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Pimco's El-Erian, one of world's most closely watched investors, to leave giant money manager

FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2010 file photo, PIMCO Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chief Investment Officer Mohamed El-Erian speaks during a session at the Buttonwood Gathering on Fixing Finance in New York. Alianz said Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, El-Erian , the CEO and co-chief investment officer of its U.S. asset-management company PIMCO ,is resigning as part of leadership changes. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

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FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2010 file photo, PIMCO Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chief Investment Officer Mohamed El-Erian speaks during a session at the Buttonwood Gathering on Fixing Finance in New York. Alianz said Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, El-Erian , the CEO and co-chief investment officer of its U.S. asset-management company PIMCO ,is resigning as part of leadership changes. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

NEW YORK, N.Y. - One of the world's most closely watched investors is leaving Pimco as part of a series of leadership changes at the giant money manager.

Mohamed El-Erian will leave Pacific Investment Management Co. in mid-March, according to the company's parent, Allianz. El-Erian is Pimco's CEO and, along with famed investor William Gross, is co-chief investment officer. In a brief statement, Allianz gave no explanation for the departure.

Chief Operating Officer Douglas Hodge will become CEO, and Pimco founder Gross will stay as chief investment officer, Pimco said.

El-Erian helped steer the company through the tumult of the financial crisis and helped develop its concept of the "new normal" — a widely cited idea that economies will grow more slowly after the crisis and big investment returns will be hard to come by. He is widely published, and is the author of a 2008 bestseller "When Markets Collide."

Pimco has struggled in the face of rising interest rates in the past year. Investors have pulled billions of dollars out of its flagship bond fund, the Pimco Total Return Fund. In the past 12 months, the fund lost 4 per cent, according to FactSet.

The son of an Egyptian diplomat, El-Erian worked at the International Monetary Fund for 15 years, eventually rising to deputy director. After a stint at Citigroup, he joined Pimco where he made a name as a shrewd investor in emerging market bonds.

El-Erian then left to head a group that invests Harvard University's endowment and other related money. He bought emerging-market stocks, and used derivatives to bet on stocks elsewhere and on commodities. He rejoined Pimco in 2008.

"I have been extremely honoured and fortunate to work alongside Bill Gross, who is one of the very best investors in the world," El-Erian said in a statement. He added that he wished the group "continued success."

Pimco said El-Erian will remain on the Allianz International executive committee and advise Allianz on global economic and policy issues.

Allianz CEO Michael Diekmann said the company was pleased that it "will continue to profit" from El-Erian's expertise, including his global network and knowledge of economics.

The company said that Pimco's global head of talent management, Jay Jacobs, would become president, and it announced three other executive promotions.

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AP Business Writer Dave Koenig contributed to this report from Dallas.

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