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13 January, 2006 - Published 16:41 GMT
Russian gas shares open to foreign investors
Shares in the Russian gas company, Gazprom, have begun trading on the main Russian stock exchange. It's part of moves by the Russian government to open up the shares to foreign investors. This report from Damian Grammaticas:
Gazprom is one of the world's largest companies. By market value it's now worth over two-hundred billion dollars. That puts it in the top ten of global firms, just behind energy giants like Royal Dutch Shell but ahead of the huge US retailer Wal-Mart. And with good reason - Gazprom, in effect the successor to the Soviet Union's giant gas ministry, controls a fifth of the world's reserves of gas plus many of the pipelines that supply it to Europe.
The recent gas dispute with Ukraine will have made many people outside Russia aware of Gazprom's size and influence. Just over half the company is controlled by the Russian government. But now that shares have begun trading on the main Russian stock exchange, it's easier for foreign investors to buy into the company. The move is a crucial part of President Putin's plans to increase investment and to establish Russia as an attractive emerging market. And despite the row with Ukraine, Gazprom's shares have surged upwards.
Damien Grammaticas, BBC Moscow correspondent,