Bill Gross Admits Being Fired by Pimco Over Irreconcilable Differences

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Pimco founder Bill Gross
Bond trading guru Bill Gross has said he was fired from Pacific Investment Management Co., the first time he’s publicly confirmed that he was dismissed from the firm he co-founded in 1971, Bloomberg said.

Gross, speaking in an interview with Bloomberg, said he offered to step down from the executive committee and compensation committee and oversee closed-end funds after differences with management over his personality and the firm’s business direction, the report said.

“For some reason still unbeknownst to me, they didn’t think that was a good idea and they did fire me, ” Gross, who managed the world’s largest bond fund until his unexpected departure on Sept. 26 when he joined Janus Capital Group, told Bloomberg. “In the last few weeks, it blindsided me; I had no idea that an executive committee could fire a founder and the titular leader of the company.”

The full interview will air on Bloomberg Radio on Jan. 17, the report said

Gross stunned the investing world with his surprise exit, after deputies including now-group Chief Investment Officer Daniel Ivascyn said they would quit, according to people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg said.

Gross was increasingly diverging from Pimco on strategy, and had spent much of the past year hunting down two money managers he suspected of leaking information to the press, Bloomberg said in December, in an article based on interviews with 25 current and former Pimco employees, the report said.

A spokesman for the Newport Beach, California-based Pimco didn’t return e-mails and a telephone message seeking comment on Gross’s remarks, Bloomberg said.

On at least three occasions in the past thirteen months, Gross offered to rescind some responsibilities and take on a smaller role. In August, he proposed stepping back if senior leaders agreed to his demand that two money managers, “Mr. X” and “Mr. Y, ” be fired for talking to the media, the report said.

By September, Pimco executives were considering his ouster. Rather than suffer the humiliation of being fired, Gross pre-empted them with an announcement from Janus that he was joining, according to Bloomberg.

Gross had managed the Pimco Total Return Fund, the world’s biggest bond fund, until the day he left. That fund had more than doubled in size from 2008 to its peak of $293 billion in April 2013, the report said.

The fund stumbled when the Federal Reserve hinted it would unwind stimulus measures, sparking client redemptions. By October, it had ceded the title of biggest mutual fund to an offering from Vanguard Group Inc. The Pimco fund has been reduced in size to $143.4 billion as of Dec. 31, Bloomberg said.

The relative small size of Gross’s new vehicle at Janus, which has $1.4 billion in assets, allows more flexibility than the bigger funds at Pimco, he said in an interview with Bloomberg last month, the report said.

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