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Hasenstab slashes his exposure to Ireland by a fifth

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Michael Hasenstab

Michael Hasenstab

Michael Hasenstab

Franklin Templeton, the influential US investment group that made tens of millions from investing in Irish bonds at the height of the crisis, has cut its exposure to Irish sovereign debt by 20pc.

The group has reduced the exposure of its famed Templeton Global Bond Fund to Ireland from 10pc to 7.5pc.

Franklin Templeton's Irish investments have been spearheaded by star trader Michael Hasenstab, one of the world's most succesful fund managers. His Templeton Global Bond Fund is the largest bond fund in the world with more than $70bn under investment.

It has bought swathes of government debt in troubled or emerging markets, sometimes aligning the firm with regimes criticised by the US and Europe.

The reduction in its Irish exposure took place between February and August of this year, accounts show.

The move appears to be a change of strategy for Hasenstab's firm, which started buying Irish government debt aggressively in 2011 when the country was still viewed as a risky investment case and its bonds were cheap.

As Ireland's economy recovered and the perception of risk dropped, the firm made a fortune on paper.

Now Franklin Templeton looks to be cashing out to some degree, a feat many of the US private equity houses and other investors who poured into Ireland during the crisis have not yet managed.

It follows in the footsteps of Wilbur Ross, who sold his entire 5.5pc stake in Bank of Ireland earlier this year for €477m. Private equity group Blackstone also looked likely, until recently, to recoup its investment in Eircom with the planned flotation of the telecoms group. Blackstone owns about a fifth of Eircom. However the deal collapsed in September.

Sunday Indo Business