Emerging Markets Specialist Mark Mobius Retires From Franklin Templeton

Mobius, one of the first investors in emerging markets, is leaving the firm he joined in 1987.

Mark Mobius, chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group. (Photo credit: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg)

Mark Mobius, chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group.

(Photo credit: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg)

After more than 30 years at Franklin Templeton Investments, renowned investor Mark Mobius, who built the firm’s emerging markets group, will retire on January 31, the firm announced on Friday.

“There is no single individual who is more synonymous with emerging markets investing than Mark Mobius,” said Franklin Templeton chairman and CEO Greg Johnson in a statement. “Mark has been an investor through historically transformational times in emerging markets and later frontier markets.”

Mobius transitioned from managing the emerging markets team and fund at Franklin Templeton in 2016, when Stephen Dover was named chief investment officer of the emerging markets group, according to the press release. The group now employs approxmiately 50 investment professionals working in 20 offices.

“Mark was instrumental in building the very experienced bench of investment talent within our emerging markets team, and he is leaving the various emerging markets funds and strategies launched under his leadership in very capable hands,” said Dover. “We do not expect Mark’s retirement to cause any disruption to our clients.”

Mobius was one of the earliest investors in emerging markets, having been handpicked by Sir John Templeton to work for the firm as the president of Templeton Emerging Markets Fund in 1987. At the firm, Mobius launched one of the first mutual funds dedicated to investing in areas like post-apartheid South Africa and Romania.

As of September 30, 2017, the Templeton Emerging Markets Fund, which is based in San Mateo, California, had $28 billion in assets under management.

As an emerging markets investor, Mobius had an adventurous career. He traveled for more than 250 days per year, spending time on the ground in areas like Brazil and China.

“The world belongs to optimists,” Mobius told Institutional Investor in a video interview in December.

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In the video, Mobius shared some of his most risky and exciting investment stories. Among them: he once held $30 million worth of De Beers diamonds in his hands behind multiple steel doors in a South African office building, received threats from Brazilian corporate executives, and negotiated with a Siberian bureaucrat who hated capitalists.

After the emerging markets group’s leadership transition in 2016, Mobius remained on at Franklin Templeton, acting as an external spokesperson for the firm, particularly by sharing his views on emerging markets.

In addition to working at Franklin Templeton, Mobius has written several books on investing in emerging markets, including his most recent, “Derivatives: An Introduction to the Core Concepts,” which was published in 2017.

Johnson said in a statement that Mobius will continue to remain active in retirement.

“We wish him all the very best in his future endeavors, as we do not expect retirement will slow him down very much,” Johnson said.