In a stunning piece of news, Pimco co-founder and bond investor extraordinaire Bill Gross has left the firm he co-founded 43 years ago and decamped to Janus (JNS). It’s a sign that the tension and turmoil that have shaken Pimco in the past year or so were finally too much for him. According to news reports, the company had been preparing to fire him, although if the past is any indication, there are likely to be competing narratives about how the change transpired.
It had been clear for months that tension at Pimco was taking an enormous toll on Gross, who recently turned 70 and personally managed almost $500 billion worth of bond investments. In an interview for a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story in April, he described the unwelcome press attention of the preceding weeks: “It’s been like a near-death experience, an emotional blow. Whenever I read the newspaper, I say to myself, ‘At least my wife loves me.’ ”
As Pimco grew larger and more successful, management duties took up an increasing amount of Gross’s time, taking him away from the task he excelled at, which was bond investing. At Janus, Gross will manage a newly created fund, the Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund. In a statement issued through Janus, he said:
“I look forward to returning my full focus to the fixed income markets and investing, giving up many of the complexities that go with managing a large, complicated organization. I chose Janus as my next home because of my long standing relationship with and respect for CEO Dick Weil and my desire to get back to spending the bulk of my day managing client assets.”
According to Gross’s wife, Sue, who was reached by phone this morning, Gross is “very excited” about his new job. He is currently in Colorado at Janus’s offices. “It’s been a really rough year,” Sue said. “The whole year is a blur.”