Citigroup Global Markets, the leading ABS underwriter last year, has sprung off the blocks on the right foot, as it has bolted to an early first-quarter lead in the league tables, according to preliminary numbers maintained by Thomson Financial. With more than $20 billion of ABS counted through last Wednesday, it is unlikely that the current second-place underwriter will overcome Citi's $7 billion cushion.

Through the first three months of the year, Citigroup controlled 13.2% of the market and is the only underwriter with a double-digit market share. Should Citigroup maintain the $80 billion annualized pace that it set in 1Q04, it would dwarf its market-leading 2003 volume by nearly $30 billion in additional business.

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