MSCI (NYSE: MSCI), the index provider for some of the world’s largest exchange traded funds, could make room for Alibaba following the company’s initial public offering after the indexing firm said its indices would exclude the Chinese e-commerce giant.
Amid client inquiries, MSCI said last week it was considering rules changes for its indices. “The investors argued that MSCI’s ignoring stocks such as Alibaba prevents them from accurately tracking the performance of international companies, according to sources involved in the discussions, who wished to remain anonymous because they are not permitted to speak to the media,” reports Jessica Toonkel for Reuters, which originally broke the story of MSCI mulling indexing changes.
“MSCI has analyzed the country classification of Alibaba Group Holding. Based on current information, the company will be incorporated in Cayman Islands, it will file 20-F only and it will list in the US only, through American Depositary Shares (ADS). Consequently, based on the above and as per the Appendix III of the MSCI GIMI Methodology Book, the company is not eligible for inclusion in the MSCI Global Investable Market Indexes (GIMI),” the index provider previously said. [Alibaba Could Miss Out on MSCI ETFs]
Alibaba’s exclusion from ETFs benchmarked to MSCI indices is an important point because of MSCI’s perch in the indexing business. Investors poured $84 billion into ETFs in the first six months of 2014 with $29 billion, or 34%, going to funds tracking MSCI indices. [New ETFs Lift MSCI]
A decision by MSCI to allow Alibaba into its indices could open the door for the stock to join well-known ETFs such as the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM) and the iShares MSCI China ETF (NYSEArca: MCHI). With $43.3 billion in assets under management, EEM is the second-largest emerging markets ETF.
Sources familiar with the situation told Reuters any changes to MSCI rules will have to wait until March 2015. Alibaba is expected to commence trading on the New York Stock Excange on September 19 under the ticker “BABA.”
News of MSCI mulling rules changes to possibly include Alibaba in its indices comes after S&P Dow Jones Indices said it is assigned a China domicile to Jack Ma’s company.
“S&P Dow Jones Indices has reviewed the country of domicile for Alibaba Group Holding. In accordance with our domicile assignment procedure found in our Corporate Actions Policies & Practices document, Alibaba Group will be assigned a China domicile. The stock will be screened for inclusion in all headline indices according to each index’s rules and IPO inclusion policy,” said the index provider in a statement issued Friday.