Gazprom Tops China Mobile, GE

Gazprom overtook China Mobile and General Electric to become the world's third-largest company by market value after the presidential inauguration of its chairman, Dmitry Medvedev.

Gazprom, the world's biggest gas producer, rose 6 percent in Moscow on Thursday, pushing its value to 8.28 trillion rubles ($356 billion).

Medvedev may continue dismantling domestic price caps for natural gas designed to contain inflation and reduce costs for households and industry. The government has said it wants to increase prices so that sales in Russia are as profitable as European exports by 2011. The country, supplier of one-quarter of Europe's gas, is the world's second-biggest gas consumer.

"A Medvedev presidency is the perfect political cover for Gazprom," said James Fenkner, principal of Moscow's Red Star Asset Management, which manages about $100 million, including Gazprom shares. "He's going to help push through domestic price increases for gas, and that will be the next great positive catalyst for this company."

During Medvedev's six years as chairman, Gazprom's value climbed more than 32-fold as fuel prices rose and the company gained assets. Its expansion helped the state increase its control over oil production to more than one-third from about 6 percent at the start of Vladimir Putin's first presidential term.

Medvedev will quit as chairman next month after a new board is elected, spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said.