At press time, the rumor mill was rife with speculation that HSBC's head of Asian structured capital markets Sarwar Ahmad is to leave the firm. Although neither party would comment, several sources, including rival bankers and financial recruiters, confirmed the story. Ahmad joined the bank in June 2001 to establish a securitization franchise from scratch. Despite being the region's biggest bank, HSBC had never executed an ABS deal in Asia until Ahmad arrived. However, with some savvy hires, Ahmad was soon able to position his team as one of the region's most competitive arrangers. Market watchers are eager to see who will replace Ahmad, although with bonus season just around the corner, a replacement may not be appointed imminently.

Robert Warwick has been promoted to CFO of Willis Lease Finance Corp. after the company announced last week that current finance chief Monica Burke would be leaving the firm in mid-January. In a statement, Burke said, "I am very proud of the accomplishments we have achieved during my tenure, particularly the placement of the asset-backed securitization transaction." Burke is referring to Willis Engine Securitization Trust 2005-1, the first-ever term securitization backed by aircraft engine leases completed in July. The $228 million deal was a senior/subordinated transaction via lead manager UBS (ASR 08/01/05). Aside from being the first aircraft lease ABS, the transaction was also the first operating lease asset transaction to price without a monoline surety wrap.

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