Boston-based law firm Goodwin Procter LLP recently opened offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco - plucking eight partners from firms Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Cooley Godward and relocating two of its own. The firm plans to focus both offices on real estate and real estate capital markets, as well as complex litigation. Goodwin hired Lewis Feldman, formerly the Los Angeles real estate head and national public finance practice team leader for Pillsbury, to chair its new Los Angeles office. Two other real estate capital markets and public finance partners from Pillsbury will join Feldman in the L.A. office - Bruce Graham and Robert Haight - while former Pillsbury lawyer Tuan Pham will split his time between the L.A. and San Francisco offices. Paul Churchill, formerly head of Cooley's real estate practice, will now lead Goodwin's San Francisco real estate practice. Fellow Cooley attorney Mark Goldberg will join him, along with Forrest Hainline and Patrick Thompson, who both left Pillsbury.
Fitch Ratings has created a new U.S. commercial real estate CDO group to be led by Managing Director Jenny Story. "With CRE CDO issuance up over 100% in the first quarter of 2006, and the average deal size more than doubling, it is obvious that more investors are increasingly finding favor with CRE CDOs," said Jill Zelter, managing director in CDOs (see related story, p. 15). Story will report to both Zelter and CMBS Managing Director Susan Merrick. Other members of Fitch's U.S. CRE CDO group will include Senior Director Karen Trebach, who will be responsible for overseeing CRE CDO surveillance and asset manager ratings, as well as Directors Jimmy Lee and David Harrison, who will both focus on new issuance. The rating agency plans to transfer seven analysts who will be responsible for analyzing these deals, as well as seek new hires for the newly formed division.
Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking announced last week Tony Venutolo's appointment as executive director within its structured credit product group. Venutolo, who will be based in London, joined the firm in April 2006. Venutolo will report to Hubert Le Liepvre, global head of the structuring team within the structured credit product group. In his new position, the new hire will oversee the structuring team responsible for marketing and product development and will work closely with the distribution teams. Venutulo, a synthetic CDO and credit CPPI specialist, started his career as an analyst and associate at Lehman Brothers' European principal finance and securitization team. He joined Morgan Stanley in 2000, and became executive director of the bank's structured marketing activities in 2002.
RBS Greenwich Capital announced last week that Chris Lau and Kin Lee will co-head the company's CMBS secondary trading desk. Lau, who has been on the CMBS desk since he joined RBS in 1997, was promoted to managing director and co-head of CMBS secondary trading. He was previously at Lehman Brothers' fixed income derivatives group. Meanwhile, Lee was hired also as managing director and co-head of CMBS secondary trading. He was previously a CMBS secondary trader with Credit Suisse. Both Lau and Lee report to Chris McCormack, managing director and head of CMBS trading for the firm.
New Century Financial Corp. last week announced the hiring of Anthony Meola, whose resignation from Washington Mutual was disclosed the prior week, as executive vice president responsible for overseeing loan production. The new hire reports to Brad Morrice, New Century's vice chairman who is going to succeed Robert Cole as CEO this July. Meola joined WaMu as head of servicing in 2000, when the firm bought PNC Mortgage, where he was chief operations officer.
Lehman Brothers has appointed Giovanni Marolda as managing director and co-head of fixed income in Italy. He will join the firm on July 18. In his new role, Marolda will work alongside Andrea Potsios, managing director and existing head of fixed income for the Italian region, in managing Lehman's team of Italian specialists based in London and Milan. Marolda is returning to Lehman after spending five years at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, where he was most recently head of capital markets for Italy. Meanwhile, Lehman also announced that it has appointed Antonio Chicca as an executive director in the structured credit team in Italy. Chicca, who previously worked at BNP Paribas will be responsible for the distribution of structured credit and structured financial products to financial institutions in the Italian region. Chicca will report jointly to Potsios and Steven Hulett, head of structured credit product sales in Europe.
CDR Financial Products, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company, recently launched an asset-backed commercial paper program to fund asset pools supporting its investment advisory and insurance brokerage businesses. CEDAR Finance Master Trust can issue as much as $20 billion in the U.S. commercial paper market, and down the line the program can issue secured liquidity notes and extendable floating rate notes. Once CEDAR raises funds from ABCP, it will use the money to buy reverse repurchase agreements, or repos, plus other securities and loans. Those transactions, especially the reverse repos, will help provide for timely repayment of maturing commercial paper, according to Moody's Investors Service. All of the reverse repo transactions will be set up so that a third-party custodian will hold the assets and monitor their market value on a daily basis. QSR Management, a subsidiary of The Bank of New York, will administer the program. CEDAR Finance Master Trust is the latest in a string of ABCP programs, including Berkeley Square Finance, Chesham Finance and Georgetown Funding, which use repos routinely.
Last week, GSC Partners, which manages nearly $5 billion in collateralized debt obligation assets, announced it had completed fund raising for its newest CLO, a $413 million vehicle that will invest chiefly in middle market loans and mezzanine, GSC said in a statement. "The completion of fund raising for CDO Fund VII demonstrates that investors continue to have a healthy appetite for these products," said Thomas Inglesby, senior managing director and head of the corporate credit group, which will manage the new CLO. "This fund will take advantage of the attractive investment opportunities in the large and underserved middle market. Loans from this market segment typically possess inherent structural and credit protections that make them well suited to supporting leverage."
Dominion Bond Rating Service last week published its new framework for assessing private student loan ABS. Consistent with the DBRS rating methodology applied to other ABS transactions, DBRS reviews issuer origination guidelines, collateral quality and loan servicer operational capabilities. The rating agency noted that in evaluating collateral, its methodology looks at many factors such as the issuer's historical portfolio performance, the borrower's underlying credit risk, the impact of loan guarantees, etc. The strategic highlights of the new private student loan methodology include default assumptions from standard deviations of an issuer's base case as well as issuer-specific deferment and forbearance assumptions, among other things.
US Treasury International Capital data - which is released by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the middle of each month - showed foreign holdings in agency MBS continues to increase. Specifically, the total foreign MBS holdings rose by $83 billion to $259 billion in June 2005 from $176 billion as of June 2004, reported JPMorgan Securities analysts. China's MBS holdings increased four times, surpassing Japan's holdings growth.
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