KUWAIT, (Reuters) – High-profile emerging markets fund manager Mark Mobius said he is buying into Gulf stock markets and is aiming to form a partnership with National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).
Mobius, executive chairman of U.S. fund manager Templeton Asset Management Ltd, said he was particularly investing in banking, real state shares and specialised businesses such as oil service companies benefiting from record oil prices.
“We’re investing now here (in Kuwait) and that goes for the rest of the region … there are very attractive opportunities,” Mobius, who oversees more than $40 billion in emerging markets assets, told reporters at a NBK function late on Tuesday.
Mobius said valuations of Gulf stocks looked attractive compared with other emerging markets after a correction on some markets. The Dubai and Saudi stock markets have both fallen this year, while Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Oman are up.
He declined to discuss individual stocks, saying only the asset management arm of Franklin Resources Inc had bought into NBK, Kuwait’s biggest bank by assets.
Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Egypt and Tunisia were among markets where Templeton was investing, he said. “We’d love to do more in Saudi Arabia.”
Templeton favoured Gulf companies which were spending windfall oil revenues to expand in the Middle East over those sticking to domestic markets, he said.
“We like regional players,” he said of companies expanding in markets such as Egypt where large infrastructure projects were being undertaken. Economic growth in the Gulf region was being spurred by local investors who were now spending large oil revenues at home instead of buying into U.S. treasuries, a traditional source of petrodollar investments, he said.
“There has been a change of mentality now,” he said.
Mobius said Templeton was about to form a partnership with NBK, which has become regional player.
“We are now in the midst of formulating it … We are cooperating in managing funds and serving clients in this region,” he said, declining to be more specific.
NBK Chief Executive Ibrahim Dabdoub, speaking at the same event, confirmed talks with Templeton, but did not elaborate.
NBK has expanded in the Middle East to offset rising competition at home by buying Al-Watany Bank of Egypt and a 40 percent stake of unlisted Istanbul-based Turkish Bank last year.
It is also active in Qatar through its affiliate International Bank of Qatar (IBQ).
Templeton Asset Management had $591 billion assets under management at the end of March.