Frank Byrne was let go last week as UBS' head of structured-products underwriting and origination, 18 months after he was hired to spearhead growth in those areas, according to sources familiar with the situation.
A UBS spokesperson confirmed Byrne’s departure but declined to comment further. She said Ken Cohen, who joined UBS in May to head up the bank’s real estate and CMBS businesses, has replaced Byrne as global had of ABS and MBS underwriting and origination.
Cohen was previously at G2 Partners, a real estate finance and consulting firm, and earlier ran trading and loan origination for Lehman Brothers’ real estate finance and CMBS businesses.
Byrne joined UBS after being pushed out of Deutsche Bank by Elad Shraga, who continues to run all of structured credit at the bank. Byrne was then hired by Rajeev Misra, UBS’ global head of credit and head of fixed income, currencies, and commodities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Misra also had worked at Deutsche Bank, where he headed credit trading, securitization and commodities and was a member of Deutsche’s global markets executive committee.
Byrne built up his team at UBS, hiring Deutsche alumni including managing director Paul Vambutas and director James Murphy. They had left Deutsche’s student loan unit to run student loans at UBS. He also hired Ken Mulford, who had worked at now defunct Ameriquest, a major MBS issuer, to run the MBS unit.
Byrne could not be contacted. A source familiar with the situation said UBS’s “legacy issues,” including massive volumes of auction-rate securities on its books from a settlement with regulators to buy back $20 billion of the failed securities, have tightened up UBS’ available capital and risk tolerance.
Although Byrne was seeking to build UBS’s mainline ABS businesses, such as auto loans and credit cards, competition in those markets pushed UBS to more esoteric deals.
“If there are already legacy issues, how much risk tolerance is the bank going to have for esoteric deals? It’s much tougher to get those deals through [the credit committee],” the source said.