Countrywide Home Loans Inc. was far and away the most prolific issuer of ABS last year, blasting out over $87 billion of supply. That number represents over 10% of the $858 billion ABS market last year, and is even more impressive considering Countrywide issued $15 billion in 2003. Last year also saw more investment banks creep into the forefront of ABS issuance, with Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse Group and Morgan Stanley occupying the third, fourth and fifth slots, respectively.

Ron Kripalani, president of capital markets unit Countrywide Securities, said Countrywide's growth is a reflection of the growth of the mortgage and home equity sector of the ABS marketplace, and the fact that the company is both an originator and underwriter. Kripalani attributes that growth to the number of new institutional investors in the marketplace, an increased demand for credit and the increasingly global demand for ABS. Last year, Countrywide also did third party deals for "a handful" of issuers, and, according to Kripilani, the company intends to increase the business it does with third party issuers, both in terms of the number of different entities and the volume of deals. As for 2005, Kripalani is optimistic. "We don't see a slowdown in the mortgage related ABS sector...we see a continuation [of 2004]," he said.

Countrywide's Herculean efforts as an issuer were followed by the leading issuer over the past few recent years, GMAC-RFC with $40 billion, while GMAC as a combined entity issued $50 billion. As a yardstick of the bulging market, GMAC's $58 billion issuance in 2003 was enough to earn it the blue ribbon and was nearly double the performance of the next closest issuer. According to GMAC-RFC Managing Director Diane Wold, it was able to grab its market share while staying relatively clear of new mortgage products such as subprime IO loans and 80/20 loans, in favor of the more traditional mortgage products. The company also securitized in Mexico and Canada for the first time last year and continued its presence in the Netherlands and the U.K. and plans to issue in those regions again in 2005 (see ASR 12/13/04). - GC

Lehman Brothers was not far off with $39 billion, followed closely by Credit Suisse First Boston with $38 billion and Morgan Stanley with $35 billion. One notable performer was Bear Stearns with $25.7 billion in issuance, capturing seventh place, up from $10.6 billion and eleventh place in 2003.

Copyright 2005 Thomson Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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