One of L.A.’s largest asset managers is looking to open up the U.S. equities market to the Middle East through a new partnership with a top Saudi Arabian investment firm.

TCW Group Inc., headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, will manage three funds through an alliance with NCB Capital, the largest asset manager in the oil-rich country.

Though TCW has managed money for Middle Eastern clients for the past three decades, the new funds – focusing on large-cap growth, small-cap growth and health care stocks – represent the firm’s first Shariah-compliant portfolios, in which investments conform to Islamic principles. For instance, the funds will not contain stocks of companies that make alcoholic beverages.

Peter Viles, TCW’s managing director of corporate communications, said the 41-year-old firm was selected for its experience in the domestic equities market, an area where NCB has not historically had much experience.

“They’re hiring us for our U.S. expertise,” Viles said. “We have clients in the Middle East, but most of the money we manage for them would be in the United States.”

TCW will handle the U.S. funds, while Amundi Asset Management, one of Europe’s largest asset managers, will oversee four international funds. The seven total funds to be managed by Amundi and TCW have combined assets of $550 million.

Founded in 1971, TCW manages $124 billion, primarily in equity and fixed-income assets for institutional clients.

Equity Auction

Wilshire Bancorp Inc. has finally exited the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but it took an unusual path out.

The Koreatown bank holding company, which owns Wilshire State Bank, was one of six financial institutions that bought its preferred stock last week from the U.S. Treasury Dept. in a public auction.

Wilshire got $62.2 million in TARP funds in late 2008 by issuing 62,200 shares of preferred stock to the Treasury. The company said last week that it paid about $57 million to buy back 60,000 shares. The remaining stock was sold to an undisclosed third party.

“The repurchase of virtually all of the preferred shares issued under the TARP program is a major milestone for Wilshire Bancorp that underscores the significant progress we have made over the past year,” said Chief Executive Jae Whan Yoo in a release. He added that Wilshire will still have strong capital levels after the purchase.

TARP was introduced after the 2008 financial crisis to provide temporary capital to the nation’s healthiest banks. But the program was criticized by some as a bailout, and many of the largest banks that participated in the program have since exited TARP by repaying the government.

Last week’s auction was the first held by the Treasury for TARP shares.

Credit Union Closed

Telesis Community Credit Union, a Chatsworth institution that specialized in business lending, was recently closed by state regulators and placed under conservatorship of the National Credit Union Administration.

Regulators said in a statement that they seized the 47-year-old credit union “due to a declining financial condition.” Telesis was struggling under a large number of deteriorating commercial loans. Failed credit unions are typically sold to other institutions but can be placed under conservatorship when regulators cannot find a buyer.

Telesis was one of 120 credit unions in the country that had been given clearance to exceed the regulatory cap on commercial loans, which typically cannot account for more than 12 percent of credit union assets. About half of Telesis’ $318 million in assets were business loans.

The 37,600-member credit union primarily served residents of the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys.

C-Suite News

Colony Financial Inc., an affiliate of Santa Monica investment firm Colony Capital LLC, has promoted Chief Financial Officer Darren Tangen to the position of chief operating officer. … Downtown L.A.’s City National Bank has named Charles Boettcher a director of equity portfolio management in its asset management division. … National Planning Holdings Inc., a broker-dealer in Santa Monica, has hired Frank Hayn as vice president of retirement plans. … Union Bank, owned by San Francisco’s UnionBanCal Corp., has hired Jeffrey Uniack as a regional sales manager in the consumer lending group in Los Angeles. … Giselle Acevedo has resigned from the board of FirstFed Financial Corp., the bankrupt former holding company for L.A.’s First Federal Bank of California.

Staff reporter Richard Clough can be reached at rclough@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 251.

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