BRUSSELS, Oct 3 Belgian metals and specialty materials maker Umicore and Australia's Zini

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BRUSSELS, Oct 3 (Reuters) Belgian metals and specialty materials maker Umicore and Australia's Zinifex said they would launch the initial public share offer for their joint zinc smelting unit Nyrstar in the coming weeks.

The companies previously said an IPO could take place as soon as the end of October on Euronext Brussels.

Nyrstar is now the the world's biggest producer of zinc, churning out over 1 million tonnes a year and overtaking Korea Zinc and Xstrata, and analysts have said they believe a listing could value the company at as much as $1.6 billion.

The flotation plan comes amid strong demand for zinc due to a global supply shortfall.

''The offering of shares owned by Umicore and Zinifex is expected in the coming weeks and is subject to market conditions and investor demand, as is the size of the offering,'' Nyrstar said in a statement on Wednesday.

''Following its listing, Nyrstar initially intends to pay a dividend of a minimum of 30 percent of consolidated net profit after tax,'' it also said, adding that it intended to pay its first dividend in 2008 for the last four months of 2007.

It also said it planned to spend 150 million euros ($212.6 million) in capital expenditure in 2008.

Nyrstar -- whose name is based on the old Norse word nyr, meaning new -- will be chaired by Julien De Wilde, former chief executive of Belgian steel cord and wire maker Bekaert.

Reuters KR DS1428

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