Franklin Templeton Investments Australia Ltd. says firings by rivals have provided it with opportunities to expand.

“I do think it is a good time to be building our local footprint,” says Maria Wilton, managing director of the Australian unit of Franklin Resources Inc.

“We’ll be looking to add people in 2012 in a measured way,” she says. “There are huge opportunities in Australia.”

The company employs 42 people in Australia and manages about $17 billion.

Franklin Templeton has 23 staff in Melbourne, five in Sydney and 14 at Balanced Equity Management, its Australian stocks fund run by Andrew Sisson.

“We want to bring a broader range of clients to Balanced Equity whose business was not structured to deal with small clients,” says Wilton.

Wilton recently hired Jim McKay who will be responsible for developing the company’s retail business strategy. McKay was head of distribution at ING Investment Management.

Juliana Howard has joined Franklin Templeton as client services manager. Mathew Sund has been hired as director of fund administration .

Balanced Equity has hired Justin Levi as a media, gaming and health care analyst. Gareth D’Cunha has joined Sisson’s team to analyse small financial stocks.

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