The European Securitization Forum (ESF) opened its office doors in Europe three years ago and since has seen the European securitization market expand from E78 billion (US$90 billion) in 2000 to E157 billion (US$182 billion) in 2002. And there are more good things to come, said ESF members, who have seen the forum's membership grow to 100 members from its original 20.

The main area of concentration currently is the ESF's active involvement with the Basle Accord as well as pending accounting standard changes, the ESF stated at a press briefing last week. "Basle has set a deadline for the next wave of commentary for the end of this year," said one source. "I think it's encouraging that we are all

finally on the same page with the same goal - the risk-weighting perspective has been the most important aspect and we have been getting some very important signs from [committee members], who recognize that this is, right now, the number one concern from the community."

Members hosting the briefing added that over the past few weeks, following the Basle committee meeting in Madrid in October (see ASR 10/20), they have held a number of discussions of the possible benefits of the Madrid results. While it's one of the most important issues for the industry association, the group has a number of ventures brewing at the moment, a spokesperson said.

At press time, the ESF unveiled its new Securitization Market Practise Guidelines - a set of recommendations, mainly investor-driven, that are intended to improve market transparency, liquidity and pre- and post-issuance reporting. "Our aim is to further promote the growth of the European ABS market," the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the ESF issued its comments on a prospectus directive that outlines items required for inclusion when selling debt securities with the Committee of European Securities Regulators.

It's possible that a European CDO repository library modeled after the Bond Market's Association's newly initiated U.S. version might be in the works for the future. "We have been actively exploring the possibility and it's been extraordinarily well received," said one ESF source. "We anticipate that once the details are worked out we'll be making sure industry players are fully aware of the market, and it could lead to the development of a secondary market for CDOs."

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