Contrary to rumors circulating last week, Centre Pacific did not shed its entire CDO group, although the firm did in fact pull its Cascade CLO from the market, liquidating the loan warehouse facility in full profit, sources said.
According to Centre, the firm was concerned with the restructuring of the CDO effort at UBS Warburg, which was lead underwriter on the deal. Said Heather Creeden, Centre Pacific's CEO, "We decided to pull that deal from UBS because they restructured the CDO team. And we felt there was a lack of commitment."
Gina Hubbell, who was the lead structurer of corporate-backed cash CDOs at UBS, was transferred out of the group, now being run by Sal Nero. According to an insider at UBS, Nero is looking for a hire to replace Hubbell. The ABS CDO group is run by James Stehli and Lirenn Tsai, and is separate from the other groups, such as synthetics and corporate-backed cash CDOs.
Apparently, last week's confusion "centers" around a confluence of events: i.e., the liquidation of Centre Re's CDO portfolio and subsequent layoff of several staff members, combined with word spreading that Centre Pacific, in no way affiliated with the reinsurer, pulled its deal and had recently lost one of its analysts, Peter Lopez, who moved to Aegon.
Center Pacific is staffed by the former CDO team of Transamerica Investment Services, now a part of Aegon. Lopez is charged with managing a portfolio of investment grade exposures for Aegon.
According to Creeden, her group had worked with Hubbell several times over the years, as far back as 1996, when still at TransAmerica.
"We have the highest regard for Gina Hubbell," Creeden said. "We think she's one of the best structurers on the street."
Centre Pacific recently hired Susan Hughes, out of retirement, as its new chief financial officer. Apart from Hughes, the investment team is seven strong, and prior to the departure of Lopez, has not lost a team member in over three years. Centre has a staff of 13.
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