Janus Capital Group has picked a Pacific Investment Management Co veteran as its chief executive, ending a months-long search for a new leader at the Denver-based stocks mutual fund firm.

Richard Weil, a lawyer who heads PIMCO Advisory, will take on the task of growing Janus' $151 billion in assets -- and possibly broadening the type of funds it sells -- at a time when many retail investors favor bonds over stocks in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

One of the most important things Richard Weil will have to address is whether Janus can make it on its own or have to consolidate with a partner, said mutual fund industry consultant Geoff Bobroff. He will face a lot of challenges, but he's also got billions of dollars in assets to work with.

Weil, 46, will move to Colorado from California to take up his new post on February 1. He succeeds Gary Black, who resigned unexpectedly in July. Director Tim Armor has served as interim Janus CEO.

Janus is well known for the dazzling investment returns it delivered in the 1990s, but the 41-year-old company stumbled somewhat in the last decade. Performance suffered during the equities bear market, and Janus was also involved in the industrywide market timing scandal.

Black, a former Goldman Sachs executive who was recruited by Janus as chief investment officer in 2004, became CEO in January 2006. He was credited with putting a new face on the company by shifting away from its star manager system to a more team-based approach. But he also ruffled a lot of feathers, former executives and analysts said.

Black had sought to sell the company, according to sources, but was rebuffed by Janus' board of directors, which decided to raise capital instead.

Now Janus is looking to Weil to shape the company for the years ahead. For starters, Janus wants to diversify its portfolio to include more international funds. One goal is to have 33 percent of its assets invested in international securities, up from 8 percent right now, Janus chairman and former CEO Steve Scheid said.

Janus funds have done well recently, but many stock fund firms are battling for new assets at a time when investors are still skittish about jumping back into stocks.

Weil, a Duke and University of Chicago graduate who worked at PIMCO for 13 years and was COO from 2000 to 2009, will have to convince both investors and analysts that he will be able to lead Janus. Before PIMCO, he worked at Bankers Trust Global Asset Management and the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Investors' initial reaction to news of Weil's appointment was tepid: Janus shares slipped 2 percent to $14.03.

To some analysts, Weil's selection raised eyebrows because he does not have an investment management background and is moving to a stock fund firm after having spent most of his career at the world's most famous bond investor.

He is not a household name in the investment area and seems to have the strong capabilities in the institutional side, while Janus is really better known for retail investing, Bobroff said.

Still, the move was hailed as a new chapter for Janus, which has had three CEOs -- Mark Whiston, Steve Scheid and Black -- in the last decade.

We are pleased to see the CEO search come to an end and see two implications: renewed leadership and a reassertion that the company is not for sale, J.P. Morgan analyst Kenneth Worthington wrote.

And Scheid said Weil has the skills to succeed.

We don't feel like we needed to hire another great equity professional, we feel like we have got that talent inside the company already, he said.

In the last 52 weeks, Janus shares have performed well, surging 48.34 percent.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; additional reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston, Dan Wilchins and Elinor Comlay in New York; editing by John Wallace)