United Company Rusal, the Russian aluminium giant run by oligarch Oleg Deripaska, is planning to list in Hong Kong by December in a huge blow to the London Stock Exchange.
London has long been considered the home of the listed mining sector, with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American among the exchange's big names. Missing out on the world's biggest aluminium producer would be a hit to that reputation, according to industry bankers.
Mining sector sources said that the partial float, which would list between 10 and 20 per cent of the company's shares, could value Rusal at $20-30bn.
Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse have been lined up as the global co-ordinators for the flotation, which is expected to be marketed in Hong Kong in November. There are likely to be two bookrunners – more junior positions – that are expected to go to BNP Paribas and a Chinese bank.
BNP is one of Rusal's leading lenders, and has sat on the committee that has been restructuring the group's debts. Rusal should complete its restructuring within the next month, allowing it to start marketing a float in November.
Sources said that a secondary listing on Euronext, the Paris-based exchange, is also under consideration. A senior mining figure added that Hong Kong was attractive due to its proximity to mainland China, a major customer.
Aluminium Corporation of China, better known as Chalco, Rusal's major rival, is also listed in Hong Kong. "There is no major aluminium player in London," said one source.
Rusal has long harboured plans to float on a major exchange, and was choosing between a London and Hong Kong until the market collapse frustrated the company.
Oleg Mukhamedshin, Rusal's director of capital markets, said last month that a listing "will be possible in the next 12 to 24 months". The original plan had been to list by the end of this year, a timetable that appears to have been resurrected.
Vera Kurochkina, a Rusal spokeswoman, denied that a decision had been made on a flotation, adding that banks had not been appointed. However, just last month Ms Kurochkina was reported as saying that Rusal was technically ready for a listing.
Mr Deripaska was in the news last week fater General Motors confirmed that it would sell a 55 per cent stake in Opel and Vauxhall to Canadian vehicle parts group Magna International. Gaz, Mr Deripaska's carmaker, is a member of Magna's consortium.