Allianz Names El-Erian as Chief Economic Adviser

Allianz SE named Mohamed El-Erian to the new role of chief economic adviser following his surprise resignation at the insurer’s Pacific Investment Management Co. unit last month.

El-Erian, the former chief executive officer and co-chief investment officer at Newport Beach, California-based Pimco, will spend 50 percent of his time working for Allianz, CEO Michael Diekmann said at a press conference in Munich today. He will dedicate the rest of his time to his family and book projects, Diekmann said.

The 55-year-old, who resigned last month from Pimco, was viewed by investors as the heir apparent to co-founder Bill Gross, who said at the time he was “shocked” by El-Erian’s resignation to “recharge the batteries.” He was the first Pimco manager to share the title of investment chief with Gross.

El-Erian clashed with Gross before he announced that he will leave Pimco, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. They disagreed about trading strategy, personnel decisions, new products and how Gross interacted with employees, the newspaper said, citing people with knowledge of the firm, without identifying them.

Diekmann said that he “can’t confirm U.S. media reports” about the reason for El-Erian’s resignation. At Allianz, El-Erian will work with Chief Economist Michael Heise.

Gross brought El-Erian back to Pimco in 2007 following a stint running Harvard University’s endowment because he knew “Mohamed could fill an important part of the puzzle” in planning for succession, he said in a 2010 Bloomberg interview. El-Erian helped transform Pimco from a bond shop to a diversified fund manager.

Allianz said today that operating profit at its asset-management unit, which includes Pimco, fell 23 percent to 703 million euros ($960 million) in the fourth quarter. Assets under management declined 4.4 percent to 1.77 trillion euros at the end of December from a year earlier amid foreign currency exchange effects of a weak dollar.