Franklin Templeton on Friday issued an “unconditional apology” to capital markets regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), for its global president Jennifer M Johnson’s comment that changes in regulatory guidelines contributed to shutting down of its six debt schemes in India.
The fund house said that Johnson’s remarks, made during their quarterly earnings, were quoted ‘out of context,’ before it laid out the apology.
“We deeply regret any unintended slight this may have caused to the esteemed offices of Sebi whom we have always held in the highest regard and unconditionally apologise for the same,” Sanjay Sapre, President, Franklin Templeton AMC, the domestic arm of the global asset manager said in a statement.
“It is clarified that some media outlets in India have quoted Ms Johnson out of context, which diluted the essence of her responses. The headlines and articles erroneously suggested that Ms Johnson stated that Sebi’s guidelines on unlisted securities was the main reason for the decision to wind up the schemes. This is neither factually correct, nor substantiated by the comments made during the conference call,” the statement issued by the fund house added.
Late on Thursday, Sebi issued a statement asking Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund to focus on returning money to investors at the earliest after it closed six of its debt schemes with assets under management totalling more than Rs 25,000 crore.
Sebi also said “some mutual fund schemes” continued to invest in high risk and “opaque” debt securities despite the regulatory framework having been reviewed and amended for safeguarding investors” interest after credit risk events noticed since September 2018, which had led to challenges in the corporate bond market.
Incidentally, these regulatory changes were implemented after taking into account suggestions made by Sebi”s Mutual Fund Advisory Committee, whose members at that time included Franklin Templeton AMC India President Sanjay Sapre, a PTI report quoted an anonymous sources as saying.
Last month, the fund house had closed six of its debt funds, citing redemption pressures and lack of liquidity in the bond markets.
These schemes, together having an estimate amount of over Rs 25,000 crore assets under management, were Franklin India Low Duration Fund, Franklin India Dynamic Accrual Fund, Franklin India Credit Risk Fund, Franklin India Short Term Income Plan, Franklin India Ultra Short Bond Fund and Franklin India Income Opportunities Fund.