Janus Henderson shakes up bond fund as Bill Gross retires

Pimco co-founder had failed to reproduce his strong track record at Janus Henderson

Janus Henderson fixed income manager Bill Gross will retire to focus on managing his personal assets and run his $390m charitable foundation.

Nick Maroutsos, co-head of global bonds, will become portfolio manager of the Global Unconstrained Bond funds effective 15 February before Gross’s planned departure on 1 March. The US and Ireland-domiciled funds will renamed Absolute Return Income Opportunities when Maroutsos takes over.

Gross (pictured) co-founded Pimco in 1971 and was among the first generation of fixed income managers that took a more active approach to bond strategies on the back of rising inflation.

In September 2014, the manager, famed for his eccentric and highly personal investment updates, exited Pimco for Janus Henderson to manage its Global Unconstrained Bond Fund.

At the time, he said he was looking forward to giving up the “complexities that go with managing a large, complicated organisation” so that he could focus on portfolio management.

However, in the period since, the Pimco GIS Total Return Bond Fund that Gross used to run has outflanked the Janus Henderson Global Unconstrained Bond Fund for both performance and flows. In the press release announcing his departure, Janus Henderson acknowledged the fund’s underperformence of its 3-month Libor benchmark since Gross joined. However, it said nominal performance had been positive over that period.

Janus Henderson boss Dick Weil said he’d known Gross for 23 years and described him as “one of the greatest investors of all time”.

Portfolio management responsibilities for the Global Unconstrained Bond funds and related strategies will be assumed by the global macro fixed income team, which Gross worked within since joining.

Gross said: “I’ve had a wonderful ride for over 40 years in my career – trying at all times to put client interests first while inventing and reinventing active bond management along the way. So many friends and associates at my two firms to thank – nothing is possible without a team working together with a common interest. I’ve been fortunate to have had that.

“And thank you to all of my past clients for their trust and support. I learned early on that without a client, there can be no franchise. I’m off – leaving this port for another destination with high hopes, sunny skies and smooth seas!”

Gross, who is famously based in Orange County, California, a vast distance from Wall St, is currently 74 years old.

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