By Kylie MacLellan
LONDON (Reuters) - Glencore has cleared the decks to launch its much-anticipated $10-billion listing around the middle of the month, receiving the nod from the Hong Kong stock exchange and positive signals from debt markets.
Two sources familiar with the matter said that Glencore, expected to list in both London and Hong Kong, was planning to issue a so-called Intention to Float document in London around mid-April, though this timeline could still change.
If the company makes a final decision to go ahead with the listing, it would likely be completed by around mid-May.
The Swiss-based firm has already received approval to list from the Hong Kong stock exchange, other sources told Reuters on Friday, clearing a hurdle it needed to overcome before the launch of the London leg of its Initial Public Offering (IPO).
The commodities giant has kept its plans under wraps since briefing analysts more than a month ago. Those analysts were expected to produce research notes with valuations for the company by April 1.
Glencore has consistently declined to comment on the timeline of any IPO.
In a sign trust in the company is already improving, the cost of buying protection against default of its debt has fallen steadily over the last few months, Markit data shows, as talk about the IPO intensifies.
"The IPO will allow the company to raise equity capital and help the business (cut debt), but what is just as important is that it will also improve disclosure," said one credit analyst, asking not to be named.
Glencore also refinanced a $9-billion loan last week to extend the maturity of two one-year loans put in place last year. The company was able to lock in lower rates due to favorable loan market conditions and banks' willingness to lend to commodities companies.
The loan refinancing is a positive move for potential investors in Glencore, as it extends the maturity of its debt while cutting borrowing costs on the loan, which is used to fund the company's trading book.
ALL ABOUT TIMING
The listing will require Glencore, founded by Marc Rich in 1974, to shed its once-fabled secrecy and become more transparent, opening up its huge and successful oil, coal and metals trading operations to scrutiny.
Rich, a former U.S. fugitive who was pardoned by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2001 after years in Switzerland to flee charges of financial crimes, sold Glencore to management.
The group, valued by one analyst at about $60 billion, is now 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.
It will aim to launch the retail portion of a Hong Kong IPO in the third or fourth week of April, with a listing scheduled for early to mid May, sources have said.
A launch of the London listing by mid-April would be consistent with the usual four-week European IPO process.
While an Intention to Float is not a requirement in London, almost all firms choose to put one out and such an announcement can be expected when Glencore launches its listing, sources familiar with the matter have said.
ITFs vary from brief statements setting out little more than a company's plan to list at some stage in the future, to substantial documents detailing things such as timing, the amount to be raised, existing share holdings, and information on a firm's finances and operations.
Glencore's is expected to be the latter, as it has already made analysts privy to substantial detailed information about the company, a lot of which will need to be made public.
"It will be relatively extensive document providing a lot of information," said one of the sources familiar with the matter.
"It cleanses anyone who might have received non-public information in preparation of research reports."
One important bit of so-far missing information likely to be included in Glencore's ITF is who will be its new chairman, as well as other key board members.
(Additional reporting by Julie Crust, Natalie Harrison and Tessa Walsh, Editing by Douwe Miedema and Sitaraman Shankar)