Glencore , the global commodities trading giant, is set to appear before the listing committee of the Hong Kong stock exchange this week, the strongest sign yet it will go ahead with a roughly $10 billion IPO, two sources with direct knowledge of the plans told Reuters on Monday.
Glencore, valued earlier this year by one analyst at about $60 billion, is looking to ditch its long-standing partnership structure in favor of life as a public company, which will make it easier to reward partners and make acquisitions.
The company has been keeping its listing plans under wraps since briefing analysts earlier this month, but is expected to list shares in both Hong Kong and London in what could be the UK's biggest ever initial public offering (IPO).
Glencore, based in Baar, Switzerland, and the Hong Kong exchange declined to comment on the IPO plans.
The exchange's listing committee regularly meets on Thursdays. Occasionally, it meets earlier in the week to review large offerings.
Asked if Glencore would be meeting the exchange on Thursday, two sources confirmed they would. A third source said the offer was moving forward.
The sources declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The company has met with investors in the past weeks to gauge interest in an offering, with several of its key trading partners in Asia showing interest to buy the stock.
One possible deal post-IPO the group led by chief executive Ivan Glasenberg may look at is a merger with Xstrata , the Swiss miner it already part-owns.
Asia's biggest sovereign wealth funds and some Hong Kong billionaires are seen as likely to invest in the IPO as cornerstone investors. Such investors are common to many large Asian IPOs and they are assured firm commitments in the offer.
'TOO BIG TO FAIL'
Volatility in global markets after the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan, coupled with the political turmoil in the Middle East over the past several weeks have prompted several companies to delay planned IPOs, raising some doubts whether Glencore would move ahead with its listing.
If all goes to plan, Glencore could kick off its listing during the first week of April with a so-called intention to float announcement in London.
That would follow an April 1 deadline for sell-side analysts to complete their research notes on the company.
Assuming Glencore follows the usual four-week IPO process, that would allow it to complete the listing in early May.
This is an offer that is too big to fail, another source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Sunday.
Glencore is likely to hire Bank of America Merrill Lynch , Barclays Capital , BNP Paribas , Societe Generale and UBS to manage the listing, alongside its existing trio of financial advisers, a person familiar with the matter said last week.
Citi , Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse are likely to serve as joint global co-ordinators, the most senior role on an IPO, with the other five banks probably acting as joint bookrunners.
While no final decision has been taken on an IPO, let alone its precise size, the potential fee income for banks runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Freeman & Co estimates banks' fees could total as much as $300 to $400 million, if Glencore sold $10 billion of shares, split 3-1 between London and Hong Kong.
(Additional reporting by Fiona Lau and Denny Thomas; Editing by Chris Lewis and Muralikumar Anantharaman)