The asset-backed securities market proved to be a mixed bag last week, with some describing the market as quiet - "You could hear a pin drop," said one trader - while others called it "a scramble for paper." And even though volume for the week neared $4.7 billion, the overall sentiment was that there hadn't been the kind of issuance anticipated for this time in September.
According to a banker who worked on two of last week's deals, issuers have been both anxious and hesitant. "I think what you're seeing," the source said, "is that people are doing deals now just so they don't have to worry about doing anything in the fourth quarter."
Though the idea has been to get things done quickly, said the source, no one wants to get caught issuing in a flood of supply.
In a deal being weighed against Ford Motor Credit Co.'s $3.2 billion pricing the week prior, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG sold $1.1 billion in prime auto-backed bonds, the company's first step into the ABS market. The transaction was managed by Salomon Smith Barney, and was structured in five parts (see story page 2). A two-year tranche priced at a spread of 80 basis points over the bench, comparable to Ford's two-year class, which priced at 82 over.
"The two year swaps spreads are arguably a basis point tighter," said one trader. "And I think there was a difference in the market tone." The trader described the Ford deal as "more of a struggle to get done" than the BMW deal.
At press time, home-equity lenders Advanta Corp., Alliance Capital Management, Headlands Mortgage Co. and New Century, issued nearly $1.5 billion in deals.
Advanta came with a $275 million home-equity line of credit deal, pricing within original talk. "We were delighted," said Advanta Treasurer, Jeff Beck. "The deal went well. The pricing was rationally priced. The underwriters did a good job of placing the bonds." Morgan Stanley Dean Witter led the deal, with Banc of America Securities as co-manager.
Peoples Bank issued $400 million in credit card-backed bonds in what was the company's ninth pricing since the entering the ABS market in 1993, according to Mike Ciborowski, vice president of Peoples Bank. The uninsured deal was managed by Salomon Smith Barney, and co-managed by Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Credit Suisse First Boston.
"We had a diverse investor base, a few new names, and we're pretty happy. We think it went well," said Ciborowski. "It priced within a basis point of the initial price talk."
Meanwhile, Chase Manhattan Bank had to upsize its novel credit card transaction last week by $100 million because of vigorous investor demand, said a source close to the situation. The oversubscribed $965.9 million transaction was structured entirely as an owner trust - a first in the credit-card sector - which attracted many buysiders, the source said, and succeeded in getting the C-piece sold at the tight end of talk.
"Because the C-class was publicly issued and ERISA eligible, it sparked a lot of interest," the source said. The C tranche priced at 95 basis points over one-month Libor.
At press time, small-ticket office equipment issuer IKON was readying an equipment-backed deal of undetermined size for premarketing. Structural details were unavailable.