PIMCO said the exchange traded fund version of Total Return Fund is scheduled to list on March 1 in a move that will immediately alter the landscape for actively managed ETFs.

The launch will let investors buy a piece of the massive fund, which is piloted by Bill Gross, in an ETF format.

Reports surfaced in December that PIMCO was preparing to introduce the ETF in 2012. [PIMCO Total Return ETF on Tap for 2012?]

Truly active ETFs have yet to make a meaningful impact in the roughly $1 trillion ETF business. However, PIMCO’s Gross brings obvious name recognition and analysts expect an ETF offshoot of Total Return Fund to attract significant investor interest.

The bond guru stumbled in 2011 on some ill-timed Treasury bets although Total Return Fund has a glittering long-term track record.

Gross, speaking Tuesday at the 2012 ETF Virtual Summit, said PIMCO has high hopes for the Total Return ETF. The fund will trade under the ticker TRXT, according to a brief statement on PIMCO’s website.

“The move is viewed as a game-changer for actively managed ETFs, because Gross far and away would be the highest-profile fund manager to roll out a version of a mutual fund in an ETF wrapper,” Morningstar analyst Robert Goldsborough wrote Tuesday.

“We view the launch of this ETF as a win/win situation for everyone involved because other entrants in the active ETF space have shown us that, generally, the fees for investors are lower and the tax efficiency should be higher. What’s more, the launch of PIMCO Total Return ETF should demonstrate to all other active fund managers and experienced mutual fund firms that ETFs based on existing funds are feasible,” he added.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of John Spence, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.