(Updated to add details about availability of new ticker in third and fourth paragraph.)
Pimco, the world’s biggest bond fund manager, on April 4 will change the trading symbol on its new and already-successful Pimco Total Return ETF to “BOND” from “TRXT”—a move the Newport Beach, Calif.-based firm hopes will make the fund more recognizable to investors.
“Our aim is to enable investors to access the Pimco Total Return ETF easily and conveniently, and we believe that re-naming the NYSE ticker to BOND is another step toward achieving that objective,” Bill Gross, the manager who runs the Pimco Total Return Fund, said in a press release.
What’s somewhat startling about the news is that no ETF sponsor had yet been marketing a fixed-income with “BOND” as its ticker. Pimco actually had made attempts to register its Total Return ETF using “BOND” as the ticker when it first filed to market the fund last year. However, the ticker wasn’t available at that time, according to Pimco spokesman Mark Porterfield.
“Last year, when we initially filed the fund, BOND wasn’t available,” Porterfield said in an emailed response to written questions. “Then when the NYSE was here, in Newport Beach, for the bell ringing on March 1, we asked them whether we could find a more intuitive ticker. Just within the last couple weeks, we were fortunate to find out BOND was now available. We felt that in the long run, this would be the better ticker, so we’re making the switch.” It wasn’t clear to whom the rights to the ticker belonged previously.
The company brought the Pimco Total Return ETF (NYSEArca:BOND - News) to market on March 1 . The original portfolio, the $250 billion Pimco Total Return Fund, is the world’s biggest mutual fund, which made the launch of the ETF a momentous occasion . It’s a bit different than the mutual fund in that it can’t use swaps and must disclose portfolio holdings daily, but the new ETF already has almost $260 million in assets after it was seeded with about $100 million—a clear sign of success so far.
The arrival of the Pimco Total Return ETF is viewed in the money management industry as a something of sign that ETFs are reaching critical mass. And crucially, many in the ETF industry see the new Pimco ETF as a test case as to whether actively managed ETFs will begin to get serious traction. As things stand, less than 0.5 percent of the $1.220 trillion in U.S.-listed ETF assets are in active strategies. That percentage climbs to about 2 percent when considering bond ETFs alone, and rises to almost 15 percent when considering just ETFs focused on currencies.
Gross, whose fame almost approaches that of legendary value investor Warren Buffett, is a founder of Pimco and is co-chief investment officer of the firm as well.
Once its ticker becomes “BOND,” the Pimco Total Return ETF will continue to have its primary listing on Arca, the New York Stock Exchange’s electronic trading platform, Pimco said.
Also, the ETF’s CUSIP won’t change, and current investors in the fund don’t need to do anything in connection with the ticker change, the company said.
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