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    Darby Asia Mezzanine Fund Invests in China-based Skin-care and Beauty Group

    Eleventh investment from Asia Mezzanine Fund II

    Hong Kong and Washington, DC, May 12, 2010 – Darby Overseas Investments, Ltd. ("Darby"), the private equity arm of Franklin Templeton Investments, announced that its Darby Asia Mezzanine Fund II ("DAMF II") made a HK$78 million (US $10 million) investment in Water Oasis Group Limited, a leading skin-care and beauty group listed in Hong Kong. The financing takes the form of equity shares and convertible bonds.

    David Hudson, Darby's senior managing director for Asia and Global Infrastructure, commented: "Our fundamental investment strategy is based on supplying otherwise scarce risk capital to well managed mid-cap companies with good growth prospects. Water Oasis Group Limited is one of those companies and we are very pleased to add it to the DAMF II portfolio."

    Simon Sham, Darby's managing director responsible for DAMF II, commented, "China is a core market for Darby. Water Oasis Group is DAMF II's seventh investment in China and reinforces our long-term commitment to the country."

    Final equity commitments to the US$254 million DAMF II were completed in October 2007. Investors include China Investment and Finance, a subsidiary of China CITIC Bank; Mizuho Corporate Bank; Franklin Templeton Investments, the Asian Development Bank and two funds managed by AXA Private Equity. DAMF II also has a credit facility from KfW and FMO.

    Founded in 1998, Water Oasis Group is one of the leading skincare and beauty groups in the Greater China region. Over the years, the Group has established an extensive sales and distribution network in the region, particularly in China. The Group operates over 360 retail outlets with exclusive distribution rights for branded skincare products, including the renowned "~H2O+" water-based skincare brand, a French botanical beauty brand "Yves Rocher" and a Hungarian dermatologist skincare brand "Erno Laszlo", primarily in the Greater China region. In April 2010, the Group entered into an agreement to acquire "Glycel", a reputable high-end anti-aging skincare brand originated in Switzerland. To complement its existing business strategy as a branded products distributor, the Group has also successfully launched its first self-owned and managed skincare and cosmetic products under its "JM Makeup" brand in March 2010 which is targeted for the mass market in China. In addition to its skincare retail business, the Group operates 22 spa, beauty and medical centers under its "Oasis" brand name in Hong Kong and China which provide a wide spectrum of professional beauty services. For more information on Water Oasis Group Limited please visit wateroasis.com.hk.

    Darby has been managing mezzanine funds in Asia since 2002. The firm has been a pioneer in providing mezzanine products – a hybrid of both debt and equity – to various emerging market regions, including Latin America, Asia, and more recently Central and Eastern Europe.

    Darby Overseas Investments, Ltd. was founded in 1994 by The Honorable Nicholas F. Brady, who served as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury between 1988 and 1993. Richard Frank joined the firm as CEO in 1997 after his career at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)/World Bank. In 2003, Darby became a fully owned subsidiary of Franklin Resources, Inc. [NYSE:BEN], a global investment management organization operating as Franklin Templeton Investments. For more information please visit darbyoverseas.com.

    Franklin Templeton Investments provides global and domestic investment management solutions managed by its Franklin, Templeton, Mutual Series, Fiduciary Trust, Darby and Bissett investment teams. The San Mateo, CA-based company has more than 60 years of investment experience and over US$602 billion in assets under management as of April 30, 2010. For more information, please visit franklintempleton.com.