Commodity traders say won’t follow Glencore to IPO

By Christopher Johnson

GENEVA (Reuters) – Two of the world’s biggest commodities traders ruled out public flotations on Monday, at least for the time being, despite admitting the attractions of raising such “permanent capital.”

Trafigura and Gunvor said they had no wish to follow Swiss commodities trading giant Glencore (GLEN.UL: Quote, Profile, Research) and raise capital through an initial public offering (IPO) of shares.

Two sources with direct knowledge of Glencore’s plans told Reuters on Monday the group was set to appear this week before the listing committee of the Hong Kong stock exchange, the strongest sign yet it will go ahead with an IPO of around $10 billion.

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.

But that financial model was not appropriate for Trafigura or Gunvor, senior finance officials of the two companies said.

Jan-Maarten Mulder, global head of corporate finance and treasury for Trafigura, told a commodities finance conference that an IPO could be a good solution for some commodities companies.

“We as a company are not really looking at an IPO,” Mulder said. “We are a partnership. We intend to remain private and I think it is very important to maintain the link between ownership and the long-term structure of the business.”

“NOT IN VIEW”

“For other companies that might be an option. There is already a very successful trading company that is listed and there is another one that, if I read the papers, will have one very soon,” he added.

“Certainly (an IPO) is a very good way of raising capital and it is (a) permanent (source of capital),” he said.

Guillaume de La Ville, finance director for the global energy division of Gunvor International, also dismissed any talk of his company moving toward an IPO in the foreseeable future.

“Of course, there are attractions to raising capital in that way, but we are no way close to an IPO,” de La Ville told Reuters on the sidelines of the Geneva conference.

“The company is evolving, growing very rapidly, but an IPO is not in view,” he added. “Everyone is talking about IPOs, given what Glencore is doing, but no.”

Glencore has been keeping its plans for listing 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 Glencore’s IPO plans.

Mulder said Trafigura also did not wish to be publicly assessed on its credit ratings.

“As for credit ratings, do you want to publicly rated? We as a company do not want to be publicly rated.”

Another large Swiss-based trading company at the conference, Mercuria Energy Trading, has previously ruled out any move toward a listing in the short-term, saying it wishes to retain the flexibility enjoyed by privately-run firms.

(Editing by David Gregorio)

Commodity traders say won’t follow Glencore to IPO