Fortis Investments set up an asset-backed securities team in New York and will launch its first structured finance products by the end of the year, said North America CEO Will Braman. Fortis hired Karim Berichi as an ABS portfolio manager; Terry Campbell as ABS credit head; Patrick Fontana as a residential mortgage-backed security analyst; Vladimir Kostour as a collateralized debt obligation quantitative analyst; John Palphreyman as an ABS trader; and Frank Deustchmann as a systems engineer. Mr. Braman said Fortis will add to its U.S. fixed-income and structured credit team, increasing it to 25 people by mid-2005 from 10 now. Mr. Berichi was head of the asset securitization group at Banca Intesa; Mr. Campbell was head of the structured finance underwriting group with ACE Guaranty Corp.; Mr. Fontana was an RMBS analyst with E*Trade Financial Corp.; Mr. Kostour was an associate in the structured finance group of Jefferies & Co.; Mr. Palphreyman was an assistant portfolio manager and mortgage-backed securities trader with TIAA Investments; and Mr. Deustchmann was chief technology officer with Trepp. .