Asset managers freeze $3 billion in Russian funds amid market turmoil


LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) – Asset managers including France’s Amundi (AMUN.PA) and BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), Britain’s HSBC (HSBA.L) and Switzerland’s Pictet have frozen funds in Russian-focused stocks totaling over $3 billion in assets as markets seize up following sanctions on Russia.

Russian assets have plummeted due to crippling restrictions, and Moscow has imposed temporary restrictions on foreigners seeking to exit. Read more

Asset managers generally only suspend funds in exceptional circumstances, such as when assets are difficult to value, to ensure equal treatment of investors.

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Pictet said in a notice to shareholders dated February 28 that it had suspended its Russian equity fund “in light of the current and evolving circumstances associated with the Ukraine/Russia situation, the current political situation and the constraints of liquidity”.

He said he would reopen the fund “as soon as market conditions allow.”

The fund has $637 million in assets, according to Morningstar data.

DWS and HSBC have suspended Russian exchange-traded funds — funds that track an index.

Amundi said it suspended three equity funds with exposure to Eastern Europe, and BNP Paribas said it was not calculating a valuation for its Russian fund during the Moscow stock exchange shutdown.

JPMorgan said Western sanctions and Russian restrictions were limiting the ability of its London-listed Russian securities fund (JRS.L) to pay dividends.

Barings said it had zero-rated Moscow shares in its Emerging Opportunities EMEA investment fund (BEMO.L).

British asset manager Liontrust suspended trading in its Russian fund and Swedish fund managers Swedbank (SWEDa.ST), Carnegie, East Capital and Handelsbanken (SHBa.ST) froze their Russia-exposed funds. Read more

The Swedish Pensions Agency said it stopped buy orders in four Russian funds on its pension fund market platform as it assesses whether the funds are suitable for ethical and risk reasons.

Sweden has a system that allows savers to allocate part of their public pension savings to a number of approved funds.

Nordic lender Nordea (NDAFI.HE) went beyond equities and said it had decided to exclude all Russian investments, including government bonds, stocks and bonds from its funds. Read more

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Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Simon Jessop; Additional reporting by Johan Ahlander, Glwadys Fouche and Lawrence White; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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