Russia/Eurasia Fund IPO Withdrawn, After More Than 10 Years (BEN, TRF, TDF)

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Late Friday there was an interesting form "RW" filed with the SEC for a "withdrawn securities registration."  There was an original filing to bring Templeton Russia/Eurasia Fund public via an initial public offering in what was probably a closed-end mutual fund.

What is odd is not the withdrawal of a closed-end fund.  It is the date: originally filed with the Commission on October 6, 1997.  As per the filing:

  • The Registrant believes that withdrawal of the Registration Statement would be consistent with the public interest and the protection of investors  because: 1) the filing was prepared in connection with a proposed initial public offering of the  Registrant’s shares which is no longer  contemplated;  2) no securities were sold in connection  with the  offering;  and 3) the  filing did not become effective.

Before this was filed, Templeton had already brought its Templeton Russia and East European Fund Inc. (NYSE: TRF) public in 1995 and that may have been the first investment vehicle that gave liquid trading possibilities for U.S. investors to invest in Russia (and Eastern Europe).  It had also brought its Templeton Dragon Fund Inc. (NYSE: TDF) public in 1994 as one of the first vehicles that allowed U.S. investors a chance to invest in Chinese companies. 

All of these closed-end funds are run by Franklin Resources, Inc. (NYSE: BEN), which now operates as Franklin Templeton Investments.  These funds also fall under the umbrella of Mark Mobius, who is considered one of the modern fathers of emerging market investing and who was given credit for saying, "invest when there is blood in the streets."

This other fund looks like it was probably filed on the heels of the successful launch of these other two investment vehicles.  There may have been worries that there would be too much overlap in the structure or allocation of these funds.  Or it could have been the other classic reasoning: the paperwork got lost or forgotten about.

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Jon C. Ogg
April 6, 2008

Jon Ogg produces the Special Situation Investing Newsletter and he can be reached via email at jonogg@247wallst.com; he does not own securities in the companies he covers.