Matthew Lickona 11:49 p.m., Dec. 10
Brandes Investment Partners, a large San Diego money manager, has laid off more than 40 employees, mostly in the local office, according to former employees. The company did not respond to queries about the layoffs. Curiously, the layoffs seem to be concentrated among clerical personnel — those who take complaints from clients, for example. Apparently, the investment researchers were largely unaffected. That is a mystery: Brandes has made disastrous investment decisions in recent years. In 2007, the firm had $125 billion under management. As of Sept. 30, that was down to $34.2 billion, according to the Brandes website. As the Reader has reported, Brandes was a major shareholder in newspaper chains Gannett and McClatchy, buying in at prices far above current levels. The firm eventually got out of newspapers at considerable losses. It also bought into financial institutions that turned out to be scandals: Countrywide, Washington Mutual, and Freddie Mac, for example. Again, the losses were large.
Founder Charles Brandes has been featured regularly in society columns with his new young bride, Tanya. (For example, they joined David Copley's entourage at Cannes one year.) They married in April of 2006. Elton John supplied the music. Their Rancho Santa Fe home at one point was worth $60 million, according to Forbes magazine. Charles Brandes strongly disputed the figure. He has also been involved in a bitter divorce suit with his second wife, Linda. Despite the firm's sharp decline in money under management, Charles Brandes is still a billionaire, according to Forbes.