The American Securitization Forum, in conjunction with Strategic Research Institute, announced that the first-ever ASF Winter Conference is in a familiar place - The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz. The gathering will be held from Jan. 25 through Jan. 28, commencing one week before Information Management Net -work's ABS West 2004 is slated to start. In its release the ASF said that it will continue to host two multi-day conferences per year, the other being the ASF Annual Meeting held each June in New York.

Cyrus Mohebbi was recently hired by ABN Amro as a managing director to run its fixed-income analytics. Mohebbi, who formerly worked at Prudential Securities, was kept on at Prudential to manage its fixed-income holdings remaining on its balance sheet after it closed its institutional fixed-income business. Mohebbi is also a professor in the statistics department at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

Blake Murphy has accepted a position as executive director in the asset-backed finance group at Fortis Investment Services LLC, after two years at Rothschild Inc. In his new position, he will spearhead Fortis' ABS activity in the U.S. market.

Merrill Lynch recently hired Julie Cutler and Zach Smith to work in its CDO analytics group, reporting to managing director Chris Ricciardi, where their responsibilities will include structuring, modeling and executing CDOs. Smith joins from Freddie Mac and Cutler joins Merrill out of school. The pair will work closely with Steve D'Agostino, who was hired from Credit Suisse First Boston last month to head Merrill's CDO analytics technology group.

Mike Gleeson has jumped to Barclays Capital's ABS research team from his previous position on the buyside with Lazard Asset Management. Gleeson will report to director Jeff Salmon.

Larry Litton was named chief operating officer of Litton Loan Servicing, a unit of C-BASS. Litton started at Litton upon its founding in 1988. In his new role, Litton will direct the day-to-day operations of all key functions of Litton. All default related functions, as well as REO/valuations, performance improvement, and account management will report directly to Litton. Additionally, Litton will be responsible for developing strategy and overseeing the activities of all critical Litton functions, including loan administration.

A Tennessee appeals court ruled last week to temporarily prevent Clayton Homes from closing its sale to Berkshire Hathaway, pending a review of the July 30 shareholder vote. The grievance, filed by the Denver Area Meat Cutters and Employers Pension Plan, alleges that Clayton withheld the results of an initial vote on the takeover, according to wire reports.

Providian Financial announced that it has sold a portfolio of 435,000 accounts totaling $859 million of receivables to a joint venture of CompuCredit Corp. and Merrill Lynch, representing "substantially all of the credit card loans owned by the company's Providian Bank subsidiary," according to the company. The loans contributed to an after-tax charge of roughly $8 million in Providian's second-quarter earnings. Last year, CompuCredit purchased $1.2 billion of underperforming receivables as part of the PACCT transaction.

The $308 million initial public offering from commercial lender CapitalSource Inc. (see ASR 7/21/03), which opened for trading Thursday, closed higher on over 10 million trades. Led jointly by Citigroup, Credit Suisse First Boston and Wachovia Securities, CapSource (NYSE: CSE) opened at $14.50 and closed its first day of trading at $18.20, up 25% on the session.

Bank One N.A. has filed to securitize its auto loan portfolio, according to records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Bank One last issued auto ABS in 1997, when the pre-merger Banc One Corp. entity sold a pair of auto ABS transactions totaling $1.4 billion. All of Banc One's ABS have paid down.

The mortgage servicing operations of non-prime lender New Century Financial has been included in Standard & Poor's list of "Select Subprime Servicers," the rating agency announced last week. To be included in and remain on the Select Servicer List, a firm must meet the criteria for attaining at least an average ranking with an outlook of stable. Inclusion in the list reflects that a firm is, at the very least, performing its duties in an effective and controlled manner, and is in general compliance with investor, regulatory, or agency requirements, according to S&P.

Orix Credit Corp. announced plans to sell A$230 million ($148 million equivalent) of auto and truck loan-backed notes. Macquarie Bank will act as lead manager for the transaction. The offering, for which price guidance was not made available, is scheduled to price Aug. 12.

Ford Motor Credit Corp., petitioned Spanish securities regulators to sell auto loan ABS, backed by loans originated in Spain, according to wire reports. There was no word as to the potential timing or size of any upcoming offering. Also, no underwriter was disclosed.

UBS Warburg plans to securitize up to $50 billion of mortgage-related ABS within the next two years from its Mortgage Asset Securitization Transactions shelf. The collateral offered will include Alt-A, non-agency MBS and home equity loans. This year, UBS Warburg has priced seven securitizations from the trust, totaling $8.8 billion.

AmeriCredit Corp. announced that it was delaying the release of its earnings and that it would likely miss 2003 estimates, due to its accountants investigating whether or not it properly accounted for $50 million in unrealized losses. The company is reviewing its classification of certain interest rate swap hedge instruments as "other comprehensive income" for 2003, which may have to be restated as net income for fiscal year 2002.

IF THERE IS ROOM

Morgan Stanley CEO Phil Purcell told a Merrill Lynch equity analyst last week that the brokerage may sell its Discover Card credit card unit. Merrill analyst Guy Moszkowski immediately estimated that the sale could fetch $8 billion to $10 billion, which would make it the largest ever credit card portfolio sale. Morgan Stanley purchased Discover in 1993 from Sears Roebuck & Co., as part of Sears' sale of its financial services unit, Dean Witter.

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