(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index may announce the long-awaited inclusion of tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in one of the biggest revamps in its 50-year history.
After trading ends Friday, Hang Seng Indexes Co. is due to unveil the first major changes under new rules to allow dual-class shares and secondary listings. Among stocks that are now eligible to be included are Alibaba, China’s largest food delivery website Meituan Dianping and Xiaomi Corp. The index compiler takes various factors into account, including market capitalization and turnover.
The move would affect about $30 billion in pension fund assets and exchange-traded funds that track the index. Other stocks will be forced out of the 50-member gauge. Swire Pacific Ltd. is one name seen at risk. Other possibilities include Sino Land Co. and CK Infrastructure Holdings Ltd. due to their relatively low free-float-adjusted market cap and small trading volumes, CGS-CIMB analysts said in a note last month.
The embrace of benchmark-beating technology companies is considered an overdue move for an underperforming gauge that is overstuffed with banks and financial stocks. The Hang Seng Index is down 11% for the year, compared to a 13% gain for China’s CSI 300 Index and the Nasdaq Composite’s 23% rise. Its compiler recently launched a new measure focused on China’s technology giants to provide investors better access to their increasing sway in the city’s equity market.
“The inevitable trend is for Hong Kong’s equity benchmark to lose more local features and represent more of the Chinese economy,” said Jackson Wong, asset management director at Amber Hill Capital Ltd. “Adding these companies will help it better reflect changes in the city’s equity market.” At least 26 firms out the 50 Hang Seng members generate the majority of their revenue from the mainland.
More listings of Chinese technology firms are in the pipeline, such as by Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s Ant Group, after debuts by NetEase Inc. and JD.com Inc. Listing closer to home has become more attractive as tensions between Washington and Beijing threaten to curtail Chinese companies’ access to U.S. capital markets.
Dual-class and secondary listings will each be subject to a 5% weighting cap. Dual-class shares were long blocked from listing in Hong Kong due to concern over unequal voting rights until Xiaomi Corp.’s debut in 2018.
Alibaba joined the bourse last year after a $13 billion secondary listing. Its stock has gained around 18% in Hong Kong since Hang Seng Indexes unveiled in May the new listing rules that would make it eligible to join the benchmark.
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