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Four-fifths of emerging market funds still trapped in Russian stocks

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Fewer than a fifth of actively managed emerging market equity funds have cut their exposure to Russian stocks to zero, data from Copley Fund Research shows, with a number of funds unable to sell out.

Russia has been severed from global financial markets, and its stocks and bonds ejected from indexes after Western nations imposed sweeping sanctions to punish Moscow for its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Sanctions alongside Russian counter-measures, including capital controls, have made the country’s financial markets broadly inaccessible for foreign investors.

The latest fund filing data covering 253 funds with $450 billion assets under management showed 45 funds closed out of all Russia positions between end-2021 and end-April, the Copley research found.

“Many funds are holding positions that they can’t get out of so will remain invested for a while,” said Steven Holden at Copley.

Weightings have also fallen rapidly, with Russia now making up just under 2 per cent of average fund weights compared to 4.5 per cent in January.

Russia’s current weighting was artificially high due to calculations still based on the last trading prices from before the war for some stocks such as Sberbank, Holden said.

“Russia is falling down the ranks and will drift into insignificance over the course of the year,” he added.

Russian stocks had been widely held by emerging market asset managers, especially after the Moscow Exchange launched a dollar-denominated index in 1995 (.IRTS).

Among the investment vehicles that have totally exited Russia are funds by Morgan Stanley, Lazard Asset Management, Templeton and Van Eck, the data showed.


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