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Articles Tagged with PIMCO

Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) has agreed to settle the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s charges accusing the firm of misleading investors about the performance of one of its exchange-traded funds and not placing an accurate value on certain fund securities. As part of the settlement, PIMCO will pay almost $20M and hire an independent compliance consultant.

The regulator contends that investors were drawn to the Pimco Total Return Active ETF after, within months of its launch in 2012, it did well enough to outperform the investment management firm’s flagship mutual fund. The fund was previously managed by Bill Gross, PIMCO’s co-founder, and it was intended to mirror PIMCO’s flagship Total Return Fund.

Although Pimco Total Return Active ETF’s initial success is linked to the smaller-sized bonds that were purchased to help boost early performance, in its yearly and monthly reports PIMCO purportedly gave investors other reasons for these early results that were “misleading.” Meantime, the SEC said, PIMCO did not disclose that the initial performance success was a result of an “odd lot strategy”—referring to the purchase of the smaller bonds, which were non-agency mortgage-backed securities—and that this approach that would not be sustainable as the fund continued to grow.

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In district court in Los Angeles, CA, plaintiffs are suing Pacific Investment Management Co., Allianz Global Investors, and parent company Allianz Asset Management for breach of fiduciary duty. The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit contend that the fiduciaries of the Allianz Asset Management of America 401(k) Savings and Retirement Plan, which is the plan in which they are participants, violated their duty of prudence and loyalty under ERISA by placing a lot of high-priced proprietary funds in the plan’s core menu for investments.

The lead plaintiffs in the 401(K) lawsuit are Nathan Marfice and Aleksandr Urakhchin. They contend that the all-in plan costs are at 77 basis points, which was 75 basis points above the average retirement plan that holds anywhere from $500 million and $1 billion in assets. They said that this cost plan participants more than $2.5 million in excessive fees.

A spokesperson for Allianz says the class action case has no merit. Other parties listed as defendants include:

· The committee of the Allianz Asset Management of America 401(k) plan

· Allianz Asset Management of America LP

· Allianz Global Investors Fund Management

· Allianz Asset Management of America

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Pacific Investment Management Co. said that the SEC has sent it a Wells notice indicating that its staff is recommending that the regulator file a civil case against the financial firm over the way securities were marked in its PimcoTotal Return Active Exchange-Traded Fund. That’s the ETF version of Pimco’s Total Return Fund.

The Wells notice is related to the valuation of smaller positions in mortgage-backed securities that the government did not guarantee for several months in 2012, as well as disclosure regarding performance and procedures and policies related to compliance. Bloomberg reports that according to someone that knows bout the investigation, The regulator has been looking at whether the total return ETF bought small lots of bonds at a discount price and marked them up when valuing holdings to artificially inflate returns.

Although the ETF has continued to see deposits, the Total Return mutual fund experienced redemptions, especially after the departure of founder Bill Gross last year. News of his exit came within days of the news that the SEC was probing whether Pimco had inflated ETF returns.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking at whether Pacific Investment Management Co, artificially upped the returns of a fund that targeted smaller investors. At issue is the way the $3.6B Pimco Total Return ETF (BOND) purchased investments at a discount but depended on higher valuations for the investments when the fund worked out its holdings’ value soon after. This type of move could make it appear as if the fund made rapid gains when it was actually just availing of the variations in how certain investments are valued.

According to The Wall Street Journal, sources familiar with the probe say that SEC investigators have already interviewed firm owner Bill Gross. The regulator could be looking at whether investors ended up with inaccurate data about the performance of the fund. If so, this could be a breach of securities law, even if the wrongdoing wasn’t intentional.

While the probe has been going on for at least a year, it seems to have recently escalated. Other Pimco executives have also been interviewed.

According to InvestmentNews, some of the largest asset managers in the world are complaining that draft proposals for identifying financial institutions besides insurers and banks that may be too big to fail would employ an erroneous analysis of the investment industry. Fidelity Investment, Pacific Investment Management Co.(PIMCO), BlackRock Inc. (BLK), and others wrote written responses to a consultation made by international standard setters. Pimco, whose response was published on the International Organization of Securities Commission’s web site, called the blue print “fundamentally flawed,” saying that it failed to accurately show the risks involving the asset management industry or investment funds.

The proposals regarding too-big-to fail come after efforts by global regulators in the Financial Stability Board to rank insurers and banks according to their potential to trigger a worldwide financial meltdown. Under the plans published earlier this year by Iosco and FSB, investment funds with assets greater than $100 billion could be given the too big to fail label. The proposals are also suggesting possibly making asset managers that oversee with big funds subject to additional rules.

However, BlackRock, in its consultation response, is arguing that a fund’s size isn’t a sign of systemic risk and many of the biggest funds are not likely to pose issues of systemic risk. It also contends that concentrating on asset managers is the ‘wrong approach” seeing as they are “dramatically less susceptible” to getting into financial distress than other financial institutions. BlackRock is one of the firms that believes that international standard setters should instead put their attention on figuring out which activities could prove systematically essential rather than trying to label certain funds and asset managers as too big to fail.

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