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L.A. money manager Oaktree Capital plans stock IPO

June 17, 2011 |  4:04 pm

Oaktree Capital, one of L.A.’s largest money management firms, filed on Friday to sell stock to the public.

The move was widely anticipated since Oaktree began talks last month to moves its shares off a private exchange set up by Goldman, Sachs & Co. in 2007.

In a registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Oaktree said it hoped to raise as much as $100 million, but didn’t specify how many shares would be sold.

Oaktree Oaktree, which manages more than $80 billion, is one of Wall Street’s best-known investors in “distressed” securities, meaning bonds of companies that find themselves in financial trouble.

The firm, headed by Howard Marks and Bruce Karsh, also is a big player in private equity and commercial real estate and owns a minority stake in DoubleLine Capital, the bond-fund start-up launched in 2009 by star manager Jeffrey Gundlach.

Oaktree was founded in 1995 by Marks, Karsh, Richard Masson, Sheldon Stone, Stephen Kaplan and Larry Keele when they decided to bolt from L.A.-based Trust Co. of the West. They had been with TCW since the late 1980s, directing portfolios of junk bonds, distressed debt and other assets.

Oaktree, which has 615 employees in 13 offices worldwide, has built a reputation as a savvy player in troubled assets. Pension funds and other institutional clients know the firm as a skilled -- and very patient -- opportunistic investor. The company's portfolio has grown by about $38 billion just since October 2007.

Oaktree itself has kept a relatively low public profile, but Marks’ client letters chronicling the highs and lows of corporate finance and market swings are widely read on Wall Street.

Marks, 65, just published a book, “The Most Important Thing,” based on his client letters.

-- Tom Petruno

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