Pimco owner stands by Chief Investment Officer Bill Gross

Bill Gross' Pimco returns have lagged rivals' three years out of four

Allianz SE, the German company that owns Pacific Investment Management Co., is standing behind Chief Investment Officer Bill Gross, even as his main fund trails peers' and struggles with heavy investor withdrawals.

"We want Bill Gross to work as CIO for as long as he is willing and able," said Jay Ralph, who oversees asset management for Allianz.

Allianz Chief Executive Michael Diekmann was forced to defend Pimco against shareholder criticism during the insurer's annual meeting in May as Gross' returns lagged rivals' for the third year in four and investors have pulled $64 billion from his Pimco Total Return Fund since May 2013.

"Bill Gross has always been an outstanding investment manager," Diekmann said in an email. "We are convinced that he and his team at Pimco are very well positioned to continue to be successful and we fully support the new management structure."

Gross, 70, has also come under scrutiny for his management style since the abrupt resignation in January of former chief Mohamed El-Erian, whose departure was followed by reports of clashes between the two men.

"Bill never gave us an indication that he wants to resign," Ralph said. "The only time he is unhappy is if he doesn't have a day of outstanding performance."

While Pimco's total assets under management rose by $53 billion to $1.97 trillion through the first half of the year, the Total Return Fund shrank to $225.2 billion as of June 30 from $237 billion in December, according to research company Morningstar Inc.

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