MONEY

Star Bond-Fund Manager Sues Former Boss

More drama in the dispute between ousted star bond-fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach and his former employer, TCW: Gundlach claims in a suit filed Wednesday that TCW fired him and generally mistreated him as part of a “scheme” to avoid paying Gundlach and his team their due.

Quick recap: TCW fired Gundlach in December, accusing Gundlach of plotting to start a rival firm and alleging he took confidential information, including client data, with him. TCW also called Gundlach erratic and egotistical, and said in its lawsuit it found pot and porn in Gundlach’s offices.

Gundlach — who took roughly 40 TCW employees with him to his new firm, DoubleLine Capital — alleged last month that TCW invaded his privacy by searching his offices and that the firm was throwing all sorts of mud around to harm his new business.

In his new lawsuit, Gundlach expands on last month’s statement. The counterclaim says TCW had agreed to share with his team a percentage of fees generated on the funds Gundlach managed — fees that grew substantially as Gundlach’s performance lured billions in assets. Gundlach says TCW would have owed at least $600 million and possibly as much as $1.25 billion. TCW, he says, didn’t want to pay, and so had an interest in discrediting him and firing him. It is “flatly untrue,” says Gundlach, that DoubleLine is built on proprietary information, and he says DoubleLine has hired computer experts to make sure that’s the case.

Gundlach says he’s been working hard to get DoubleLine Capital up and running — the firm plans to offer at least three no-load bond funds soon — and he says he won’t let TCW “slow our company’s momentum.”

Gundlach’s version of events is “spin” and “completely erroneous,” responds a TCW spokeswoman. “This comes from an individual who earned $40 million last year and $135 million over the past five years.” The spokeswoman says TCW will answer his counterclaims in court to avoid drawing attention away from the “serious misconduct and breach of fiduciary duties” of which the firm accuses him.

Looks like this soap opera may have the longevity of All My Children. Meanwhile, Gundlach’s former flagship fund, TCW Total Return Bond (TGLMX), has kept up a decent if not earth-shattering performance this year, outperforming its index by about one-third of one percentage point and ranking among the top 23% of funds in its category, according to Morningstar. Over the last five years, the fund was in the top percentile in its category, largely because of Gundlach’s smart moves on mortgage-backed securities.

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