A way out for Light – and for Eletrobras

Eletrobras building (Photo: ABr/archives)

In yesterday’s text (8), “A way out for the Light”, we spoke about the crisis – one more! – in the energy distributor for a good part of Rio de Janeiro, including the capital. The former federal deputy and director of the Association of Engineers of Petrobrás (Aepet) Ricardo Maranhão recalled certain phases of the company, which did not make the necessary investments. For its part, the government did not increase the rates because it feared that the company, then under private Canadian control, would not use the company’s resources, and then the service would remain precarious.

The Maranhão remembers what the great patriot Barbosa Lima Sobrinho proposed, former governor of Pernambuco, former president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, former president of the Brazilian Press Association, a man who understood concessions and foreign capital. Here is what he says: Light says there is no tariff and he is not investing and the service is deteriorating; the government says they don’t give the rate because they don’t trust Light.

Barbosa Lima offered a relatively simple solution. The government, the granting power, would make the necessary investments with public money, and these investments would be transformed into Light shares. Thus, the State would gradually take control of the company, at the same time as the services would improve thanks to the resources brought in, which the State would do until it took full control of the distributor.

That’s not what happened. In January 1979, the Geisel government purchased the shares of Light held by Canadian Brascan for US$380 million (plus US$56.4 million in taxes). The total, updated to today’s dollars, is about $1.8 billion. There were many accusations hanging over the company, but it was a dictatorship, and nothing was investigated.

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If it was not used at the time, the solution proposed by Barbosa Lima Sobrinho could be recycled now, both for Light and for Eletrobras. The government already owns the largest share of the capital of Eletrobras (42.83%, taking into account direct and indirect control, via state pension funds, etc.), but a one-sided agreement prevents it from exercise control of the business. Contributions for investments could be conditional on the resumption of control.


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Megan Schneider

"Typical zombieaholic. General twitter fanatic. Food fanatic. Gamer. Unapologetic analyst."

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