Investor Mark Mobius: “Alibaba split could be good”

M.ark Mobius was one of the first investors to consistently focus on emerging markets. The 84-year-old American has earned a reputation as a pioneer in the emerging markets, especially with Asian stocks. So the investor legend, who appears in proper style in a light blue suit and white bow tie for a video call with the FAZ, goes far: “After the war, Japan was also an emerging country,” he says. He now believes that a similar rise to a developed economic power not only in China, but also in other Asian countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.

Recently there has been some turbulence around Chinese stocks. The disappearance of one of the richest Chinese, Jack Ma, and the government’s ambitions to split up his Alibaba company are causing a stir. Mobius stays there. Of course, it’s not nice when managers suddenly disappear. But something like this happened time and again in the past and at least had no major consequences for investors. Mobius can even see positive things from a possible break-up of the giant Alibaba. “A split of Alibaba could be good from an investor’s point of view, because the individual parts on the stock exchange could be worth more than the whole.”

As a cartoon character on the Internet

Mobius has long since made itself a brand. After making equity investment in emerging markets socially acceptable for the investment company Franklin Templeton for three decades, he founded his own company Mobius Partners three years ago. On the internet he stages his striking bald head in comic style on a blog and on Twitter.

Mobius also sees the back and forth over the ban of some Chinese stocks from the American stock exchange as relaxed. Stocks like China Mobile could just as easily trade in Hong Kong. He believes it is unlikely that the technology giants Alibaba and Tencent will also be threatened with exclusion from the American stock exchange. Both stocks are far too important for the New York Stock Exchange for that.

Trade conflict has not harmed China

So far, from Mobius’ point of view, the economic conflict with the United States has hardly harmed the People’s Republic. Last year, despite the trade war, the country exported more than in the previous year. The “technology war” has resulted in China building its own technology corporations, says Mobius. In this respect, he assumes that things will continue to run well for the Chinese markets.

The emerging market investor currently sees many opportunities not only in Asia, but also in South America and Africa. There, the technological change could still have major effects, especially in traditional sectors such as retail, and enable high efficiency improvements. There, too, he sees a number of local companies that pursue business models similar to those of Google or Amazon. He doesn’t expect the tech giants from the West to win the race there; local entrepreneurs often understand the specifics of the markets much better. The following still applies: “Emerging countries like China or India simply have the advantage that they are huge. That offers good prospects for every type of business. “

Mobius only speaks about the corona pandemic and its effects on the emerging countries when asked. Africa has so far been significantly less affected by the pandemic than Europe and America, which he attributes to the fact that the population in the countries there is much younger. The Asian countries in particular benefited from the fact that they had carried out their lockdowns more strictly than the Western countries. It is now paying off.


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