By Rogerio Jelmayer

SAO PAULO--Soros Fund Management LLC, which invests for billionaire investor George Soros and his family, acquired shares of Brazil's state-run oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, in the third quarter, after the company saw a change in leadership and a fresh focus on debt reduction.

Soros Fund acquired a total of 1.56 million shares of Petrobras in the period, according to the fund's quarterly report filed on the website of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the last two years, the Soros Fund, along with other big international investors--such as BlackRock Fund Advisors, and Fidelity Management & Research Co.--cut their stakes in the Brazilian company, at the center of an investigation into political corruption that was gaining force.

Since 2014, prosecutors have documented a sprawling scheme whereby Brazil's largest construction companies formed a cartel to overcharge Petrobras for major contracts and pay kickbacks to former executives at the oil company. Petrobras has said it was a victim of the corruption and that it has been cooperating with prosecutors.

In May, Brazil's then acting president, Michel Temer, named Pedro Parente the oil company's new CEO. Mr. Temer was later confirmed as president after his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached at the end of August in connection with allegations of accounting irregularities related to the country's budget deficit. Ms. Rousseff was also damaged politically by the Petrobras scandal.

Mr. Parente, formerly the top executive at the Brazilian unit of U.S. agribusiness giant Bunge Ltd., has been concentrating his efforts on reducing the company's debt via the sale of assets.

Petrobras is the only Brazilian company in the Soros Fund portfolio, highlighting the challenges local firms face in attracting international investors amid the country's deep recession. After contracting 3.8% last year, Brazil's economy is expected to shrank 3.5% this year, according to finance ministry projections.

Write to Rogerio Jelmayer at rogerio.jelmayer@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 23, 2016 05:28 ET (10:28 GMT)

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