A thousand miles apart, Janus bond chief Smith embraces Gross

Tue Oct 7, 2014 5:48pm EDT
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By Ross Kerber and Richard Leong

BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Before hiring star bond fund manager Bill Gross last month, Janus Capital Group Inc (JNS.N: Quote) Chief Executive Dick Weil took care to check with the bond chief he already had, Gibson Smith.

Smith said he has embraced the idea, despite concerns in the industry that Gross may not be enough of a team player. Smith said on Tuesday he plans to stay at Janus, with his team intact, after Weil said continuity was important.

Weil "wanted to maintain what we have built and not do anything disruptive," Smith said.

"This is good for the Janus fixed-income business and good for Janus as a whole," Smith said of Gross' move in a telephone interview.

Smith said he expects to talk about markets with the one-time Pimco leader. But they will be about 1,000 miles apart.

The two will operate two distinct business units, with Gross operating out of a Newport Beach, California office, which Smith called "Janus West." Smith works from Janus headquarters in Denver. Pimco is headquartered in Newport Beach.

The comments from Smith are among his first since Gross's arrival and could reduce concerns voiced by some investors that the famously outspoken Gross could spark a culture clash at Janus, which emphasizes teamwork over star power.

Gross's surprise jump to Janus triggered heavy outflows at Pimco, which he co-founded. Even more money could be pulled from Pimco as pension funds and other large investors review whether to move their money.   Continued...

Richard Weil, Chief Executive Officer of Janus Capital Group, poses for a portrait in New York February 5, 2013.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif