Moody's Investors Service announced recently that it is to expand the number of structured finance analysts at its European offices in London, Madrid, Paris and Milan. It said that the increase in staff was a reflection of the growing and increasingly diverse European market.

In the same week the agency announced key appointments in the wake of Robbin Connor departing his position as head of the European structured finance group. Frederic Drevon, currently managing director for Asian structured finance, will move to London to co-head the European group with Detlef Scholz, who presently is a managing director at Moody's London office.

Drevon, who will take up his post in June, will take responsibility for asset-backed ratings, such as CDOs and non-traditional asset classes, while Scholz will have overall accountability for mortgage-backed deals.

Following Catherine Gerst's departure as head of Moody's Paris office, Drevon will also assume her responsibilities of heading the French and Italian offices. The agency has also appointed team leaders in its Spanish, Italian and French locations.

Paul Mazataud takes up the position in Paris, Alain Debuysscher in Milan, and Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid. Dominic Swan will head a London-based team of five covering structured programs, such as repackaged bonds, leveraged investment conduits and mortgage bond programs.

Connor has left London and the ratings business entirely to take up a post with the insurance company ACE in the sunnier climes of Bermuda. Gerst has also embarked on a different career path, joining the small French bank, Gimar Finance.

Although the agency expects to increase the number of European ratings analysts by 15 to 55 by the end of this year, some offices will see immediate new appointments. Milan will now have three analysts and Madrid will get one additional new member of staff.

Drevon's move from Hong Kong to London also means changes to Moody's structure in the Asia Pacific. There will no longer be a person in overall charge of the region, but power will shift to local offices. Naoki Yamauchi in Tokyo and Jennifer Elliot in Sydney will run their own operations, while Min Ye will run the business in Asia excluding Japan and Australia from Hong Kong.

All of the offices are looking to recruit new staff during the course of the year, though Drevon acknowledged that there will be a particular stress on the busiest markets of Japan and Australia.

John Speaks will continue to oversee ratings in South Korea and is working closely with Moody's joint venture partners, Korea Investors Service.

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