Kevin Stephenson, managing director and head of structured finance in Australia, will move to Fitch's Tokyo office to become head of Japanese structured finance and head of credit for structured finance Asia.

Huxley Somerville, formerly managing director in the US CMBS group, will head to Sydney to lead the Australian structured finance team.

Vas Kosseris, the senior director who established the agency's Japan-based structured finance team, returns to London to initially lead the ratings teams for ABCP and arbitrage funds.

Commenting on the appointments, Jill Zelter, managing director of international structured finance, says: "We are very excited about the growth in Asian structured finance. Kevin and Huxley bring a comprehensive skill set to the regions as between them they have 10 years experience in structured finance and 20 years in commercial real estate, a market Fitch expects to be increasingly important in both Japan and Australia.

"Also, we plan to have four new hires for CMBS and ABS joining the Tokyo structured finance team in early 2001."

Fitch has also announced the addition of Stephanie Keats to its Sydney office. Prior to Fitch, Keats was with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where she was a manager in the bank's securitization team. She will be concentrating on residential mortgage-backed securities at Fitch.