Published by MarketWatch.

HONG KONG | Thu Oct 11, 2007 4:37am EDT

Oct 11 (Reuters) – Emerging markets fund manager Mark Mobius said PetroChina (0857.HK) was still attractive and that billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s recent move to cut his stake in the top Asian oil and gas producer did not signify a bearish outlook.

“We still hold PetroChina … we bought some (recently),” said Mobius, head of the Templeton Emerging Markets team, which manages about US$45 billion in assets.

“I don’t want to criticise Mr Buffett. I think he’s a very smart, wise person. But since he has sold, has the PetroChina price gone up or down? It’s gone up, probably by 20 percent since he began selling,” he told journalists at a briefing for the launch of the Templeton Emerging Markets Smaller Companies Fund.

He expects the new fund, which mirrors a U.S.-registered offering, to raise up to US$400 million.

“You can appreciate the fact that he’s sitting on an incredible profit, but just because he’s selling does not mean the stock price is going to go down,” he added.

Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N)(BRKb.N) has been cutting its stake in PetroChina. As of Sept. 30, it held 3.1 percent and is expected to exit from PetroChina altogether, with PetroChina and its investors under fire for its links to Sudan.

PetroChina shares rallied 5.9 percent to HK$14.58 on Thursday and have gained 40.5 percent so far this year.