Barclays Capital recently hired Elizabeth Shen as an associate in its Asset Securitization group, where she will focus on analytics and structuring of multiple asset classes for pools acquired in the whole loan market. Shen, who reports to managing director Mike Wade, joins from Deutsche Bank Securities, where she had worked since 2000.

Major League Baseball has closed a $1.5 billion trade receivables securitization facility, aptly named Major League Baseball Trust, consisting of a $1 billion revolving conduit facility and $500 million term securitization. The facility, structured by Fleet Securities, is backed by receivables generated from telecasting and radio broadcast revenues, national and international media contracts, and, to a lesser extent, revenues under licensing and sponsorship contracts, noted a Fitch Ratings rating action. Debt tracker Fitch rated the facility single-A minus.

Starwood Vacation Ownership Inc. has tabbed Banc One Capital Markets and ING Barings to lead a $200 million time-share receivables-backed ABS slated for the fourth quarter, sources said. In addition to time-shares at 18 resort properties, Starwood is also known for its Sheraton and Westin hotel brands, among other entities.

A study conducted by the Congressional Research Service disputes the U.S. Air Force's claim that Boeing Co. is best suited to provide maintenance support for the 767 aircraft the Air Force hopes to lease from the aircraft manufacturer. The CRS study concluded that bidding out the servicing and maintenance of the aircraft offers a cost advantage, something the Air Force disputes. The Senate Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, has proposed a plan in which the Air Force would lease 20 767 aircraft from 2008 through 2011 and purchase an additional 80 aircraft.

Providian Financial disclosed last week that it has formed several strategic partnerships for affinity Visa and MasterCard cards. Providian has teamed with rival monoline credit card issuer MBNA America Bank to cooperatively issue the "eBay Anything Points" MasterCard, as well as reaching an agreement with the Democratic National Convention to market DNC Visa cards. Also, Providian has aligned with the North American Membership Group to issue affinity cards for its membership clubs.

Finance America Mortgage priced its first-ever term securitization Oct. 24, via the sole lead of RBS Greenwich Capital Markets. The $140 million series 2003-1 transaction featured three triple-A rated floating-rate classes. The largest class $99.9 million of 2.5-year II A2 notes priced at 39 basis points over one-month Libor. Previously, Finance America had sold its loans into the whole loan market.

Deutsche Bank AG agreed last week to buy General Motors Acceptance Corp.'s GMAC Commercial Mortgage unit for an estimated $1.17 billion, according to reports. Parent company GM announced earlier this year its intention to sell the commercial mortgage lending unit, which earned $225 million in 2003.

UBS changed its MBS recommendation last week to "modest underweight" from "neutral." The sector, said UBS, was "so screaming rich," with mortgages more than 18 basis points rich on the firm's current coupon model. While UBS had been reluctant to underweight the sector previously, "we can't ignore the lack of fundamental value any longer."

Barclays Capital recently registered to sell up to $5 billion of ABS backed by acquired assets purchased in the whole loan market, according to records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The issuance trust, named Securitized Asset Backed Receivables (or SABR for short) allows Barclays to issue ABS backed by mortgages and manufactured homes, as well as automobiles, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, light-duty trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans.

Moody's Investors Service reported that CMBS downgrades outpaced upgrades in 3Q03. Throughout the quarter, Moody's took action on 228 CMBS tranches (including affirmations and confirmations) up from 184 rating actions in 2Q03. The ratio of 1.42 downgrades per upgrade was largely unchanged from the 1.44 downgrade-to-upgrade ratio of the second quarter of 2003. "The upgrade to downgrade ratio varied significantly by transaction type," said managing director Tad Philip. "Conduits were the top performing sector, with 17 upgrades to 14 downgrades."

Though Fannie Mae last week said that it made a misstatement in excess of $1 billion in its 3Q03 earnings, equity analysts seemed unperturbed by the event. Merrill Lynch analysts wrote, for example, "Based on the information available, we believe that the re-statement does not materially change the investment outlook for Fannie Mae. The adjustments do not impact net income, though the net effect is an increase in stockholder's equity." Fannie released the adjusted financial results for the quarter because of a computational error relating to FAS 115 and the implementation of FAS 149. However, Fannie made no adjustment to its previously released net-income or core business earnings of $2.69 and $1.83 per share, respectively.

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