Credit Suisse First Boston's asset-backed securities team, viewed initially by rival bankers as mere replacements to the top-ranked team that bolted CSFB more than a year ago, is turning out to be top-tier material in its own right.

The 70-person team, co-headed by former Prudential Securities Inc. ABS veterans Joseph Donovan and Gregory Richter, had a tough task when they and roughly 20 other Pru veterans moved uptown to CSFB's 11 Madison Avenue headquarters in March 2000. CSFB was reeling from the sudden departure only days earlier of Jorge Calderon and Phil Weingord, who had led CSFB to the top of the ABS underwriting heap in 1999. Unhappy with recent management changes, however, the pair defected to Deutsche Bank, taking dozens of top ABS traders, researchers and sales staff with them.

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