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Wall Street pushes on with measures to remove Russian assets – Metro US

Wall Street pushes on with measures to remove Russian assets

Signage is seen outside of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
Signage is seen outside of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offices in Manhattan, New York City

(Reuters) – Wall Street pressed on with measures to freeze investments in Russian securities on Thursday, with investors and regulators announcing new ways to reduce exposure, adding to Moscow’s financial isolation after the invasion of Ukraine last week.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, said it had suspended the purchase of all Russian securities in its active and index funds on Monday.

“We also have proactively advocated with our index providers to remove Russian securities from broad-based indices,” Rich Kushel, head of the portfolio management group for BlackRock, and Salim Ramji, global head of iShares and index investments for BlackRock, said in a joint statement on Thursday.

Russian securities account for less than 0.01% of their clients’ assets, they said.

Wall Street’s Financial Regulatory Authority halted over-the-counter trading in several Russia-based companies, including the American depository receipts of Sberbank Russia, Gazprom Neft PJSC, and PJSC Lukoil, the regulator’s website showed.

Nasdaq Inc and Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s New York Stock Exchange earlier this week had halted trade in Russia-based company stocks.

Western sanctions on Moscow have prompted a wave of investors to announce they were cutting positions in Russia. Authorities in Russia, however, have banned local brokers from selling securities held by foreigners.

Trustees of the $88 billion New York City Employees’ Retirement System voted this week to divest from Russian securities, the pension fund said on Thursday, adding it held about $31 million in Russian securities as of Feb. 25.

Canadian asset manager Purpose Investments said on Thursday it had divested all direct holdings of Russian companies as of Feb. 28 and pledged to stop new investments as long as Russia’s invasion continued.

“We simply do not feel that it’s appropriate to have our clients’ capital supporting Russian companies or businesses that are engaged in direct business in Russia,” CEO and founder Som Seif said in a statement.

Citigroup’s chief executive, Jane Fraser, said the bank and its clients were reducing their exposure to possible losses on Russian assets.

BlackRock said earlier this week it was consulting with regulators, index providers, and other market participants to ensure its clients could exit their positions in Russian securities, where allowed.

Major index providers FTSE Russell and MSCI said on Wednesday they were removing Russian equities from all their indexes. FTSE Russell said the decision will be effective from March 7, while MSCI said its decision will be implemented in one step across all MSCI indexes as of the close of trading on March 9.

“We will continue actively consulting with regulators, index providers and other market participants to help ensure our clients can exit their positions in Russian securities, whenever and wherever regulatory and market conditions allow,” the BlackRock executives said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Ros Kerber, Michelle Price, John McCrank; Writing by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Leslie Adler and Rosalba O’Brien)

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