U.S. investors closely monitoring Pimco after internal strife

Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:10am EDT
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By Luciana Lopez and Jennifer Ablan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Several U.S. institutional investors said they are closely monitoring the developments at Pimco, the world's largest bond firm, in the wake of Mohamed El-Erian's abrupt resignation as CEO and ensuing acrimony between him and co-founder Bill Gross.

The investors, including retirement systems, have formally put Pimco on "watch lists," a signal that they will keep a much closer eye its performance than usual. It could eventually lead to reductions in the amount of money they allocate to funds at the firm, whose full name is Pacific Investment Management Co and which has $1.91 trillion in assets.

"We intend to go out and meet with them over the course of the next month," said David Hunter, chief investment officer of the North Dakota State Investment Board. The board, which has about $400 million invested with Pimco, put the fund on its watch list on February 28.

Hunter said the board could ultimately decide not to make any changes to its allocation.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System, the largest U.S. pension fund, said it had not placed Pimco on a formal watch list, but it was also paying close attention to developments.

"CalPERS staff has tremendous respect for the staff at Pimco," the system said in an emailed statement. "That being said, we are monitoring the issue and will keep our board aware of the changes."

In a statement, Pimco CEO Douglas Hodge said: "We are focused on communication with our clients, and have been in regular contact with them following the recent leadership transition. They understand the changes we have taken and why, and are ready to move forward with us."

In a Tweet on Monday, Gross wrote, "No distractions here - just long term performance satisfaction - working hard as always for clients."   Continued...

Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive office and co-chief investment officer of PIMCO, speaks during The Economist's Buttonwood Gathering in New York October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri