Mark Mobius: Where The Worst Markets Are

Mark Mobius, Executive Chairman Templeton Emerging Markets Group Franklin Templeton Investments

Mark Mobius, Executive Chairman Templeton Emerging Markets Group Franklin Templeton Investments

He had just stepped of a plane, this time it was from Sarawak, to be exact where he had been scoping out potential investments. True to form where others fear to tread the Templeton man saw opportunities.

Mark Mobius has come a long way since he and two researches set up their business in Hong Kong in 1987. Back then they had $100 million and invested in 5 countries.

These days he and his team of 51 researchers at Asset Manager Franklin Templeton Investments manage $26 billion across 80 markets, meaning he spends more time in the air than in his office, as he said during the Investment Management Association of Singapore's annual conference on Wednesday at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia in the Lion City. And made it clear, as he said that he was habitually drawn to what others considered the worst markets.       

Heavy Bureaucracy in India

On China Mobius spelt it out clearly reminding the audience that China was a planned economy and not a free one. Hence he is never surprised when Chinese GDP targets are precisely met, just as planned.

He spoke favourably of dealing with the state owned enterprises, the corporate governance he said was usually fair whereas investing in the new privately owned firms in China could be «delicate.»

Mobius commented he was disappointed that the promised reforms of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not moved quicker. India is vibrant and free but heavily bureaucratic he says and at least one percent could be added to the country’s GDP if outstanding issues could be resolved.

U.S. Protectionism Feared

When probed about the growing mood of isolationism emanating out of the U.S. presidential front-runners, Mobius had a clear message for the ASEAN nations, get closer and trade.

By becoming a tighter trading block and using the advantageous demographics the countries in ASEAN enjoy, the block could circumvent any protectionist policies that the USA might revert to by ramping up inter ASEAN trade which he feels has the capacity to eclipse trade with America.     

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