Stern Says Gundlach 'Was the Most Important Person' at TCW
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Stern Says Gundlach 'Was the Most Important Person' at TCW

Jeff Gundlach spent four days in the witness box, and now it's Marc Stern's turn. Yesterday Stern, the CEO of TCW [see profile], took the stand for the first time in the trial of the fight between TCW and Gundlach, its ex-chief investment officer who's now chief of DoubleLine [see profile].

To read the rest of the story of the fight between Gundlach and TCW, click here.

Bloomberg, the International Business Times, Pensions & Investments and the Wall Street Journal covered the Los Angeles Superior Court trial yesterday.

Stern, who returned to TCW in May 2009 as interim CEO, testified that Gundlach "was the most important person in the firm" and that getting rid of Gundlach amounted to "cutting off your right arm." To solve the problem, Stern said he even offered himself as a "sacrificial lamb," but he says that executives at TCW parent Societe Generale didn't want him to leave. Stern confirmed that shortly after he returned to the firm he started planning "Project G," a "horror case scenario" involving firing Gundlach.

"His attitude towards me was becoming increasingly negative," Stern said of Gundlach -- Gundlach and four other top PMs at TCW even sent a letter to SocGen protesting Stern's return as CEO.

According to Stern, he had to fire Gundlach as TCW was "in the process of being destroyed." Stern added that SocGen didn't order him to get rid of Gundlach. Stern claimed that TCW energy and infrastructure team chief Blair Thomas and Oaktree Capital Management founder Howards Marks both recommended firing Gundlach -- yet Marks is one of the backers of DoubleLine, the firm Gundlach founded shortly after leaving DoubleLine.

The trial will resume again on Wednesday, August 24, possibly with a continuation of Stern's testimony -- DoubleLine's lawyers have not yet cross-examined him. According to a source close to the trial, attorneys for the two sides will return to court first on Monday, August 22, but without the jury.

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