Standard & Poor's has just ended a hiring spree of analysts for its structured finance ratings team in Tokyo. The recruitment comes in response to the rapid growth of Japan's ABS market.

The agency has recently hired two associate directors: Kaz Murakami, who previously worked at Industrial Bank of Japan, and Tomo Omuro, who worked at the former Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan and more recently at HypoVereinsbank in Tokyo.

The agency has also transferred to its Tokyo office Corwin Leung, who worked most recently in Hong Kong and Melbourne, and Andrea Bryan, a commercial mortgage-backed specialist, from New York. A second CMBS expert, Takenari Yamamoto, was hired as an associate. Yamamoto previously worked at Obayashi, a leading Japanese real estate development firm in Tokyo.

The entire structured finance team will report to Yu-Tsung Chang and Kenji Kondo. Chang continues to be heavily involved with structured finance transactions, even after being promoted to managing director and head of ratings services for S&P in Tokyo in January.

Moody's Investors Service in Japan has recently hired Koji Kumamaru as an assistant vice president and analyst in its structured finance group. Kumamaru was formerly a structured finance banker in the new products development department at DKB Securities in Tokyo.

The Korea Asset Management Corp. (Kamco) has announced it will issue its first foreign currency-denominated ABS backed by non-performing loans in the Euromarket this year, but some agency officials are privately admitting the difficulty of doing such an issue. A feasibility study to be concluded in mid-February will decide whether or not it can be executed, said Kamco officials. Warburg Dillon Read and Deutsche Bank are advising the agency on the proposed issue.

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