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.

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