A senior Franklin Templeton India executive has resigned. The fund house’s national sales director, Peshotan Dastoor put in his papers. Dastoor has decided to move to UTI Asset Management. He is the senior-most official to leave Franklin Templeton India in recent times. The fund house is in the midst of repaying its debt fund investors.
“We can confirm that Peshotan Dastoor (Pesi), National Sales Director has informed us of his decision to leave the company to pursue other opportunities…we wish him well in his future endeavours,” said a Franklin Templeton spokesperson in a statement. Dastoor, a well-known industry veteran in the mutual funds industry, has been working at the AMC since April 2008. Throughout his career at Franklin India, he has been responsible for the sales and distribution of its schemes.
Exit at a critical juncture
Yet, Dastoor’s departure comes at a crucial time when the fund house is in the middle repaying its debt fund investors in the six wound up schemes.
After the Supreme Court appointed SBI mutual fund to take charge of liquidating the six schemes’ portfolios and return the money to Templeton investors, SBI MF distributed Rs 9,122 crore across five schemes in February 2021. Last week, it distributed another Rs 2,962 crore to unitholders across all six schemes. The fund house has returned 68 percent and 75 percent of the dues in Franklin India Ultra Short Bond and Franklin India Low Duration funds so far. On the other hand, longer tenure schemes have still some way to go before they return their money completely to unitholders. Franklin India Income Opportunities has managed to return just 7 percent of its assets. The Franklin India Short Term Income has returned 21 percent of its assets so far.
Industry observers believe that Dastoor’s departure, though a high-profile one, shouldn’t come as a surprise. “The fund house is on the path of returning the money to unitholders as the SC has given the mandate to SBI MF. That process has been sorted,” says a distributor who did not wish to be named. Also, the crisis is not likely to be forgotten any time soon. Distributors and advisors say the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) may not allow the fund house to launch these schemes again, any time soon. “With most of the marque debt categories out of your reach, especially short-term funds, liquid funds, low duration funds and so on, the fund house hardly has any portfolio worth talking about,” says the distributor.
The fund house hasn’t been paying the commission to distributors whose assets are stuck in the regular plan of the six wound up schemes. It had been deducting expense ratios of regular plans with distributor commissions till March 18, 2021. Industry sources confirm that the fund house has written to SEBI for getting clarity.
Many therefore feel that the time is ripe for the top sales and marketing officials at the fund house to move on for better opportunities.