As expected, mortgage originators dominated the leading ABS issuers in 2003, according to numbers compiled by Thomson Financial. With the mortgage sector accounting for one-half of the entire market, it is hardly surprising that four of the top five issuers last year executed the majority of originations from mortgage product.

General Motors Acceptance Corp.'s mortgage lending unit GMAC-RFC dominated the market to the point where its 2003 issuance total was double that of the second most active ABS issuer. As the leading ABS issuer for the second year in a row, GMAC-RFC sold more than $50 billion of mortgage ABS to investors, accounting for almost 10% of total ABS supply last year.

Student lender Sallie Mae lived up to its increased expectations in 2003 and was the second most active issuer, selling $25.6 billion of supply, nearly doubling the $13 billion it sold in 2002. Fueling Sallie's increased issuance last year was $3.7 billion from its private loan collateral program, up from $725 million sold in 2002.

Thanks in part to its intricate network of mortgage lending subsidiaries, Lehman Brothers sold $24.4 billion of ABS, making it the third-leading issuer of 2003. The majority of Lehman's supply came from its Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust and Structured Asset Securities Co. issuance vehicles. As a result, Lehman was also the leading underwriter of mortgage ABS last year (see manager activity p. 11).

Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse First Boston and AmeriQuest Mortgage each issued roughly $22.5 billion of new-issue ABS supply, to round out the top five issuers. Morgan Stanley, with mortgage and credit card issuance vehicles increased its securitization level from the $15.8 billion sold in 2002. CSFB, using only its mortgage principal finance shelfs, boosted its issuance volume from $12.6 billion in 2002.

AmeriQuest, which sold just $5.5 billion throughout 2002 (finishing as the 22nd leading issuer), actually increased its issuance fourfold last year. Significantly boosting that total was AmeriQuest's Argent Securities shelf, which accounted for nearly $10 billion of its total.

Unveiled mid-2003, Argent securitizes AmeriQuest's wholesale mortgage originations.

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