BONDS-GROSS/PIMCO

(Reuters)

Bill Gross is Cleared to Pursue Pimco Lawsuit

By Business Leaders Reuters

Bond manager Bill Gross will be able to pursue his lawsuit to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars from Pacific Investment Management Co in the wake of his 2014 ouster from the firm he co-founded.

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Pimco agreed to accept as final a tentative decision issued late on Sunday by California Superior Court Judge Martha Gooding that Gross' breach-of-contract lawsuit was strong enough to proceed, Gross' lawyer said on Monday.

The Santa Ana-based judge said Gross "alleges sufficient facts based on allegations concerning his status as the founder, a 40-year history, an alleged track record of bringing success and/or fame to the enterprise, as well as a series of alleged oral promises/assurances of continued employment."

Gross abruptly left Pimco in September 2014 following negative reports about his management style and weak returns at Pimco Total Return, which he had built into what was at the time the world's largest bond fund.

He sued Pimco in October 2015 for at least $200 million, claiming that executives plotted to oust him and divide his bonus among themselves.

Pimco has said Gross had no employment guarantee and could have been fired at any time without cause.

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The unit of German insurer Allianz SE has until April 4 to file a formal answer to Gross' lawsuit.

David Boies, a lawyer for Pimco, was not immediately available for comment.

Gross' lawyer, Patricia Glaser said: "We are very pleased with the court's ruling and are looking forward to the opportunity to prove our case in court."

Gross, 71, now manages the Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund for Denver-based Janus Capital Group Inc.

A large portion of that $1.3 billion fund's assets comes from Gross, who is worth $2 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

Gross has said he will donate proceeds from the Pimco lawsuit to charity.

The case is Gross v. Pacific Investment Management Co et al, California Superior Court, Orange County, No. 2015-00813636.

(Reporting by Jennifer Ablan and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)