By Ross Kerber and Alexandra Alper
BOSTON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Index provider FTSE Russell will delete shares of video security firm Hikvision and seven other Chinese companies from certain products after a U.S. order restricting purchase of their shares, it said on Friday.
The move shows how a recent bid by the White House to give teeth to a blacklist of Chinese companies allegedly backed by China's military could crimp U.S. investments in the country, often held in passive products built on broad indexes.
Still, Todd Rosenbluth, head of ETF and mutual fund research for CFRA, said so far the removals would seem to have a limited impact on most U.S. investors, since few large Chinese companies have been restricted. “We would expect all index providers to ultimately remove some Chinese securities in an effort to comply with the U.S. restrictions,” he said via e-mail.
In a statement sent by a spokesman for owner London Stock Exchange Group,, FTSE Russell said it would drop shares in companies such as Hangzhou Hikvision, China Railway Construction Corp, and China Spacesat.
FTSE Russell said it acted on feedback from index subscribers and other stakeholders, and was following its policy when sanctions are imposed that restrict investments.
In the statement issued after U.S. markets closed on Friday, FTSE Russell said the deletions from its FTSE Global Equity Index Series and several others would take effect on Dec. 21.
A spokesman said its treatment of the companies remains under review in other indexes, including its FTSE China and China A products, considered China domestic indexes.
Rival index provider MSCI Inc had previously said its products would "reflect any necessary changes" depending on U.S. law.
The executive order, published last month by the White House and first reported by Reuters, barred U.S. investors from buying securities of the blacklisted firms, starting in November 2021.
A spokeswoman for MSCI said it had sought feedback https://app2.msci.com/webapp/index_ann/DocGet?pub_key=oDxmqMxKkoo%3D&lang=en&format=html from market participants on the order, including any practical implications on the use of MSCI indexes and whether any changes to existing indexes or the introduction of new indexes "may be necessary or helpful to maintain the investability of relevant MSCI indexes and assist investors to comply with the order."
"We welcomed feedback until December 4," the spokeswoman said in the email. "We aim to communicate the results of the consultation soon."
The Financial Times reported that Nasdaq is evaluating the issue and could publish its conclusion next week, without citing sources. Nasdaq did not respond to a request for comment.
FTSE Russell, which previously said it was reviewing securities, said it could drop more companies based on the findings of U.S. officials.
All eight companies to be dropped figure on a list of "Communist Chinese Military Companies" compiled by the Pentagon.
They include China Communications Construction Co Ltd, China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Corp Ltd, CRRC Corp Ltd, Dawning Information Industry Co Ltd and China National Chemical Engineering Co Ltd.
A Hikvision spokesman said the order's decision to pursue it was "groundless" as the company had never participated in research and development work for military applications.
"Hikvision has tried to fully cooperate with the U.S. government and transparently answer policymakers' questions," the spokesman said in a statement.
"We have tried to correct misunderstandings about the company and our business. We will continue to try to do so."
China Railway Construction Corp said it was not able to immediately respond to requests for comment. The other six companies could not be reached outside business hours in China on Saturday.
China's top chipmaker SMIC and oil giant CNOOC. were among four more companies the Pentagon added to its list of barred firms this week.
FTSE Russell spokesman Tim Benedict said the company was aware of those additions, adding, "We will evaluate those in due course."
(Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston and by Alexandra Alper in Washington; Additional reporting by Brenda Goh, Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai and John McCrank in New York; Editing by Megan Davies, Daniel Wallis and Clarence Fernandez)