Tom Wickwire, global head of structured products and head of the principal financing group at Wachovia Securities, will be leaving the firm within two weeks. Wickwire's responsibilities will be taken up by several individuals but primarily by John Bresnan, chief capital officer in the company's fixed-income division. There is no word yet on where Wickwire is headed. After Wickwire's departure, Bresnan will have oversight of structuring, which includes retained risk, principal investment and hedging activities, although not the real-estate division. The real-estate-related businesses are currently headed by head of retirement and investment products Bob Reid, who was appointed to manage these businesses about two months ago in a newly created position. Both Bresnan and Reid report to Ben Williams, head of global markets and investment banking.
Assured Guaranty Corp. appointed Christopher Mortello to managing director of structured finance surveillance, overseeing the company's ABS and RMBS portfolios. Mortello, who previously spent more than 10 years at Assured underwriting structured finance transactions, has returned to the bond insurer and will now be focusing on portfolio surveillance, remediation and reporting for the structured finance portfolio. Mortello reports to Andrew Pickering, chief surveillance officer. Most recently, Mortello was head of ABS at PMI Guaranty Co. and was responsible for developing, structuring and analyzing structured finance transactions for financial guaranty insurance, credit default swaps and reinsurance.
Tom White, currently head of global markets, will be transitioning to a new leadership role as president of the principal capital group at Bank of America. The new group will have oversight of all the firm's principal trading activities, which include managing BofA's CDO assets and select credit portfolios. The bank is searching for a replacement for the head of global markets role that White took over from Mark Wener in mid-2007. Wener left BofA after a stint at the firm that began in October 2004. Before becoming global markets head, White was global head of credit products. He joined Bank of America in 1994 as a managing director in high-yield trading. His responsibilities have included sales, trading, research and capital markets across a range of debt products, including high-grade and high-yield bonds, distressed debt and syndicated lending. White joined Bank of America from Morgan Stanley.
Moody's Investors Service announced the appointment of Jonathan Polansky, who is now the group managing director of the rating agency's asset finance group, to the newly created role of structured finance global surveillance coordinator. In his new role, Polanksy will work closely with the rating agency's surveillance and line of business managers to monitor outstanding Moody's-rated structured transactions. According to a release from the rating agency, surveillance managers across all structured finance business lines, including ABS, RMBS and CMBS as well as derivatives, will report to Polansky. Polansky was an analyst in Moody's U.S. derivatives group from 1997 to 1999 and rejoined to manage CDO surveillance in 2003 after four years as co-head of the structured products group at Triton Partners. Polansky was promoted to team managing director in 2005 and to group managing director of asset finance in January 2008. Before Moody's, Polansky analyzed bank loan portfolios for Loan Pricing Corp., served as a vice president at the Yasuda Trust and Banking Co., and worked as a middle-market lending officer for the Bank of New York.
Dan Sparks has left his position as head of Goldman Sachs' mortgage department. Sparks had been in the position for only a year and a half but had been with Goldman for almost 20 years. Personal reasons have been cited for his leaving the firm.
Babson Capital Management announced that it closed the $680 million Vinacasa CLO last Thursday. The deal is a restructuring of Beecher Loan Fund, a market-value CLO, previously managed by Hartford Investment Management. Citigroup arranged the transaction. Pricing on the triple-A paper is at 140 basis points, pricing on the double-A paper is at 350 basis points, single-A paper is at 500 basis points and triple-B paper is at 700 basis points, according to Standard & Poor's. Babson has assumed management of 10 CDOs since October 2003, which total more than $2.8 billion in assets.
Standard & Poor's last week lowered its ratings on 2,183 classes of U.S. RMBS from 334 deals backed by Alt-A loan collateral issued in 2006. The rating agency took off 810 of the lowered ratings off CreditWatch with negative implications. S&P also placed 487 ratings on CreditWatch negative. The rating agency affirmed its ratings on 144 classes and removed them from CreditWatch negative. All of the ratings that were removed from CreditWatch had been placed there on Feb. 29, a release from S&P said. The classes affected by the negative rating actions represent an issuance amount of roughly $41.05 billion, or approximately 6.10% of the par amount of U.S. RMBS transactions backed by Alt-A mortgage loans that were rated by S&P in 2006.
Bank of America Corp. is set to expand its efforts to help Countrywide Financial Corp. borrowers avoid foreclosure, said Liam McGee, president of the bank's global consumer and small business banking operation. McGee stated that BofA will modify at least $40 billion in problem loans from at least 265,000 borrowers in the next two years. This number includes borrowers from both lenders, even though the majority of the at-risk loans are held by Countrywide borrowers. McGee said that BofA will offer borrowers many options such as loan modifications and payment forbearance. It will also not charge borrowers who are in foreclosure new late charges and, in some cases, it will waive prepayment penalties as well, he said.
H&R Block has closed the sale of the mortgage loan servicing business of its Option One Mortgage Corp. subsidiary effective April 30. As previously announced, the purchaser was American Home Mortgage Servicing, which is an affiliate of WL Ross & Co. According to a release from H&R Block, proceeds of the deal at closing were roughly $1.3 billion. The firm used the proceeds partly to repay more than $980 million on its servicing advance facility, which represents the outstanding balance of this facility. After repayment of servicing advances, Option One realized net cash proceeds of slightly over $230 million and retained a receivable relating to certain servicing assets of roughly $100 million.
In other servicing news, Origen Financial has entered into an agreement for the sale of its servicing platform assets to Green Tree Servicing. Upon the sale's completion, the transaction will include the transfer of about $1.6 billion of manufactured housing loans. Proceeds from the sale would be used to retire a $15 million loan secured by the servicing assets, to partially repay a $46 million secured loan facility entered into in April 2008 and to fund working capital. As part of the deal, Green Tree will assume the lease for Origen's Fort Worth, Texas servicing facility.
Radian Group announced that it had presented a comprehensive business and financial plan to the GSEs earlier this month as a result of its drop in ratings to single-A. The plan aims to restore profitability and a double-A rating to its mortgage insurance business, Radian Guaranty, the parent company said. The plan was unveiled to the GSEs on April 10, two days after Standard & Poor's slashed the company's rating to A' from AA-'. Radian said that while returning to AA' might be a "long-term endeavor," the company will meet regularly with the GSEs to discuss its progress. Earlier this month, Radian also announced that it had received a waiver from its credit facility lenders to suspend the ratings covenant in the debt package. While the company said it was not in default, it requested temporary relief in order to amend the credit agreement. The changes had to have been made by April 30.
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