After a few quiet weeks following the winter holidays, asset-backed deal flow in Japan rapidly picked up, as issuers prepare to launch their deals before the end of the Japanese fiscal year in March.

At press time, IBJ Securities Co. was keeping busy marketing two transactions: a 35 billion ($331 million) auto loan-backed transaction from frequent ABS issuer Orient Corp. (Orico), and a 20.5 billion equipment lease-backed deal from first time issuer Toshiba Credit Co., a consumer and corporate credit concern. Both deals have received provisional Aaa ratings from Moody's Investors Service and will be domestically placed, said an IBJ banker.

Another transaction close to pricing was a 35 billion equipment lease-backed transaction from Sumisho Lease Co. That issue, to be issued in the Euromarket on January 31, is arranged by Tokyo Mitsubishi Securities Co. and also rated Aaa by Moody's.

Earlier, leading Japanese consumer finance firm QUOC Inc. issued the first securitization backed by home improvement loans. The 19 billion transaction issued by Spring Funding Ltd. comprised a single tranche of one-year expected maturity bonds. It is the second series of ABS issued by the SPC, after the first series backed by kimono loans was issued last July (ASRI 7/12/99, p.8).

The transaction was noteworthy for being structured as a pass-through rather than the usual bullet issue, since that made it cheaper for the issuer. Daiwa SB Capital Markets was arranger and declined to disclose pricing, as the deal was a private placement. The issue was rated triple-A By Moody's, Japan R&I, and JCR.

Finally, in one of the only deals to appear right after the holiday, Unimat Life Corp., a consumer finance firm, issued its first ABS in the form of a 10 billion deal backed by unsecured consumer loans.

The issue by Unimat Capital Limited comprised three series of notes with maturities ranging from one to three years and coupons ranging from 1.20% to 2.3%. The transaction was arranged by Nomura Securities Co. and rated single A-1 by Moody's.

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