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Bond fund star Gundlach wants to buy Buffalo Bills

Star L.A. bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach now has his eyes on a different kind of asset: an NFL team.

Gundlach, who heads DoubleLine Capital, told a Wall Street Journal blogger that he’s interested in buying the Buffalo Bills, the home team of his youth:

“I’m trying to put a group together to buy it,” he said Thursday, adding that he has floated the idea to several wealthy clients for whom he manages money. The discussions are in the early stages, he said. “Now, I’m thinking about thinking about it.”

The potential sale of the Bills is a perennial news story in the NFL because of the advanced age of the team’s owner, Ralph Wilson, who is 92.

And the Bills’ perennial response, repeated again after Gundlach’s comments, is that the team isn’t for sale.

Gundlachjeff Gundlach, 51, quickly scotched the idea that he’d just want to move the team to L.A. He told a Buffalo TV station, “One of these days, maybe five years from now -- I hope it’s 20 years from now -- the Bills will have to have an ownership change. And I think it would be a tragedy to have the Bills go to some random city and be called, you know, the L.A. Multitude or whatever the hell they’d call it. I want them to be the Buffalo Bills.”

Gundlach grew up in the Buffalo area and still has family there.

A spokesman for Gundlach said he wouldn’t comment further.

Gundlach was chief investment officer at L.A. money management giant TCW Group until December 2009, when the firm abruptly fired him, alleging that he was threatening to leave and take his bond-management team with him. Gundlach denies giving TCW an ultimatum, but once out of TCW he quickly set up DoubleLine Capital. Most of his TCW team members defected to join him.

TCW and DoubleLine now are embroiled in a vicious legal battle, with TCW accusing Gundlach of stealing the firm’s secrets. Gundlach denies the allegations and has countersued, accusing TCW of seeking to oust him to avoid having to share up to $1.25 billion in fees from assets he had managed. A trial is set for July.

DoubleLine has been a spectacular success, attracting more than $11 billion in assets from institutional and individual investors, as Gundlach’s flagship bond mutual fund has generated returns exceeding those of nearly all of its rivals.

Gundlach’s net worth isn’t known, but he earned tens of millions of dollars in his 24-year tenure at TCW.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Jeffrey Gundlach. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 
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