Mark Mobius: Why Chinese companies are a play on frontier markets

  • Mark Mobius, executive chairman at Templeton Emerging Markets, told CNBC China's technology and internet companies, such as Tencent and Alibaba, also offered an opportunity to play on frontier market themes.
  • Chinese companies were looking to expand overseas and many were targeting frontier markets, which include Vietnam and Myanmar, he said.

China's new economy plays aren't just a bet on China; they're also a bet on frontier markets' growth, storied emerging market investor Mark Mobius told CNBC's "Capital Connection" on Monday.

"These Chinese companies, like Tencent, like Alibaba and others, are beginning to move overseas and they're beginning to utilize their expertise that they've gathered in China in these other counties," Mobius said on the sidelines of the Institute of International Finance conference in Japan.

Mobius, who is executive chairman at Templeton Emerging Markets Group, expected the Chinese players would focus primarily on Asia, with potential investment targets including Vietnam and Myanmar.

Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management's Emerging Markets Group
David Rochkind | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management's Emerging Markets Group

"This is their home base. They understand Asia. They're more willing to go into these countries that may appear to be risky at first, but where they can grow. But I think that's where the opportunities are," Mobius said.

Some of the Chinese players' growth in Asia's emerging markets might not be entirely organic, he noted.

"Of course there are some home-grown internet companies, shopping bazaars and so forth on the internet that you see in these countries and they of course, will grow on their own," Mobius said. "But they may also merge with the Chinese companies and we've already seen some of that happening."

Mobius also said he was interested in the Chinese market as well, noting that internet plays such as Tencent and Alibaba were already growing at an "incredible rate."

He was also interested in players outside the China's usual suspects.

"There are a number of smaller companies that have great potential in China," Mobius said. "One of the things that's exciting for us is as China opens up, as we're allowed to go into the small and medium sized companies, there are going to be wonderful opportunities."

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