in the aftermath of last month’s dam break near Brumadinho, accelerated gains following Mattar’s remarks and were 3.5 percent higher in early afternoon trading.

The January dam accident killed over a hundred people and put the miner’s operations under stricter government scrutiny. The company’s license to operate a separate dam at one of its largest mines was revoked by a Brazilian state regulator on Feb. 5.

Pension funds Previ, Funcef and Petros didn’t immediately respond to request for comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

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