It was one of the most extraordinary meetings in the history of the bond market. Two of the biggest-ever names in fixed-income investing, Bill Gross and Jeffrey Gundlach, fierce rivals who had never previously talked, held a secret meeting over glasses of lemonade, water, and plates of crudites about whether to join forces.

In the week of Sept. 15, just before Gross shocked the investment world on Sept. 26 by storming out of Pimco, he approached Gundlach and dropped a bombshell. According to Gundlach, Gross said he was about to be fired by the firm he had helped launch more than four decades ago and had built into a $2 trillion investment powerhouse.

Gross disclosed he had been toying with quitting for some time after Pimco erupted in turmoil earlier this year when Gross' heir apparent, Mohamed El-Erian, left the firm, sparking a public falling out between the two long-time colleagues. And Gross also told Gundlach he had been in talks with another firm some six months ago. He did not say which firm it was, Gundlach said.

Reuters first reported the meeting between Gross and Gundlach, who runs DoubleLine Capital, the day of Gross' departure from Pimco for Janus Capital Group. Gundlach has now provided Reuters with a much fuller picture of how the meeting came to pass and what they discussed over three hours on the north loggia of Gundlach's Los Angeles home.

Gross declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this story or to confirm Gundlach's account of their meeting. Representatives for Pimco, a unit of German insurer Allianz SE , and Janus, which is a much smaller player in the asset management business, declined to comment. DoubleLine has been among the firms to benefit as investors have ditched Pimco following Gross's departure.

Prankster Fear

Gundlach said that Gross called him out of the blue.

"Bill called through the DoubleLine switchboard," said Gundlach.

Skeptical that it was really Gross, Gundlach said he "told the receptionist to take a number and then call it to verify it was not some prankster. A couple of hours later I called Bill from home."

In that initial phone conversation, Gundlach said: "Bill came out and told me: 'Pimco doesn't want me anymore.' And I said, 'That is an unbelievably stupid decision.'"

"Then he told me, 'They are going to push the button and fire me.' To which I said, "This is really distressing."

"They" were the members of Pimco's executive committee, chaired by Pimco Chief Executive Doug Hodge.

Hodge and Pimco President Jay Jacobs, through a Pimco spokesman, declined to comment for this story.

Gross' position at Pimco had grown precarious in the months since El-Erian left. The firm's flagship fund, the Pimco Total Return Fund, run by Gross personally, was underperforming and bleeding assets through redemptions. Sources have told Reuters that Gross had clashed repeatedly with Hodge and the executive committee, threatening to quit on several occasions. He finally did quit for Janus, hours before the committee was planning to dismiss him.

Gundlach said he told Gross he sympathized with him as Gundlach himself had been fired in 2009 by TCW Group, at the time owned by French bank Societe Generale SA, in a dispute over management and control of the firm's fixed-income business.