The money manager left Pimco in September 2014 amid a public falling out with other managing directors after lagging results at the Pimco Total Return Fund, then the world’s largest mutual fund, led to a flood of redemptions. He sued a year later, claiming he was ousted so that Pimco wouldn’t have to pay him his $200-million cut of the bonus pool and his rivals could increase their compensation. Pimco in response said Gross’s lawsuit had no basis in law and should be thrown out.
In his reply, Gross said he sufficiently stated his claims to let them proceed at this early stage of the litigation. He accused Pimco of repeated attempts to “lure the court into making inappropriate factual determinations.” A hearing on the dismissal request is scheduled for March 14.
“Mr. Gross faced endless misleading, false and inaccurate assaults in the press,” his lawyers said in the filing in Santa Ana, California. He “agreed to continued employment and an estimated salary of, at most, half of his current salary, in exchange for his committee resignations, the management of a small portfolio, and his agreement to work out of a separate office.”
Gross, 71, now co-manages the $1.26 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund, which has gained 0.7 percent this year while almost breaking even since he took over management in October 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Most of the money in the unconstrained fund is from Gross’s $2 billion personal fortune. Gross has said he will donate any award or settlement from the lawsuit to charity.
The Janus fund has outperformed the Pimco Unconstrained Bond Fund, whose investors have lost 5.3 percent since October 2014, according to Bloomberg data. Investors have continued to pull money from Pimco since Gross’s departure, with total assets under management falling to $1.43 trillion as of Dec. 31, down 23.5 percent from $1.87 trillion on Sept. 30, 2014, the end of the quarter when Gross was ousted.
“We continue to believe that this lawsuit has no merit, and we will be responding in court in due course,” David Boies, Pimco’s lead lawyer, said in a statement. “Pimco remains focused on delivering outstanding investment performance for its clients.”
The case is Gross v. Pacific Investment Management Company LLC, 30-2015-00813636, Orange County Superior Court (Santa Ana, California).