Boutique ABS underwriter Westwood Capital LLC has hired Andrea Kutscher as an executive vice president, responsible for structured finance, project finance and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to Westwood, Kutscher spent 13 years at Prudential Financial, where she analyzed, structured and invested in CDOs, intellectual property ABS, derivatives and emerging assets. In her new position, Kutcher will report to managing director Len Blum.

Fitch Ratings has hired Richard Gambel away from Bank of Montreal to head its London-based credit derivatives group. Gambel, a managing director, had also previously worked at Abbey National Treasury.

Radian Guaranty Corp. has promoted Andrew Rippert to senior vice president of international mortgages. In his new position, Rippert will assume responsibility for all mortgage insurance activity outside the U.S. Rippert joined Radian in 2001 from Deloitte & Touche.

The American Securitization Forum is finalizing details on its upcoming Winter 2004 conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. Aside from panel discussions, the ASF is scheduling issuer presentations and one-on-one issuer/investor meetings, in a centralized manner; these can be scheduled both in advance of the conference and at the conference. The issuer briefings will be 45-minute presentations, followed by 30-minute one-on-one meetings with investors. Logistics of this process will be coordinated through the ASF.

Northwest Airlines is planning to exchange part of its $850 million in outstanding unsecured debt due over the next two years for $515 million of new-issue EETCs, according to records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tenders for the offering, led by Morgan Stanley, are due Dec. 2. The move would term out much of the air carrier's debt maturities through the new EETCs' April 2009 maturity. The single-tranche offering is rated single-B, in line with Northwest's corporate unsecured rating.

The $50 million insurance commission securitization from Clark Consulting's CBC Insurance LLC trust is being restructured and is still expected to price before year-end, according to sources close to the deal. In particular, the $10 million triple-B rated class is reportedly being reworked to suit investor demand. "This deal is a little different than the first CBC deal, which was more uniform collateral," one investor said. "This is a more diverse set of cash flows, so the placement is slowly being negotiated," he added. Banc One Capital Market's Dallas-based private placement group is underwriting the transaction.

The Student Loan Corp. (SLC), a unit of Citigroup Inc., was named "Exceptional Performer" by the U.S. Dept of Education, which is a designation intended to recognize student lenders' compliance with federal lending statutes. To qualify as an "Exceptional Performer," lenders and servicers must meet and maintain a 97 percent threshold of compliance with federal lending statutes. SLC achieved an overall compliance performance that exceeded 99%, which was verified by their independent auditors, KPMG.

Fitch Ratings has added Bank One Issuance Trust to its monthly Credit Card ABS Issuance Trust Update. The Issuance Trust Updates contain a compilation of parent company and trust descriptions, collateral performance measures, trust capital structures and maturity schedules, as well as break-even stress scenarios. Fitch currently provides information on the issuance trusts of Capital One Financial, Citibank N.A. and MBNA America Bank.

The first-ever Kazakhstan securitization is due to come to market by year-end, according to published reports. The country is expected to raise $55 million to $60 million to fund the reconstruction and improvement of its main airport, said securitization head Sanjeev Kumar at Delamore & Owl Group, the arranger of the deal. The transaction will be backed by tax receivables and a guarantee from the former capital city of Almaty. The bonds will have a 6.5% coupon and a six- to seven-year maturity. If the airport deal is successful, other deals might follow. Delamore is now working on similar transactions, though not as advanced as the airport deal.

Consultants at Ho Chi Minh City Trading Company are suggesting securitization as a tool to generate funds for the Vietnamese city, according to published reports. The Ministry of Construction said the city will need about $2.6 billion for various needs including roads, bridges, railways and a port by 2005. About 10% to 15% of the needed capital will come from the budget; the rest should be acquired through other ways such as bond issuances.

After Fitch Ratings told special servicers to "play fair or else" in September, the rating agency placed ORIX Capital Markets special servicer ratings on watch negative. Fitch stated that the company's servicing strategies are more in line with a Fitch rating of CSS2 or CSS3 than their current CSS1, which is the highest rating. ORIX's primary and master servicer rating of CMS1 and CPS1 remained unaffected.

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