Petrobras chairman Murilo Ferreira taking a break

Going less than five months after he joined to help Brazilian state driller out of debt

Petrobras chairman Murilo Ferreira is taking a leave of absence less than five months after he was appointed to help the Brazilian government-controlled driller emerge from a mountain of debt and a corruption scandal.

Ferreira, who will continue in his role as chief executive officer of Vale SA, requested leave from Petrobras board duties until November 30th for personal reasons, according to the iron ore mining company in an e-mailed response.

His backup at Petrobras, Clovis Torres, also a Vale executive, will also stand aside to make it easier for the board to nominate an interim chairman from its current members. Ferreira's temporary board departure comes as Petrobras seeks further cuts and productivity measures after its prices collapsed and its credit rating was cut to junk. The Rio de Janeiro-based producer, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA, declined to comment on reasons for the leave.

Prior to a rating downgrade by Standard and Poor’s last week, Petrobras had announced plans to reduce operating costs by about $12 billion (€10.6 billion) through 2019.



The company will also review its outlook for currency and oil prices, as prospects have deteriorated since it unveiled a business plan in June. Ferreira’s appointment in April, replacing

Luciano Coutinho

, broke with a tradition of political appointees. Previously, the chairman position was occupied by former politicians such as

Guido Mantega

and the current president of Brazil,

Dilma Rousseff

Ferreira and chief executive Aldemir Bendine were appointed to guide Petrobras out of a scandal involving graft and mismanagement of refinery projects that cost the company billions of dollars.

In August, Ferreira voted against a proposal to sell a stake in Petrobras’s fuel distribution unit, which was approved by a majority of the board. – Bloomberg