Business Loan Express is out in the market with a small business loan deal backed 60% by Amresco Independence Funding originated SBA loans, perhaps the last batch of Amresco-branded small business loans ever to grace the ABS market.

BLX acquired the performing portion of the AIF portfolio in January, along with part of its loan servicing effort. The acquisition included the hiring of 57 former AIF staffers. As such, BLX is the subsequent servicer on the three outstanding AIF deals.

Wachovia Securities is underwriting the pending $190 million transaction with WestLB as co-manager. This will be BLX's third small-business loan deal this year, for a total of about $430 million in ABS sold. Wachovia led the two prior deals as well. Only one of BLX's three deals this year - which priced in May - was backed by conventional small-business loans. The pending deal, along with BLX's January deal, was backed by loans with a portion guaranteed by the Small Business Association.

According to Ted Horan, a director in capital markets at BLX, the company plans to be a regular issuer going forward, though it will not likely tap the market again in 2003. As for further acquisitions, "None (is) planned," he said, adding, "We look to grow internally, but also opportunistically."

The small biz skinny

By ASR's tally, pre-BLX 2003-2, there had already been about $1.2 billion in small-business loan deals, not including the middle market/commercial loan segment, which the market seems to view more as CLOs than SBL-backed deals. The real differentiation seems to be that small-business deals are modeled actuarially, versus CDO methodology, which considers more closely individual exposures.

This year, BayView Financial Trading, which has had pockets of small-business loans sprinkled throughout its home equity deals over the years, brought its first all-business deal, a $200 million called BayView Commercial Asset Trust 2003-1.

CNL Commercial also tapped the market this year with $175 million in conventional small-business loan-backed ABS. The largest deal so far, however, was a $400 million deal from GE Capital Corp., jointly led by Goldman Sachs and Wachovia. This was GE's first foray into the term small-business loan market.

Most recently, PMC Capital priced a $92 million hotel loan intensive transaction called PMC Joint Venture, via RBC Dain Rauscher.

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