HONG KONG (Reuters) – BlackRock has sold almost all its stake in China Telecom, a company subject to a new ban on U.S. investment, a stock market filing on Friday showed.
The move comes as U.S. investors scramble to exit stocks subject to the sanctions, which ban Americans from owning companies deemed to have links with China’s military.
The world’s biggest asset manager sold 818 million shares in China Telecom, one of 44 sanctioned companies, at an average of HK$1.92 each on Tuesday, a Hong Kong exchange filing showed, 12% below Tuesday’s closing price.
The filing gave no reason for the HK$1.6 billion ($206 million) sale, which reduced BlackRock’s stake in China Telecom from 6.1% to 0.2%, and BlackRock had no immediate comment.
BlackRock said on Monday its index funds had adjusted holdings to reflect moves by MSCI Inc, FTSE Russell and S&P Dow Jones Indicies to cut China Telecom and other firms affected by the sanctions from their benchmarks.
The Trump administration expanded the investment ban, to an extra nine firms on Wednesday, and investors expect more liquidations to come from big U.S. funds before the rules take effect in November 2021.
China’s foreign ministry has said the sanctions amount to wanton oppression of Chinese companies. China Telecom shares rose 1.4% to close at $2.34 on Friday, as some non-U.S. investors sought to pick up the stock cheaply.
(Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Alun John; Writing by Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Jan Harvey and Alexander Smith)