SunTrust Robinson Humphrey's CDO team has left the company, despite the firm's plans for growth in the sector in 2007 and a media push to promote it.

The Atlanta-based bank lost 13 members of its CDO team, including its head James Bennison, who left to start up Terminus Asset Management Co., a CDO manager in the structured credit space also based in Atlanta, according to a source close to the newly formed company.

As of press time, SunTrust had shifted several people from within its structured product group to help fill the gap. SunTrust's asset management unit had anticipated issuing four deals this year - three backed by structured products and one by trust preferred securities - totaling some $3.5 billion dollars.

The firm serves as both an underwriter and an asset manager to its deals, closing its first ABS CDO, Ansley Park, in December. The $600 million mid-grade transaction was backed by a portfolio of structured products, with a weighted average rating of single-A. SunTrust coined the deal, structured between a high-grade and mezzanine transaction, as the first of its kind.

Other CDO issuance under the SunTrust umbrella comes from affiliates Baker Street Asset Management and Seix Advisors, which have each brought two leveraged loan-backed deals to market in the last two years. Eric Storch heads up Seix's CLO business and Ian Burt runs the Baker Street operation.

SunTrust would not comment on the pipeline of deals. "The important thing to note is that we remain committed to the business, and we will continue to execute our strategies," said Michael McCoy, a spokesman for SunTrust. McCoy said the bank is looking to fill all of the vacancies and to re-establish the team.

Before losing its CDO team, SunTrust officials had said they had planned to add 50 or more hires this year to the company's then roster of 70 professionals, who cover the firm's various structured finance businesses. The bulk of the hires - which are expected to range from analysts to managing directors - are going to be done in the first half of the year, John Giegerich, managing director and head of asset securitization at the firm, said earlier this month.

(c) 2007 Asset Securitization Report and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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