Pimco says Bill Gross leaked bonus data in 'sad obsession' with former firm

A man walks past a Pimco advertisement which is displayed on a building in Hong Kong.
A man walks past a Pimco advertisement which is displayed on a building in Hong Kong. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Pacific Investment Management Co (Pimco) accused former star bond fund manager Bill Gross of leaking confidential bonus data and exercising "bad faith" in pursuing a US$200 million (S$272.9 million) lawsuit over his sudden departure from the firm in September 2014.

In a court filing dated Tuesday (Sept 13), Pimco said Mr Gross admitted to having revealed 2013 compensation data to a Bloomberg News columnist after leaving Pimco, as part of his "sad obsession" with attacking the firm he co-founded and his former colleagues.

Pimco said Mr Gross should be ordered to turn over materials it is entitled to see and be sanctioned for dragging his heels.

It cited, as an example, Mr Gross' alleged failure to turn over e-mails about his exit from Pimco with the chief executive of his current employer, Janus Capital Group Inc, which Pimco said it uncovered through a subpoena to Janus itself.

Pimco, a unit of German insurer Allianz SE, said Mr Gross' "egregious misconduct" supports its argument that it would have had "good cause" for terminating his employment.

In his lawsuit filed last October, Mr Gross claimed that Pimco forced him to resign so it could distribute his bonus to others.

Ms Patricia Glaser, Mr Gross' lawyer, in a statement on Wednesday said Mr Pimco's "off-topic insults and baseless accusations" were an attempt to deflect blame from its own misconduct. "The only party trying to play 'hide the ball' is Pimco," she said.

Both sides are expected to appear in the California Superior Court on Friday.

Pimco said Mr Gross' disclosures to the columnist at Bloomberg, which competes with Reuters News, included data for one-time chief executive Mohamed El-Erian, his successor Douglas Hodge and Daniel Ivascyn, who succeeded Mr Gross as chief investment officer.

It also said that Mr Gross admitted to giving compensation details to eight or nine managing directors prior to leaving Pimco.

That revelation included a note to recipients, "let's get our fair share in December", according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorised to discuss the note.

Mr Gross denied that Pimco had a right to take any adverse action over the disclosures, according to Tuesday's filing.

Pimco's lawyer, Mr David Boies, said in a statement that "evidence of misconduct" and the unresolved disputes may leave the firm with "no choice but to bring claims against Mr. Gross for his improper actions".

Mr Gross is worth US$2.4 billion according to Forbes magazine, and has pledged to donate proceeds from his lawsuit to charity.

At Pimco, he built the flagship Pimco Total Return fund into the world's largest bond fund. He now runs the much smaller Janus Global Unconstrained Bond fund.