Top commodity trader Glencore International aims to raise up to $12.1-billion with a dual listing that will boost firepower for deals at the height of a resources boom and make paper fortunes for its publicity-shy partners.
The long-awaited details of the offer, set to be the largest ever in London, were outlined in an intention-to-float document that confirmed an earlier Reuters story. It did not include the appointment of a non-executive chairman.
Eight hours later, however, Glencore announced it had picked Hong Kong businessman Simon Murray, 71, a polar explorer, former Vodafone board member and old Asia hand, for the role.
Some potential investors were unimpressed by the wait for the chairman's name.
"Good succession planning is a hallmark of good governance," a spokesman at top fund Standard Life Investments said. "Too often the boards of companies seeking to achieve an IPO cobble their boards together at the eleventh hour. The shares ultimately get the governance discount they deserve."
Another prospective investor, a top 20 shareholder in long-term Glencore bid target Xstrata, said: "They really should have had sorted (this out) before the announcement. We've seen this coming since 2008, so there's no excuse."
A strong chairman will be critical for Glencore in its bid to reassure would-be investors to back a company still steered by an executive team used to running a tight-knit partnership, with little outside influence.
Mr. Murray, who told Reuters earlier this week that he was being considered for the role, was managing director of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing's Hutchison Whampoa and serves on boards including Richemont and Essar Energy.
"My first priority is to have a really good understanding of where (CEO) Ivan (Glasenberg) wants to take the business," Mr. Murray told Reuters from a hotel in Tokyo, loud jazz music playing in the background.
Five non-executive director positions were announced with Thursday's statement, but at least one of the directors, Peter Coates, has previous direct links with the group. He was chairman until earlier this week of Minara Resources, a nickel producer majority owned by Glencore.
Former BP chief executive officer Tony Hayward, who was ousted over his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, will be the senior independent director.
Glencore, the world's largest diversified commodities trader, joins the dots of the global economy, mining, producing and shipping raw materials across the globe to car makers, oil companies, utilities, steel makers and food giants.
Founded in 1974 by trading sensation and U.S. fugitive Marc Rich, Glencore has until now held on to a fiercely prized tradition of public discretion, but its May listing will propel the group and its top management it into the limelight.
The sale, which has generated a buzz akin to Goldman Sachs' listing in 1999, will generate millions of dollars in paper windfalls for Glencore's executives - not least Mr. Glasenberg himself, said to own a 15 per cent stake in the firm. But all have been blocked from selling for up to five years.
Mr. Glasenberg has always declined to comment on his ownership, though his stake will be made public in the prospectus.
"All partners are invested for the long term. No one is taking money off the table," Mr. Glasenberg told Reuters in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Many potential investors were cautious on Thursday.
"There are not too many people that have made money out of dealing with Glasenberg and the market is going to do a deal with him," analyst Damien Hackett at Canaccord Genuity said.
Adding to uncertainty, long-term commodity bull Goldman Sachs warned clients earlier this week to lock in trading profits before oil and other markets reverse, making waves across commodity markets.
However other analysts and fund managers said the deal would find demand, despite ongoing volatility in the markets and nervousness around new issues. Many recent IPOs have been pulled or sold at the low end of their ranges.
"People want a different way to play the cycle and the business as a whole of mining, trading and selling commodities so this will definitely be a welcome addition in terms of a broader access to commodity markets," said Rob Edwards, managing director of metals and mining research at Renaissance Capital.
Glencore is targeting an offer size of between $9-billion to $11-billion. The London part of the offer should raise up to $8.8-billion, while the Hong Kong leg of the deal could raise up to $2.2-billion. After the IPO, the free float is expected to be between 15-20 per cent.
If a 10 per cent over-allotment option is exercised, the total IPO proceeds rise to $12.1-billion.
Glencore plans to use $5-billion of the IPO proceeds for capital expenditure over the next three years, while another $2.2-billion will be used to increase its stake in miner Kazzinc. Glencore already owns 50.7 per cent of Kazzinc, along with a 34.5 per cent stake in miner Xstrata.
It plans to set the price range on May 4 and conditional trading of shares is set for May 19, the term sheet showed.
Glencore is expected to sign up "cornerstone" shareholders to its IPO, but these may be made public only when it publishes its prospectus next month. Glencore officials have met in the past weeks with sovereign wealth funds in Asia and the Middle East, and high net worth investors to garner support.
It is also holding talks with investors in its convertible bond, some of whom have already signalled they will increase their share, according to sources close to the matter. Strategic investors in the bond are expected to almost double their money in just 17 months, according to analysts.
Standard & Poor's, which rates Glencore just one notch above junk, said it could raise the group's ratings as a result of a listing which will help strengthen liquidity, provide funds for growth and "underpin transparency and disclosure practices".
Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley are the joint global co-ordinators for the offer.
The bumper listing sees Goldman Sachs overtaken in Europe after it missed out, and JPMorgan will likely drop outside the top five equity and IPO rankings for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, two tables it topped this time last year.