Bonnie Baha, a U.S. bond portfolio manager who helped Jeffrey Gundlach turn DoubleLine Capital into a $100 billion money management firm, has died. She was 56.
Ms. 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 Ms. Baha's son at the University of Virginia, according to WVIR-TV.
Ms. 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 Mr. 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,” Mr. 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, Ms. Baha was a managing director and portfolio manager at TCW overseeing the corporate bond investments 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 Group that she should try money management instead.
“This is a great business for women, and it's a great business if you have a great boss,” Ms. Baha said in a 2012 interview. A money manager's performance can be measured in numbers based on the daily price of assets, she said, making it much more objective than measures of investment-banking prowess.
In the interview, Ms. 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,” Ms. 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 Mr. Gundlach and once again proved correct after MF Global filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31.
Ms. Baha had a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California at Irvine and was a CFA charterholder and a Chartered Investment Counselor.