Pacific Investment Management Co. raised more than $1.5 billion for a private pool to buy assets from banks looking to strengthen their balance sheets, according to two people with knowledge of the fund raising.

The PIMCO Bravo Fund will buy debt such as troubled commercial and residential mortgages, and may invest directly in banks through securities such as warrants and convertible debt, said the people, who asked not to be named because the fund is private. PIMCO is still accepting money and expects to raise up to $3 billion before a final close this year.

PIMCO has raised at least $6.5 billion from institutional clients to buy troubled mortgages and bonds backed by real estate loans since the financial crisis began in late 2007.

“You’ve got community and regional banks out there that have been every quarter adding to their loss reserves,” said David Tobin, a principal at Mission Capital Advisors in New York, which advises banks on real estate debt.

PIMCO spokesman Mark Porterfield declined to comment.

The Bravo Fund will target smaller lenders and community banks and will be run by a team of PIMCO fund managers led by Dan Ivascyn, a portfolio manager in the mortgage and asset-backed securities group, and Scott Simon, head of the group, according to an investor briefed on the fund.

Similar funds include the PIMCO Distressed Mortgage Fund II LP, started in 2009, which has returned about 60% annually after fees, one of the people said.

The PIMCO Distressed Mortgage Fund LP, which opened in 2007 before the crisis peaked and lost almost a third of its value the following year, has produced annualized returns since its inception exceeding 10%, the person said.

Hedge funds investing in distressed securitized debt such as bonds backed by mortgages returned 28.7% on average last year, compared with 15.9% for funds focused on distressed corporate debt, according to the industry researcher HedgeFund.net.

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