While ABN AMRO made a splash last week when it announced it had hired three senior Asia-based bankers, speculation was rife that Credit Suisse First Boston is scaling back its ABS presence in the region. In fact, several well-placed sources confirmed that Greg Park, CSFB's current head of Asian securitization, would be leaving the firm this summer.

Park's expected departure follows that of the second-in-command, Paul Chu, who recently left CSFB to return to Clifford Chance.

According to one recruiter, Park will take some time off and likely reemerge at a new firm later on this year. The recruiter added that, there is no indication so far that CSFB is looking to replace Park or Chu. This has led rival banks to question whether CSFB will run its ex-Japan business from Tokyo - similar in strategy to JPMorgan Securities - or back out of the ex-Japan Asia market entirely.

Despite the intense speculation, a CSFB official in Hong Kong commented to the contrary. "CSFB has no plans to scale back [its] asset securitization team in Asia and remains committed to this business," the spokesperson said.

As evidence of that commitment, the bank is staging its Global ABS Symposium at a Hong Kong hotel next month, which seems to undermine rumors that the bank looking to get out of the market.

Regardless, ABN AMRO is clearly beefing up its efforts in the Asia market. The Dutch bank announced last week three new hires for its regional franchise, which is headed by Gary Watmore. Boudewijn Berger rejoins ABN in the Singapore office after a stint with Fortis Bank in the Netherlands. He will be responsible for product development. Principally, this will entail expanding the application of ABN's Orchid asset-backed commercial paper vehicle, as well as taking responsibility for developing the franchise in Thailand.

Furthermore, Mindi Lee has arrived from HypoVereinsbank's Asia group to focus on North Asia markets, including Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. Lee was involved in Taiwan's first cross-border deal for Cosmos Bank, jointly led by HVB and UBS, and has previous experience in the U.S. CMBS market for a number of firms. Lee has also worked for the International Monetary Fund.

Finally, ABN has boosted its India presence, hiring Nachiket Naik from Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services. Based in Mumbai, Naik will be responsible for bolstering product development and execution in India.

"Securitization in Asia continues to evolve, with greater emphasis on value-based solutions that focus on balance-sheet management and domestic market placement," said Watmore. "This expansion will allow us to develop deeper client relationships and the creation of tailored, multi-product solutions."

Copyright 2004 Thomson Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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