Tim Nicolle joined Eurokommerz as first deputy chief executive officer. He was previously managing director of emerging markets for Deutsche Bank in London. In his new Moscow-based role, Nicolle will oversee for a wide range of Eurokommerz activities, including debt and equity transactions, strategic initiatives, acquisitions and the international expansion of the group's businesses. Eurokommerz is a commercial finance business and is currently the largest factoring company in the CIS region. The firm actively deals with over 24,000 companies across Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. It was only the second quarter of last year that Deutsche poached Nicolle from HVB, where he handled deals from the Eastern Europe-Russia region.
First Marblehead Corp. has made a series of management changes. The student loan firm announced that Kenneth Klipper will become the chief financial officer effective immediately, succeeding John Hupalo, who decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. Before his appointment as CFO, Klipper served as senior vice president, treasurer and chief accounting officer of First Marblehead. Prior to working at First Marblehead, Klipper was the chief executive officer of BrownCo, an online brokerage firm at the time owned by JPMorgan. The company also announced that the capital markets group will now be led by Gary Santo and Stein Skaane. Santo is rejoining the company effective Sept. 29 after serving as a managing director in the structured finance group at Fitch Ratings since July 2007. He previously spent 11 years in the capital markets group at First Marblehead. Skaane, who currently serves as executive vice president of product strategy, has been with First Marblehead since 2001 and prior to that, worked at State Street Corp. in the firm's structured finance group. The reconstituted capital markets group will also include personnel currently responsible for quantitative analysis, risk analysis, and product strategy. The company also announced that Michael Plunkett, senior vice president of loan operations, will head the company's newly combined loan origination and information technology department.
In a related development, Fitch Ratings has asked Managing Director Mike Dean to assume Gary Santo's consumer ABS responsibilities while it considers longer-term options. Dean is currently responsible for the ABCP group and was previously responsible for consumer ABS.
EIM USA named Vincent Matsui as head of credit. In his new position, Matsui will be responsible for all credit-related investment opportunities and will be part of the investment committee. He will report to Antonio Munoz, chief executive officer at the firm. Before EIM, Matsui was global head of CDO asset manager ratings for Fitch Ratings, where he chaired manager rating committees and led a global team that developed more than 100 credit manager profiles. Prior to his stint at Fitch, he served as global co-head of structured credit for Swiss Re. EIM USA is the U.S. affiliate of the international fund of hedge funds EIM Group founded by Arpad Busson.
Volker Bruhl was appointed head of corporate and structured finance products at West LB. He joins WestLB from Dresdner Kleinwort, where, among other things, he was head of strategic advisory Germany, co-head of M&A and corporate finance as well as co-head of large and mid-cap origination. At WestLB, Bruhl will be responsible for implementing the closer integration of the firm's corporate, financing and capital markets businesses.
Doug McGregor was appointed chairman and co-chief executive officer of RBC Capital Markets, the corporate and investment banking arm of Royal Bank of Canada, while Mark Standish has been appointed president and co-CEO of the firm. These appointments are effective Nov. 1 in connection with the retirement of Charles Winograd as chairman and CEO. Winograd will remain with the bank to facilitate the transition into January 2009. As chairman and co-CEO, McGregor, who will continue to be based in Toronto, will assume specific responsibility for driving client relationships as well as managing the firm's investment banking, equity agency trading and credit businesses. As president and co-CEO, Standish will have responsibility for the firm's sales and trading activities, financing, as well as oversight and management of the firm's balance sheet. He will continue to be based in New York. McGregor and Standish were appointed co-presidents of RBC Capital Markets in February 2007. McGregor, as co-president, led the firm's global investment banking business and was responsible for RBC Capital Markets' global activities in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and equity sales and trading. He also headed the North American real estate brokerage, financing, capital markets and advisory business. McGregor started his investment banking career in 1979 and joined RBC as a managing director in 1990 through the acquisition of Marcil Trust. Standish, as co-president, led the firm's global markets business, including global debt markets, financial products, debt finance, fixed-income and foreign exchange, as well as municipal finance. Standish joined RBC in New York in 1995 as head of proprietary and structured trading.
GFI Group has added five new hires in emerging markets credit default swaps in New York. The hires include Scott Pagano, Michael Connell and Tom Halpin. All five join GFI from BGC Partners in New York. "GFI is the world's top broker in credit derivatives, and we intend to remain so," said Colin Heffron, president of GFI Group. "We are delighted to strengthen our brokerage team with Scott, Michael and Tom, and we look forward to offering an even better service to our clients." The new brokers will report to Nick Brown, GFI's head of financial product brokerage, North America.
Katten Muchin Rosenman formed a new multidisciplinary task force to advise clients on the U.S. Department of the Treasury's proposed Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The firm's TARP Task Force draws upon its prior experience representing the Resolution Trust Corp. in its disposition of defaulted illiquid assets and will include attorneys in the areas of structured finance and securitization, real estate, banking, financial services, derivatives, bankruptcy and litigation. The TARP Task Force will be led by New York-based partners Eric Adams, who also co-chairs Katten's structured finance and securitization practice, and Hays Ellisen, co-chair of the firm's credit crisis solutions group.
Mayer Brown launched a Financial Institutions Response Unit in London in response to the turbulent market conditions and events over the past 12 days. The new unit includes selected lawyers who are experienced in complex financial transactions, restructuring, employment, pensions, tax, real estate, regulatory matters and banking litigation. The taskforce has set up a dedicated telephone number to prioritize its responses. Dominic Griffiths, finance partner at the law firm, will lead the response unit in London. This new initiative is part of the Mayer Brown's existing special situations group set up in late 2007 to respond to the changing market conditions at that time. The special group includes lawyers in the firm's key financial centers such as New York and Hong Kong.
Frank Filipps has stepped down as chairman and chief executive officer of Clayton Holdings, as reported by ASR sister publication National Mortgage News Online. A company official confirmed Filipps' departure, noting that he officially retired from the company this summer when it was bought out by Greenfield Partners, an investment fund. "Frank left on good terms," said the official, who speculated that Filipps might "make a run at Radian," a mortgage insurance company that he once headed. Filipps did not return telephone calls about the matter. Earlier this year, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo granted Clayton immunity from prosecution in exchange for providing information on the due-diligence work it conducted for Wall Street firms that securitized subprime mortgages over the past five years. One key issue Cuomo is looking at is underwriting "exceptions" granted by project managers working for Clayton on Wall Street accounts. Clayton, which was publicly traded when Greenfield bought it, is based in Shelton, Conn. Greenfield's President and Chief Executive Officer Eugene Gorab replaced Filipps as chairman of Clayton, National Mortgage News Online reported.
Late Monday Bank of America fired Drew Gissinger, a top production executive at Countrywide Home Loans who was in charge of retail, wholesale and correspondent lending, according to company officials and as reported by ASR sister publication National Mortgage News Online. Also let go were Brian Hale, president of retail; Charlie Rogers, managing director of Countrywide's nationwide retail network; and Tom Hunt, managing director of the western U.S. retail branch network. Gissinger once carried the title of president and chief operating officer of Countrywide Home Loans. Meanwhile, BoA named Craig Buffie the top executive in charge of sales and fulfillment, overseeing 14,000 employees in the mortgage group.
Deutsche Borse is internationalizing its Xpect Data offering by expanding it first to include Dutch longevity data. Deutsche Borse's market data and analytics division launched the Xpect Data offering in Germany earlier this year. Xpect Data offers the most up-to-date figures for quantitative valuation of longevity risk. The data on population trends in Germany and the Netherlands is collated from various sources as well as checked and disseminated on a monthly basis. Data from this area was previously only available every three-to-five years. Along with raw data on longevity, Deutsche Borse will also offer indices under the name Xpect-indices that will serve as the basis for securitization of life and pension insurance risks and as a basis for financial instruments.
European Union Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said last week that there is no plan to propose the regulation of hedge funds and private equity funds. The EU commissioner believes that market-led initiatives and close monitoring of this sector will be enough to avoid future problems. However, market reports said that EU lawmakers are set to release a report calling on McCreevy to come forward with a legislative proposal to toughen oversight of hedge funds and private equity companies. The report, which is expected to be voted on in the coming days, calls for mandatory capital requirements for all financial institutions and for better alignment of reward packages in the sector with longer-term outcomes to reflect losses and profits. It also asks for measures to "avoid unreasonable asset stripping in target companies."
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that existing home sales for August declined a larger-than-expected 2.2% to 4.91 million versus a consensus call of 4.92 million. Contributing to the larger percentage decline was an upward revision to July home sales to 5.02 million from 5.0 million. The median home price plunged a record 9.5% to $203,100 from August 2007. Home prices declined 3.4% from July. Months supply was 10.4 months with the inventory of previously owned homes at 4.26 million. However, this is down from Julys record of 10.9 months and inventory of 4.58 million. NAR President Richard Gaylord expressed concern about the outlook for home sales. The difficulty in obtaining a mortgage increased over the past couple months, making it more challenging for creditworthy borrowers to finance, he said, adding that loosening of the tight lending standards to more reasonable levels to help balance out supply and demand was needed, and that even though interest rates have improved, there is a serious question as to whether a cash infusion by the U.S. Treasury into Wall Street would help consumers by improving mortgage funding.
The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight reported its home price index fell by 0.6% in July. In addition, June was revised downward to -0.3% from unchanged previously. Year-over-year, prices are down 5.3%. Regions reporting the largest price declines in July were Middle Atlantic (negative 1.1%), New England (negative 1.0%) and Pacific (negative 1%). Unlike last month, no regions reported price gains. The Pacific states have year-over-year the largest price drop at 17.7%, followed by the South Atlantic states at negative 5.2% and Mountain states at negative 4.7%. The West South Central states had a positive 12-month change at 0.6%.
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