PIMCO has elected Daniel Ivascyn to replace founder Bill Gross as Chief Investment Officer of the trillion dollar bond fund management company.
In its late Friday announcement, PIMCO also named Andrew Balls, Mark Kiesel, Virginie Maissoneuve, Scott Mather, and Mihir Worah as chief investment officers. Balls will be global CIO, Kiesel will be CIO of global credit, Maissoneuve will be CIO of equities, Mather will be CIO of US core strategies, and Worah will be CIO of real return and asset allocation. Kiesel, Mather, and Worah will be managers of the firm’s $US221 billion flagship Total Return Fund.
Ivascyn has been a stand-out at the firm, returning 4.8% in 2013, beating 97% of his industry peers. Morningstar named him the fixed income manager of the year that year. He manages the And reports indicate that his fellow employees like and support him.
He’ll need that support, as he will be taking the helm of the world’s largest bond fund in the midst of a fire storm.
Friday morning Gross — known within the industry as ‘the bond king’ — shocked Wall Street by announcing that he would leave PIMCO, the firm he founded, for the much smaller Janus Capital.
That is effective basically immediately. According to reports, if Gross had not quit, he would have been fired. It was at the point where employees were saying ‘it’s either him or us.’
In a joint statement with Janus, Gross said that he felt the new firm would be a better fit for him as he wouldn’t have to deal with the “complexities” of managing a huge company.
And indeed those complexities have garnered a lot of negative attention over the last year.
Plagued with outflows already, PIMCO felt its first major shock in January when Gross’ presumed successor, Mohamed El-Erian, abruptly left the firm. Then the stories started leaking — stories about Gross being showboat at the firm, a micro manager who demanded unquestioning obedience and silence from his employees.
Gross’ behaviour outside the firm was also strange. At the annual Morningstar investor conference in June, he took the stage to Carlos Santanna and Rob Thomas’ ‘Smooth.’
The outflows continued as well, especially from Gross’, personally managed flagship fund, The PIMCO Total Return fund. In August it had seen its 16th straight month of outflows totaling $US68 billion, cumulatively.
Then this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that regulators have been investigating PIMCO’s Total Return ETF, also managed by Gross. The investigation is meant to determine whether or not the assets in the ETF were undervalued, making returns seem greater.
“This was certainly a very surprising announcement,” Wharton Professor Jeremy Siegel told Business Insider. “Though when you read the reasons he gave it was quite logical, things were getting messy at PIMCO.”
Siegel added that he expected some money to follow Gross out of PIMCO, but that he didn’t think it would threaten the bond market’s or PIMCO’s stability.
“I do not expect this to be a major mover in the markets because Bill Gross is going to be doing the same thing he had been doing at Janus,” he said.
It will be Daniel Ivascyn’s job to pick up the pieces at PIMCO.
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