Exclusive - Would have done 'things differently': El-Erian

Tue Sep 23, 2014 1:18am EDT
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By Jennifer Ablan and Dan Burns

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mohamed El-Erian expected to go quietly. The one-time heir apparent to Pimco investment chief Bill Gross had no idea leaving the firm would create a fire storm, and he gave no real consideration to staying on and working less.

In his most extensive discussion yet about his controversial decision in January to leave Pimco, which has nearly $2 trillion in assets, El-Erian told Reuters: "If I had known that there would be this media circus, I would've done a lot of things differently."

To begin with, he might have considered working part time.

"Was there a way of not going 100 miles an hour and maybe going 50 miles an hour? To be perfectly honest, I didn't explore that option. I never explored it," he said, describing his management style as trying to work as hard or harder than anyone else. A part-time position would have felt "inconsistent" with his style, he said.

El-Erian's departure rocked the investment world, where he was seen as the successor to "Bond King" Gross. Questions arose about the relationship between the two, and plans at Pimco, a unit of German financial services giant Allianz SE (ALVG.DE: Quote).

His reason for leaving is a cliche of departing executives: the wish to spend more time with family. El-Erian said that he decided it was more important to be a good dad than a good investor.

He realized he needed a change in May 2013, after his then-10-year-old daughter wrote him a list of 22 milestone events in her life he had missed.

In the wake of El-Erian's resignation, Pimco named six deputy chief investment officers, reporting to Gross, who is 70. Previously, there were no other CIOs but Gross and El-Erian.   Continued...

Mohamed A. El-Erian, CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, takes part in a panel discussion titled "Global Markets in Uncertain Times" at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California in this April 29, 2013 file photo.  REUTERS/Fred Prouser