November 25, 2019 / 2:03 AM / 21 days ago

Advisory firm TRS taps former TCW fund manager Tirschwell

(Reuters) - Debt restructuring and investment banking advisory firm TRS Advisors LLC said on Sunday it has brought on distressed debt investor Sara Tirschwell as a consultant.

Tirschwell has worked on Wall Street for two decades, and became more widely known last year after filing a lawsuit against bond manager TCW Group Inc, which had hired her in 2016 to run a newly launched distressed debt fund.

The suit alleges TCW dismissed her in retaliation for complaining about being sexually harassed and coerced into sex by her boss.

TCW has said Tirschwell was let go because she had violated the firm’s conflict of interest rules, denying it committed gender-based discrimination or harassment.

She is seeking damages of $30 million, the amount that, according to Tirschwell, she was told by TCW she could make running the new fund. The lawsuit is pending in court.

TRS, a New York-based firm launched last year by the former co-head of Rothshild’s North American restructuring advisory business Todd Snyder, has brought Tirschwell on board on a month-to-month contract, Snyder told Reuters.

TRS has turned to Tirschwell to help build out its practice focused on assisting managers of collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) deal with potential defaults.

“TRS Advisors is excited to be working with Sara to provide reorganization and restructuring advice to the CLO community,” Snyder said.

TRS’s introductory materials for prospective clients, seen by Reuters, name Tirschwell as one of two senior leaders, in addition to Snyder.

The materials make no reference to her tenure at TCW, but cite her experience of 11 years at hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP, where she led distressed investments in savings bank Washington Mutual Inc, paper company Smurfit-Stone Container Corp, and pastry maker Hostess Brands, among others.

After leaving TCW, Tirschwell became interim chief financial officer at Foundation House, a transitional sober living program for men aged 17 to 35, according to the program’s website.

Tirschwell said in an interview that she was worried she might never find a another salaried position in her field, as her network of hedge fund managers, bankers and lawyers stopped returning her calls.

“I had to conserve cash. I had my girls to think of and I had to put food on the table. I put my apartment on the market and I got rid of the parking garage,” Tirschwell said.

TCW did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tirschwell’s new role.

There has also been a lull in opportunities for distressed debt investors, due in part to a prolonged period of low interest rates, which have allowed many debt-saddled companies to refinance their debt. This could change in a potential economic downturn, creating opportunities for firms such as TRS.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Stephen Coates

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