* Allianz makes strong comeback from financial crisis
* But shareholders concerned about Pimco
* Investors pull $55 bln from Pimco Total Return Fund in
By Jonathan Gould
MUNICH, May 7 Top Allianz executives
are set to face a grilling on Wednesday from shareholders
worried about a wobbly performance at its Pimco fund management
Europe's biggest insurer has made a strong comeback from the
financial crisis, boosting net profit by 15 percent to 6 billion
euros ($8.3 billion) last year and raising its dividend by
nearly one fifth to 5.30 euros per share.
But shareholders, including some of Allianz's largest, told
Reuters last month they were concerned about Pimco, the bond
powerhouse whose reputation has been tarnished by a run of poor
returns and the departure of CEO Mohamed El-Erian amid a row
with co-founder Bill Gross.
Over the last year, Pimco has seen investors pull $55
billion from its flagship bond fund, The Pimco Total Return
Fund, which is overseen by Gross.
Three top shareholders told Reuters they wanted Allianz to
rethink the six-person management structure that was put in
place at Pimco after El-Erian's departure and provide greater
detail on Pimco's long-term plan to broaden its focus beyond
fixed income, among other things.
Allianz has said little publicly about Pimco's performance
or the internal disagreements at the fund manager.
The insurer's head of investor relations, Oliver Schmidt,
said in an interview published on Allianz's Internet site that
the company was working to address investor concerns about asset
management and the fallout from rock bottom interest rates.
"We are currently in the midst of extensive discussions with
investors regarding both our investment and our product
strategy," Schmidt said.
Extensive discussions may not satisfy everyone, however.
Fund manager Union Investment, Allianz's 10th-largest
shareholder according to Thomson Reuters data, said it would
make its concerns public at the shareholder meeting.
"The Allianz share is currently showing a clear Pimco
discount," Union fund manager Ingo Speich told Reuters.
Allianz's share price has underperformed the STOXX Europe
600 insurance index by around 4.5 percent since the
start of the year.
Investors are also keen to hear plans about Allianz's own
management structure, given that the contracts of six of
Allianz's 11 board members -- including Chief Executive Michael
Diekmann -- are due to expire at the end of the year.
Diekmann, who turns 60 in December, has not tipped his hand
whether he wants to continue in the job and if so, for how long.
Allianz has previously said that its supervisory board would
take up the issue of board positions in October, far too late
for some investors, who fear it may add to uncertainty.
($1 = 0.7205 Euros)
(Reporting by Jonathan Gould, editing by Thomas Atkins and