Street veteran Bob Johnson recently joined Banc of America Securities' New York office to head up the firm's mortgage-related institutional sales and trading division. Formerly of Prudential Securities, Johnson brought along with him co-workers Ike Kearney and David Clifford from Prudential, as well as Betsy Comerford from the former DLJ. Until now, there were several vacancies left in BofA's mortgage staff, mainly because Chase Securities raided several senior members last year from BofA's New York and Charlotte offices. Among the former BofA employees scooped up by Chase were Kevin Blainey, Scott Auker and Gilio Michaud. Sources say a fourth senior executive went to Lehman Brothers. Johnson ran institutional sales and research for taxable fixed-income at Prudential.

BofA is specifically trying to beef up its mortgage desk in the hopes of expanding its secondary trading activity, and the firm considers the hires a logical extension of its business as new issuance grows.

"This growth is in line with the overall effort on the part of the bank to increase its efforts on the mortgage product," Johnson said last week.

BofA ranked No. 8 for RMBS managers for first-quarter 2001, with $4.11 billion in business and 6% of market share, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data, and has consistently ranked No. 8 or 9 in recent years. For year-to-date 2000, BofA ranked No. 9, with $7.57 billion in MBS underwritten.

Ambac will welcome Nancy S. Fox as the managing director for the company's new Sydney, Australia office. Fox will head the new office, which is scheduled to open on April 30. She will report to Douglas C. Renfield-Miller, managing director who is responsible for efforts in Asia, Australia and the emerging markets. Most recently, Fox was managing director and head of asset securitization in the structured finance division of ABN Amro, Sydney.

Akiva Dickstein has started at Merrill Lynch as an MBS researcher and CMO trader. Dickstein was formerly with Lehman Brothers.


Although XL Capital Assurance maintains that it has no formal relationship with the rating agency, other sources said that the surety is pursuing a triple-A rating from Moody's Investors Service.

XLCA went public with its triple-A from Standard & Poor's and Fitch late last fall, and has since developed a small market share in the international markets.

Meanwhile, the surety has recently added two managing directors, Philip Henson and Alistair Buchan, to its project finance group. Both report to Wynne Morriss, a senior managing director heading up the structured single risk group.

Standard & Poor's has unveiled a new global servicer evaluation seal of approval to distinguish companies that have proven resources and capabilities as a servicer. The symbol is expected to attract industry participants to the companies that rank in the top tier according to S&P.

Standard & Poor's has placed its ratings on Franchise Finance Corp. of America on CreditWatch with positive implications. Additionally, S&P affirmed the company's triple-B-minus corporate credit and senior unsecured notes ratings. The rating action will impact $623 million of rated securities and comes on the heels of Franchise Finance's agreement to be acquired by GE Capital Commercial Equipment Financing (GECCEF), a business unit of GE Capital.

Contrary to what sources told ASR, Fitch had downgraded five Argentine structured transactions two weeks ago as a result of the downgrade it had placed on the country's sovereign rating. Additionally, last week Fitch further downgraded three transactions and Standard & Poor's also downgraded the same 13 transactions again, while Moody's Investors Service affirmed some of the Argentine structured transaction ratings.


Standard & Poor's lowered Ecuador's sovereign rating to CCC+ from B- and placed it on rating on negative from stable. The rating agency said the country is facing tough times after a proposal to increase the value-added tax (VAT) was rejected. The proposed VAT increase was for 3% and was expected to increase revenue by 1.5%. Furthermore, it is likely that Ecuador will not reach it's government borrowing commitment.

The Republic of Colombia will issue $1 billion in amortizing notes, due April 2011. Standard and Poor's has assigned a BBB rating to the notes, three notches above the sovereign ceiling as a result of the guarantee provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, part of the World Bank). The deal is the third of it's kind with a rolling guarantee from the IBRD, the second from Latin America. Goldman Sachs & Co. and J.P. Morgan are underwriting the deal and it is expected to close today.

Standard and Poor's assigned a national scale rating of mxA to the City of San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The credit rating reflects the country's credit strength.


April 23-24: Washington D.C.-The Strategic Research Institute presents the second annual forum on Securitization of Student Loans. For more information visit or call 888-666-8514.

April 24-26: Geneva, Switzerland-Arthur Anderson and Commerzbank Securities will sponsor the third annual ABS Summit Exhibition. The conference will cover structural innovations and technical breakthroughs in European securitization for enhanced credit and balance sheet management. For more information visit or call 44-207-915-5103.

May 15-18: Paris, France-The Strategic Research Institute will hold The Fourth Annual Global Securitization Symposium. For more information, visit or call 888-666-8514.

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