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Bill Gross sues Pimco, says he was wrongly ousted from firm he founded

Bill Gross sues Pimco, says he was wrongly ousted from firm he founded
Pimco's headquarters in Newport Beach on April 23. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Bill Gross, the founder of Pacific Investment Management Co. who left the firm amid internal acrimony last year, is suing the company for breach of contract.

In a 19-page Superior Court complaint filed Thursday in Orange County,  Gross accuses current and former Pimco executives of leaking disparaging information about him to the news media and ultimately engineering his ouster.

The suit, which seeks unspecified but "in no event  less than $200 million" in damages, lays out details of his clashes with other executives, including former chief executive and co-chief investment officer Mohamed El-Erian, over the direction of the firm.

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The complaint in particular targets Andrew Balls, Pimco's chief investment officer for global fixed income, whom Gross accuses of leaking information about high-level executive clashes to the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

A spokesman for Pimco didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did El-Erian.

The Gross suit also alleges that Pimco's current chief investment officer, Daniel Ivascyn, conspired with other executives to force Gross' "ouster."

The suit says Gross' departure from the firm caused him to lose "significant positions" in stock options and other compensation that had not yet vested.

The lawsuit comes just as Newport Beach-based Pimco, a dominant player in the multitrillion-dollar global bond business, had been seen as recovering from the turmoil surrounding Gross' dramatic exit a year ago, when the legendary investor decamped to rival Janus Capital Group. 

The departure caused Pimco investors to accelerate what had already been huge withdrawals from Pimco's flagship Total Return Fund, which Gross had run for decades. The fund, which peaked at more than $292 billion under management in April 2013, had about $95.5 billion as of Sept. 30, with most of the outflow coming in the months after Gross' departure.

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