(Bloomberg) -- Bonnie Baha, a U.S. bond portfolio manager who helped Jeffrey Gundlach turn DoubleLine Capital into a $100 billion asset management firm, has died.
Baha died Sunday at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Va., after she was struck by a car while crossing a street, according to a statement by the Albemarle County Police Department. The vehicle also hit her husband, Mustapha Baha, and their daughter, who were treated for non-life threatening injuries. The family was visiting Charlottesville to drop off Baha’s son at the University of Virginia, according to WVIR-TV.
Baha was head of global developed credit at Los Angeles-based DoubleLine, overseeing investments in fixed and floating-rate corporate and sovereign securities. She had worked with Gundlach for more than two decades, first at TCW Group and later at DoubleLine when she joined in 2010.
“For a quarter century Bonnie was my trusted colleague and dear friend,” Gundlach said in an e-mailed statement. “She was honest and direct, with a sardonic wit perfectly matching her investment skepticism helping shape the DoubleLine philosophy.”
Prior to joining DoubleLine, Baha was a managing director and portfolio manager overseeing the corporate bond investments at TCW for 19 years. She originally aimed at a career in investment banking after earning an MBA at the University of Southern California but was advised in an interview with Goldman Sachs that she should try asset management instead.
Baha was named to Money Management Executive's top women in asset management awards this year. SourceMedia is the publisher of Money Management Executive and Financial Planning.
"I think it's important to have as much diversity as you possibly can, and not just gender diversity, but certainly ethnic diversity, as well," she said in her acceptance of the award. "We are all a product of our experiences and bringing in those types of insights is only additive. That's not just for our business, but any business."
In an interview with Bloomberg Markets magazine in 2012, Baha said her success as an investor partly came down to not being afraid to make an unpopular call.
During the financial crisis, she ordered TCW traders to sell any Lehman Brothers Holdings debt they owned in the first week of September 2008, even at a loss, when the debt was valued at more than 90 cents on the dollar. The bank filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008, plunging the value of its debt to single digits.
“People don’t pay me to hope; they pay me to make an assessment,” Baha said of the trading call. “If you are managing risk by hoping that somebody is going to buy Lehman Brothers or whatever other bank is in trouble, you’re not really doing your job.”
Three years later she controversially told the trading desk of DoubleLine on Oct. 25 to stop dealing with MF Global Holdings, citing risk management and governance issues. This was despite DoubleLine doing almost $5.4 million of business with the firm in the third quarter. It was a decision backed by Gundlach and once again proved correct after MF Global filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31.
According to the police report, she was 57.
Baha had a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at Irvine and was a CFA charter holder and a Chartered Investment Counselor. She married Algerian-born Mustapha Baha after meeting him at USC.
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