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August 10, 2018  

College Ave Lands Education-Finance Vet

Marketplace education lender College Ave Student Loans has hired Sharon Asch Gold to head its capital-markets unit.

Gold started on July 30, adding instant momentum to a push by the Wilmington, Del., lender to become a routine sponsor of asset-backed bond deals.

College Ave’s securitizations so far have been limited to a $160.9 million deal in July 2017 and a $199.3 million transaction this June, both with Barclays as bookrunner. The timing of those offerings reflected a cycle in which the operation originates the bulk of its loans just before the start of each school year, then funnels the credits into warehouse lines before passing them on to buyers — which in turn pool them into club deals several months later.

But the expectation is that College Ave has the potential to be far more active. “As our business continues to grow . . . Sharon will play an important role managing our securitizations, working with funding partners and expanding our sources of liquidity,” chief financial officer Jim Keller said.

With Gold’s addition, the company gains a wealth of securitization experience. From 2015 to this March, she worked at S&P as a senior director charged with developing structured-product rating criteria. She handled student-loan bonds at Morgan Stanley and ABN Amro before that, following a run as head of ratings for such deals at Moody’s, where she started her Wall Street career in 1997.

Gold’s colleagues at College Ave include several student-loan heavyweights. Chief executive Joseph DePaulo and chief operating officer Timothy Staley both formerly worked at Sallie Mae. And Keller, who had been overseeing the company’s securitization program until now, spent time at Cantor Fitzgerald, UBS and Citigroup.

DePaulo and Staley founded College Ave in 2014. Since then, the company has written about $1 billion of loans. Its customers often use the financing to cover the gaps between what they can borrow from the U.S. Department of Education and the higher amounts needed for tuition, fees and housing. It also refinances existing student loans.

The accounts carry fixed interest rates of 5.5-12.5% or floating rates starting at 3.2-11.1%.