Mark Mobius makes rapid return with new ESG fund plans

Rumours of the retirement of veteran emerging markets investor Mark Mobius have been exaggerated. Mobius, who joined management group Franklin Templeton in 1988 and launched the Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust (TEMIT) in 1989, stepped down as lead manager of the trust in 2015 and left his position as executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group last month. 

He has now re-emerged to launch an open-ended fund looking to invest in companies in emerging and frontier markets with an environmental, social and governance (ESG) focus. At an event in Mumbai on Monday (19 February), he revealed that he plans to start a fund management company licenced to operate out of London and Luxembourg. 

Speaking at the conference, he said: ‘The fund [will invest in] not only companies that are great in ESG, but also those that have the potential to improve their governance, and environment and social.’

Carlos Hardenberg, who took over the management of the £2.2 billion trust from Mobius, has recently resigned from Franklin Templeton and is due to leave at the end of March

In the aftermath of that announcement, broker Winterflood pointed out that there have been a number of recent personnel changes at Franklin Templeton and removed TEMIT from its recommendation list ‘until it becomes clearer as to the future direction of Franklin Templeton with regard to its emerging markets equities team’. 

Mobius’s latest plans have helped to fuel industry speculation that these departures may be linked to the new fund. 

TEMIT is a Money Observer Rated Fund and is currently trading on a 12 per cent discount to net asset value; prior to the announcement of Hardenberg’s departure it sat on a 9 per cent discount. His replacement, Chetan Sehgal, was made Lead Manager on 1 February with immediate effect. 

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