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Volatility won't impact China A-shares decision: MSCI

An investor checks stock information at a brokerage house in Fuyang, China.

U.S. index provider MSCI said recent violent market gyrations in China, and a barrage of interventions by the authorities to stop the rout, will not be a factor in deciding whether to include China-listed shares in its emerging markets index.

Chinese stock markets have plunged around 40 percent since mid-June on concerns over a slowing economy. The slump has been accompanied by a raft of actions by policymakers and regulators that included rate cuts, a surprise devaluation of the yuan and attempts to rein in short selling and margin lending.

In June, just before the sell-off began, MSCI announced it would hold off adding China-listed 'A shares' to its closely-tracked MSCI Emerging Markets Index, but said it expected those shares to be incorporated once outstanding issues relating to the accessibility of Chinese markets were resolved.

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That remains the case, Sebastien Lieblich, executive director of MSCI Index Management Research, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

"The volatility we have witnessed in the market and the recent events have absolutely no bearing on our decision," Lieblich said. "The (Chinese) market is just going through a correction, structurally speaking nothing has changed."

Lieblich said the only thing that could change MSCI's plans was if regulators in China passed measures to make the market less accessible to foreign investors, a move that he did not expect.

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MSCI has been in discussions with regulators in China and they understood MSCI's position, Lieblich added.

A decision to include domestic Chinese stocks in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index would have injected $400 billion of funds from asset managers, pension funds and insurers into mainland China's equity markets over time, MSCI has estimated.

Lieblich said MSCI's clients, mostly giant passive funds from the likes of Blackrock Inc., were in favor of the addition of China listed-shares if the market accessibility issues outlined by MSCI were addressed.

"In our discussions with clients about the current situation in China, clients make this difference between what is structural and what is happening at this precise moment," Lieblich said.

MSCI has said it would comment on the timing of the addition of Chinese shares to its MSCI Emerging Markets Index next June, at which point the current turmoil could all be "a bad dream", Lieblich said.