Maxim Group LLC has hired Barry C. Mohr as a managing director and senior product manager, where he will focus on distressed corporate and private placement debt in the new institutional fixed-income sales and trading group. He joins from Amherst Securities, where he was a partner and senior vice president. Prior to Amherst, Mohr had worked in the sales and trading group at Prudential Securities, where he had worked for over 20 years, ascending to the role of senior vice president. Also, Maxim has hired Brian Field as a vice president to work on the CDO trading desk supporting the secondary trading effort. Field had previously worked in the CDO structuring group at JPMorgan Securities, leaving in 2002.

In an expansion of its U.S. ABS operations, BNP Paribas has announced that managing director David Mandel will be moving from London to New York to head the securitization business for the Americas. Mandel will report to Michael Donahue, global head of securitization based in London. Locally, he will report to Kip Testwuide, head of fixed-income origination and distribution for the Americas. Mandel has over 10 years experience in ABS.

McKee Nelson LLP has added William Gray and Eugene Ferrer to the securitization and structured finance practice at its New York office. Both Gray and Ferrer were formerly partners at Weil Gotshal & Manges.

RBS Greenwich Capital announced that Stephen Stanley will take over for Jade Zelnik as chief economist. Zelnik, who leaves to pursue opportunities in economic consulting, left the firm Jan. 30. Stanley had previously been the firm's senior market economist. Stanley joined RBS Greenwich Capital in 1994 and became a leading member of the economics team.

Citigroup Inc. plans to lay off roughly 3,400 of the 8,300 former Sears Roebuck & Co. employees acquired when it purchased Sears' credit card unit last year, according to ASR sister publication American Banker. Offices slated for elimination are located in Atlanta, Cleveland, New Orleans, Salem, Mass, Tempe, Ariz. and Trevose, Pa. Conversely, offices in Boise, Dallas, Louisville and Greensboro, N.C., will likely expand, as they were described as "a good fit with Citigroup's current needs."

In its 4Q03 earnings last week, Sears, Roebuck & Co. reported a pretax gain of $4.1 billion, or $10.38 per share, related to the sale of the company's domestic credit and financial products business to Citigroup Inc. in the fourth quarter of 2003. This lags the $6 billion gain Sears had hoped to book, upon the deal's announcement last year.

Canadian structured finance issuance is expected to be between $C12 billion and $C13 billion ($9.08 billion and $9.8 billion equivalent), an increase of approximately 5% over 2003 volume, according to a report from Moody's Investors Service. CMBS will continue to account for the bulk of the growth, with a 20% to 30% increase over the $C3.3 billion sold in 2003. The dramatic growth witnessed in the term ABS market in 2003 - nearly $C12 billion - was nearly double the amount seen in 2002.

Specialty loan auction platform DebtX has appointed Michael Vallarosi director of sales. He will be responsible for DebtX's specialty finance business nationwide. Vallarosi, with 18 years of institutional sales experience, reports to DebtX founder Kingsley Greenland.

Student lender Nelnet Inc. has acquired 50% of the Premiere Credit of North America LLC, a collection firm specializing in past due debts and accounts receivable related to higher education and medical care. "Premiere's successful growth strategy and experience in higher education debt management complements Nelnet's focus on keeping student loan default and delinquency rates low," commented Steve Butterfield, Nelnet vice chairman and co-CEO. Premier will maintain its headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind.

The Federal Home Loan Banks' Mortgage Partnership Finance program funded $72.1 billion of loans last year, up 158% from the total of the year before. The FHLBank of Chicago, which coordinates the MPF program, also said that 707 FHLBank member financial institutions are approved to fund MPF loans, a gain of 62% from the end of 2002. Total MPF outstanding assets grew 108% last year to $86.7 billion. The Chicago FHLBank said the growth was primarily driven by conventional loans, reporting that the balance of conventional loans outstanding in the MPF program grew 153% during the year to $74.5 billion at year-end.

New home sales dipped in December despite the rebound in mortgage demand and existing home sales toward year-end, according to RBS Greenwich Capital research. However, the sales pace for the preceding two months was revised upward by a cumulative 75,000 units. While the preliminary December new home sales figure is 11.7% below the peak reached in June, it is still 2% above the average in the first half of 2003. With 30-year fixed mortgage rates plunging well below 6% in January, mortgage applications for purchase have strengthened. Improving economic conditions have also boosted consumers' optimism, suggesting that housing demand will remain robust early this year.

Chris Howley and Joseph Sheridan of Standard and Poor's will be co-chairing the International Institute for Research - USA's Introduction to Securitization in the first week of April. The event will be held at the Marriott East Side in New York. Speakers from Moody's Investors Service, Deloitte & Touche, Deutsche Bank, Nomura Securities and Credit Suisse First Boston will also be on hand.

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