* New FTSE 100 entrants have outperformed peers
* May use stock as acquisition currency
* Moscow bourses RTS and MICEX complete merger (Updates prices, adds further details, background)
MOSCOW, Dec 19 Russia's biggest steelmaker and one of its leading metals miners joined the UK FTSE 100 share index on Monday having outperformed UK-listed peers since getting full London listings.
Steelmaker Evraz, part owned by Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, has outperformed the FTSE 350 UK miners index by 11 percent since winning a full London listing last month, according to Reuters calculations.
Gold and silver miner Polymetal, part-owned by Russian miners Alexander Nesis and Alexander Mamut, has outperformed the same index by nearly 29 percent since its own elevation to a premium listing in October.
Evraz and Polymetal qualified to become the first Russian companies to be included in the FTSE 100 after upgrading their London status from secondary Global Depository Receipts (GDRs).
They hope the move will increase their liquidity and international profile and thereby lead to acquisition opportunities since FTSE 100 membership can make a company's shares more attractive.
"One of the main reasons for gaining a premium listing and entrance to the FTSE 100 is so Evraz can use its shares as an M&A currency. Its financial situation is relatively stable so the company may start doing small acquisitions," Uralsib steel analyst Dmitry Smolin told Reuters.
The two companies were trading broadly in line with their new London-listed peers during their first hours trading as members of the index.
Evraz was off 0.5 percent by 1104 GMT, while the index of the 350 biggest miners was down 0.2 percent. Polymetal was trading flat.
"Surprisingly you have not seen significant inflows from index trackers. The problem is really with the steel industry -- prices and demand remain weak," Smolin said.
Evraz has also outperformed the European basic industrials index by almost 11 percent. The company has a free float slightly below the new minimum requirement of 25 percent set by FTSE Group last week, but has said it will raise its level to comply with the new rules.
The Russian exodus to London is expected to continue into 2012, with Polyus Gold awaiting approval from the Russian government and potash miner Uralkali considering the move.
RUSSIAN EXCHANGE MERGER
Polymetal and Evraz joined the FTSE 100 on the same day as the merger between rival Moscow bourses RTS and MICEX was officially completed.
The Russian government wants the tie-up to create a one-stop shop for trading in stocks, bonds, derivatives and currencies, as well as become the base for a Moscow financial powerhouse that would encourage large companies to stay in Russia and not seek listings overseas.
Russian private companies raised around $4.5 billion from initial public offerings before capital markets effectively closed in early August. All but the $14 million captured by online retail minnow Utinet was raised in London and New York.
The combined RTS-MICEX exchange will now seek to use further financial market reforms in 2012 to land a significant IPO of its own, in what would be a step towards rivaling other major international exchanges. (With additional reporting by John Bowker and Clara Ferreira-Marques; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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