Newsmakers | Brazil

Aldemir Bendine became one of Brazil’s poster boys for success while at the helm of Banco do Brasil, but his new role as chief executive of the country’s oil giant, Petrobras, is causing him headaches.

Already troubled by bad management at the Brazilian oil giant, investors have not responded well to Bendine’s appointment because of his lack of experience in the energy sector and his proximity to the Brazilian government.

Following his February 6th appointment, Petrobras’s shares fell by 8%. Since the arrest in March 2014 of former manager Paulo Roberto Costa in relation to a multibillion-dollar bribery scandal, Petrobras has not yet announced a write-down to compensate for alleged kickbacks paid to politicians. Petrobras’s market valuation is now a third of what it was in 2010.

No one expects Bendine to perform miracles, but his pragmatism could be useful. “He [Bendine] was close enough to the government to have increased Banco do Brasil’s share in the credit market during the period of countercyclical policy, and competent enough to have done so without worsening the bank’s fundamentals and performance,” says José Francisco de Lima Gonçalves, economics professor at São Paulo University and chief economist at Banco Fator.

“The market will be partially satisfied with the presentation of an acceptable impairment of Petrobras’s losses from the scandal. Other steps shall be taken later and are likely to include cash-generating strategies.”

Despite problems at Petrobras, Bendine has already proven his mettle. Born into a modest family on the outskirts of São Paulo, he started as an office boy at Banco do Brasil at the age of 14. In 2009, former Brazilian president Lula da Silva appointed him to lead the country’s largest bank by assets. Brazilian news magazine Época included Bendine in its list of the 100 most influential Brazilians.

In a previous interview with the Brazilian journalist Edgar Lisboa, Bendine stated: “The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change direction and the realist adjusts the sails.” He will need to make a lot of adjustments at Petrobras.