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.