The dividends paid out by Brazil’s oil and gas giant Petrobras in Q3 are the largest of any major oil company in the world, according to news site Poder360.
The site calculated that state-controlled Petrobras paid USD 21.2 billion in dividends to shareholders in the third quarter of this year, a 433.7 percent increase on the value of dividends paid in Q3 2021. This puts it ahead of Saudia Arabia’s Saudi Aramco, which paid out USD 18.8 billion in dividends in Q3. The Saudi company had topped the ranking for the first six months of the year, paying out USD 37.5 billion in dividends between January and June, to second-placed Petrobras’s USD 12.4 billion.
The dividends paid out by Petrobras in Q3 are almost six times bigger than those of privately controlled US oil giant ExxonMobil, which distributed USD 3.2 billion to its shareholders.
Power 360 notes that these Q3 figures do not include the latest BRL 43.68 billion (USD 8.5 billion) ‘mega dividends’ announced by Petrobras last week, which will be paid in December and January 2023.
Meanwhile, Petrobras is listed by Poder360 as the fifth most profitable major oil company in Q3, behind Saudi Aramco, ExxonMobil and Chevron of the US, and Norway’s Equinox.
There has long been a debate in some circles in Brazil about Petrobras’s duty to shareholders versus the Brazilian people. The company’s shares are listed on stock exchanges in São Paulo, New York, and Spain, but the Brazilian state remains the controlling shareholder.
This discussion looks set to intensify during the current government transition period, as President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s team has indicated that it wants to change how the payment of dividends is made.
As the majority shareholder, the Brazilian state will have been entitled to around USD 6 billion of the massive Q3 dividends, and is set to receive a further USD 3.9 billion (or some BRL 20 billion) from the payouts announced last week.
Amid the uncertainty surrounding the government transition process, Petrobras shares saw the market’s biggest drop on the São Paulo stock exchange last week, falling 13.11 percent. This downhill tumble continued on Monday, with Petrobras shares having plunged 4.18 percent by market close. This contributed to pulling down the benchmark Ibovespa index, which was down 2.41 percent by Monday’s end.