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Gazprom's Weighting Increased: Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley Capital International has said it will increase the weighting of Gazprom

Morgan Stanley Capital International has said it will increase the weighting of Gazprom on two indexes after President Vladimir Putin ended a cap on foreign ownership of shares of the world's largest gas company, reported.

MSCI will boost the weighting of Gazprom shares in the MSCI Russia Index to 42.8 percent from 6.3 percent and in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index to 3.7 percent from 0.4 percent, according to a statement.

Foreigners had been banned from owning more than 20 percent of Gazprom's stock and from buying the company's local shares, which are cheaper than London-traded proxy stock, before Putin signed a law on Friday that removed the limits.

MSCI said that the higher weighting for Gazprom would be contingent on liberalization of trading in the shares by foreign investors becoming fully effective and Gazprom shares being added to the RTS and MICEX by the end of January.

The company, which has a market capitalization of 4.52 trillion rubles ($156.9 billion), will become the second-most heavily weighted stock in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, behind Samsung.

Samsung, the world's No. 2 maker of semiconductors, has a market value of 97.4 trillion South Korean won ($96.1 billion).

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has signed a measure lifting restrictions on foreign ownership of Gazprom stock, The Associated Press reported Thursday, citing the company.

The signature was the final step in a long-awaited process to open up shares in the world's largest gas producer to foreign investors, said a Gazprom spokesman.

"All the documents have been signed. The liberalization has taken place," Igor Volobuyev said.

It was not immediately known when Gazprom shares would be made available, but a Gazprom official, who asked not to be named, told Dow Jones Newswires he expected foreigners to begin trading local shares immediately after the long January holiday period ends, on or around Jan. 11.

The resolution was signed by Fradkov on Wednesday, Interfax reported.