March 28, 2018 / 9:16 AM / 4 months ago

Russia's Lukoil overtakes rivals Rosneft, Gazprom in market value

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Lukoil, Russia’s second biggest oil producer by output, became the country’s biggest company by market capitalization on Wednesday, briefly overtaking state-owned Rosneft and Gazprom.

A general view shows a gas facility of Lukoil company in Jarkuduk, Uzbekistan September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Olesya Astakhova

Lukoil’s shares hit an intraday all-time high of 3,985 rubles ($69.24) in mid-January on a recovery in oil prices, although its market value was less than Gazprom’s.

But on Wednesday, its Moscow shares traded at 3,900 rubles, taking its market capitalization to 3.32 trillion rubles ($57.6 billion), above Gazprom at 3.31 trillion rubles and Rosneft at 3.24 trillion rubles in the first minutes of trading.

Lukoil’s share have recovered since mid-June when they traded at 2,600 rubles, as oil prices have firmed thanks to a global deal on production curbs by the OPEC and Russia.

Lukoil, controlled by its president Vagit Alekperov and his deputy Leonid Fedun, has supported the pact.

Its share price has also been supported by plans for a buyback and the cancellation of treasury shares, as well as an increase in dividends.

Last week, a company official told investors the management planned to recommend to the board that it increase the 2017 dividend by more than inflation.

“The newly presented strategy 2027 effectively classifies Lukoil as a conservative and stable company with a highly predictable business that is secure in bad times thanks to a low debt burden, and very limited exposure to risky and capex-intensive projects,” Aton brokerage said in a note this week.

Sberbank, the country’s top bank, is Russia’s largest company with a market value of 5.74 trillion rubles.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Oksana Kobzeva; Editing by Alexander Smith

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