(Bloomberg) -- WE Soda, the world’s largest producer of natural soda ash, unveiled plans for a listing on London’s main bourse, injecting life into a market that has been struggling to attract new listings.

The company’s controlling shareholder, Turkish industrial conglomerate Ciner Group, will sell shares in the initial public offering, according to a statement. At least 10% of the share capital will be available for trading, in line with new London listing rules.

WE Soda may seek a valuation of about $7.5 billion, based on its earnings and traded peers, according to people familiar with the matter. The final amount will also depend on market conditions, they said. 

The listing will help boost London’s flagging IPO market, where just under $600 million has been raised so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Rising interest rates, heightened inflation and volatile markets have kept investors on the sidelines, with some now selectively putting money in stable, cash-generative assets.

According to Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, the company has provided “a ray of light” for London’s IPO market. “Although this is a much-needed drop in a parched landscape, it’s still unlikely to lead to a flood of immediate listings due to the still volatile nature of market sentiment,” she wrote in a note.

WE Soda has had “a very broad dialog” with investors and “some extremely supportive meetings and feedback,” said Nicholas Hall, the firm’s chief strategy and risk officer, who was previously a managing director at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Rule Changes

The company’s listing decision was also helped in part by rule changes in London allowing companies to reduce the free float, that is the proportion of shares available to the public for trading, to 10% from 25%, given its large size, Hall said by phone.

WE Soda, which is one of the lowest cost producers of soda ash globally, produced about 5 million metric tons of natural soda ash and sodium bicarbonate in 2022.

Soda ash is primarily used for glass-making and is also a key ingredient for chemicals used in lithium ion batteries, which could add to demand in the future. While most of global supply is produced synthetically using brine and limestone in an energy-intensive process, WE Soda extracts it in its mineral form at sites in Turkey. It also has a new greenfield project in Wyoming that’s expected to come on stream before 2030.

Ciner Group also has a presence in the energy, shipping and media industries. It operates the BloombergHT television channel in Turkey under a deal with Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

BNP Paribas SA, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan are joint global coordinators on the offering, while Deutsche Bank AG, Liberum, Morgan Stanley, MUFG and Numis Corp. are joint bookrunners.

(Updates valuation in third paragraph. An earlier version was corrected to remove HSBC from list of joint bookrunners)

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