UBS is adding to its securitization team worldwide as part of a larger initiative to significantly ramp up its asset-backed activity.

New hires will be made in the U.S., Europe and Asia, said Shahid Quraishi, managing director and global head of ABS. With the growth, the team is expected to reach a total of 90 to 100 people.

"This is a very big initiative in securitization globally, as we see a tremendous opportunity in that space," Quraishi said.

The expanded effort in the U.S. will target aviation, subprime and esoteric asset classes.

Paul Scialabba, an executive director who runs ABS and MBS banking, will head the effort to expand the subprime business.

Executive Director Karsten Berlage will be in charge of making further inroads into esoteric asset classes, particularly media, insurance and telecom. The expansion of the firm's aircraft ABS business will continue to be run by Executive Director Mostafiz Shahmohammed.

Although it is perceived as a troubled sector, UBS recently completed the largest aircraft securitization since 9/11, a late December deal for Aviation Capital Group backed by leases on 74 aircraft.

Quraishi sees a growth opportunity in aviation, despite the rating agencies giving mostly unenthusiastic reviews of that sector in their 2006 outlooks.

"We'd like to finance leveraged buyouts and do bridge acquisitions," he said, adding that there will be a global focus on seeking aircraft deals.

The UBS hiring binge also includes the secondary market. Richard Onkey, formerly of Morgan Stanley, has been hired as executive director to run the syndicate effort. He will report to Jack McCleary.

On the overseas front, Peter Shorthouse has been appointed head of European securitization. Shorthouse, who is based in London, took over the leadership role on a tentative basis six months ago, following the departure of Steve Skerret.

UBS also hired Steve Cook, formerly of Morgan Stanley, as executive director to head the firm's whole business and infrastructure securitization effort in Europe.

"We are building out our European securitization effort, including RMBS, CMBS, whole business and infrastructure, as well as our whole loan and non-performing loan capabilities," Quraishi said.

(c) 2006 Asset Securitization Report and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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