Vale gauges how to speed listing in strictest Brazil market

Bigger-than-expected shareholder support in Vale SA's stock conversion plan could lead the world's No. 1 iron ore producer to accelerate the listing of common shares in Brazil's strictest market segment and lure a boarder base of investors.

Chief Executive Officer Fabio Schvartsman told investors in a Monday conference call that a share conversion plan that ended last week was "a success." A total 1.66 billion Vale preferred shares, or 84.4 percent of that class of stock in circulation, joined the plan, topping a minimum 54.09 percent threshold.

Schvartsman and Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani said Vale is not considering using cash to buy back stock from holdouts, or offering any other incentive to accelerate the conversion of their shares.

While Vale expected to join the São Paulo Stock Exchange's Novo Mercado – the bourse's strictest chapter – by 2020, that could come earlier than that because "there was overwhelming support from shareholders, which could facilitate the migration" to a single, common share framework, Schvarstman said.

"We are working with our legal advisors to do that as quickly as possible," Schvartsman said of the Novo Mercado listing, adding that there is no timetable for the migration to that market segment but "it could happen this year."

Common shares added 1.3 percent to 31.19 reais on late Monday morning trading, extending the stock's gain to 26 percent this year. Vale's preferred shares gained 1 percent to 29.02 reais.

The change represents a milestone in a country long hobbled by corporate governance abuses and reorganizations that hampered minority investors in most cases. Reuters reported the plan on Jan. 19, citing people familiar with it.

The plan puts a limit to the meddling of politicians in Vale – an aspect that weighed on the company's stock during former President Dilma Rousseff's five years in office. Still, the government will keep a golden share, allowing it to fend off hostile takeover attempts and shape strategic decisions.

Schvartsman said Vale will absorb the company's former controlling entity, Valepar SA, on Monday. Vale's takeover of Valepar is part of the miner's reorganization – which aims to transform Vale into a company with dispersed share ownership.

Vale's common American depositary receipt added 0.9 percent to $9.775 in New York.

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Marta Nogueira

(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)