Pimco's Cupps, Head of Products, Says She'll Retire at Year-End

  • Was named in Gross lawsuit as part of `cabal' that ousted him
  • Jennifer Bridwell, alternative products head, to replace Cupps

Wendy Cupps, a managing director at Pacific Investment Management Co. who oversaw product management, is retiring at the end of this year to spend more time with her family and figure out her next move.

“I’m retiring from Pimco and the industry, but I’m going to have to do something -- something different,” Cupps, 53, said in an interview Wednesday at Pimco’s headquarters in Newport Beach, California. “I’ve been giving it my all and will continue to do so until the end of the year and then I’ll think about all the rest later.”

Cupps, who worked at the $1.5 trillion firm since 1994 and coordinated development and marketing of funds that meet clients’ risk-return goals, said she began planning her departure earlier this year. She was named last month in Bill Gross’s lawsuit against Pimco as part of a “cabal” of executives that plotted his ouster. Her successor is Jennifer Bridwell, 48, who currently oversees alternative product development, duties she will continue in her new position.

Alternative products, such as hedge funds and private-equity investments, will remain at about $25 billion as the firm continues to focus primarily on fixed-income related securities, Bridwell said. Pimco closed some of its stock-picking funds in May, prompting the departure of Virginie Maisonneuve, the chief investment officer for equities.

“We’re not an investment supermarket,” said Bridwell, who has sat next to Cupps for her 10 years at Pimco and previously worked at five other financial firms, focusing mostly on mortgage-backed securities. “We’re not going to have an investment and a fad for every trend that comes along.”

‘Cheesecake Factory’

Gross, Pimco’s co-founder and former CIO, said in his lawsuit he resisted the diversification, comparing it with the “varied menu at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant” instead of his preferred “bonds and burgers,” according to his breach-of-contract suit filed last month against Pimco.

Gross, who was ousted in September 2014 and now runs the $1.4 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund, alleged Cupps joined Group Chief Investment Officer Daniel Ivascyn, President Jay Jacobs and others in a plot to deny him “hundreds of millions of dollars” in earned compensation by pushing him out the door.

Gross, who was entitled to earn 20 percent of Pimco’s annual bonus pool, took home about $290 million from that pot in 2013, documents provided to Bloomberg in November 2014 showed. Cupps earned a bonus of about $50 million that year, Bloomberg reported at the time.

Cupps declined to comment on the case. She said the report of her 2013 bonus was inaccurate, and declined to comment further.

Cupps is one of eight members of Pimco’s executive committee, which sets strategic direction for the firm. A new member will be elected later this year to replace her. She also serves as treasurer of the Pimco Foundation, which supports corporate volunteers, education, arts and small business programs.

Cupps joined Pimco after working 10 years at Mercer, a recruiting and investment consulting firm. She’s married to Michael Cupps and has daughters ages 16 and 20.

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