ABCP guru Sam Pilcer has resigned from his position as managing director and head of the conduit group at Moody's Investors Service, effective Aug 1. Pilcer, who had been with Moody's for more than 10 years, will continue working with Moody's as a consultant. Senior Vice President Claire Robinson will take over Pilcer's day-to-day responsibilities acting as co-head of ABCP, along with managing director Michael Kanef. Robinson will report to managing director Andy Silver.

ABN Amro has tabbed Bill Haley to head its U.S. ABS origination team, reporting to managing director Jim Moore. Haley, also a managing director, formerly headed the credit card banking effort at JPMorgan Securities. He worked with Moore until the latter's defection earlier this year. JPMorgan is the third leading credit card ABS underwriter through the first six months of 2003. The move follows the bank's hiring of U.S. syndicate head Caroline Morrill earlier this month.

Barclays Capital has hired Arjan Verbeek as a director in its London-based asset securitization group, where he will report to managing director Allen Appen, head of financial institutions. He will focus on U.K. and the European Union MBS. Verbeek joins from Moody's Investors Service.

Wachovia Securities landed CDO industry veteran Arturo Cifuentes, who recently joined the team as a managing director and senior CDO analyst, reporting to Brian Lancaster, head of Structured Products research at Wachovia's fixed-income division. Prior to joining Wachovia, he was co-head of the Structured Products Group at Triton Partners, and co-managed Triton Opportunities Fund I, a $307 million CDO-of-CDOs. Cifuentes cut his teeth at Moody's Investors Service, where in the CDO group, he was integral in developing the ratings methodology used by Moody's.

Standard & Poor's further downgraded 14 classes of credit card ABS issued from the Metris Master Trust, including some formerly AAA' rated seniors to A', and the two competing rating agencies are expected to follow suit. The downgrades were prompted by further deterioration in the credit card portfolio and thinning excess spread. The June charge-off rate came in at 22.17%, with the six-month average of 21.26%. Chargeoffs are expected to remain in the 20% area. June's excess spread level was reported at 1.14%, according to S&P, with a three-month average of 1.93%.

CenterPoint Energy has asked its lending bank entities to restructure its current $2.8 billion conduit facility, reducing the total size to $1.25 billion and lowering the borrowing cost to the utility holding company, according to records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Set up in October 2002, the facility allows CenterPoint to borrow at a 450 basis point spread to Libor. This would be the second in a scheduled reduction, the first of which occurred in February of this year.

Fitch Ratings announced last week that master servicer ratings would now be part of Fitch CMBS model starting Aug. 15. The rating agency will distinguish between CMS1' and CMS2' ratings levels. The rating agency will be awarding transactions with quantitative credit based on servicer ratings. The master servicer should maintain at least a CMS2-' servicer rating to be eligible for any credit. Fitch has long included the servicer rating of the special servicer in rating CMBS transactions.

The House Financial Services Housing Subcommittee last week approved a bill that allows the Department of Housing and Urban Development to increase multifamily mortgage limits for Federal Housing Administra- tion-insured properties in high-cost areas. H.R. 1985, which is known as the FHA Multifamily Loan Limit Adjustment Act of 2003, allows HUD to increase loan limits in high-cost areas from the current level of 110% up to 170% above their base loan limits.

Moody's Investors Service downgraded the ratings of two classes and affirmed the ratings of five classes of Bear Stearns Commercial Mortgage Securities Inc., Commercial Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2002-HOME. This deal comprises of cross-collateralized and cross-defaulted first mortgage liens on the fee and leasehold interests in 93 Homestead Studio Suites hotel properties, which contain 12,346 rooms. Moody's said that hotels are extended stay properties that are located in 27 states with considerable concentrations in California, New Jersey, and Texas

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