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Manga Mark Mobius - An Illustrated Biography of the Father of Emerging Markets Funds

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After a two-day slump in share prices spurred by the Dubai debt crisis, Bloomberg had an interview with Mark Mobius and featured his manga comic on the show. Mark Mobius Picks Emaar, 'Bombed-Out' U.A.E. Stocks (December 2, 2009)
Mark Mobius has joined Twitter, posting his views on emerging markets. He is also blogging in "Investment Adventures in Emerging Markets". (November 2009)
Mobius Seeks Private Equity Investments in Sri Lanka After War, Bloomberg said. (November 13, 2009)
Singapore's major business newspaper "The EDGE" featured an interview article with Dr. Mobius, and the comic book. (June 2009)
Korean edition is published by ArgoNine. (April 2009)
The Indonesian edition is published by Penerbit PT Elex Media Komputindo. (2008)
Chinese long-term edition is published by Merlin Publishing Co, Ltd. in Taiwan. (November 2008)
Bloomberg Television interviewed with Dr. Mobius and featured his comic. (May 29, 2008)
Dr. Mobius had a speech at "Investment Strategy Fair 2007" organized by Pan Rolling. Nearly 1,500 participants joined. (January 27, 2007)

Seizing the Emerging Markets Opportunity

The birth of the "emerging market" investment category took place in 1986, when the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank subsidiary, started to promote capital market development in less developed countries. Previously, those countries were referred to by different and sometimes unflattering names such as "the poor countries," "the underdeveloped countries," "the south" and so forth. Executives at the IFC wanted to devise a more optimistic name and came up with "emerging markets."

In general, a market can be considered to be an "emerging market" if it is in the World Bank's list of low and middle per capita income countries or if it has underdeveloped capital markets (i.e., the market capitalization of their stock markets represents only a small portion of their gross national product).

In 1987, when Templeton launched Templeton Emerging Markets Fund1, it was the world's first closed-end fund listed on a stock exchange with investments in emerging markets as its specific objective. The fund quickly delivered strong returns, producing a considerable amount of excitement in the investment world. The amount of money pouring into emerging markets became more and more significant. With the subsequent development of formal securities markets, legal structures and trading systems, international equity investing became more identified with not only developed countries but also emerging markets.

Blazing the Trail

The pioneering team headed by Dr. Mark Mobius started out with only two other analysts (who are still part of the group) in Hong Kong and set forth to search for investments suitable for Templeton Emerging Markets Fund.

It was a difficult time because in those days, although there were many emerging market countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, very few of them were open for investment. There were strict foreign exchange controls and limitations on foreign investment, in addition to the plethora of problems with market liquidity and safekeeping of securities. So in that first fund, investment was only possible in a handful of countries. Since then, however, major developments - such as the opening of Brazil in the late 1980s, Korea and Taiwan in the early 1990s, the end of apartheid in South Africa, easier access to eastern European economies and Russia, the opening of India and then, of course, China - have provided investors with greater accessibility to markets around the world. Today, Templeton is invested in over 30 emerging markets and has an investable universe of over 60 markets globally2.

The Templeton emerging markets investment team has grown from three portfolio managers/analysts to 35 and has expanded its on-the-ground presence from just one research office in Hong Kong (which was opened in 1987) to 15 offices. These include Vienna (Austria, for the eastern European markets), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Hong Kong (China), Shanghai (China), Mumbai (India), Seoul (Korea), Warsaw (Poland), Moscow (Russia), Singapore, Johannesburg (South Africa), Istanbul (Turkey), and Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

Kicking the Tires

The successful launch of Templeton Emerging Markets Fund not only showed growing investor interest in emerging markets, but also reflected the strong investor confidence in Templeton's long-term investment approach. The team uses the same bottom-up, long-term value approach to investing instituted by Sir John Templeton over 60 years ago3. The investment methodology is highly disciplined with the objective of achieving strong, long-term returns entirely through stock selection.

Also key to the team's success has been the practice of making on-site visits to companies. Being on the ground is an integral part of Templeton's investment philosophy. This direct first hand approach provides the benefit of a timely understanding (both of the opportunities as well as the pitfalls) of emerging markets stocks. Dr. Mobius and his team have conducted over 16,000 company visits in the last 20 years to "kick the tires" and find the most attractive investments. He has, in fact, made about 2,800 trips to over 500 different cities in more than 100 different countries in search of undiscovered gems to be included in the portfolios he manages.

Templeton Expands Emerging Market Footprint

Over the past 20 years, Templeton has met the diverse needs of global investors by launching a wide range of funds including global emerging markets-, regional- and country-focused funds. In 2006 Templeton introduced two funds: Templeton BRIC Fund (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and Templeton Emerging Markets Small Cap Fund, that take advantage of the growth potential and opportunities in emerging markets.

The investment team has seen tremendous growth in emerging markets, paralleled by rising investor interest. Today, with more than $42 billion in assets under management, the number of Templeton funds focused on emerging markets has increased from one to over 40 (including U.S. retail, institutional, private clients and strategic equity). With a larger team and more assets to invest, Templeton has seen its investment database expand from a few hundred companies to more than 19,000 securities today. The global, yet local presence of the group, which boasts 21 nationalities and speaks more than 20 languages and dialects, has given them access to important information and data in a timely manner that might otherwise not be readily available. It also gives the team the ability to cover a significant number of mid- and small-cap stocks that are frequently overlooked. In fact, this category has provided a significant number of strong performers over the years.

We can certainly expect Dr. Mobius and his group to continue doing what they do best for many, many years to come.


1. Templeton Emerging Markets Fund is a closed-end fund whose shares are traded on a stock exchange and are not offered to the public by Franklin Templeton Distributors, Inc.
2. As of 5/31/2007.
3. Templeton funds follow the investment management principles established by their founder and former chairman, Sir John Templeton, who is no longer affiliated with the Templeton organization.
Mark Mobius - An Illustrated Biography of the Father of Emerging Markets Funds
English edition
ISBN 9784-7759-3040-3
Amazon.com
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Japanese edition of Mark Mobius - An Illustrated Biography of the Father of Emerging Markets Funds
Japanese edition
ISBN 9784-7759-3034-2
TradersShop

Chinese long term edition of Mark Mobius
Chinese long term edition
ISBN 978-986-6511-01-1

Korean edition of Mark Mobius
Korean edition
ISBN 978-89-93497-08-3

Indonesian edition of Mark Mobius
Indonesian edition
ISBN 978-979-27-3218-4


Thai edition
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@2007-2009 Mark Mobius / Kaoru Kurotani All right reserved