It's not just for lonely hearts anymore. Speed-dating a way for busy singles to meet was on the event list at a distinctly unromantic venue, the Information Management Network's ABS East conference, in a bid to bring together investors and issuers still reeling from this year's U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown.
Not a golf or tennis player? Then go on a date! said the ABS East brochure at its asset-backed securities conference in Orlando, Florida, which runs Sunday through Wednesday.
While not your traditional singles speed-dating event, the conference sponsor hoped to create some key matchups between issuers and investors seeking to form some true, long-lasting business partnerships.
It just takes some of the guesswork out of trying to connect and makes a very large event more intimate for those people who may be new to the market or don't already have established connections, said Jade Friedensohn, IMN senior vice president and event producer.
Investors were offered the chance to meet one-on-one with issuers of mortgage asset-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and non-mortgage ABS on Tuesday. Six investors and issuers spent 10 minutes in pairs of two hoping to make a connection before moving on to their next potential match.
Ten minutes should be enough to determine if one investor's risk profile is in line with that issuer's platform. When you're first meeting, the goal is to even understand if there's compatibility there, said Friedensohn. If there is, at that point, you've had face time, you've exchanged business cards and the follow-up can be done on-site or down the line.
CDO ISSUER COURTED
Richard Ray, chief financial officer at 21st Mortgage Corp of Knoxville, Tennessee, participated in five meetings with mortgage and non-mortgage ABS issuers.
Our industry, manufactured housing, is not growing in size so we are looking for other assets to buy. I came down to hopefully meet with some financial institutions that have first and second mortgages to sell, said Ray. We want to grow our business and we don't think manufactured housing will allow us to do that, he said.
The conference producer said the response to the speed-dating event was very positive.
It's a nice quick way of having one-on-one conversations with various companies to see if there are any commonalities of interest, said Ray.
Mortgage investors attending the event included BlackRock, HBIC, 21st Mortgage and Vanquish Capital while CDO investors included Federated Investors, FrontPoint Partners, Union Bank and ZS Structured Credit, said event coordinators.
Ford Credit, Nord-LB and First Watch Leasing were among the non-mortgage issuers while Commercial Capital and Kazkommerts were among the CDO and mortgage issuers, they added.
After the whirlwind dating sessions, a few participants gathered with Reuters to discuss how they went.
A. Dennis Zehnle, vice president of finance at Commercial Capital in Denver, Colorado, said the event was a very useful way to meet future investors.
It's a great way to network, especially at a big conference like this. You don't get those opportunities going to the general sessions and meetings, said Zehnle.
As the sole CDO issuer to sign up, Zehnle was courted by a large number of investors. I had eight meetings and got to pitch my story solely to everybody, he said.
Ray from 21st Mortgage said he did not experience the same success. I met with five different organizations that were mortgage and non-mortgage ABS issuers but it didn't work for me. Maybe I should have attended more meetings with investors.
But, proving perhaps that the chance meeting can be the start of a great relationship, Zehnle stepped in to say:
You know we have a fund that sponsored a mobile home manufacturer three to four years ago. They ended up with $30 million in mortgages which they're looking to securitize and need a partner.