September 29, 2014 / 1:14 AM / 5 years ago

Pimco moving away from Bill Gross model, CEO says

(Reuters) - Pimco is moving away from a founder-led model and the $2 trillion asset manager’s flagship fund, formerly run by co-founder Bill Gross “does not define Pimco,” CEO Doug Hodge said on Sunday.

Bill Gross, co-founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), speaks at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago, Illinois, June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

“Over the last five years, we have expanded into far more parts of the fixed income market and into other asset classes and other geographies, so the Pimco Total Return Fund does not define Pimco,” Hodge said. “It’s an important flagship product of this firm but it is not our only strategy.”

Hodge and Dan Ivascyn, who takes over for Gross at the Newport Beach, California-based firm as group chief investment officer, told Reuters in an interview that they have been speaking to clients all weekend about the new leadership. Pimco is a unit of Munich-based Allianz.

“With regard to our clients and the potential for outflows, again, when there is any significant change, we are out communicating with our clients and we are talking with them and we are explaining the changes that are going on,” Hodge said.

“The outflows that have happened – and that may happen – we stand by our clients. We are managing assets and are confident that the vast majority of clients will stand with us.”

On Friday, Gross shocked the investment world by leaving his post as chief investment officer to join mutual fund management firm Janus Capital. The move followed record outflows from Pimco’s flagship portfolio and clashes with other top executives.

Bill Gross was not available for comment. Sue Gross, Bill’s wife, said on Sunday she and Bill were “doing good.”

Gross’s exit, eight months after his top deputy Mohamed El-Erian quit amid acrimony, may quicken speculation in the bond market about leadership uncertainties and accelerating outflow at the world’s largest bond firm.

Since the start of the year, investors have pulled $25 billion from the Pimco Total Return Fund, the world’s largest bond fund, and $6 billion from the Pimco Unconstrained Bond Fund, according to Morningstar data as of the end of August.

Both were personally supervised by Gross, 70, who also oversaw the Pimco Total Return ETF, the object of the SEC probe.


El-Erian will be at Allianz headquarters in the coming week or so, according to two people familiar with the situation, adding the meeting had been planned several months ago and unrelated to Gross’s departure. El-Erian declined to comment.

When asked if El-Erian could play a role at the firm in the future, Hodge said on Sunday: “We made some very clear decisions about the leadership of this firm with regard to Dan (Ivascyn) as our group CIO and the team of investors and leaders we have in place.”

Ivascyn, whose $50 billion Pimco Income fund is posting returns of 7.81 percent year-to-date as of August 31, easily surpassing the 4.81 percent on the benchmark Barclays Aggregate for the same time period, won’t be overseeing the Total Return Fund.

Mark Kiesel, Scott Mather and Mihir Worah will be portfolio managers for the $222 billion Total Return fund, where Gross built his reputation as the “Bond King.”

“You will see a lot less self promotion,” Mather said about the post-Gross environment. “And you’re going to see a lot more emphasis on performance. It will be a lot more ‘We’ and a lot less ‘I.’”

Reporting by Jennifer Ablan, editing by John Pickering

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