The Structured Finance Industry Group’s first executive director hails from an issuer.

Before heading up the trade association, Richard Johns was a managing director and head of global funding and liquidity at Ally Financial.

Also, last month the SFIG said that its 18-person interim board of directors has begun to select formal board members. The process is expected to be completed by mid-year. Members who joined SFIG prior to April 30, 2013 are deemed “founding members” and are eligible for consideration for board membership as well as for committee chairs.

Johns, 45, will report to SFIG’s board, currently chaired by Reggie Imamura. The new executive director has more than 16 years of experience in securitization. Prior to joining Ally in 2010, Johns worked at Capital One Financial as head of global capital markets and MBNA —now Bank of America — in the corporate finance sector.

Johns told ASR that as regulations are being crafted, the group will be able to bring to the table a “consensus position from across the whole industry.” 

Imamura said that core to SFIG’s mission is representing the broad membership of “all major parties that are critical to the securitization industry.”

SFIG also announced last month that it will be headquartered in Washington D.C. with plans to maintain a strong presence in New York.  The group is currently looking to hire additional staff, including a director of advocacy.

The group was formed in March by members who split from another trade group, the American Securitization Forum. SFIG has already stepped into some of the ongoing regulatory developments, both in the US and globally.

Mayer Brown Hires CLO Expert Berkovich

Law firm Mayer Brown has hired Lawrence Berkovich to be part of its Charlotte office. Berkovich was hired as a partner in the firm’s banking and finance practice. He was previously a counsel with Dechert in Charlotte.
Berkovich focuses on complex structured finance transactions, specifically broadly syndicated and middle-market collateralized loan obligations; both first mortgage and mezzanine commercial real estate loan securitizations (CRE CLOs/CDOs); as well as rated and unrated leveraged loan and commercial real estate loan warehouse facilities.

He was principal outside counsel to a major investment bank in developing its CLO and warehousing platform.

The new hire also has extensive expertise in derivative products.

“Larry has extensive experience and a proven record of success in handling a wide range of complex structured finance matters for domestic and international financial institutions, with a particular emphasis on CLO transactions,” said Carol Hitselberger, Charlotte office leader of the firm’s banking and finance practice.

“Mayer Brown’s strong banking & finance practice and international footprint provide the ideal platform for me to leverage my extensive CLO and general structured finance experience to provide superior client service while expanding my practice,” Berkovich said.

PCS Adds Buyside Pro

The Prime Collateralised Securities initiative announced last month that Will Howard Davies of PIMCO will serve on its market committee. Davies is a portfolio manager at PIMCO, responsible for RMBS and residential mortgages.

The group said last month that Davies will bring his more than 14 years of securitization buyside expertise to the group.

PCS is the securitization Kitemark launched last June, designed to identify securitizations that meet predefined best practice standards with regard to quality, transparency, simplicity and standardization.

MoFo Adds CMBS Veteran

Lawrence Ceriello has joined Morrison & Foerster’s real estate finance group in New York as a partner.
The firm said last month that Ceriello advises commercial lenders, investment banks, life insurers, hedge funds and others in major real estate transactions, particularly those involving complex debt financings and securitizations.

Ceriello joins MoFo from Nixon Peabody, where he was a partner.  He has over two decades of experience originating large commercial real estate loans, with an emphasis on loans included in CMBS.
Ceriello has also worked on mezzanine debt and workouts of distressed real estate, as well as other areas of finance.

Brent Lewis Joins Hunton & Williams

Brent Lewis has joined Hunton & Williams’ structured finance and securitization practice as counsel in New York.

Lewis joins the firm from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, where he was an associate.

He has a background in the residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market, representing market-leading issuers and underwriters on hundreds of public and private securitization and resecuritization transactions. He has also served as issuer’s and underwriter’s counsel in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) transactions.

Cantor Bulks Up on CLOs

Cantor Fitzgerald said last month that it has added four structured credit professionals and is planning to expand the business to underwrite new collateralized loan obligations in the U.S. and Europe.

“The creation of a primary CLO desk is a natural and substantial progression of our presence in the secondary CLO space,” chief executive Shawn P. Matthews said in a press release. 

Florian Bita has joined Cantor in New York as a managing director. He will be responsible for the U.S. secondary trading team and also help build out Cantor’s primary issuance capabilities, alongside James Keller.

Another hire, Jason Eppleston, came on as head of structured credit origination in Europe.  He will be responsible for setting up a platform and managing the origination and structuring of collateralized debt obligations and other securitized products.

Meanwhile, Damian Horton has joined Cantor as a CDO structurer and deal originator and Martin Deville as managing director and ABS trader, covering UK Prime RMBS, European Consumer ABS and GBP fixed rate ABS.

S&P Names Global Head Structured Finance

Standard & Poor’s has named Jim Wiemken as senior managing director and global head of structured finance, according to an internal memo. The deparment has been without an official head since a 2011 reshuffling. Wiemken is a 15-year veteran of S&P; most recently he was lead analytical manager for covered bonds, structured credit and CMBS based in London. 

In his new role, which he assumes July 1, Wiemkin will directly manage all aspects of the structured finance business in North America and provide leadership and coordination for the global structured finance department. He will be based in New York and will report to Paul Coughlin, global head of analytics and operations. 

Palmer Square Hires Jeffrey Fox

Palmer Square Capital Management, an investment management firm that provides portfolios of structured credit, collateralized loan obligations and hedge fund strategies, has added Jeffrey Fox as executive director.

Fox reports to Angie Long, Palmer Square’s chief investment officer. His primary focus will be on managing the analytics, trading and modeling behind the firm’s structured credit and CLO platform.

He will also play a key role in new product development and working with the rating agencies.

Fox draws upon more than a decade of fixed income experience, most recently serving as a managing director at Sandler O’Neill and Partners.

Palmer Square is part of Montage Investments, a diverse group of institutional investment managers that together manage more than $15 billion for a wide range of investors.

Sifma Names New CEO

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association named former New Hampshire governor and U.S. senator Judd A. Gregg as its next chief executive officer. Gregg is known for advocating bipartisan approaches to balancing the national budget.

Gregg succeeds Tim Ryan, who left in February to join JPMorgan Chase and Co., the nation’s largest banking firm, as its global head of regulatory strategy and policy.

The financial industry advocacy group said Kenneth E. Bentsen Jr., who had been acting as president and CEO since Ryan’s departure, will stay on as president.

Gregg, a Republican, is a former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. He and another former U.S. Senator, North Dakota Democrat and also a former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, are known as progenitors of a proposal for reshaping the U.S. finances known from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, often called the Simpson-Bowles plan.

Early in May, Gregg said the country was not as far off from a deal to curb its budget deficit.

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