Fresh off securing its first cryogenics laboratory, the resort city of Boca Raton welcomes the asset-backed community for the first time, as Information Manage- ment Network, in conjunction with Frank Fabozzi, host the ninth annual ABS East conference. Roughly 2,500 delegates are scheduled to descend upon the Boca Raton Resort & Club this week for four days of panel discussions, client dinners and, of course, schmoozing.
Since February, the last time the U.S. market gathered in such capacity, a few new failures and instances of corporate corruption have taken a toll on securitization. Many of the panel discussions at this go-around include issuer integrity/fraud, regulations and accounting, and trustee responsibilities.
There are even a few surprises for ABS East 2003. Thursday morning's opening general session, titled "Securitization Enters Uncharted Waters," will be the last hurrah for moderator Brian Clarkson, senior managing director at Moody's Investors Service. A pair of newcomers will join the cast this year, with Nomura Securities International ABS research director Mark Adelson, the sole sell-side research strategist on the panel, and JPMorgan Corporate Trust SeniorVicePresident Joe Giordano, who is present to defend the much-maligned role of the trustee.
IMN has added eight new panels in order to address issues that have emerged in recent months.
The newest phenomenon to rise out of the ABS market seems to be repeated blowups, which continue emerging, and this will be addressed with a pair of panel discussions slated for Thursday. The two are dubbed: Mitigating Servicer Fraud, and Bankruptcies - Restructuring Deals.
There is also expanded coverage of mortgage-related ABS, with sessions devoted to financial guaranty issues, home-equity lines of credit (HELOC) and a session devoted entirely to European MBS, a growing asset class on the global scale (see European roundup, p. 29). Also, a Pan-Asian region session addresses Japanese and Korean MBS in with Australian product, which had been a staple of past IMN conferences.
New asset classes added to the agenda include a session focusing on alternative student loan product and securitizing operating assets. Additionally, principal-protected structural enhancements will get a dedicated discussion.
What to do in Boca...
In addition to ZZ Top, who will play Thursday evening, banks have lined up the entertainment for the respective client dinners. For example, JPMorgan Securities has slated left-wing social satirist and author Al Frankin. Deutsche Bank, meanwhile, has lined up the comedy stylings of Paul Rodriguez - a self-proclaimed "Original Latin King of Comedy."
While ABS players had become accustomed to the yearly trip to Paradise Island, the new venue should not disappoint. The Boca Raton Resort & Club is a 356-acre, $325 million property, with nearly 1,000 guest rooms.
The grounds feature 18 tennis courts, three pools and a private beach. Of course, there is an 18-hole 6,253-yard par-71 PGA golf course on site, designed by the team of PGA tour pro Fred Couples and award-winning golf course architect Gene Bates. The course was rated in the top 100 golf courses in the U.S. in 1996 by Golf Magazine and has featured a PGA Skins Game
in the past.
There should be no lack of nightlife, as the resort grounds sport three bars and two lounges on site. The Monkey Bar features live music every night, from 9 p.m. till closing. Bill Malone's Magic Bar features roving magicians performing card tricks and other optical illusions tableside. For those seeking a more relaxed environment, the Luna Bar serves fine wines, including a $725 bottle of Jordan Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon. Last call in Boca Raton: 2 a.m.
The Marina offers a wide array of seafaring activities, including fishing boat and catamaran charters, racing boat rentals and scuba diving and snorkeling. The Spa Palazzo, described by Spa Magazine as "perhaps the most beautiful sanctuary of relaxation ever imagined," was designed to replicate the Alhambra on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.