Mark Mobius, the legendary investor, is considering setting up an office in Saudi Arabia for his firm, the $750 billion Franklin Templeton (FTI) investments group. “At the moment, out of $500 million we have invested in the Middle East, some $270 million is in Saudi Arabia. But there is $29billion of assets in the emerging markets group. We could easily double the investments in Saudi equities. If the reforms in the Kingdom move ahead, we could easily absorb another $200 million to $300 million in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Mobius, who has been investing in global emerging markets since 1987, said he was interested in any public offering of shares in Saudi Aramco, but with certain caveats. “There are corporate governance issues that would leave a big question mark. The Saudi government is obviously running the show and will have to make it clear that the quoted element of Aramco is independent of the government. The way to do that is to have truly independent directors and ensure that they and the shareholders will get a chance to vote on key issues,” he said.
“We would definitely consider opening an office in Saudi Arabia and getting a full investment license. What would make it even more attractive would be if the GCC nations got together and unified their economies in terms of currencies and investment flows. It would be in the interest of Saudi Arabia to encourage that, and eventually include Egypt too, in a big trading group”.
Source Credit: Arab News
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