Ukraine turmoils sees $5.5bn withdrawn from Hasenstab funds

Unrest affects funds controlled by star manager at Franklin Templeton

Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton: reportedly holds more than a third of Ukraine’s international dollar bonds.

Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton: reportedly holds more than a third of Ukraine’s international dollar bonds.

Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 01:00

Investors have pulled $5.5 billion (€4 billion) from the funds of Michael Hasenstab, the star fixed-income manager at Franklin Templeton, amid political turmoil in Ukraine.

Mr Hasenstab, who gained fame for his aggressive bets on recoveries in the Irish and Hungarian debt markets, reportedly holds more than one-third of Ukraine’s international dollar bonds.

With Ukrainian bond prices falling sharply on fears that Russia’s annexation of Crimea could lead to wider conflict, investors have withdrawn $3.6 billion from the Templeton Global Bond fund this year, according to figures from Morningstar, the data provider. The fund held $4.3 billion of Ukrainian government bonds at the end of December. About $1.9 billion has also been pulled from Templeton’s Global Total Return fund, the best-selling mutual fund in Europe last year, which held just over $1 billion of Ukrainian sovereign debt at the end of December. However, the International Monetary Fund, which last week led a $27bn international support package for Ukraine, has said it does not envisage the country’s debt will have to be restructured at this point.

Franklin Templeton declined to comment, apart from saying that its global bond group, which manages $190bn of assets, often takes a contrarian approach.

Régis Chatellier, senior emerging markets credit strategist at Société Générale, said: “To the extent that no debt reprofiling is envisaged, the downside on Ukrainian bonds may be limited.”

Mr Chatellier added that Ukrainian bonds looked “well positioned” to outperform other emerging markets’ debt.

– (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014)