Pacific Investment Management Co.’s (Pimco) reputation as a shrewd bond fund manager has served the company well. Soon, everyone will learn if that reputation can help it succeed in the burgeoning exchange-traded fund business.

The Newport Beach, Calif.-based fund manager has filed an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission to introduce an active bond ETF. If approved, the fund could serve as a model for future bond ETFs.

The ETF fixed-income category is still relatively small and is limited to products linked to indexes. According to ETFguide.com, there are just 63 bond products. By comparison, there are more than 640 equity based products.

In the bond arena, the Bear Stearns Current Yield Fund (YYY) is the only actively managed ETF. The fund invests in short-term debt obligations, such as foreign corporate debt, mortgage-backed securities, and U.S. government securities. The fund was launched by the ill-fated Bear Stearns during the spring and currently has just over $50 million in assets.

Having active bond ETFs in its product portfolio would allow Pimco to enter an emerging-product marketplace still in its infancy. It would also permit the company to have another distribution channel for its active-management solutions.

No exact timetable on the launch of Pimco’s ETFs has been given. Typically it takes the SEC about 6 months to allow new ETF products to trade.

Pimco is owned by Allianz, and through the end of the second quarter the company had $830 billion under management.