Cantor Grows High-Yield and Mortgage Bond Teams

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Cantor Fitzgerald is adding headcount in mortgage and high-yield debt sectors hard-hit by the sub-prime blowup, at a time when larger Wall Street firms are cutting back.

The moves align Cantor with nimble players such as credit hedge funds that are opportunistically raising capital to buy and trade various debt instruments that have cheapened considerably since mid-year.

Financial News reports the firm recently hired two executives to lead a growing high-yield sales and trading operation. It's also expected to add mortgage-backed sales people, after promoting two executives to co-heads of MBS sales and trading.

Mark Lichtman joined Cantor as head of high-yield sales and trading, effective Oct. 9. The new role involves "coordinating high-yield efforts across sales, trading and capital introductions," the news service says. Robert Wade came aboard as director of high yield sales and trading, and will focus on trading distressed corporate debt. Both men were hired from BB&T Capital Markets.

"The high-yield market represents a tremendous opportunity to continue our steady growth and expand our distribution capabilities in the marketplace," Carmine Urciuoli, head of Cantor's credit department, told Financial News. "We will continue to capitalize on the current disturbance in the credit market to further strengthen our high-yield and distressed debt sales and trading efforts in order to meet our customers' portfolio requirements."

In late September, Cantor promoted Shawn Matthews and Scott Moore to co-heads of mortgage-backed sales and trading, a new position. The firm has been building out its MBS infrastructure and plans to hire more sales people for the 40-person department, according to Financial News.

While emphasizing opportunities created by the market selloff, Cantor hasn't escaped the pain. In late June the broker auctioned off a large holding of Everquest Financial, one of two Bear Stearns hedge funds that collapsed under a heavy load of sub-prime assets. Cantor's Everquest exposure reportedly exceeded $400 million.

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