Michael O'Grady will be taking over as head of structured finance and investments in the Americas at Merrill Lynch. O'Grady is replacing Michael Blum, who left Merrill recently and was formerly the global head of the bank's ABS business. Blum was supposed to spearhead the effort to cut down Merrill's structured finance portfolio before his departure from the firm, according to sources. O'Grady was previously with Merrill's financial institutions group (FIG).

Last week the McGraw-Hill Cos., parent company of Standard & Poor's, announced that it is restructuring a limited number of business operations in its financial services and education units "to more efficiently serve its markets and strengthen its long-term growth prospects." McGraw-Hill made 246 job cuts in financial services and 149 in education. As a result of the announcement, there was some talk last week that the cuts would heavily affect S&P's RMBS ratings team, which is headed by Susan Barnes. However, officials from the company reiterated their commitment to the sector and declined to comment on specific personnel matters. "We are committed to the RMBS market and are keeping a strong team in place to capitalize on existing business as well as future opportunities that will arise when the market eventually returns," Steven Weiss, vice president of corporate communications at McGraw-Hill said. Meanwhile, in another asset class, market sources said that Managing Director Ellen Welsher, who rated esoteric ABS deals at S&P, was one of the analysts who left the firm.

Tim Drayson has been named the new head of BNP Paribas' European corporate group. Fabrice Susini will assume Drayson's previous role at the bank as head of European securitization. Martin Egan, global head of primary markets, who runs the syndicate desk, will now have global responsibility for debt capital markets. Regional debt capital market heads will now report to Egan. Susini will report to Egan, Jim Turner, head of debt capital markets for North America, and Kip Testwuide, head of origination and distribution in the region.

Matt Zola had resigned as head of Morgan Stanley's global head of structured credit, after only a few months in the position. He will be replaced by Brian Neer, who was previously a managing director, and head of Asia and North America structured credit products. Zola, who left the firm to spend more time with his family, had been named global head in January.

Annaly Capital Management has hired Kevin Riordan, who was previously a managing director in the commercial mortgage securities group at TIAA-CREF. Riordan will focus on exploring CMBS and other commercial real estate opportunities for FIDAC, Annaly's wholly owned registered investment advisor. In his 25 years of experience, Riordan held various positions in the financing, investing and securitization of commercial real estate. At TIAA-CREF, he was responsible for the oversight of its $22 billion commercial real estate securities portfolio that included CMBS and CDO securities, REIT debt, REIT common and preferred stock, and the origination of small-balance commercial mortgage loans. Riordan is a member of the Commercial Mortgage Securities Association and now serves as chair of the government relations committee.

National Asset Direct (NAD), a purchaser of distressed residential assets and loans, has made additions to its senior management team. The hires were Ray Schalk, Melissa Dant and Jill Parker, who all previously worked at Accredited Home Lenders. Schalk joined NAD's whole loan trading team and will be responsible for all aspects of loan acquisitions. As NAD's General Counsel, Dant is a member of the senior management team and is responsible for all legal affairs of the entire company and its affiliates. Parker, NAD's director of project management, is responsible for all NAD and iServe (Mortgage, Real Estate, Servicing) projects. She also oversees and serves as a mentor to all NAD project managers.

The CMBX index, which references U.S. CMBS, rolled into its fifth series last Thursday. The index was originally set to roll on May 13, but was postponed to allow more time for newer deals with better underwriting standards to be included.The deals in the portfolio have a minimum size of $700 million and must be secured by at least 50 separate mortgages that are obligations of at least 10 unaffiliated borrowers. At the same time, no more than 40% of the underlying mortgages can be secured by properties in the same state; and no more than 60% of the properties can be of the same property type. Twenty new deals were added to the portfolio.

Wilmington Trust Corp. announced that it is expanding its corporate client services (CCS) business

in Europe with the formation of Wilmington Trust SP Services (Amsterdam) BV. The new firm will perform specialized trustee and corporate administrative services in the Netherlands. The services include those for CDO and ABS transactions as well as for holding company services. Wilmington Trust will be working with ANT-Trust, a corporate trust and administrative services firm based in Amsterdam.


In "Babson Sails Through Rocky CLO Market" from ASR's 5/19 issue, it should have stated that Morgan Stanley was the correct underwriter in the Babson CLO 2008-1.

(c) 2008 Asset Securitization Report and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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