Glencore, the world's largest commodities trader, is briefing analysts ahead of a possible flotation that could be one of the biggest listings ever seen in London, sources familiar with the situation said.
If it goes ahead, an initial public offering (IPO) of Glencore could value the company at as much as $60 billion, according to Liberum Capital estimates.
A public listing would allow Glencore, a privately held partnership, to keep growing even if its partners wish to leave.
It would bolster the Swiss-based trader's balance sheet, reassuring credit-rating firms, and allow it to make major acquisitions using shares as payment.
While no final decision has been taken, an IPO remains one of the options, one of the sources told Reuters on Monday.
Glencore's senior management team led by 54-year-old Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg is meeting sell-side analysts in London over a couple of days, the source added.
This is a presentation to analysts of the company and its operations. It is educational.
Glencore could float 20 percent or more of the firm, possibly split between London and Hong Kong, raising up to $16 billion.
That would represent a huge payday for investment banks -- perhaps $300 million to $400 million -- but an even bigger bonanza for the 500 or so partners who own the firm. Their shares could be worth up to $120 million on average.
Glencore, whose one-third holding in mining group Xstrata
There will be some reaching out, some preliminary conversations are going to be taking place in the near term about that. Maybe the company will go and meet one or two funds they are interested in, the second source added.
Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp were both named as such investors in weekend newspaper reports, although the sources said these were very much the usual suspects among sovereign wealth funds in any capital raising.
Speculation that an IPO could be done before Easter, which falls at the end of April, was premature and it could equally come after that, the second source said.
Something like this you can't really rush through and jam it through, it is a priority not to do that, the source said.
Although Glencore could be listed in both London and Hong Kong, London would be very much be the primary listing.
The first briefings in such situations are normally with the analysts working for the banks which have been hired to advise a company on its options. This can include the so-called global co-ordinators of a possible IPO and a wider syndicate.
Following such presentations, investment banking analysts normally have a month to produce so-called paving research that is used to help explain the company to potential investors but is not usually published to a wider audience.
Once a decision to take this step and produce such research has been taken, bankers say there are usually a couple of weeks to decide whether or not to proceed with an IPO.
If Glencore and its advisers do not press the button before Easter, they would likely have to wait until early May as the UK will have an extended holiday period during late April as a result of the royal wedding on April 29.
Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse have been appointed to lead Glencore's possible flotation, with other investment banks scrambling to get a slice of what they hope will be lucrative fees if the IPO goes ahead.
Several bankers in London said they did not think that the final group of banks had yet been selected by Glencore.
Some of last year's high-profile deals involved syndicates of up to 10 banks, prompting accusations that the companies involved were trying to stifle any negative research.
(Additional reporting and writing by Alexander Smith; Editing by David Holmes and Hans Peters)