Citigroup Global Markets did not have much climbing to do in order to claim first place in the ABS lead manager rankings for the first half of 2006, according to data from Thomson Financial. After placing second in the league tables at the end of the first half of 2005, Citigroup has emerged as the top lead manager so far for 2006.

Duplicating its placement on the lead manager rankings for the first quarter, Citigroup was the only investment bank to snag a double-digit market share of ABS deals. The company underwrote $59 billion of ABS transactions through June 30, 2006, giving it a 10.5% share of the overall market. That amount allowed Citigroup to secure a comfortable lead over second-place finisher Merrill Lynch, which completed $48.8 billion worth of deals. Appearing to go after the big-game transactions, Merrill Lynch acted as lead on 72 issues, the same number of deals that sixth-place finisher Royal Bank of Scotland Group completed. Lehman Brothers, which was first place in the same period last year, lost its leadership position, and slipped to third after ushering $46 billion of ABS deals to market.

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