California sunlight, sweet Calcutta rain, Honolulu starbright - the song remains the same. Citigroup Global Market's fast start this year remained insurmountable throughout the third quarter this year, as it remained atop the league tables for the third straight quarter. Competition is fierce, however, as positions two through six are separated by just $7 billion.

Citigroup maintained its position in the ABS underwriting market through the end of the third quarter with roughly $48 billion of bonds placed with investors, according to data maintained by Thomson Financial. Citigroup has an $8 billion lead on its closest competitor, despite being only the fifth-most active manager during Q303, with $12 billion sold in the three-month period. Citigroup has a 11.5% market share among underwriters, a margin that has been narrowed from 13% after Q203 and 18% after Q103.

Closing the gap on Citigroup is JPMorgan Securities, with nearly $40 billion of ABS sold. With $14.7 billion sold throughout the quarter, JPMorgan handled the second-most business in Q303. JPMorgan's market share has remained constant at 9.7% throughout the year.

Driven primarily by its whole loan acquisition business, Lehman Brothers remains in the third slot, having sold $37 billion of ABS product, good for 9.1% of the market, on par with its Q203 share. For the second quarter in a row, Lehman placed the most bonds with investors, with more than $17 billion of business. But, Citigroup's fast start has made it difficult to catch in the race for the top spot in the league tables.

Spots four through six are tight, with Morgan Stanley at fourth, Deutsche Bank Securities at fifth and Credit Suisse First Boston in sixth, just $100 million back of DBSI.

Morgan Stanley claimed the fourth slot with $34.6 billion of business booked, or 8.5% of the market. Morgan Stanley's $12.1 billion in the third quarter also make it the fourth-leading underwriter in Q303.

With $33.2 billion and $33.1 billion sold respectively, Deutsche Bank and CSFB each control 8.1% of the market with one more quarter to go. CSFB had the stronger quarter, selling $12 billion - the third most in Q303 - versus Deutsche Bank's $9.8 billion.

Rounding out the top 10 are: Banc of America Securities, with $26.5 billion sold, or 6.5% of the market; RBS Greenwich Capital, with $22 billion or 5.5% of the market; Bear Stearns with $20 billion or 4.8%; Banc One Capital Markets with $19 billion or 4.6% of the market; and Countrywide Securities Corp. with $18 billion or 4.4% market share.

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