Mark Mobius, Executive Chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Groupanswers five questions posed to him by CNBC on life, his investments and the lessons learnt from the global financial crisis.
Q: What is the best investment you have ever made?
A: The best investment recently has been a company in China called China High Speed Gear. We made 17 times our money on this stock and it has done very well, continues to do well. So I would say it's one of the winners — over 1000% in about over a year and a half — so that it's real winner.
Q: What was your worst investment decision and howbadly did it go wrong?
A: How many hours do you have? (laughs) I would say that there are many. But I would say that one of the worst was a company here in Asia dealing with pulp and paper. It was a big, big investment. In fact, our company had both fixed income and shares in the company and we must have lost about 60 percent of our money on that and the company went under. There was a lot of fraud involved and something that we really missed in talking with the management and so forth. We just didn't catch it, so this does happen.
Q: What is the biggest thing you have taken away from the global financial crisis?
A: First thing and most important thing is patience — you've got to be willing to wait for the market to return and go in when they are at the bottom. For example, at the beginning of '09 (and at) the end of '08, was a wonderful time to be investing. Unfortunately, we and the fund management industry get all kinds of redemption during that time. When people should be giving us money they are taking it away and of course we can't invest in those great, great bargains. So I would say patience and a willingness to go against the crowd is very, very important.
Q: What keeps you awake at night? What worries you?
A: The global situation with money supply growing the way it has. If that is extracted from the markets that could be a real problem for markets around the world. The second thing is the continuing debt burdens of banks and individuals and companies in various parts of the world which probably will never be paid off. They'll have to be re-negotiated and downgraded. So I think that's is another big worry. The general attitude of governments towards debt is a big problem that is going to get us into trouble on a global scale.
Q: Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life?
A: I would say John Templeton the founder of Templeton Asset Management was a great, great inspiration. He was a very humble man, even though he is a billionaire he saved his pennies, he lived very, very simply and he focused on long-term global investing and that is really what we're all about today.
Watch Mark Mobius' Past Interviews on CNBC:
- China Getting Overvalued: Mobius
- Mobius Reveals EM Investment Focus for 2011
- Betting on ASEAN Markets