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Gross says Pimco fired him after proposing smaller role - Bloomberg

Bill Gross speaks at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago, Illinois, June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bill Gross has acknowledged publicly for the first time that he was fired from Pacific Investment Management Co, the firm he co-founded in 1971, largely confirming news reports of the internal turmoil.

Gross, in an interview with Bloomberg View, said he offered to step down from Pimco's executive committee and compensation committee and oversee closed-end funds after differences with management over his personality and Pimco's business direction.

"For some reason still unbeknownst to me they didn't think that was a good idea and they did fire me," Gross said in the interview. "In the last few weeks, it blindsided me; I had no idea that an executive committee could fire a founder and the titular leader of the company."

Gross had managed the Pimco Total Return Fund, the world's largest bond fund, until his stunning departure on Sept. 26, when he joined the much smaller Janus Capital Group Inc.,

In October, Reuters reported that Gross had contacted DoubleLine Capital co-founder Jeffrey Gundlach, his fiercest rival in the bond market, and asked Gundlach for a job because he was about to be fired from Pimco.

Gundlach told Reuters: "Bill came out and told me, 'Pimco doesn't want me anymore.' And I said, 'That is an unbelievably stupid decision.'

"Then he told me, 'They are going to push the button and fire me,' to which I said, "This is really distressing."

"They" were the members of Pimco's executive committee, chaired by Pimco Chief Executive Doug Hodge.

Calls and emails to Pimco were not returned.

Gundlach also told Reuters that Gross told him that he had proposed to Pimco's executive committee that he manage considerably less money - roughly $40 billion to $50 billion - and that he no longer wanted to run the flagship Total Return Fund, which at the time had about $220 billion in assets.

Instead, Hodge and Pimco President Jay Jacobs told Gross the executive committee had reached a different decision. Gross told Gundlach the committee said: "We want you to leave soon."

Assets of the Total Return Fund at the end of December fell to $143.4 billion.

(Reporting by Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Leslie Adler)