Mark Mobius-kF2--621x414@LiveMint-2

For Livemint: How Mark Mobius saw India over the years

This post was first published on Livemint.

Mark Mobius might not have been the best-performing emerging-market fund manager, but his name has been more synonymous with the idea of investing in businesses from developing economies than any other.

So, on 31 January, when the 81-year-old retires from Franklin Templeton Investments after 30 years, it will mark the passing of an era.

This period has seen him embrace, in sequence, Hong Kong, South Africa, South Korea, Brazil and China.

In some year or the other, beginning 1995, each of these five countries led the portfolio of Templeton Emerging Market Investment Trust—the best-known Templeton emerging-market investing vehicle that Mobius managed. But never India, despite the unstinting optimism he voiced for the country in public. India was a steady crawl in the Trust’s portfolio: from 0.6% in 1995 to 3.9% in 2005. In 2010, this spiked to 14.5%—an all-time high—and two Indian companies featured in the fund’s overall top 10 holdings.

But by March 2015, this had fallen to 5.6%. By March 2016, the Trust’s exposure to India increased to 9% and the number of Indian stocks to 12.

But in the year when demonetisation happened and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) became imminent, the Trust cut its India exposure to 6.1%, its sixth largest holding in a portfolio worth £2.1 billion.

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The Trust’s Indian holdings have been mainly in stodgy, old economy, industrial businesses. By contrast, the latest released list of top 10 holdings of the fund—in which there’s no Indian company—consists entirely of consumer and information technology (IT) businesses.

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Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 12.35.44 PM is a database and search engine for public data.


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Economy: Recovering But Slowly

Indian economy is forecasted to grow at a pace in 2017-2018 which is slowest in four years. Though, in comparison with the first six months of the current fiscal, the predicted growth is higher, and that signals that economy is recovering, but at a slower pace overall. In other news, Lalu Prasad Yadav is sentenced to prison for his role in fodder scam. That and there’s more in news in numbers today.


3.5 years

What is it? The number of years for which former Bihar chief minister and RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was jailed by a special CBI court in Ranchi on Saturday in the second of the six fodder scam cases against him.

Why is it important? This is the second time Yadav is going to prison, resulting in his disqualification from contesting elections. In 2013, he was sent to jail for five years in a similar case, though he was out on bail after about three months. His legal troubles are far from over, as judgment on two other fodder scam cases is expected in about a month.

Tell me more: In the second case, the court had convicted Yadav for cheating and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act. Last December, the court found Yadav and others guilty of fraudulently withdrawing Rs 89.23 lakh from the Deogarh Treasury using fake bills for fodder procurement between 1991 and 1993.



What is it? India’s estimated economic growth rate in 2017-18, according to the first advance estimates released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Friday.

Why is it important? If the prediction holds, this would be the slowest pace in four years and a drop from the 7.1% registered in 2016-17. The estimated GDP (gross domestic product) growth in 2017-18, which is lower than the government’s earlier estimate of 7.5%, has been mainly hit by the 2016 demonetisation move and the rollout of the nationwide GST (goods and services tax) last July.

Tell me more: The CSO forecast implies the economy is recovering: it grew at 6% in the first six months of the current fiscal and is likely to grow at 7% in the second half. The farm sector is expected to grow at 2.1% (against 4.9% last year) and the manufacturing sector at 4.6% (against 7.9% last year) in the current fiscal.



What is it? The gross enrolment ratio (GER), which is the number of students enrolled in a specific level of education expressed as a percentage of the total eligible students in the same level, in higher education in 2016-17 in India, according to the 8th All India Survey on Higher Education.

Why is it important? This was 19.4 in 2010-11, which means more students are pursuing higher education. This means there will be a greater number of educated people looking for jobs in India, where the unemployment rate dipped to 5% in 2015-16, the lowest in five years. This could be an issue in the 2019 general elections, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while campaigning for the 2014 elections, had promised to provide a crore jobs.

Tell me more: The GER for women has improved to from 17.9 in 2010-11 to 24.5 in 2016-1 and that for men from 20.8 to 26.


30 years

What is it? The number of years that Mark Mobius would have spent at Franklin Templeton Investments. On Friday, the company announced Mobius would be retiring on January 31.

Why is it important? Mobius, 81, joined Franklin Templeton in 1987 as president of the Templeton Emerging Markets Fund. He has been synonymous with emerging markets, lifting its profile as an asset class. He made Singapore his base, and traveled about 250 days a year across the world in search of investment opportunities. His retirement had been coming since 2016, when it was announced that Stephen Dover would take over from Mobius as head of emerging market equity at the firm.

Tell me more: According to City Wire Americas, in the last five years, Mobius gave a total return of 17.9%, to be ranked 174 of 264 fund managers tracked. The best return in this set was 78.2% and the average return was 20.1%.


£142 million

What is it? The transfer fee paid by Spanish football club Barcelona to Liverpool to acquire Brazilian playmaker Phillippe Coutinho.

Why is it important? It brings to an end a six-month wrangling between the two clubs for Coutinho. The Catalan giants, smarting from the loss of Neymar, have wanted Coutinho since last summer’s transfer window, and had three bids rejected by Liverpool. His signing bolsters Barcelona, on the field and off the field. It leaves Liverpool with a question, though with added millions to plug it. Liverpool bought Coutinho from Italy’s Inter Milan five years ago for 7.5 million pounds, and he scored 41 goals for Liverpool in 152 appearances in the Premier League.

Tell me more: Coutinho is the world’s second-most expensive football signing, after Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain, and Barcelona’s most expensive signing. Barcelona also have the third-most expensive signing of all-time, in the form of Ousmane Dembele.

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