CIFG Holdings Ltd., parent of the financial guarantor CIFG Assurance NA, Friday named David Rockwell to the position of chief risk officer, with responsibility for the company's risk management activities and surveillance functions.

Rockwell replaces Chuck Webster, who is no longer with the firm. Rockwell has been with CIFG since November, and has served in a number of senior risk management positions over the last 15 years. Before joining the company, Rockwell had served as head of structured finance risk at Radian Asset Assurance and as the chief credit officer for AIG Risk Finance.

CIFG also named Thierry Dissaux as head of European operations and the chief executive officer of CIFG Europe.

"David and Thierry are both extremely experienced, seasoned professionals who will help enormously in our efforts aimed at strengthening our risk management procedures and building up our European presence," said John Pizzarelli, chief executive officer of CIFG.

Like many of the financial guarantors, CIFG has been criticized in recent months for providing guarantees on increasingly risky credits like collateralized debt obligations backed by subprime mortgages. The subsequent falling values of the CDOs have caused capital shortfalls at CIFG and its peers, and led to ratings downgrades.

In the past five weeks, CIFG has been downgraded by all three ratings agencies. Moody's Investors Service rates it A1, with a stable outlook, Standard & Poor's gives it an A-plus, with a negative outlook, and Fitch Ratings assigns an A-minus, with a negative outlook.

Other bond insurers, most notably Ambac Assurance Corp. and MBIA Insurance Corp. have also made changes to their risk departments or risk policies in recent months. In the case of Ambac and MBIA, the rating agencies subsequently viewed the changes as positive when evaluating the companies ratings.


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