Templeton Global Bond Fund manager Michael Hasenstab maintained exposure to Ukraine in his largest fund during the first quarter, a fund disclosure showed on Monday.
The holdings were in keeping with optimistic comments Hasenstab made earlier this month about Ukraine's outlook despite the crisis roiling its relations with Russia.
According to a fund disclosure posted on the website of parent Franklin Resources Inc (BEN.N), the fund had 4.8 percent of its assets invested in Ukraine infrastructure and government securities on March 31 compared with 4.7 percent on December 31. The largest position as of March 31, in Ukraine 2017 bonds, was valued at $695.7 million.
With $70.7 billion in assets, Templeton Global Bond Fund (TPINX.O) is closely watched as a bellwether of Western investor sentiment toward emerging markets.
Hasenstab on April 9 praised the Ukraine government's handling of short-term issues and the structural reforms it had put in place.
Hasenstab did not discuss the fund's portfolio in detail, however. A company spokeswoman did not immediately respond on Monday to questions about the latest holdings.
Data already released by Franklin Resources had shown the top holdings of Hasenstab's fund on March 31 were in Irish and Polish bonds, in similar amounts as he held in December.
Monday's disclosure also showed the fund held slightly fewer amounts of two Russian foreign bonds. On March 31 they made up 0.93 percent of Templeton Global Bond Fund's portfolio, down from 1 percent on December 31.
(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by David Gregorio and Tom Brown)