Gross Sues Pimco For $200M Over Forced Exit

Suit seeks $200 million, which Gross says he will donate to charity.

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Reviewed by: Jennifer Ablan
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Edited by: Jennifer Ablan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Famed bond investor Bill Gross has sued his former employer Pacific Investment Management Co. and its parent Allianz SE for $200 million, claiming he was wrongfully ousted by a "cabal" of executives who wanted his share of the bonus pool.

In a complaint filed on Thursday in the California Superior Court in Orange County, Gross said Pimco managing directors were "driven by a lust for power, greed, and a desire to improve their own financial position and reputation" in an ultimately successful plot to drive him out.

Pimco spokesman Mike Reid declined to comment.

Vitriol Reignited

The lawsuit ratchets up an exchange of vitriol between Gross, who now runs the Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund for Janus Capital Group Inc., and Pimco, which he built into the largest U.S. bond fund complex during his four decades there.

Gross, known on Wall Street as the "bond king," unceremoniously left Pimco in September 2014, eight months after his management style helped prompt second-in-command Mohamed El-Erian to quit.

That style, along with weak performance and investor outflows at Gross' flagship bond fund Pimco Total Return, was also the subject of much negative press in 2014.

Plot By Young Executives Alleged

In the complaint, Gross said younger Pimco executives had plotted to drive him out, and share in the 20 percent of Pimco's bonus pool to which he was entitled, because they believed his presence was impeding their careers and limiting their paychecks.

He said the plan to push him out was "hatched" by Daniel Ivascyn, who succeeded Gross as Pimco's group chief investment officer, and allegedly helped recruit others to the cause.

$1.3 Billion Bonus Pool

The bonus pool totaled $1.3 billion in 2013, the last full year before Gross left, and Gross' compensation that year topped $300 million, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses Pimco of constructive termination, breach of contract and exercising bad faith.

The case is Gross v. Pacific Investment Management Co et al, California Superior Court, Orange County.

Jennifer Ablan is a staff writer for Reuters.