Maxim Group LLC, a boutique shop with offices in New York and Chicago, has hired Rocco Capoccia, Armand Pastine and Brad Young away from Williams Capital with plans to start an institutional fixed-income trading operation. All three will be managing directors in the institutional fixed-income group. The trio had been at Williams since mid 2002. With roughly 350 employees, Maxim group focuses on asset management, wealth management, investment banking and institutional sales.

Bear Stearns recently hired Mustafa Chowdhury as a managing director and interest rate derivatives strategist in its financial analytics and structured transactions (FAST) group. Chowdhury previously worked at Freddie Mac as vice president of asset and liability management. Published reports said Chowdhury left in October last year.

Collegiate Funding Services has named Larry Hough to its board of managers, becoming the fifth member. Hough has a 30-year history in the education finance field, having formerly acted as CEO of Sallie Mae from 1990 through 1997. Under Hough's direction, Sallie Mae moved from a government-sponsored entity to its current independent status. Hough is currently the president, CEO and chairman of Stuart Mill Capital, a Virginia-based private equity firm.

Publisher Euromoney Institutional Investor plc has agreed to purchase ABS conference organizer Inform- ation Management Network for a yet-to-be determined sum. Euromoney II agreed to initially pay $29 million, followed by varying payments - based on IMN's profit margin - in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Ultimately, Euromoney's payments can total, but not exceed, $100 million. As part of the transaction, IMN's senior management team, including Dr. Frank Fabozzi and Scott Brody, will remain as executives in the new company, following the transaction's close.

Boutique underwriter UCC Capital has teamed with McFarland, Grossman & Co. to open a new office in Houston, Tx. McFarland Grossman is a regional middle-market investment banking firm, focusing on the Southwest U.S. market. As per its agreement with UCC, McFarland Grossman will focus on intellectual property assets in the franchise, telecommunications, technology and biotechnology sectors. New York-based UCC also has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Nashville.

Metris Master Trust showed improved performance, with the default rate dropping 15 basis points to 18.83% and 30-day delinquencies declining 7 basis points; 30- to 60-day delinquencies declined 10 basis points and 60-plus day delinquencies were down two basis points. Excess spread increased 68 basis points totaling 3.93%. Excess spread has risen from a low near 1% seen in June 2003.

Fitch Ratings downgraded 57 Conseco Finance/Green Tree Finance manufactured housing transactions, affecting 164 classes worth $10.6 billion (see related story p. 1). This marks the latest in a series of actions Fitch has taken on Conseco Finance Corp. since September 2002. The latest actions reflect the poor performance of the pools, decreased credit enhancement as well as a limitation of capital stemming from the company's bankruptcy.

Sallie Mae announced last week a record $15.2 billion of preferred-channel loan origination, up 23% from the same time the prior year. Core cash income, consisting primarily of loan guaranty fees and servicing fees, totaled $192 million for 4Q03 and $644 million for the fiscal year 2003. This compares to $124 million for 4Q02 and $505 million for the entire year 2002.

The CDO transaction database maintained by Wall Street Analytics reached 450 deals, the company announced last week. The milestone represents a doubling of CDOs modeled versus one year ago. "We are committed to building the most comprehensive CDO deal library in the market and we guarantee that we will make 100% of any client's portfolio accessible through our CDOnet or CDOcalc products," said Wall Street Analytics' CEO Mark Ferraris.

The Bond Market Association released its new standardized reporting template for CDO trustees, setting a basic minimum level of content to be included. The goal of the trustee standardization is to increase investor transparency and in turn boost liquidity in the secondary markets. TBMA is seeking feedback from market participants on its new trustee report template (see p. 8).

Ginnie Mae announced last week that it will delay the implementation of additional disclosure items - original LTV, property type and loan purpose - for new issues that had been scheduled to begin last Thursday. Ginnie said that in response to recent industry feedback, it will now announce the disclosure items Feb 1.

The Hong Kong government has nixed current plans to securitize five tunnels and one bridge this year, according to published reports. The government had initially planned to raise HK$21 billion (US$ 2.7 billion equivalent) through the sale or securitization of these assets. To date, it has raised HK$15.7 billion (US$2 billion) through the sale of mortgage loans.

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