More division heads in Asia exit Templeton after merger

Another two senior executives, who oversaw private equity investment and wholesale clients, have left the firm following Franklin Templeton’s takeover of rival fund house Legg Mason.
More division heads in Asia exit Templeton after merger

Franklin Templeton Investments and Legg Mason have seen more high-level departures following the July closure of the US fund houses' merger, with long-standing employees Freeman Tsang and Claudius Tsang joining the list of business heads to have moved on.

The latter had been Hong Kong-based co-head of North Asia at Templeton Private Equity Partners (TPEP) alongside Victor Lee and Claudius Tsang's regulatory licence with the firm ended on September 30.

Claudius Tsang's responsibilities have been redistributed amongst the team, a company spokeswoman said, declining to comment on how they had been split between him and Lee.

Claudius Tsang

She also declined to comment on whether Lee would become sole head of North Asia, saying: "We have not announced any additional updates or role changes within TPEP."


Claudius Tsang had been with the firm since 2008 and had also worked for two years at Templeton from 2005 to 2007. In between, he had done a stint with Lehman Brothers’ private equity business, from 2007 to 2008.

TPEP, an emerging markets private equity investment specialist has provided $618 million in private funding to 54 companies, according to its website. The spokeswoman declined to say how much the business had in assets under management.

Meanwhile, Freeman Tsang, who left on October 31, was Legg Mason's head of Hong Kong, offshore China and Korea retail/wholesale business, and the firm's most senior executive in Hong Kong before the merger. He had also overseen offshore Korea institutional business, the spokeswoman said. Freeman had worked at Legg Mason for 11 years after joining from Pictet Asset Management in 2009.

AsianInvestor could not reach Claudius or Freeman for comment or ascertain where they might be going next.

Freeman Tsang

Alan Young, head of institutional business for Greater China at Franklin Templeton before the merger, now also assumes oversight of Legg Mason’s offshore Korea institutional business. The Korean onshore institutional business will remain under Franklin Templeton's team in Seoul.

Dora Seow took on responsibility for Asia institutional client services in August, when she was appointed head of Singapore and Southeast Asia (ex-Malaysia and Vietnam).

Simon Wong, head of retail business for Greater China at Franklin Templeton prior to the takeover, retains that role for the combined group. He had joined Templeton in May 2004 and was promoted to head of retail sales for Greater China in December 2017.

Shannon Wang, general manager of Taiwan, will continue to lead the Legg Mason business in Taiwan.

Wang, Wong and Young all report to Isabella Chan, who became head of Hong Kong, Taiwan and China offshore business at Franklin Templeton in August. She was previously Asia Pacific head of global financial institutions.


The combined group’s sales and leadership teams in Asia had been expected to see post-acquisition layoffs, particularly in Hong Kong and Singapore, given the overlap in those areas between Legg Mason and Templeton.

Senior executives who have left or will be leaving include Mark Browning and David Chang, the Asia Pacific and Greater China heads at Templeton, respectively; Andy Sowerby, chief executive of Australia and New Zealand and head of Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) for Legg Mason; and Denise Ying, a former director of China institutional business. Ying has left already, whle Browning and Chang will move on at the end of the year.

Vivek Kudva has taken over from Browning as Asia Pacific head, an appointment that came as a surprise to many when it was first and exclusively reported by AsianInvestor in July. Matthew Harrison continues in his role as managing director for Australia and New Zealand.

Templeton had expected to cut 8% of its global headcount and make around $300 million in annual cost savings as a result of the deal, a spokeswoman had said at the time of Kudva’s appointment. She declined to comment on how much of the Asian workforce would be cut or on a time frame for the headcount reduction.

The spokeswoman had also said that most of the layoffs in Asia and globally were likely to come from the corporate functions and distribution teams, with the investment divisions to be unaffected.

On top of the challenges around reducing staffing overlap, Franklin Templeton's outflow woes continued in 2020. It suffered the biggest redemptions of any fund house globally between January and September, totalling a net $41.6 billion, according to research house Morningstar. This is the largest such figure in four years, as Templeton lost $36.7 billion last year, $41.3 billion in 2018 and $27.7 billion in 2017.

This year's number incorporates data for both Franklin Templeton and Legg Mason following the closing of the acquisition in July.

This article has been updated to show that Claudius Tsang's former responsibilities have been distributed amongst the TPEP team.

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