* Raises $500 mln via new Puma share issue to Sonangol
* Says Glencore increasingly acts as a mining corporation
* Wants to increase presence in North America
By Dmitry Zhdannikov and Emma Farge
LONDON/DAKAR, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Global trading giant Trafigura has raised $500 million via a stake sale in its Puma unit, showing that private traders will favour partnerships with selected investors over public share offerings as a way to raise capital.
“The company believes private ownerships is the right type of ownership for us. There is no active consideration of an IPO for Puma,” a company source said.
Expectations that trading houses might warm up to IPOs have been on the rise since the successful share float by Glencore .
Trafigura had said an initial public offering (IPO) was one of the options for Puma, and a number of analysts said they saw Puma as a potential candidate, not least because of some similarities between the parent and Glencore.
The chief executives of both firms - Glencore’s Ivan Glasenberg and Trafigura’s Claude Dauphin - previously held senior roles working for the late Swiss-based trader Marc Rich.
Both have comparable stakes in their respective firms. Glasenberg owned 18.1 percent before the listing, and Trafigura says Dauphin owns less than 20 percent.
Trafigura identifies Glencore as one of its major rivals, but the differences between the two are growing.
“With the recent merger between Glencore International and Xstrata plc, the commodities world has witnessed a major change in that Glencore Xstrata will increasingly act as a mining corporation, with the company marketing its own production,” Trafigura said in a recent prospectus to investors.
Trafigura has also expanded its assets base across all continents in the past years, but it says trading will remain its predominant activity.
The stake sale in Puma will further dampen expectations of another Glencore-type IPO in the sector, where companies pride themselves in seeing market opportunities quicker than the competition and requiring minimal internal bureaucracy for executing trading strategies.
Rivals Vitol, Mercuria and Gunvor have said a public share placement is unlikely to emerge on their agenda any time soon.
Meanwhile, Vitol’s terminal unit, VTTI, has the Malaysian state energy company among its partners, and Mercuria is also looking to partner with a strategic investor.
Trafigura acquired Puma in 2000 to manage its oil logistics assets such as pump stations and terminals. Several years ago, it sold 20 percent in Puma to Angolan state energy firm Sonangol for $300 million.
In a prospectus last week, Trafigura disclosed that Sonangol had increased its ownership to 30 percent for $500 million through a capital increase.
Trafigura now owns 49 percent in Puma, with the remainder held by private Angolan firm Cochan and a group of investors close to the trading house.
The latest transaction effectively valued Puma at $5 billion. The company source said Trafigura was committed to invest more in Puma and remain its single largest shareholder.
Trafigura also said it would keep searching for assets that will help its trading business.
For 2014, the trading firm aims to expand its oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) trading books, its activities in the former Soviet Union, its non-ferrous and bulk trading in Africa, China and Mongolia and its iron ore and coal businesses.
“The group will also continue to seek to increase its presence in North America to allow it to capitalise on the U.S. energy market shifts and evolving trade flows in the region,” the prospectus said.
Trafigura said its turnover for the nine months to June 2013 rose to $99 billion from $92 billion, although net profits declined in line with a broad industry trend as volatility in commodity prices has declined.
Its nine-month net profits declined to $607 million from $903 million in the same period last year, according to the prospectus. For the full financial year to end-September, profits are likely to show only a small decline versus last year’s $992 million, according to the source.