(Bloomberg) -- WE Soda, the world’s largest producer of natural soda ash, confirmed its intention to seek a listing on the London Stock Exchange, marking what’s likely to be the City’s largest listing of the year.

The company — backed by Turkish industrial conglomerate Ciner Group — said indirect net proceeds from the offering are expected to be about $800 million. 

WE Soda may seek a valuation of about $7.5 billion, based on its earnings and traded peers, Bloomberg News reported last week. The company is one of the lowest-cost soda ash producers, with output of about 5 million tons last year including sodium bicarbonate.

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. It’s the first high profile IPO in the UK capital since Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. in 2021.

Since then, the sharp rise in interest rates, high inflation and volatile markets have put investors in a more cautious mood, crimping appetite for new listings. London in particular has suffered from a dearth of activity, with British firms increasingly looking to US exchanges to achieve higher valuations.

Soda Ash

Soda ash is mainly used to make glass, but is also a key ingredient for chemicals used in lithium-ion batteries, which could add to demand as electric vehicles proliferate. While most of global supply is produced synthetically using brine and limestone in an energy-intensive process, WE Soda extracts it in mineral form at sites in Turkey. 

It also has a new greenfield project in Wyoming that’s expected to come on stream before 2030. The firm’s earnings surged last year as energy costs drove the price of soda ash higher.

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.

We Soda’s offering would also be one of the largest IPOs in recent months to give mom and pop investors a chance to buy into the deal. The company said it was considering offering as much as £6.95 million ($8.7 million) of shares to ordinary investors via retail investment platform PrimaryBid.

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

(Updates with details on retail offering in penultimate paragraph)

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