Former Morgan Stanley ABS pro Caroline Morrill has started in her new position as head of ABS syndicate at ABN AMRO, where she will be a managing director (see ASR 6/30/03). The addition of Morrill, a longtime veteran of ABS syndicate and trading, is the first piece in what is expected to be a fairly large ramp-up for its U.S. ABS group, following the defection of former group head John Mullen. Mullen resigned in early May. Morrill left her position at Morgan Stanley last fall.

Thacher Proffitt & Wood has named Gene Haldeman as counsel in the structured finance group in its New York office, the company reported. Haldeman joined TPW in 1993 as an associate and has focused on residential and commercial mortgage securitization as representative of both issuers and underwriters. Haldeman reports to partner Steve Kudenholdt. Thacher also announced Matthew Dyckman had been elected to partner and Allison Berman has also been named counsel.

Jeffrey Stern jumped to Strook & Stroock & Lavan from Thacher Proffitt & Wood, maintaining the title of partner. Through four-and-a-half years at Thacher, Stern built a practice that included Latin American names. His new tenure will open the door to services that are complementary to securitizations such as insurance, derivatives and bankruptcy. "I feel I can offer a rich suite of assets," Stern said. Latin America watchers might want to keep an eye on Stern's activities in Mexico, where sub-national and housing credits have been advancing into new assets over the last year. Thacher was counsel to a recent domestic currency program for the State of Mexico.

Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP named 28 new partners in seven of its offices worldwide. The appointments brought the number of partners at the firm to 576.

The new partners involved in securitization and structured finance are as follows: James Y Huang and Abimbola O. Oloko in New York; Colleen H. McDonald in San Francisco; and James V. Robertson in Tokyo.

Debt tracker Fitch Ratings announced last week that it would not rate securitizations containing Kentucky-originated loans that were deemed to be high cost under new legislation that went into effect June 24. Rival rating agency Standard & Poor's had previously announced that it would rate Kentucky-originated high cost loans, if the loans conformed to more strict standards.

Barclays Capital launched a GBP300 million mortgage-backed offering last week for Preferred Mortgage Ltd, backed by loans originated in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The deal featured all floating-rate classes, denominated in sterling and euros.

The regulators have provided relief - at least temporary - for banks that issue trust preferred securities, a major asset class for CDOs. This is at least the second instance in which the bank regulators have provided some sort of relief for banks

that are subject to changes

associated with FIN 46,

the Financial Accounting Standards Board new criteria for consolidation.

According to sources, two banks were able to restructure their conduits and issue expected-loss tranches in time for the FIN 46 deadline, which was last Monday. HSBC was able to close its subordinated tranche sale associated with its conduit Bryant Park Funding. A Moody's Investors Service 13-day wrap-up notes that several Citibank ABCP entities sold subordinated investments, though it was unclear at press time whether these were related to FIN 46 restructuring. The conduits include Citibank's Apreco, Ciesco, CRC Funding and CXC. Moody's notes that the Bank of Tokyo's Arcadia Funding was modified so that its issuance is eligible for the Bank of Japan's new ABS purchase initiative (see ASR 6/23).

Recruiting firm Morgan Stampfl has clients seeking associate-level CLO and term ABS structured finance professionals. The firm is also seeking senior sales and distribution candidates for term ABS. Interested parties are directed to morganstampfl.com for contact info.

Private mortgage insurance companies wrote $35.4 billion of new policies in May, increasing 14.6% from April's $30.9 billion, reported the Mortgage Insurance Cos. of America. Of that total, $29.3 billion came from the traditional channel and $6.1 billion from the bulk channel. According to a report by Citigroup, a major issue in confronting the industry is growing defaults. The cure/default ratio fell from 104.0% in April to 81.3% in May.

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