A shift of responsibilities at Fitch Ratings has moved some familiar names into new roles. Effective Jan 1, the moves include an expansion of the consumer asset group as well as the creation of a credit research group, which will follow developing trends in the market that may influence changes in ratings methodology.

"We recognize that we need to continue to be innovative and proactive in order to meet investors' developing needs," said Group Managing Director Doug Murray. "This reorganization reflects our ongoing desire to be the leading rating agency for ABS investors."

ABS analyst and managing director Mike Dean now runs all consumer asset classes of the ABS market, including auto loans, credit cards, student loans, consumer loans and tobacco settlement ABS. Dean continues to report to Managing Director Kevin Duignan, who runs the term ABS operations.

Bringing together the responsibility for auto loans with student loans, consumer loans as well as tobacco settlements "helps insure the appropriate analytical depth to support the growth in volume in the various consumer asset types," Fitch said.

Managing director Chris Mrazek, who formerly headed the auto loan effort, was appointed head of ABS credit research at Fitch. The position calls for him to oversee the development of ratings criteria and new risk-management methods across all sectors of ABS. Mrazek will work with the investor community in developing these new methods and then disseminate the information to the market.

Sean Sheerin, senior director and head of the new-asset group, will take on the added responsibility of integrating any new credit standards across all asset types within the ABS group. This includes screening new offerings currently in the rating process and improving collateral performance statistical analytics.

Additionally, the commercial ABS group, headed by Senior Director Wendy Cohn, will work more closely with the new-asset group. Cohn also retains her role in overseeing the investor relations group. Fitch has also moved Sara Grohl to New York from Chicago to join the investor relations team, reporting to Cohen.

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