Sir John Templeton to step down

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SIR JOHN TEMPLETON is preparing to take his final bow as an investment guru after agreeing to the dollars 731m ( pounds 380m) takeover of his London-listed fund management firm, Templeton Galbraith & Hansberger.

TGH will continue to operate independently as part of Franklin, a US group that manages dollars 66.5bn, most of it in fixed-interest securities. Sir John, 80 this year, will become chairman emeritus of TGH but intends to wind down his day-to-day involvement and work more as a consultant.

In the 1960s, Sir John was among the first Westerners to invest in the Japanese stock market, forming the bedrock for his company's exceptional record of long-term investment performance. He advocates a stock-picking approach, buying shares in companies he regards as undervalued rather than first allocating funds according to industrial sector or country.

Sir John is also known as a generous philanthropist and professed Christian: he pays for a large annual prize for progress in religion and has funded Templeton College (a management studies school) at Oxford.

The deal with Franklin displays an unusual degree of generosity towards his fellow shareholders. Sir John, his son John Jr, and TGH's co-founder John Galbraith, have agreed to accept a lower price of dollars 5.69 a share for their combined 70 per cent stake to enable the minority of public shareholders to receive dollars 6 a share - equivalent to a modest 8 per cent premium on TGH's share price of 289p before yesterday's announcement.

Together with Tom Hansberger, the chief executive who is to become chairman of TGH, the three Johns have agreed to invest dollars 75m of their proceeds in new Franklin shares. Franklin has also arranged dollars 510m of new borrowing.

Franklin is acquiring TGH net of its dollars 154m of cash, which is to be distributed to TGH's shareholders after the company is put into voluntary liquidation. When this is included, the deal values TGH at dollars 913m ( pounds 475m).

Sir John and Warren Buffet are among 'the most successful investors of our time', according to The Money Masters, published in 1980. In 1987, the author, John Train, reviewed Sir John's subsequent career, saying his best investment performance was achieved early on.