If there were an award for issuer of the year, Korea First Bank would be the clear winner out of the Asian region, completing two outstanding MBS deals. The first, a $499.6 million offering in April via UBS, reopened the public cross-border market in Korea after a year in the doldrums. But it was its second public transaction in November, a 550 million ($717.5 million) MBS handled jointly via BNP Paribas, Calyon Securities and Royal Bank of Scotland, that really caught the market's attention.

What most impressed observers was the pricing. Pre launch, KFB set itself target pricing in the 30 basis point area over Euribor, which some rival shops deemed unlikely. Not the three leads however, and during European roadshows it became clear KFB would achieve spreads beyond its expectations. Final pricing of Euribor plus 21 basis points set a new benchmark for the asset class, and Korean cross-border paper generally. And with 50 investors participating, 95% coming from Europe, other issuers will be eager to follow in 2005.

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