Exclusive: Top investors press Allianz to step up oversight of Pimco

Fri Apr 4, 2014 5:34am EDT
 
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By Kathrin Jones and Jonathan Gould

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Several of the biggest investors in Allianz are pressing the German insurer to step up oversight of its California asset management unit Pimco and one is considering the unusual step of going public with its concerns at a shareholder meeting in May.

Reuters contacted the 10 top investors in Allianz as well as smaller shareholders to gauge their views on Pimco, the bond powerhouse whose reputation has been tarnished by a run of poor returns and the departure of CEO Mohamed El-Erian amid a row with co-founder Bill Gross.

Six of the biggest shareholders declined to comment ahead of the Allianz annual general meeting (AGM), scheduled to take place on May 7. One expressed confidence that the German firm was addressing the management and performance issues at Pimco.

However three other top shareholders, speaking to Reuters on condition that they were not identified, were more critical, saying Allianz still needed to persuade them that the problems at Newport Beach-based Pimco were under control.

Specifically, they said they wanted the Munich-based firm to rethink the management structure that was put in place at Pimco after El-Erian's departure. The new configuration has six deputy chief investment officers (CIOs) under Gross. They also want assurances on Gross's pay and a detailed long-term plan on how Pimco plans to broaden its focus beyond fixed income.

Allianz, which has said little publicly about Pimco's performance or the internal disagreements at the fund manager, declined to comment.

Douglas Hodge, who replaced El-Erian as chief executive of Pimco, told Reuters on Thursday that the California group has spoken to "literally thousands" of its clients and that the vast majority are comfortable with the new structure.

Over the last five years, Pimco points out, it has launched over 150 new investment funds across multiple platforms including private equity, hedge funds and active equities asset classes.   Continued...

 
The logo of Europe's biggest insurer Allianz SE is pictured at the Allianz Arena soccer stadium in Munich February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle