Brazil's president orders Petrobras not to change its retail name

Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso ordered state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) to retain its retail name. Petrobras said 2 days earlier it planned to change its gasoline brand name to PetroBrax. The company paid Brazilian consultant firm UND $350,000 to devise the new name and a logo.


RIO DE JANEIRO�Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso ordered state-controlled oil and gas major Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) to retain its retail name.

Petrobras 2 days earlier had said it would change its retail gasoline brand name to PetroBrax.

Petrobras president Henri Philippe Reichstul had said that the new name was a bid to reflect changes in the company and to increase market share in the US, in Latin America, and in Africa. The company paid about $350,000 to Brazilian consultant firm UND to devise the new name and a logo. The change would have been implemented in about 6 months, he said.

According to Reichstul, another $50 million would have been spent to change the logo name in Petrobras-owned gas stations and refineries across Brazil and abroad. Petrobras owns two refineries in Bolivia, 11 of the 13 refineries in Brazil, and has plans for increasing its downstream participation abroad.

Analysts say most Brazilians opposed the change. Also, politicians from several parties had called for Reichstul to testify in Congress as to why the third largest company in Latin America and the largest company in Brazil should change its name after 46 years.

It is believed 93% of all Brazilians recognize the current Petrobras logo. However, UND said the symbol had a negative image overseas because of its nationalistic connotations. Petrobras, which first launched its logo in 1954, was, until recently, synonymous with Brazilian nationalism.

Petrobras has undergone restructuring since the opening of the oil sector in 1995. Last year the government reduced its ownership to just over 50%.

Reichstul said that the name change was not a step toward full privatization but union leaders claimed it was a preliminary step to privatizing the company.

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