Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, the Arlington, Va.-based investment bank, has hired a team of mortgage-backed securities sales and trading professionals from Freddie Mac to create its own institutional MBS trading business. The team will be led by Michael Swell, former vice-president and head of Freddie Mac's Securities Sales and Trading Group. Robert Cole, formerly head trader at Freddie Mac's SS&T Group, will head the trading effort of the new unit. The MBS unit will be combined with FBR's existing asset-backed securities team and will begin operations in the first quarter of 2005.

Wachovia Corp.'s institutional trust group has hired Mike Hellmuth as a relationship manager in its structured finance trust services group in London, where he will lead trustee administration for all types of structured financings, such as asset-backed and mortgage-backed securities, tax liens and leveraged lease transactions. Hellmuth joins Wachovia from JP Morgan Chase, where he served as vice president in the trustee and asset administration team.

Goodwin Procter LLP announced the addition of Anthony Nolan as a partner in its business law department where he will focus on public and private securitization and structured finance, warehouse facilities, asset-backed commercial paper and other related transactions in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to Goodwin Procter, Nolan served as counsel in the securitization and derivatives group of Shearman & Sterling LLP.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft has named Jeffrey Lee, Charles Roberts and Robert Ughetta as partners in the firm's London and Charlotte offices. Lee and Ughetta, both based in Charlotte, handle real estate finance and structured finance and derivatives, respectively. Roberts, who works out of London, focuses on mortgage securitizations. "We are pleased to welcome these outstanding attorneys to the partnership. They represent a cross section of our core practice areas and a demonstration of the growth and expansion the firm is experiencing across offices," said Robert Link, Jr., Cadwalader's chairman.

Nassos Michas was named to the board of directors of Collegiate Funding Services, the company announced. Michas worked at Merrill Lynch for 27 years where he led the firm's mortgage business and was named the chairman of Merrill Lynch Banks, as well as serving as president.

CompuCredit Corp. announced an agreement to purchase an auto lending and servicing unit of Wells Fargo Financial, the consumer finance subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Co., and hire substantially all of its employees. The Consumer Auto Receivables unit had approximately $133 million in assets. It operates in 40 states through its 12 branches. The two parties did not disclose terms of the sale, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2005. Wells Fargo will retain its Philadelphia-based Wells Fargo Financial Acceptance business unit, which has more than $8 billion in receivables.

Coventry First, a Philadelphia-based insurance policy purchaser, announced the creation of a new business unit to locate and purchase existing life settlement and corporate-owned life insurance pools. The unit will initially target existing pools of life insurance policies that were created over the past several years by different life settlement providers and investment groups. "We estimate there is more than $2 billion currently invested in existing life settlement and corporate-owned life insurance pools that will become available on the secondary market," said Coventry First CEO Alan Buerger.

US Airways won bankruptcy court approval recently to proceed with the aircraft leasing, financing and engine services agreement, with GE Capital Aviation Services, and GE Engine Services, the company announced today. The agreement provides US Airways with $140 million in interim liquidity through a new bridge facility and the deferral of aircraft debt and lease payments coming due over the next six months, as well as annual cash savings on aircraft ownership and engine maintenance costs. In exchange, upon successful emergence from Chapter 11, US Airways would issue to GECAS a 15-year convertible note for between $125 million and $216 million, depending on future lease options selected by US Airways, the company added in its release.

Capital One Financial Corp. announced an agreement to acquire eSmartloan, an online home equity loan originator, from the National Bank of Kansas City for $155 million in an all-cash transaction. Founded in January 2001, eSmartloan expects to originate more than 12,000 loans representing more than $1 billion in volume in 2004.

Sallie Mae announced that it has completed the purchase of Student Loan Finance Association from the Education Assistance Foundation. Sallie Mae also announced a contractual relationship with Northwest Education Loan Association, a regional guarantor. Sallie Mae will provide a variety of services for NELA, including the marketing of the NELA guarantee to colleges and universities in the Northwest. Tony Bright will be president of NELA Services, a new Sallie Mae unit.

United Financial Mortgage Corp. announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Plus Funding. Plus Funding is a Carlsbad, Calif.-based retail residential mortgage loan originator that acts as both a mortgage banker and broker. Plus Funding has 66 full-time employees and operates seven branches in southern California and one in Nevada. Thomas Phanco and Phillip Ramsey, founders of Plus Funding, will remain with the company serving as president and vice president, respectively, of the Plus Funding division of United Financial Mortgage.

Collins & Aikman Corp. amended its existing receivables transfer agreement relating to its off-balance sheet accounts receivable financing facility. The amended terms included extending the term of the facility to Mar. 10, 2006, and installing General Electric Capital Corp. as the new administrative agent. Additionally, Collins & Aikman announced a new $300 million five-year facility replacing the existing facility.

Copyright 2005 Thomson Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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