As the first half of 2002 comes to a close, it seems as though JPMorgan Securities will claim the top spot in the U.S. ABS league tables. With roughly $16 billion in supply sold to investors in the quarter, JPMorgan is a virtual lock for the No. 1 spot. The firm has placed roughly $27.6 billion throughout 2002, according to Thomson Financial.

In a move more reminiscent of year-end activity, JPMorgan padded its lead with a self-led credit card deal late last week, as the competition heated up following a major play made by Banc of America Securities, which also priced a large self-led deal.

After BofA announced the sale of $4.1 billion of EquiCredit home equity paper and jumped into second place with over $24.3 billion of ABS in 2002, JPMorgan made a similar move to protect its position. Last Thursday, JPMorgan announced and priced $1 billion of a Chase Credit Card Master Trust 2002-5 transaction, securing the top spot through mid-year.

BofA looks to have second place locked up after the relatively quiet placement of $4.1 billion of EquiCredit 2001-1F home equity paper in mid-June that did not break until last week.

No. 3 through No. 5 were too close to call as of press time, with just $300 million separating Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Bank Securities and Salomon Smith Barney mid-way thorough last week. Each bank had sold roughly $23 billion of ABS year-to-date.

Judging from manager activity through the first six months of the year, the third and fourth quarters will be highly contested races, loaded with clever moves and loophole seeking.

The bottom half of the top 10 is a clearer picture than the top five, as the full-service banking entities have separated themselves from the brokerage houses.

With $16.3 billion of lead mandates, Morgan Stanley is in sixth place, roughly $2 billion ahead of Lehman Brothers, which has sold $14.1 billion. Bear Stearns, with $10.1 billion sold, is in eighth place.

There are three banks fighting for a spot in the top 10, as Banc One Capital Markets, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch each have approximately $8.8 billion of ABS product sold. Goldman was boosted late in the quarter from the outside looking in, thanks to the joint lead role on the EquiCredit offering that propelled BofA to the second spot.

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