Mobius sees US$2-B investments in PH

by Ces Drilon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2011 08:02 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2011 11:38 AM

If business climate is right, says renowned fund manager

MANILA, Philippines - Renowned fund manager and emerging markets expert Mark Mobius is giving the Philippines a second look.

Mobius, chairman of Templeton Asset Management, which has about US$800 billion funds ($50 billion of which are in emerging markets), says the Philippines is poised for a take-off, thanks to the strong anti-corruption drive of the Aquino administration.

The emerging markets guru says he is once again looking at the Philippines with keen interest.

Mobius is acknowledged as a lead pearl in the game of country investing. Where he goes, other fund managers follow.

In 2000, he created waves when Templeton pulled out funds from the Philippines during the Estrada administration.

At present, Mobius says Templeton has about $200 million to $300 million invested in the Philippines. But the amount could grow to a whopping $2 billion if the business climate is right, he says.

Mobius oversees $50 billion investments in emerging markets. He says $1 billion of the amount is in frontier markets, which include the Philippines.

“The change in administration is a giant step in the right direction,” Mobius said when asked what would boost investor confidence in the Philippines.

Mobius was in Manila on Tuesday for a talk on regional economies. The Institute of Corporate Directors hosted the lunch, which was also attended by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

An advocate of corporate governance, he welcomed the proposed “Maharlika board” in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), which would bear the so-called blue chips of blue chips adhering to high governance standards. The board is similar to Brazil’s Novo Mercado.

Mobius said the Philippines could attract more capital into the equities market on sustained economic growth, and if more companies are listed in the PSE.

He said state companies and oil firms like Pilipinas Shell should also be listed.

How the Aquino administration deals with Shell, which faces a smuggling case filed by the customs bureau, is a test of its resolve in its anti-corruption drive, according to him.

Mobius says the fresh wind of change in the Philippines has brought him to our shores in search of opportunities. If he finds them, it will be a veritable seal of good housekeeping for the country.