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Gazprom Joins World's Top 10 by Market Value

Gazprom has overtaken Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble to join the world's 10 largest companies by market value after its shares surged in London and Moscow.

The state-controlled company's London-traded American Depositary Receipts had advanced 8.7 percent to $91.60 by mid-afternoon Thursday in Britain, valuing the company at $217 billion.

That makes the Moscow-based company the seventh-biggest in the world, just behind Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's No. 2 oil company.

President Vladimir Putin is trying to build Gazprom into an international energy provider big enough to compete with Texas-based ExxonMobil, whose $379 billion market value makes it the world's biggest publicly traded company. Gazprom, which supplies one-quarter of Europe's gas, rattled the continent on New Year's Day by cutting supplies to Ukraine, the main gateway for its exports to countries including Germany and Italy.

"The publicity surrounding the Ukrainian crisis probably contributed about $20 billion to Gazprom's market value," said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at brokerage Alfa Bank. "The crisis raised Gazprom's profile around the world and a lot of investors are buying shares as a result."

Gazprom, created out of the Soviet gas ministry in 1991, holds 16 percent of the world's known reserves. Its gas output of 547.2 billion cubic meters last year is equivalent to 9.42 million barrels of oil per day, about as much as Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil supplier, produced daily last month.

Chief executive Alexei Miller, who worked for Putin in their native St. Petersburg and who was hired to run Gazprom in 2001, has said he expects Gazprom to compete with ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabia's Saudi Aramco, and that it will to become the world's largest energy producer within four to five years.

(The Moscow Times 15.i.06)

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