Mark Mobius, former executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg)

Emerging Markets Veteran Mobius Quits Retirement for Startup

(Bloomberg) -- Turns out Mark Mobius isn’t one for retirement.

Less than four months after leaving Franklin Templeton Investments, the 81-year-old has set up a new asset management firm to invest in emerging and frontier markets. Mobius Capital Partners LLP has yet to line up outside investors and wants to raise about $1 billion within two to three years.

The active manager will run a concentrated portfolio of about 25 stocks after it starts in June and plans to hire nine investment managers. The firm will invest in India, China, Latin America and frontier markets.

"I wasn’t ready to retire and I was ready for something new after 30 years at Franklin Templeton," Mobius, who has spent more than 40 years working in emerging markets, said on Wednesday. “With all this money going in ETFs and passives, there is a real role for active management where we go into companies and we try to achieve change," he said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

Carlos Hardenberg, who left Franklin Templeton earlier this year, and Greg Konieczny, who previously managed a publicly traded $2.7 billion Romanian fund, are also founding partners and equal partners in the firm. Mobius Capital Partners will be headquartered in London and the open-ended fund will be based in Luxembourg.

Emerging market equity funds have raised $54 billion this year compared with $31.7 billion of outflows at U.S. stock funds, according to data compiled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Inflows into emerging markets assets reached a record in the first quarter, outpacing all developed markets, according to Sanford C Bernstein & Co., citing data from EPFR.

An initial investment of $100,000 in the Templeton Emerging Markets Fund in 1987 was worth about $3.3 million in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. However, 11 of the 13 largest funds Mobius oversaw at that stage had underperformed benchmarks over the five years through the early part of that year.

Mobius had moved away from managing money in the last couple of years, Franklin Templeton said in a statement announcing the veteran investor’s plan to retire in January.

The new firm will meet company management and push them to improve their environmental, social and governance policies, Mobius said earlier. “We felt that with a small, flexible, feisty organization we could do a lot more in terms of affecting” corporate governance at companies, he said.

Frontier markets are very vulnerable to the price of oil, particularly if it rise sharply, Mobius said in the Bloomberg Television interview. “We would love to invest in Iran because they do have an active capital market, but because of the sanctions you just can’t do that. I think there’s going to be a breakthrough and there’ll be an opportunity.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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