Ratings firm Fitch sent the latest message that the situation for Brazil’s oil company OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes isn’t getting any better and could run out of cash before the end of the year.
Fitch knocked the company’s rating down to CCC from B-, sending it into the category of substantial risk and just one notch above default status as it owes $1 billion in obligations.
The company’s controlling shareholder is 56-year-old Brazilian magnate Eike Batista, chairman of Rio-based conglomerate EBX Group, which owns six energy companies including OGX. Last month, Batista reduced his stake in OGX from 61 percent to 59 percent for $122 million reals ($261 million), raising eyebrows about his commitment to the company.
“The rating downgrades reflect increased uncertainty about the willingness and ability of OGX controlling shareholder Mr. Eike Batista to honor the company's USD1 billion put option," Fitch said in a statement. "Funding for OGX's capex program is vital to increasing oil production, so a default on the put option would further tighten the company's liquidity position.”
Fitch called OGX’s 2013 $1.3-billion capital expenditure program “ambitious,” and said it expects the company’s cash reserves to be gone by the end of the year. Ratings firms Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded OGX in April.