Kathy Moon has joined Financial Guaranty Insurance Corp. (FGIC) to help start up the surety's CDO effort. Moon moves over from Financial Security Assurance (FSA), where she had been for roughly a year. Prior to that, Moon was at Fitch Ratings (then Fitch IBCA), specializing in CDOs since 1999.

Bill May, formerly a director in the CDO group at Moody's Investors Service, has been promoted to a team managing director in the derivatives group, sharing responsibilities with Isaac Efrat. The CDO group has been recently delineated as follows: Efrat and May will co-manage the synthetic and structured notes group, Gus Harris will oversee cashflow CDOs monitoring and research, and Jeremy Gluck will oversea re-securitizations, market-value products, and new asset classes.

The American Securitization Forum (ASF) officially elected its executive leadership last week, naming MBNA's Vernon Wright as chairman, SocGen's Greg Medcraft as deputy chairman, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw's Jason Kravitt as secretary, and Credit Suisse First Boston's Joseph Donovan as treasurer.

In addition to the above, the ASF also elected several other executive committee members, including Brian Clarkson of Moody's Investors Service, Dianne Wold of GMAC-RFC, Daniel Stachel of State Street Global Advisors, Marty Rosenblatt of Deloitte & Touche, James Murray of Citigroup and Cameron Cowen of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. The ASF has left several seats vacant to be filled over the next six months.

Also, the forum is currently looking to employ three full-time management and administrative staffers, including an executive director, an associate and an assistant.

After Michael Youngblood's departure from Banc of America, the bank is looking to build its ABS/MBS research group. BofA is anticipating making some new appointments shortly under the leadership of Sharad Chaudhary, the current head of the bank's ABS/MBS research. Chaudhary has assumed Youngblood's responsibilities.

TIAA-Cref has welcomed Bruce Maier as director of structured finance. Formerly an investor with Structure Finance Advisors (SFA), Maier will report to Sanjeev Handa in his new position.


Specialty buyout finance company American Capital Strategies Ltd plans to price its second-ever business loan-backed ABS in the coming week, sources confirmed.

The $147.3 million ACAS 2002-1 deal is led by Wachovia Securities, which led the company's first ABS -ACAS 2000-1 - in Dec. 2000, when the bank was still called First Union. The 144A deal has a $98.2 million senior class, with a 1.9-year average life talked talked in the 50bp area over one-month Libor range and a $49.1 million single-A-rated A2 class, with a 4.9 year average life, talked in the 150bp area over Libor.

A presale report for the issue is currently available on the Moody's Web site.

Italian auto maker Fiat S.p.A announced last week that it intended to sell up to $1 billion of tractor-loan-backed ABS in U.S. markets, as part of a broader effort to restructure its debt, according to published reports.

The issuer's most recent ABS, $850 million of vehicle loan receivables-backed paper from an issuance vehicle dubbed Absolute Funding SRL, which priced via Deutsche Banc last October.

According to Standard and Poor's, Banco Hipotecario SA, a leader in the development of the Argentine secondary mortgage market, has fallen to the fate of default, as have so many other Argentine entities. S&P has said that although funds continue to flow to investors, they are not in an amount and a denomination needed to satisfy the original terms of the trusts' obligations.

In a conference hosted by Standard and Poor's in Madrid, Spain last week, the rating agency announced new criteria for Spanish RMBS transactions. The new criteria entail a detailed analysis of Spanish mortgage originators' underwriting and servicing procedures. The criteria also take into account the performance of residential mortgages in the Spanish market, and the surveillance of rated Spanish RMBS transactions since the early 1990s. "We published the new criteria to accommodate the rapid growth and evolution of the Spanish RMBS sector," said Jose Ramn Tora, a director at S&P's structured finance ratings group in Madrid, who spoke at the conference.

At a conference in Madrid, Standard and Poor's announced it expects strong growth in the Iberian Peninsula in the year ahead following a strong 2001. According to Alain Carron, a director at S&P's structured finance ratings group who spoke at the conference, both Spain and Portugal registered their strongest years yet, coming in at a respective $10.4 billion and $3.8 billion.

"While volumes increased strongly, there is an emerging trend for larger issuances - both new and repeat - rather than more transactions, underscoring the markets' increased familiarity with the securitization process," Carron said. "Spain remains the dominant market of the two, but Portugal is set to enter the European league tables."


Fitch is near releasing an index on delinquencies in the equipment leasing ABS sector. The index should be rolled out by the end of the month.


In last week's Observation, contributed by Banc of America Securities' Structured Products Group, the sentence that began "Despite the record 2001 CDO defaults..." should have read "Despite the record 2001 CDO downgrades..."

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