Steven Ricciardi will start work at Rothschild on Feb. 1, according to an industry source. Ricciardi was a senior in the ABS sales effort at Prudential Securities before the firm cut its fixed income division late last year.

Rothchild lost a team of ABS pros to West LB in November. The firm also recently hired Pablo Saez, who had been a vice president at Prudential.

Peggy Wallace, Paul Scialabba, Deborah Murnin, Mark Golombeck and Dan McGarvey are no longer with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Wallace was a managing director, while Scialabba and Murnin were both vice presidents at Chase Securities. Golombeck was an associate and McGarvey was a vice president at J.P. Morgan.

Arthur Levitt, chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission, will end his seven and a half year term before the end of this month, but has not set a specific date. He had originally planned to step down in mid-February.

Deborah Reif begins her new position today as chief executive officer of Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. She replaces Ann Stern, who left to pursue other interests. Reif previously held the position of vice president of global risk management at GE Capital Corp.

Greenwich Capital Markets has hired Scott Graham as senior vice president and head of the government agency group and Shrikant Ramamurthy as senior vice president and agency strategist for the group. Both will report to Ed Orenstein, managing director and head of the liquid products group. Graham previously was with Prudential Securities, as the head of its government agency group. Ramamurthy also came over from Pru, where he worked as agency strategist and head of fixed-income research.

Merrill Lynch hired five former Prudential Securities commercial mortgage bond traders to leverage its operations. John Mulligan, former head of commercial mortgage trading at Prudential, joins as do Jake Kaercher, Mark Hansen, Joseph Accurso and Matt Callahan, all traders.

News

Textron Financial is said to be planning its first-ever franchise loan-backed deal for either late in the first quarter or during the second quarter of the year, according to market sources.

In addition to its own origination, the company bought a franchise lending division from Conseco Finance in October 1999.

Textron is a veteran issuer in the equipment lease-backed sector, having launched its first deal in 1997, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data. Textron was last in the market with an equipment lease-backed deal worth nearly $300 million. Salomon Smith Barney was lead manager on the transaction.

Credit Suisse First Boston is reported to be arranging a bond for FIFA, the world's soccer governing body. The transaction is said to be backed by the sale of marketing rights connected to the next World Cup, which will take place in Japan and Korea. The bond issue is expected in the second quarter of this year. The transaction size has not been confirmed, but is estimated to be around $1 billion.

The Bank of Scotland is preparing its second MBS under Mound Financing (No.2). It will issue $650 million and GBP300 million floating-rate notes. "This is the second issuance by the Bank of Scotland out of its mortgage trust set up in April 2000," said Karen Naylor, director at Standard & Poor's Structured Finance Ratings Group in London. The Bank of Scotland pioneered the use of the first U.K. residential mortgage-backed master trust securitization in April 2000. Citibank/Schroder Salomon Smith Barney are the underwriters.

VerticalNet Inc. and SierraCities.com Inc. have cancelled their proposed merger citing deteriorating conditions in the stock market. Since the announcement of the merger in early November, shares of VerticalNet dropped 83%. No breakup fee will be paid.

Freddie Mac has priced $6 billion of 5.25% five-year, dollar-denominated Reference Notes due Jan. 15, 2006. The issue was priced at 99.528 to yield 5.359%, or 66 basis points over the on-the-run 5.75% five-year Treasury security due November 2005. The issue will be settled Jan. 16. Heading the transaction were Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and UBS Warburg. Including this sale, Freddie Mac has $133.5 billion in outstanding Reference Notes and Bonds.

Fannie Mae's mortgage portfolio grew at an annualized 22.4% rate in December, bringing total mortgage debt held to $607.4 billion from November's $596.3 billion, the agency said Thursday. The annualized growth rate is the third highest of the year, following October's 26.5% and November's 25.1%. Net mortgage-backed securities outstanding grew at an annualized 10.4% in December to $706.7 billion. The mortgage market saw originations of total single-family mortgages slightly exceed $1 trillion in 2000, Fannie Mae said. The agency said it expected single-family originations for 2001 to reach $1.4 trillion, which would be the second highest volume ever recorded.

Spain's Banco Santender Central Hispano (BSCH) officially purchased Brazil's Banco del Estado de Sao Paulo (Banespa) on Dec. 28, 2000 for R$95 per 1,000 shares with a 58% premium on the preferred shares and a 53% premium on common shares. The purchase follows BSCHs purchase offer of $3.6 million in November for 30% control of Banespa (ASRI 12/4/00 p. 9). BSCH intends to gain 100% control of Banespa in the future. Market participants view the acquisition positively for Banespa and negatively for BSCH, as Banespa employees have a strong and united union of employees.

Separately, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has assigned an A- rating to BSCH - Chile's $300 million senior and subordinated debt Euro medium-term notes program. Additionally S&P placed the subordinated debt on CreditWatch with negative implications. S&P affirmed it's BSCH's local currency rating A-/A-1 will remain on CreditWatch with negative implications, where it was placed after the successful bid to acquire Banespa in November.

GMAC-Residential Asset Securities Corp. has filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission to offer as much as $8 billion in home loan securities. Details as to when the issuance would occur was not available.

Washington Mutual Inc. is readying a sale of a $1.987 billion mortgage-backed security pool of adjustable-rate mortgage loans. The deal only has one triple-A rated tranche, while there are seven subordinate tranches. Bear, Stearns & Co. is lead managing the deal.

Standard & Poor's Rating Services has upgraded Brazil's sovereign rating to BB- from B+. The upgrade demonstrates the country's improved economic environment from the hardships it suffered following the Real crisis in 1999. Reflecting the same view, Moody's Investors Service upgraded Brazil's sovereign in October 2000 to B1 and Fitch has assigned a BB- rating to the country.

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