MSCI says investors do not expect Biden to change China share restrictions quickly

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The MSCI logo is seen in this June 20, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

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BOSTON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Investors don't expect the new administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to act quickly to change new rules that bar new investment in some Chinese companies, an executive for index provider MSCI Inc (MSCI.N) told Reuters on Wednesday.

During a consultation with more than 100 clients on how to reshape its indexes around the restrictions, MSCI found the conventional wisdom to be that altering the rules "is not the highest priority for the Biden administration," Sebastien Lieblich, the Paris-based head of index research for MSCI, said in an interview.

MSCI Inc on Tuesday moved to delete the securities of seven Chinese firms from some of its global indexes after the outgoing Trump administration banned purchases of their shares in an executive order in November. The move followed similar steps by rivals including FTSE Russell (LSE.L) and Nasdaq Inc. (NDAQ.O). read more

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The seven were among 35 companies listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as owned or controlled by the Chinese military, subjecting them to the new restrictions. China has condemned the moves, saying the effort runs counter to principles of market competition.

A spokesperson for Biden's transition team declined to comment on Lieblich's remarks.

MSCI also had said it would launch versions of some indexes that retain the barred Chinese company securities. Lieblich said "a small number" of MSCI clients had asked for them but declined to be more specific.

Lieblich said MSCI decided not to delete subsidiaries or affiliates of some of the restricted Chinese companies, but could take further action if Washington gives more details about specific listings it wants barred.

"Whether the spirit of the order was to have everything excluded, that's an open question," Lieblich said.

MSCI's decision on subsidiaries and affiliates drew fire from U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who proposed legislation in October that would harden Trump's executive order.

"MSCI’s stated decision not to remove these firms' subsidiaries and affiliates underscores the need for Congress to take further action," he said in a statement.

"If any future Administration were to reverse course, it would be a clear signal that they are putting the interests of the Chinese Communist Party and Wall Street above the interests of American workers and mom and pop investors."

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Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston; Additional reporting Alexandra Alper in Washington; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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