News

Several healthcare providers have filed for bankruptcy protection in the last few weeks, attributing their woes to National Century Financial Enterprises (NCFE) and its failure to continue its contractual funding obligations, and lawsuits have been initiated.

Med Diversified, which shares a common equity investor with NCFE (i.e. former NCFE CEO Lance Poulsen), has filed a $1 billion lawsuit against NCFE, Bank One Corp., and J.P. Morgan Chase. Meanwhile, board members in NCFE have brought on turnaround and restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal to try to straighten out the NCFE mess. Currently three senior members of Alvarez are onsite at NCFE in Dublin, Ohio. They are David Coles, Peter Briggs and Ira Genser. Briggs has a strong background in securitization, a spokesperson for Alvarez said.

PEOPLE

Taking advantage of the flood of talent that has hit the street recently, Barclays Capital has hired Giuseppe Pagano as a director in its asset securitization group. Pagano's focus will be credit card securitization. Until recently, Pagano had been a vice president in JPMorgan Securities' asset-backed group. Pagano will report to Michael Wade, head of U.S. structured finance for Barclays.

The recent management shakeup at credit card monoline The Metris Companies did not impact any of the executives with which ABS players are familiar. The week before last, John Witham was named as the company's new chief financial officer, replacing Benson Woo, who is now a senior vice president. David Wesselink and Ralph Than remain as vice chairmen and treasurer, respectively and Scott Fjellman as assistant treasurer.

MISCELLANEOUS

Swiss bank holding company UBS AG announced last week that it would drop the Warburg and PaineWebber names from its investment banking units, effective the second half of 2003. This follows similar re-brandings from Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, which is in the process of dropping the Salomon Smith Barney name.

Hahn & Hessen LLP is relocating its offices to 488 Madison Avenue (at 51st Street). The relocation will be completed on Nov. 4. This marks the first time the law firm has relocated since it was founded over 70 years ago. Founded in 1931, Hahn & Hessen is a national law firm that delivers a broad base of financial and commercial legal services.

RATINGS

In a letter to SEC secretary Jonathan G. Katz, Fitch Ratings set forth its views on the role and function of rating agencies in the operation of securities markets. This is in anticipation of the hearings on credit rating agencies scheduled on Nov. 15 and 21

The rating agency said Moody's and S&P are a dual monopoly, each having this power over a market that has grown to demand two ratings. Fitch added that through "notching" the two agencies are successfully altering competition in CMBS or RMBS by leveraging their monopoly position in other markets. Fitch said that if the SEC wants to address barriers to entry in the ratings market, the Commissioners should consider enacting rules that stop anticompetitive conduct by NRSROs and precluding them from discriminating against the ratings by other NRSROs to preserve market share.

On Nov. 6, Fitch Ratings downgraded the B class of the 2002-D Providian Gateway Master Trust to A-' from A', due to deteriorating performance, leaving investors open to declare an early amortization event. Class A and B bondholders are not expected to ratify the early payout, as the bonds are scheduled to amortize next month.

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has assigned its preliminary A-' rating to the certificates issued by Core Investment Grade Bond Trust I - the first time the S&P has rated a deal wherein the rating reflects the credit risk characteristics of an index rather than a CDO. As such, the performance characteristics are analyzed from the perspective of ownership of an entire portfolio as opposed to a horizontal slice of risk in a pool. The rating is based on the average credit quality of the underlying portfolio as represented in the principal value default risk associated with the possibility of losing some part of the attendant projected cash flow, including the coupons.

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