Emerging market investing pioneer Mark Mobius is to retire from Franklin Templeton Investments at the end of January, after more than 30 years at the firm.
Mobius, who is currently executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group (TEMG), was hired by the late Sir John Templeton in 1987 to launch one of the first mutual funds dedicated to this region.
In an interview last year with Investment Week, the manager described how at the start of his career emerging markets were dismissed as "underdeveloped, the poor, the third world or the south, so nothing very optimistic".
"We started in 1987 with $100m and only six markets where we could invest as everything else was closed," Mobius recalls.
"We had the Iron Curtain, Communist China and India was still recovering from the Raj - everything was controlled. Now we are running $26bn into approximately 70 countries."
Mobius went onto oversee the development of the group's emerging markets team from 1987 to 2016, during a period which saw the evolution of the asset class from niche investment proposition into the mainstream.
However, Mobius highlights that some larger investors still have very little emerging markets exposure in their portfolios.
"You would be surprised how many big institutions do not have exposure, partly for regulatory reasons as they are not allowed to invest outside their own countries, even though I would say if you invest in a company like Unilever, you are an emerging markets investor.
"Generally speaking, people are still severely underweight emerging markets and there is a long way to go."
Franklin Templeton has put in place succession plans for Mobius over the past few years. In early 2016, Stephen Dover, CFA was named chief investment officer of TEMG. Mobius then transitioned the day-to-day management of the group to Dover and the funds to other senior members of TEMG.
He is currently still a portfolio manager on the £2.2bn Templeton Emerging Markets investment trust (TEMIT), which after his retirement will continue to be run by lead portfolio manager Carlos Hardenberg and deputy portfolio manager Chetan Sehgal.
Commenting on Mobius's retirement, chairman and CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments Greg Johnson said: "There is no single individual who is more synonymous with emerging markets investing than Mark Mobius.
"My colleagues and I are deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside a legend, and we thank Mark for his many years of dedicated service and tremendous contributions to the firm."
Mobius commented: "I feel very fortunate to have spent most of my career at Franklin Templeton Investments. I have had the great privilege of working with an emerging markets team that includes some of the most talented and passionate people in the business, a number of whom have been with me for decades.
"I leave with great confidence in the Templeton Emerging Markets team and leadership at Franklin Templeton."
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