EQUITY CAPITAL RAISING: THE SEO OF PETROBRAS 2010 (A)
This two-part case series is about the largest equity-raising deal in history, the Petrobras seasoned equity offering (SEO) of 2010. In June 2010, Petrobras, Brazil's national oil company was preparing a share issue to develop its pre-salt oil fields so called because they are trapped under several kilometers of seawater, rock and a hard-to-penetrate layer of salt. The hydrocarbons resting in the pre-salt fields could make Brazil one of the world's largest oil-exporting nations. Brazil's offshore pre-salt area widely tipped to rival the North Sea in terms of size and importance had been generating excitement in the energy world since its discovery in 2005. Six new pre-salt fields had been discovered more recently and were now ready for exploration. The investments outlined in the plan were huge and would transform Petrobras into one of the worlds largest producers. However, this also posed significant financing challenges for Petrobras, given its capacity to generate cash from its current operations. So, how could it raise the money? A bond issue so soon after the previous one was a possibility. It would then be among the worlds biggest bond issues. But there was a risk of not meeting the need for capital. How would such an issue affect its debt-to-value ratio and its rating? Would Petrobras be able to maintain its investment grade status? A share issue was another possibility, but it would also be very big. Would the market be ready for such a big issue so soon after the financial crisis? Many unresolved issues lay ahead. Both Gabrielli (CEO) and Barbassa (CFO) understood that regardless of the method used, they were facing one of the worlds biggest funding challenges to date. A lot was at stake and wrong choices would have disastrous consequences for both Petrobras and Brazil.