Milton Chacon has been named team managing director at Moody's Investors Service, taking over responsibilities for Ed Bankole, who left the firm the previous week. Chacon, who previously was a senior vice president in the CMBS group, will work alongside team managing directors Jay Eisbruck and Michael Kanef, reporting to Andy Silver. He will oversee the auto, small business and franchise loan sectors. Chacon joined Moody's in 1997.

Former Banc One Capital Markets ABS researcher Jeff Haleen was hired by buyside firm Lotsoff Capital Management, starting July 1. In his new position as a portfolio manager in the firm's Index-plus-Alpha fund, he reports to chief investment officer Steve Bossu. Haleen, who declined an offer to move to JPMorgan Securities' New York office, will work out of the firm's Chicago office.

Meanwhile, Banc One Capital Markets home equity banker John Heegar will remain with the new JPMorgan Securities entity following closing of the merger with Bank One Corp. expected this week. He will work in the investment-banking group, reporting to Scott Davidson and Christine Cole.

Promontory Financial Group has hired Michael Dawson as a managing director in charge of spearheading the specialty conduit's Bank Secrecy Act and PATRIOT Act compliance efforts. Dawson had previously worked as deputy assistant secretary for Critical Infrastructure Protection & Compliance Policy at the U.S. Treasury Department. Just the fourth managing director to join Promontory, Dawson reports to founder and managing partner Eugene Ludwig.

Former American Securitization Forum associate director Laura Strothmann started last week as a senior 3 in the securitization advisory group at accounting firm Ernst & Young. She reports to Steve Campo. Strothmann was with the ASF for 18 months. Prior to that, she worked in the banking group at Credit Suisse First Boston.

Barclays Capital has appointed five new members in its Corporate Risk Management and Derivatives Group. Rodrigo Collada and Omar Moreira, previously of Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank, respectively, joined as directors. They will be responsible for coverage of corporate clients for risk management and derivative products in Mexico and Brazil. Leelee Panno joins as an associate director, and will assist in the continued expansion of the firm's securitization-based derivatives business. She comes from Swiss Re, where she was a member of the interest rate derivatives marketing and sales team. Greg Power joins the firm from JP Morgan Chase as a director and head of U.S. Liability Management. George Manahilov joins as an associate director, responsible for risk management in commodities. Previously, he was with Goldman Sachs.

MBNA Corp. announced it was acquiring the credit card portfolio of SouthTrust Bank, which is merging with Wachovia Corp. MBNA already manages Wachovia's credit card portfolio. MBNA will be responsible for all credit, customer service, customer assistance and operational decisions. The transaction includes a long-term agreement under which MBNA will market credit cards to SouthTrust's customers through SouthTrust's more than 700 branch operations.

Freddie Mac reported last week that its retained portfolio increased in May, this is after dropping for six straight months. The retained portfolio rose at a 5% annualized rate to $634 billion. The firm's total mortgage portfolio also grew at a 10% annualized rate last month to $1.44 trillion. New business purchases increased while liquidations notably dropped. The annualized liquidation rate was 32% over the month, decreasing from 42% in April.

The California Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA) said last week the delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one- to four- unit residential properties in California dropped, while the percentage of mortgages in the foreclosure process dipped in 1Q04. The delinquency rate for loans on one - to four-unit residential properties in California decreased -55 basis points to 2.13% over the first quarter. The percentage of loans where foreclosure was started in the quarter decreased -1 basis point to 0.17%. Meanwhile the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the quarter fell -4 basis points to 0.33%.

May new home sales rose annually to a new record high of 1.369 million units, with still-favorable fundamentals and the pressure to lock in a mortgage before rates head higher resulted in a wave of activity. Upward revisions to March and April reached another 150,000 units (if the revisions to the May figure are added, figures will top 1 1/2 million units). This pace is unsustainable. However, the Mortgage Bankers Association's purchase index has been steady within an extraordinarily high range in May and early June, implying that any falloff in home sales is probably going to be more moderate than precipitous. RBS Greenwich Capital Markets said the bottom line is that, with employment and income gains on the rise, it will take mortgage rates a lot higher than 6 1/4% to remove housing demand.

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