MSCI Annual Market Classification Review . MSCI announced today that China A-shares will not be included in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index as part of the 2014 Annual Market Classification Review, but will remain on the review list as part of the 2015 Review.
This is one of the three potential outcomes (option three) we pointed out in our recent report “Including China A shares in MSCI EM index: is it the time?”. As we explained in that report, while China has made significant progress in opening up its capital market, the three obstacles still exist and no major progress has been made.
We notice that there have been promises that some of these issues will be resolved soon (at least partially), but MSCI’s decision may not be based on the expectation of the future developments. In addition, based on our conversations with fund managers, they still feel it is quite difficult to manage funds including China A shares. Postponing the decision to next annual market classification review in 2015 will give China more time to further open up, which will bolster the case for MSCI inclusion. This will also give enough time for MSCI and the investment community to fully analyze the situation, and prepare for the inclusion.
On the other hand, MSCI acknowledged that “the A share market is effectively opening as we speak” because many investors are already investing in the China A-shares and the quota granted has increased significantly. MSCI also highlighted further regulatory reforms and other changes expected in the near term, such as implementation of the Shanghai/Hong Kong Stock Connect program (expected in October 2014). Therefore, we believe an off-cycle review (for example in December 2014) is still possible (the option two in the report mentioned above).
In addition, MSCI will introduce by June 27, 2014, the MSCI China A International Index as a standalone index. This index and its regional and global combinations can be used as benchmarks by QFII and RQFII investors to complement the already extensive series of MSCI China A Indexes.
MSCI also announced that it will not promote Korea and Taiwan to Developed Markets index. This is consistent with what we expected in our earlier report. Furthermore, MSCI will remove these two countries from the review list for potential reclassification for 2015, due to the absence of significant improvements in key accessibility areas for the past few years. Both countries may be added back to the review list as soon as there will be meaningful improvements.