Top uranium producer Kazatomprom may sell 25% stake in London/Astana float

Oct 15 (Reuters) – Kazatomprom, the world's biggest uranium producer, said it will float up to a 25 percent stake in its planned initial public offering in London and Kazakhstan, as it looks to cash in on robust demand for the rare metal.Kazatomprom accounts for 20 percent of the world's uranium production and seven years on from Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster, the beaten down uranium sector is attracting interest again.

The Kazakh company said in an IPO registration document, seen by Reuters, that it plans to publish the prospectus for the offering on Nov. 13. However, the global market for IPOs has been hit by recent turmoil in financial markets, prompting a number of companies to put listing plans on hold and Kazatomprom's plans are also subject to market conditions.

The IPO is part of an ambitious privatisation programme set by Kazakhstan after Central Asia's biggest economy was hard hit by the fall in world oil prices.

Kazatomprom said in a statement on Monday that Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, its sole shareholder, would sell shares in the offering in London and Astana but would still hold at least 75 percent of the company's issued share capital after the IPO.

"The company believes that the supply side of the uranium market is undergoing a structural shift, following a prolonged period of depressed spot prices and oversupply, underpinned by the prevalence of legacy long-term contracts, the majority of which were concluded in the period between years 2005 and 2012," Kazatomprom said on Monday.

"As a significant portion of such (legacy long-term) contracts are set to expire in early 2020s, many utilities are likely to return to the market in the near-to medium-term to begin covering their future fuel needs," it said.

Fifty-six new nuclear reactors were under construction in 17 countries at the end of August, it added.

Kazakhstan's close economic links with Russia could pose risks as Western sanctions imposed on Russia, or any future sanctions, could have an adverse effect on Kazakhstan’s economy and the group's business, but the IPO is still expected to be keenly awaited.

"It (Kazatomprom IPO) is only going to generate further interest and introduce new investors to the commodity," Andre Liebenberg, CEO of uranium fund Yellow Cake, said.

Kazatomprom said it has hired Credit Suisse and JPMorgan as joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners for the share offering. China International Capital Corporation, Halyk Finance and Mizuho International plc were joint bookrunners.

Privatisation programme

Kazatomprom was one of four large Kazakh companies slated to make public share offerings this year and next, alongside telecommunications firm Kazakhtelecom, flagship carrier Air Astana and state oil company KazMunayGaz.

In a bid to develop Kazakhstan's domestic equities market, the government also wants shares of newly privatised firms to be listed on its Astana bourse. As well as listing in London, Kazatomprom said it would list shares and potentially GDRs on the Astana International Exchange (AIX). Following recent global market turmoil, Spanish oil company Cepsa became on Monday the latest firm to postpone listing plans, in what would have been the biggest oil IPO in a decade.

(By Noor Zainab Hussain and Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Bernard Orr and Susan Fenton)