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S&P Removes Duka as Head of CMBS Ratings, Newsletter Says

Standard & Poor’s has removed Barbara Duka from her position as head of ratings for commercial mortgage-backed securities, according to Commercial Mortgage Alert.

Duka’s role changed about six weeks ago, the newsletter said today, without citing sources. Grace Osborne, to whom Duka reported, continues to oversee S&P’s mortgage business, according to the report.

S&P, a New York-based unit of McGraw-Hill Cos., has been replacing ratings executives since Douglas Peterson, a former Citigroup Inc. executive, took over for Deven Sharma as president in September. Mark Adelson, who was chief credit officer, was reassigned to a research role in December, while David Jacob, global head of structured finance, left the firm.

Duka didn’t return a telephone message seeking confirmation of the report. Ed Sweeney, a spokesman for S&P, declined to comment on whether Duka was leaving the company.

The changes come after S&P garnered a smaller share of structured-finance business than Moody’s Investors Service last year for the first time since 1997, according to Asset-Backed Alert, another newsletter.

In July, S&P withdrew grades it had assigned to a $1.5 billion offering of bonds backed by commercial mortgages from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc., forcing the banks to scuttle the transaction after it was placed with investors.

“The manner in which S&P took its action has severely eroded investor and issuer confidence in its ratings,” Morgan Stanley analysts led by Richard Parkus in New York wrote in a note on July 28.

Goldman Sachs and Citigroup resuscitated the deal in September with grades from Moody’s and Fitch Ratings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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