Goldman Brand Buoys Mediocre Investment Unit -- Report

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs Asset Management, a key part of Goldman Sachs' ( GS) post-crisis strategy, has been a consistent underperformer even as it continues to attract assets, Bloomberg Markets magazine writes in its latest issue.

Citing data from Morningstar, Bloomberg notes that Goldman mutual funds have been a consistent underperformer "in every broad category," over the three-, five- and 10-year periods ended on Dec. 31, 2010.

The investment unit, housed for years in separate offices from the investment banking parent, has been through eight heads in eight years, and has been the butt of jokes and the object of high-profile lawsuits going back as far as the 1930s when comedian and disgruntled Goldman client Eddie Cantor consistently skewered the firm in his vaudeville act, the article notes.

Nonetheless, the unit continues to attract client money, adding "tens of billions" in new assets since 2000, according to Bloomberg, which cites several commentators who argue the cachet of the Goldman brand compensates for the weak performance.

The magazine also takes note of Goldman's difficulties related to an investment in Facebook, which initially looked like a coup for the firm, as it gave GSAM clients a chance to invest in a hot private company off-limits to most of the investing public.

However, Goldman had to pull the offering in the U.S. after it got too much press attention, raising questions about whether it complied with private placement laws. Nonetheless, Goldman sold $1 billion worth of Facebook shares outside the U.S. in an "oversubscribed" deal, the article notes.

But Bloomberg tracked down at least one high-profile former Goldman client who cited the Facebook deal as just the latest example of why he fired GSAM.

Netscape founder Jim Clark told Bloomberg he also received the Goldman email offering an "opportunity" to invest in Facebook, though he had bought Facebook shares a few months earlier for a lower price and on better terms.

"They just butter their own bread and charge huge fees, these jerks," Clark told Bloomberg. The magazine notes that Clark moved his money to Morgan Stanley ( MS).

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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