HSBC has hired ABS veteran Mike Normile as a managing director to head its U.S. term origination group, a move in the works for months. Normile, who will report to Managing Director and securitization chief Jon Bottorff, left his post as head of European securitization at Merrill Lynch early last year.

The asset finance group at RBC Dain Rauscher has jumped to rival Bank of Montreal, sources confirmed. The six-person team, led by Managing Director Tom Gervais resigned this week and it is unclear when the group would resurface in their new positions. Joining Gervais are Matthew DiCicco, David Piotrowski, Mark Freeman, Jack MacDowell Jr., and Jason Micheletto. The group has a primary focus on the equipment lease sector.

Marie Persichetti, a longtime corporate finance veteran, has joined specialty servicer and JPMorgan Chase unit Systems & Services Technology (SST), as product manager for its consumer servicing operations. Prior to joining SST, Persichetti spent 13 years at subprime auto lender Long Beach Acceptance Corp., most recently serving as its treasurer. In her new position, Persichetti reports to Robert Snyder.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP recently hired Todd Miller as a senior associate in the firm's asset securitization area in its Chicago office. He brings with him extensive experience in handling credit card securitizations and finance. Previously, Miller was an associate in the Chicago office of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP.

Detlef Scholz will oversee all of Moody's Investors Service German operations in his new role as country manager. Prior to his new role, Scholz was managing the agency's European Structured Finance operations. Scholz replaces Dr. Juergen Berblinger.

Financial Guaranty Insurance Corp. (FGIC) has poached four pros from rival bond insurer Ambac, including the guarantor's vice chairman and head of MBS business. Joining FGIC are former Ambac Vice Chairman Howard Pfeffer, Thomas Adams, Tim Travers and Jeffrey Fried, reported ASR sister publication The Bond Buyer. Pfeffer had been appointed Ambac's vice chairman in early December. Pfeffer will take over as president and chief underwriting officer in both FGIC's structured finance and public (municipal) finance operations, reporting to CEO Frank Bivona. Adams will head FGIC's structured finance business, reporting to Pfeffer, with a focus on auto loan and mortgage-backed transactions.

Standard & Poors affirmed its credit rating on Canary Wharf Finance II CMBS, following the company's proposed sale of properties included in the pool backing the transaction. The rating affirmation follows shareholder approval of disposing two properties occupied by Citibank and Credit Suisse First Boston. Releasing the two properties under the transaction requires a prepayment of debt and Canary Wharf expects to pay GBP900 million (US$1.6 billion) of debt under the inter-company loan. The payment will be used to prepay three quarters of outstanding debt issued under Canary Wharf II, fully redeeming the class A2, A4, A6, R1, B1, and R2 notes, and partially prepaying the class A5 and D notes. This will be on Jan, 22, the interest payment date, reported S&P.

Delayed Italian lease-backed transactions are expected to close early in the year once a resolution to the legal uncertainties, that crept up in the latter part of 2003, are resolved. Market analysts said that at least E2.4 billion (US$3 billion) of lease ABS has been postponed. But a legal amendment that will clarify whether leases are remote from the originator bankruptcy could stimulate growth if it extends to the securitization of all lease-backed issuance and not just to the translativo leases in question. A delay in the closing of these lease transactions put total Italian issuance for the end of the year at approximately 28 billion (US$35 billion). This is similar to levels reached in 2002.

After last week's deadline passed for bids to take over LG Card, South Korea's largest credit card issuer, its largest creditor proposed to swap the five trillion won (US$4.2 billion) owed it in exchange for a controlling interest in the cash-strapped issuer. The creditor, Woori Bank, hopes to persuade a consortium of 16 creditors that this option is better than allowing LG Card to enter bankruptcy, which, Woori says, would lead to a "catastrophe in the financial market," according to reports. Its creditors have already approved a plan to roll over 80% of its 20 trillion won (US$16 billion) in debt.

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