FTSE Russell could delete more Chinese firms after U.S. bolsters executive order

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Global index publisher FTSE Russell said it may delete more Chinese companies from its global benchmarks, after the Trump administration on Monday strengthened an executive order barring U.S. investment in firms with alleged Chinese military backing.

A vehicle drives past the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., U.S. December 13, 2020. Picture taken with a long exposure. Picture taken December 13, 2020. REUTERS/Raphael Satter

The executive order, signed by President Donald Trump on November 12, triggered a rush by FTSE Russell, MSCI and S&P Dow Jones Indices to remove U.S.-blacklisted Chinese companies from their indexes to keep their clients compliant, but the scope of the sanctions was seen as vague.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday published guidance clarifying that the executive order, released in November, would apply to investors in exchange-traded funds and index funds as well as subsidiaries of Chinese companies designated as owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

FTSE Russell, which has announced the exclusion of nine Chinese companies from its global indexes in response to the executive order, said in a statement late on Monday that it is reviewing the U.S. clarification and will make evaluation for “potential additional exclusions”.

FTSE Russell reiterated it will publish an announcement on Jan. 4, 2021, with any additional deletions being effective from Jan. 7.

MSCI has announced the deletion of 10 securities issued by seven Chinese firms while S&P DJI said it would remove securities of 10 Chinese companies following Trump’s executive order.

MSCI had said it would also create a new and separate index series which does not reflect the changes, and will distribute the tools to clients automatically.

But on Monday, MSCI said in a statement it will now only distribute the new indexes upon request by clients, and reminded index users that they are “responsible for ensuring compliance” with applicable sanctions and rules.

FTSE Russell has deleted eight U.S.-blacklisted Chinese companies from its global indexes including Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co and China Railway Construction. It will remove Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) in January.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department, on Monday published a so-called “Communist Chinese Military Companies List” that gives more precise information on the sanctioned Chinese firms and their securities.

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