Templeton's Mobius says America Movil's European venture a mistake

MEXICO CITY Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:57pm EST

MEXICO CITY Feb 27 (Reuters) - Veteran emerging market investor Mark Mobius said on Wednesday a recent foray into Europe by Carlos Slim's telco giant America Movil was a mistake.

Mobius, chairman of investment manager Franklin Templeton's emerging market group, said although he had great respect for billionaire Slim, he was puzzled by his purchases of stakes in Telekom Austria and Dutch telecom KPN. Both have lost value since Slim started accumulating them last June.

"It's a question of how 'Latin America' is Holland and Austria? Where does that fit in?" Mobius told reporters during a visit to Mexico. "What's the rationale? It's not very clear."

America Movil shares have fallen almost 15 percent since the company reported weak results on Feb. 12. The shares fell further last week after the company said it will increase its bet on KPN by participating in a 4 billion euro capital raise.

Asked if he thought the European investments would continue to weigh in the future, Mobius said: "No one really knows, he has shown in the past the ability to surmount these difficulties and there's no reason to think that he won't do so in the future."

Mobius said there is a lot of potential in telecommunications in Latin America, noting that data services were just beginning. "There's no question that there will be a right time to be in America Movil."

He said Slim had achieved a "very good price" with his recent listing of shares in retail and restaurant chain Sanborns .

"It was very, very high, the price, overpriced, which again you've got to congratulate him on. He's been able to sell his company at a very good price," Mobius said.

Franklin Templeton did not participate in the listing, which raised just shy of $1 billion.

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