Bill Gross told rival Gundlach: ‘I am Kobe, you are LeBron’

Sun Oct 5, 2014 5:34pm EDT
 
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By Jennifer Ablan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It was one of the most extraordinary meetings in the history of the bond market. Two of the biggest-ever names in fixed-income investing, Bill Gross and Jeffrey Gundlach, fierce rivals who had never previously talked, held a secret meeting over glasses of lemonade, water, and plates of crudites about whether to join forces.

In the week of Sept. 15, just before Gross shocked the investment world on Sept. 26 by storming out of Pimco, he approached Gundlach and dropped a bombshell. According to Gundlach, Gross said he was about to be fired by the firm he had helped launch more than four decades ago and had built into a $2 trillion investment powerhouse.

Gross disclosed he had been toying with quitting for some time after Pimco erupted in turmoil earlier this year when Gross' heir apparent, Mohamed El-Erian, left the firm, sparking a public falling out between the two long-time colleagues.  And Gross also told Gundlach he had been in talks with another firm some six months ago. He did not say which firm it was, Gundlach said.

Reuters first reported the meeting between Gross and Gundlach, who runs DoubleLine Capital, the day of Gross' departure from Pimco for Janus Capital Group JNS.N. Gundlach has now provided Reuters with a much fuller picture of how the meeting came to pass and what they discussed over three hours on the north loggia of Gundlach's Los Angeles home.

Gross declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this story or to confirm Gundlach’s account of their meeting. Representatives for Pimco, a unit of German insurer Allianz SE (ALVG.DE: Quote), and Janus, which is a much smaller player in the asset management business, declined to comment. DoubleLine has been among the firms to benefit as investors have ditched Pimco following Gross’s departure.

   

PRANKSTER FEAR

Gundlach said that Gross called him out of the blue.   Continued...

 
Bill Gross, co-founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), wears sunglasses as he arrives to speak at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago, Illinois, June 19, 2014. .    REUTERS/Jim Young