ABN AMRO is restructuring its securitization department. The Dutch bank's U.S. conduit, term and CLO businesses will be combined into one Asset Repackaging division, which will become part of the bank's global securitization effort.

"I think it's a smart move to have a global head of asset securitizations that will also be in charge of the U.S. operations," said a source familiar with the restructuring. "I never understood why they had separate areas."

Dennis O'Malley, head of conduit securitizations in the U.S., will be in charge of Asset Repackaging and will report to ABN's global head of asset securitizations, Tariq Rafique. "We see a number of benefits from incorporating the U.S. part of the business into the global securitization department," said O'Malley. "Primarily the opportunity to lever off the people skills that we have in both divisions."

Rafique added: "The combination of these units would allow us to create a highly focused strategy to build our business on the back of considerable commercial relationships that the ABN AMRO group has in the U.S. market."

Separately, ABN also announced the hiring of Mark Lewis as director of origination and structuring within its Asset Securitization group in London. Lewis joins from CIBC, where he was head of European securitization. Previously he he held a similar position at UBS.

"Mark's experience will be invaluable in helping us grow our presence in the European securitization market," said Rafique.

Other recent hires include Alberto Basu, who joined in December from Nikko Principal Investments. Several additional hires are planned in the near future, Rafique added.

Meanwhile, market rumors suggest that ABN's securitization team is preparing a CLO backed by its own European loans that could be worth up to e4 billion. Rafique declined to comment on the suggestions.

Over at Merrill Lynch in London, Stephen West has left his position as head of European debt capital markets, after only five months in the job. A Merrill official said that the decision had been taken by mutual consent, while other insiders suggested a culture clash between the U.S. firm and West's previous experience in mostly European banks. He was immediately replaced by Bart Bronselear.

In the structured finance group itself, Dominique LeMaire was appointed to head the southern European structured finance effort. LeMaire was previously head of Latin American structured finance.

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