PIMCO Replaced by TCW as Manager of $1.3 Billion Bond Strategy

PIMCO Mortgage-Backed Securities Fund to be renamed TCW Core Plus Bond Fund

Bill Gross (far left) and Liz Ann Sonders speaking to Tyler Mathisen of CNBC at Schwab Impact. Bill Gross (far left) and Liz Ann Sonders speaking to Tyler Mathisen of CNBC at Schwab Impact.

Bill Gross’s Pacific Investment Management Co., which suffered record redemptions from its main mutual fund last year, was dropped as manager of a $1.3 billion bond fund offered by Columbia Management Investment Advisers LLC.

Columbia replaced PIMCO with TCW Group Inc., and the fund will be renamed TCW Core Plus Bond Fund from PIMCO Mortgage- Backed Securities Fund, according to a statement Thursday from Los Angeles-based TCW. The decision to change the mandate was made late last year before former CEO Mohamed El-Erian announced his resignation in January, said two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

PIMCO, based in Newport Beach, California, has been under pressure in the past 12 months amid investor withdrawals from its mutual funds and underperformance by its largest fund, PIMCO Total Return, run by Gross. The departure by El-Erian, 55, who was considered 69-year-old Gross’s heir apparent, triggered a shakeup within the firm’s executive ranks.

PIMCO Mortgage-Backed Securities Fund, offered in a variable annuity strategy from Columbia and created in 2010, invested in highly rated mortgage securities and sought to provide investors with total return through income and capital appreciation, TCW said in the statement.

TCW didn’t give returns for the fund. A mutual fund with the same name, the $269 million PIMCO Mortgage-Backed Securities Fund, has advanced 0.2% in the past 12 months, beating 80% of peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Over the past three years, the fund has returned an annual 3.2%, better than 78% of rivals.

Total Return

The strategy PIMCO managed for Columbia isn’t the same as the mutual fund since there were restrictions on what the subadvised fund could invest in, and they have different benchmarks.

Mark Porterfield, a spokesman for PIMCO, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment about the change and whether the mutual fund’s returns are comparable to the strategy subadvised for Columbia.

PIMCO, which manages $1.9 trillion in assets, had redemptions of $30.4 billion from its mutual funds last year, according to research firm Morningstar Inc. Gross’s $236 billion Total Return, which slumped 1.9% last year, lost $41 billion to withdrawals in 2013, according to Morningstar.

Founded in 1971, TCW manages more than $130 billion in client assets. Some of TCW’s fund managers, such as Tad Rivelle, Stephen Kane and Laird Landmann, worked at PIMCO earlier in their careers.

Gross’s Returns

TCW’s largest fixed-income mutual fund, the $26.9 billion Metropolitan West Total Return Bond Fund, returned 1.1% over the past 12 months, ahead of 81 percent of peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Over three years, the fund beat 89 percent of peers with an annual gain of 5.7%.

Gross’s PIMCO Total Return declined 1.2% over the past 12 months to trail 84% of peers and gained an annual 4.1% over three years, ahead of 65% of rivals.

Columbia, which manages $356 billion in assets and is a unit of Ameriprise Financial Inc., offered the bond strategy within its Columbia Funds Variable Series Trust II.

Carlos Melville, a spokesman for Columbia Management, said he couldn’t comment on the change.

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