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Pension Funds React, Weigh Next Move After Bond Guru’s Departure From PIMCO

Bill Gross, bond guru and co-founder of investment management firm PIMCO, has left the company. Gross’ is only the latest in a string of high-level departures from the firm.

Some wealth managers had exited PIMCO earlier this year after sensing that the “team was falling apart.”

But how are pension funds reacting?

Here’s CalPERS’ take, from Bloomberg:

The California Public Employees Retirement System, the largest U.S. pension, said it doesn’t have plans to change its investments with Pimco, according to an e-mailed statement today.

“Calpers has respect for both Bill Gross and Pimco investment professionals,” the pension system said. Calpers, which has about 1.5 percent, or $1 billion, of its fixed-income assets in a Pimco international bond fund.

New Mexico PERS isn’t ready to make any decisions, either. But the Florida SBA, the entity that manages investments for the state’s pension funds, is watching PIMCO closely. Bloomberg reports:

Jon Grabel, chief investment officer of the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico, said it’s too early to make a decision about moving assets. Pimco manages about $725 million for the association in a separate account, Grabel said.

“One person may get the headlines, but one person doesn’t manage trillions of dollars,” he said.

The Florida State Board of Administration, which manages $147 billion in its Florida Retirement System Pension Plan, has been monitoring Pimco since El-Erian left. The fund has $1.9 billion invested in Pimco and nothing in Janus, said Dennis MacKee, a spokesman for the pension.

Pimco is on the system’s watch list, which isn’t a precursor to redemption, MacKee said. It means the board is looking closely at the funds’ performance and operations and will meet with consultants and investment staff to decide what to do, he said.

New York’s Common Fund and Indiana PERS are taking a similar approach: they’ve not yet moved on from PIMCO, but have placed the firm on a ‘watch list’, reports Bloomberg:

New York City’s five pension funds are evaluating the situation at Pimco, the New York City Office of the Comptroller said in an e-mailed statement. Total assets of the funds for firefighters, police officers, teachers, school administrators and civil servants is about $160.5 billion.

The $30.2 billion Indiana Public Retirement System said Pimco remains on its watch list and it’s monitoring developments, Jennifer Dunlap, a spokeswoman for the pension fund, said in an e-mailed statement. The retirement plan had put Pimco on its list in January.

Gross left PIMCO to take a job at Janus Capital Group Inc.

Gross said he wanted to take a job that allowed him to get closer to his original passion: trading bonds.

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