Reuters stands by a story it published yesterday that further dented the reputation of embattled PIMCO CEO Bill Gross.
Gross, one of the most successful bond investors in history, has come under fire in recent years for expressing questionable economic logic and making a couple of bad calls on the stock and bond markets. More recently, and more damagingly, a Wall Street Journal story portrayed him as an arrogant control freak whose ego and decision-making caused his co-CEO, Mohamed El-Erian, to suddenly quit the firm.
In what appears to have been an attempt to limit that damage, Gross got on the phone with Reuters last Friday and, according to Reuters, made some remarks that underscore the depth of his anger with El-Erian and made him sound emotional and paranoid.
Specifically, Reuters quoted Gross as saying that El-Erian had basically written the Wall Street Journal article himself and that, when Reuters asked for evidence of this, he accused Reuters of being in the tank with El-Erian, too:
“You’re on his side. Great, he’s got you, too, wrapped around his charming right finger.”
Reuters also quoted Gross as saying that he was “so sick of Mohamed trying to undermine me” and that he knew El-Erian had spoken to Reuters because he had “monitored” El-Erian’s phone calls.
PIMCO later denied that Gross said any of what Reuters said he said. And the firm said Gross “categorically denies saying this firm ever listened in on Mr. El-Erian’s phone calls.”
PIMCO, in other words, is accusing Reuters of being grossly incompetent or worse.
So we asked Reuters about that.
Reuters sent us the following quote:
“We stand by the fairness and accuracy of our story.”
With respect to the spying on phone calls, there’s room for both sides to be right. Gross may not have “listened in on” El-Erian’s phone calls. Rather, he may have determined that El-Erian spoke to Reuters by looking at phone records. This ex-post-facto phone-record investigation seems paranoid and unbecoming, but perhaps all’s fair in love and corporate feuds.
The quotes about how Reuters is apparently in the tank for El-Erian, however, sound so undisciplined and emotional as to border on unhinged. This is the CEO of a massive global asset management firm we’re talking about. And he’s accusing two respected global news organisation of being so “charmed” by his former partner that they’re unwilling to print the truth? It’s no wonder that PIMCO insists that Gross never said such things.
PIMCO declined to comment.