Research analyst Glenn Costello has left Merrill Lynch to become a co-head of the RMBS group at Fitch Ratings. Costello was hired in July 2000 to cover Merrill's real estate ABS research. He reports to Group Managing Director Gloria Aviotti who oversees the RMBS and CDO groups at the rating agency. He will be heading Fitch's RMBS group with Joanne Sokolowski. Costello replaces Steve Grundleger who will be joining the rating agency's Business Development Group.

Last week, Bear Stearns International Ltd. announced the hiring of five asset-backed professionals. Adam Toft was hired as managing director responsible for originating, structuring and distributing real estate loans through CMBS and loan syndications. Toft, who reports to Head of European Principal & Asset Backed Finance Andrew Clapham, was formerly head of Moody's Investors Service's European, Middle East and Asia CMBS group. Also hired under Clapham's group are former Halifax Bank of Scotland employees Peter McAnally and Marie Fernandez who will handle euro-denominated real estate loans. Michael Dirnegger, formerly from RZB bank, has joined the firm to oversee the origination of real estate loans, residential mortgages and CDOs in Germany. Former Calyon employee, Jesus Rio Cortes, will be part of Richard Downer's residential mortgages team focusing on Spain and Portugal.

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