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Franklin Templeton tops BS chart

August 04, 2003 08:28 IST

It may not be the largest mutual fund house in the country, nor the fastest growing one. But at the art of fund management, few can beat Franklin Templeton Investments, the Rs 11,000 crore (Rs 110 billion) fund house.

Franklin Templeton bagged the maximum number of top ranks in the Business Standard annual fund rankings. Nilesh Shah and R Sukumar of Franklin Templeton have been chosen the fund managers of 2002-03.

The Business Standard Fund Manager of the Year Award honours the one who delivered the maximum risk-adjusted returns across four broad categories -- equity, balanced, debt and gilt in the previous year.

A fund is usually managed by one chief investment officer. But at Franklin Templeton, debt and equity schemes are managed by two individuals.

Although Franklin Templeton funds have not emerged toppers in any of the four categories, their collective score has made them the clear winner this year.

Three of its equity funds figure among the top five in the segment, and one each in the other three.

Shah is the chief investment officer for Franklin Templeton's fixed-income schemes and Sukumar for equities. Shah manages a corpus of more than Rs 9,000 crore (Rs 90 billion) across 15 debt-oriented schemes.

Equally conversant with equities -- he was carrying the Franklin banner of equity funds prior to the firm's acquisition of ITI Pioneer -- Shah believes the only way to outperform in the debt market is through hard work.

"You have to make money work harder for you every day. If you miss even a couple of days' accruals, you never make up for it," he says. Ask him what's the worst that can happen to debt funds this year, and he won't hazard a guess.

"You could lose all the money you have put in if the government of India defaults. But then, the probability of such an event is very low," he says, escaping the perils of predictions.

In sharp contrast is Sukumar, the don of equity funds at Franklin Templeton. His name may not ring a bell, but his funds do.

A Franklin Templeton Bluechip, Prima or a Prima Plus have immediate recall value. They have been around for long, but more importantly, they have been among the best performers for quite some time.

Sukumar swears by the traditional value-investment approach. His investment philosophy has remained the same since the day he joined ITI Pioneer in 1994.

"Understanding businesses is the key to successful investing," he says.

N Mahalakshmi in Mumbai