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BlackRock to close 16 smart beta and multifactor ETFs

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BlackRock will shutter 16 ETFs in smart-beta and multifactor strategies a few months after introducing a lineup of artificial intelligence-driven products.

The last day of trading for the funds will be Aug. 15, the company said in a statement Friday. The funds held about $91 million in assets at the end of May, according to the company.

The closures come even as BlackRock puts greater emphasis on factor investing, a trading strategy that selects investments based on tested drivers of return, such as volatility, size and value. In April, the company introduced Factor Box, a tool that aims to “democratize” the strategy and illuminate it for more investors. BlackRock estimated that by 2022 the factor industry’s assets under management will expand to $3.4 trillion from $1.9 trillion in 2017.

Melissa Garville, a spokeswoman for BlackRock, declined to comment beyond the press release.

Earlier this year, BlackRock unveiled a suite of ETFs that use data science and some machine learning to better define company sectors. The ETFs were developed to address “limitations” inherent in traditional sector classifications, according to the company.

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The largest fund to close will be the iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol EAFE Currency Hedged ETF (HEFV) with about $16.95 million in assets. The smallest, iShares Currency Hedged International High Yield ETF (HHYX), has just $1.4 million.

The move marks a break from last year, when BlackRock didn’t shut any of its iShares ETFs. The company shut 10 funds in 2016, and it closed 18 funds in 2015.

Bloomberg News