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El-Erian to be sole chief of Pimco

The star investor had returned in January from a stint managing Harvard's endowment.

September 05, 2008|Tom Petruno | Times Staff Writer

Bond fund giant Pimco on Thursday said Mohamed A. El-Erian would take over as sole chief executive of the Newport Beach-based company at year's end, cementing his position as one of the world's most influential financial executives.

El-Erian, 50, will be alone at the top of Pimco after sharing the reins as co-CEO for nine months with Bill Thompson.

Thompson, 63, had agreed in January to stay on for five more years. But he decided to retire because "CEOs shouldn't stay too long at the party," he said.

He also called El-Erian "uniquely qualified" to lead the money management firm, which has mushroomed to $840 billion in assets and 1,000 employees from $40 billion and 125 employees when Thompson became CEO in 1993.

El-Erian's ascension was virtually assured when he returned to Pimco in January after less than two years as head of Harvard University's $35-billion endowment fund. Before taking the Harvard job, El-Erian was one of the rising stars among Pimco's fund managers, racking up hefty returns on emerging-market bonds.

The New York-born son of an Egyptian diplomat, El-Erian holds an Oxford economics degree and is fluent in Arabic, English and French. Before joining Pimco in 1999, he spent 15 years with the International Monetary Fund.

El-Erian wasn't available for comment, Pimco said.

Pimco, short for Pacific Investment Management Co., is majority-owned by German insurance titan Allianz.

The firm manages the Total Return fund, the largest bond mutual fund with $130 billion in assets. The fund is managed by Bill Gross, 64, who shares with El-Erian the title of chief investment officer of Pimco. Both are expected to continue in that role.

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tom.petruno@latimes.com

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