The merger of Chase Securities and J.P. Morgan has created a new league table powerhouse in asset-backed securities lead manager rankings.

The combined figures slipped J.P/Chase into the No. 2 spot with nearly $36 billion for the year in the U.S. public and Rule 144A markets, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data.

Competing banks, however, are calling those numbers misleading, as they do not represent the J.P./Chase combined effort, but instead the sum of two banks which operated independently for nearly the entire year.

At the end of the third quarter, Chase was at No. 6 with $16.5 billion in year-to-date proceeds, while J.P. Morgan was at No. 9 with just under $10 billion in proceeds.

Meanwhile, still the No. 1 ranked underwriter, Salomon Smith Barney sealed 2000 with approximately $51.2 billion in proceeds, up 40% over 1999's $36.2 billion year-end proceeds. Salomon was also top ranked for the quarter, with just less than $15 billion in business.

"The thing that was interesting in terms of our performance was that we managed to stay consistent each quarter of the year," said William Grady, managing director and co-head of global ABS at Salomon. "I think it's relatively unprecedented that there's been a consistent leader each and every quarter."

Credit Suisse First Boston also had a phenomenal fourth quarter, with $11.1 billion in proceeds for the No. 2 spot. With $32.6 billion for the year, CSFB slipped past Lehman Brothers, becoming the No. 3-ranked bank.

"We had a great fourth quarter, a good breadth of activity," said Joseph Donovan, managing director and group co-head of asset-backed finance at CSFB. Donovan named the $380 million Marriott timeshare securitization as a notable deal in the fourth quarter, as it was a new asset class for CSFB.

He also noted a healthcare receivables deal from National Century Financial Enterprise which CSFB was able to turn around in a few days time to capture favorable market conditions.

At the end of 1999, CSFB was the No. 1 ranked lead manager, with $42 billion in proceeds.

Following a significant staffing migration early in 2000, when CSFB lost most of its asset-backed senior management to Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, the bank had dropped to the fifth most active underwriter before Donovan's group (Donovan brought over several members of his group from Prudential Securities) brought the bank back into the top three.

Donovan anticipates a fast start this year. "I think you'll see us we'll come out of the gate very quickly," he said.

Meanwhile, under Jorge Calderon and Philip Weingord's regime, Deutsche Bank has climbed from mid-teens to become to a top-five contender. Deutsche cleared $25.5 billion in lead managed proceeds this year, just behind No. 5-ranked Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, which cleared approximately $26 billion.

League Table Trends

Going forward, the league tables are going to be increasingly affected by widespread trends in the investment banking industry - such as consolidation - as well as those specific to the ABS market.

Notably, self-issuance became a hot topic this year, with Wall Street firms buying assets such as home-equity whole loans, and securitizing those off self-filed shelves.

Separately, consolidation and continued integration of financial services companies with retail counterparts is leading to a larger proportion of self-shopped business, or underwriting leads gained by in-house counterparts.

"You had a lot more in-house activity this year," one banker said.

For example, $6.7 billion of Salomon Smith Barney's $51.2 billion in proceeds was attributable to credit card deals from Citibank this year; while in 1999, Citibank deals were not a part of Salomon's $36.1 billion in proceeds. Pending Citi's merger with Associates First Capital, Salomon should also benefit from Associates' securitization activity.

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's affiliation with Discover Card scored the bank $8.3 billion in lead-managed proceeds. Similarly, Chase Securities led all of the Chase Manhattan bankcard deals, home-equity deals and auto deals, for approximately $6 billion combined.

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