Noble Group will launch a raw materials exchange portal in June. The Singapore-listed company had been working on Rawmart.com's creation for a year, chairman Richard Elman said. The business-to-business portal would provide an on-line trading platform for 600 to 700 commodities. 'My vision is to make Rawmart.com part of a business decision-maker's daily life just as reading the newspaper [is],' Mr Elman said. The portal would provide news and shipping information, product-posting and auction trading platforms. A number of other companies have launched global trading portals, aiming to reduce transaction costs, enhance market transparency and expand trading partners. They include London-based Bolero.net, which focuses on commodities, and WorldMetal.com which allows users to trade a wide range of metals. 'While some observers feel the Internet eliminates the middlemen, we see it as a force which repositions opportunistic intermediaries so their function remains valuable to customers,' Mr Elman said. Noble Group reported a net profit of US$6.31 million in the 12 months to December 31, compared with a loss of US$7.72 million in 1998.