Preliminary numbers indicate that following a strong week of lead-managing activity that included underwriting the largest-ever ABS, Banc of America Securities will be the top ABS underwriter for the first quarter of 2002, according to data maintained by Thomson Financial.

While the firm is considered to be a perennial powerhouse in the bank-loan and traditional private placement markets, this quarter represents the first time the Charlotte-based bank has ever attained the No.1 position on the ABS league tables, which have typically been dominated by the likes of Salomon Smith Barney, Credit Suisse First Boston and Merrill Lynch since the market matured in the late 1990's.

In fact, since the Oct. 1998 merger with the former NationsBank Montgomery Securities, this marks the first instance that BofA has taken the highest slot on any syndicated corporate fixed-income, ABS, MBS, CMBS, investment-grade or high-yield corporate debt league tables.

During the record-breaking week of March 18 through 22, BofA placed roughly $6 billion of ABS in the hands of investors. Notable lead-managing mandates for the bank included joint-lead roles for the record $6.2 billion EquiCredit home-equity offering, the $3.5 billion Ford 2002-B and $2.03 billion Sallie Mae 2002-2 deals, as well as the $1 billion equipment lease securitization from CNH Equipment.

With a lead of approximately $2.39 billion on second-place Salomon Smith Barney, BofA has run the books on approximately $13.8 billion of public and 144A ABS in the first three months of 2002, claiming 14.3% of the asset-backed market.

The No. 2 through No. 4 spots on the ABS league tables look like they'll be the usual suspects: Salomon, CSFB and JPMorgan, respectively, who are separated by just over $1.1 billion. Salomon has managed approximately $11.5 billion during the first quarter, for 12.1% of the market; CSFB has led $10.8 billion, for 11.4% and JPMorgan has led $10.1 billion for 10.7% of the market, through March 22.

The newly minted Deutsche Bank Securities rounds out the top five underwriters, with roughly $8.95 billion of ABS supply sold so far in 2002 - good enough for a 9.4% market share. Starting this Monday, the securities unit formerly known as Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown was rebranded to the new name.

On a side note, with a joint lead manager role on the EquiCredit trade responsible for $3.1 billion, underwriter Goldman Sachs moved into the ninth spot on the league tables, with $4.26 billion of ABS placed.

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