Pacific Investment Management Co. fired back at the co-founder who oversaw the firm’s ascent for 43 years, saying Bill Gross’s lawsuit over his departure looks more like a screenplay than a legal filing and should be thrown out.
Gross’s claims that Pimco forced him out to avoid paying him a $200 million cut of last year’s bonus pool have no basis in law and amount to “reputational warfare,” the investment management company said Monday in its first response in court to the lawsuit.
“Mr. Gross’s complaint is a legally groundless and sad postscript to what had been a storied career at Pimco,” according to a copy of the filing provided by the company. “This suit is only the latest step in Mr. Gross’s effort to resurrect a personal reputation damaged by his own unacceptable behavior.”
Pimco’s assets have begun to stabilize after Gross left suddenly in September 2014. At its height in 2013, Pimco oversaw about $2 trillion in assets. As of Sept. 30, that had dwindled to $1.47 trillion.
Gross sued Newport Beach, California-based Pimco on Oct. 8, a little more than a year after his departure for Janus Capital Group Inc. He seeks “hundreds of millions of dollars,” claiming wrongful termination and breach of written contract.
Pimco argues Gross can’t claim he had a contract that was broken, was forced to resign, or was entitled to a third-quarter bonus, Pimco said. That filing couldn’t be confirmed immediately in state court in Santa Ana, California.
His departure followed a public falling out with others at the firm he co-founded in 1971. Having built Pimco on fixed-income investments, Gross opposed the company’s expansion into higher-risk asset classes such as equities, commodities, real estate and hedge fund-like products, according to his lawsuit.
Pimco, now a unit of Munich-based Allianz SE, hired lawyer David Boies, chairman of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP, to defend it. Pimco asked for a March hearing on its bid for throwing out Gross’s claims.
Gross and his lawyers are confident in their case, Patricia L. Glaser, one of his attorneys, said in an e-mailed statement.