Merrill Lynch ran away with the lead in the U.S. CDO league tables in 2004, according to data maintained by Thomson Financial, more than tripling its total underwriting volume from the previous year. With more than $15 billion of CDO product sold last year, Merrill controlled 17.2% of the market, up from the $4.8 billion and a 9.2% market share the underwriter sold in 2003, good for fourth place.

Merrill, which maintained a lead throughout the year, finished the 2004 $5.7 billion ahead of its closest rival, Wachovia Securities, which placed $9.3 billion of CDOs in investor's hands. After a slim $1.4 billion lead in 1Q04, Merrill's business increased significantly after Managing Director Christopher Ricciardi joined the firm in April.

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