THE COMMODITY boom has helped to turn Glencore into a powerhouse, creating huge profits on massive revenues.

Driven by massive demand from China, commodity prices have soared in recent years, turning the Swiss-based firm into one of the largest privately held companies.

Last year, it had pre-tax profits of $6.2bn (£3.8bn) on revenues of $145bn.

It said yesterday it expects to announce a $350m shareholder dividend alongside its half-year results this August.

Yet the timing of its listing plans comes as demand for commodities slows and prices fall, although observers still view the firm favourably.

Founded in 1974, Glencore was initially focused on the physical marketing of metals, minerals and crude oil.

In the early 1980s, the firm acquired an established Dutch grain trading company, later adding a coal trading unit.

It has since moved from purely marketing commodities sourced from third parties, into an extractor in its own right. It also holds smelting, refining and processing assets.

It first ploughed its cash into equity investments in 1987, when it acquired a stake in a US aluminium smelter, before it purchased a controlling interest in 1988.

Glencore now holds significant stakes in several publicly listed industrial firms, including Xstrata, Century Aluminium and Katanga Mining.