The post-merger JPMorgan Securities/Banc One Capital Markets securitization banking team will be headed jointly by Banc One managing director Christine Cole and JPMorgan MD Scott Davidson, according to an internal memo circulated last week. Also, MD Andrew Dym will continue running the term origination banking group, which he had done jointly with Davidson since JPMorgan's merger with Chase. While the future of the conduit group remains unclear, it is expected that Banc One's Kirk Farney and JPMorgan's Brad Schwartz will jointly head ABCP operations.

Tom Nieliwocki has been hired as a vice president in the global asset- based finance group at Merrill Lynch, headed by managing director Mike Blum. Nieliwocki had been a director in the auto group at Fitch Ratings. In the new position, Nieliwocki's focus will be on principal finance and asset-based lending. He will report to director Joe Magnus.

Dwight Jenkins, executive director of the American Securitization Forum, resigned from his post in order to start an undisclosed business venture in Montana. "It has been an honor and privilege serving as the ASF's first executive director. It is especially an honor to have worked with so many dedicated professionals. I wish you continued success as the world's finest trade association," Jenkins said in his farewell email. Until a replacement is found, George Miller will increase his ASF responsibilities. Laura Strothmann will continue in her role as ASF associate director, working directly with Miller, and assuming a more instrumental role in servicing various ASF committees and projects. Liz Wagner and Ida Cece also continue in their administrative staff support roles.

MBS rating analysts Mike Nelson, Quincy Tang and Susan Kulakowski have all defected to Dominion Bond Rating Service from Fitch Ratings RMBS ratings group. The trio began at Dominion last week. This was a surprising development to many, as Dominion was believed to focus its U.S. resources on off-the-run sectors, such as private placements.

Capital One Financial has named Susan McFarland to the position of corporate controller, reporting to CFO Gary Perlin. McFarland will be responsible for overseeing corporate accounting at the firm. McFarland has been with Capital One for 16 years, following positions as controller and CFO of Bank One Houston.

The Metris Companies announced an agreement with MBIA to ensure the credit card issuer has access to the ABS market over the next two years. The financial guarantor pledged $1.7 billion over the next two years to back any refinancing of maturing ABS commitments. This comes in the wake of Metris' defeasement of ABS as they come due (see ASR 3/8/04).

Law firms McKee Nelson and Ashurst Morris Crisp have announced an alliance between their structured finance groups in an effort to offer the combined services to a global audience. As part of the non-exclusive agreement, the two firms will refer clients to each other, based on geographic area of expertise, while still operating independently of each other. McKee Nelson's strength is in U.S. markets, while Ashurst is a leading European law firm.

UBS is looking to fill two positions in the research strategy group in its New York office. One position would focus on agency and non-agency mortgage credit, and the other would focus on consumer asset classes, such as auto loans and credit cards. Candidates must have three to five years of research experience, preferably at a Wall Street firm, as well as strong written communication and quantitative analysis skills. Both analysts would report to Tom Zimmerman, head of asset-backed research.

Primary March CMO production should reach roughly north of $21 billion, which is about $1 billion over February issuance numbers. With current market volatility and rate levels, JPMorgan Securities said this was a mild surprise, as many expected March issuance levels to trend downward. Most of the production seems to be primarily driven by deals off Gold 5s, said analysts.

Analysis of February conduit remittance reports suggests that deterioration in CMBS credit appears to have moderated over the past month, said Merrill Lynch. This does not really say that credit has improved, but the pace of deterioration seems to have slowed with the Merrill Lynch Credit Impaired Rate (CIR) increasing only 5.5 basis points. This is the lowest it has been since last July. Although this is good news, analysts are hesitant - after just one month - to celebrate. Analysts also note that, historically, February is a seasonal low point for the CIR. On the other hand, March 2002 and 2003 showed significant jumps.

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