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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Ring Fence' to Be Lifted Next Week

The long-awaited removal of curbs on foreign investment in gas monopoly Gazprom is expected on Dec. 28, Vedomosti said Wednesday, quoting company officials.

With the clock ticking toward a year-end government target date for the reform, Interfax reported that President Vladimir Putin's legal team had given the green light for him to sign the changes into law.

"The documents have been agreed on and sent to the government office for signature by the prime minister and subsequently to the president," it quoted a source familiar with the process.

Both houses of parliament have already voted to widen access to shares in the world's largest gas producer, and Vedomosti said Putin was expected to sign off on the reform next Wednesday.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov, when asked about the Vedomosti article, said he did not know when the decree would be signed.

Separately, Gazprom said its board of directors would meet on Dec. 28 to discuss implementation of the reform.

The move is a boon for Gazprom equity holders since it is likely to lure billions of dollars of inflows into its shares.

It will transfer Gazprom, which is already Russia's largest company with a market value of $150 billion, into the heaviest-weighted stock in the benchmark Morgan Stanley Capital International global emerging-market index tracked by global investors with $3 trillion in assets, from a zero weighting now.

The relaxation will make Gazprom a must-hold stock for big funds and close the discount between its local shares and a small free float of American Depositary Shares in London.