CMBS-backed CDO issuance could exceed $15 billion this year, up from $8 billion in 2004, according to Moody's Investors Service. While deal sizes historically have been small relative to collateralized mortgage-backed securities, at $300 million to $500 million, larger deals - exceeding $1 billion - are in the pipeline, according to Tad Philipp, a managing director at Moody's.

"Both the pace and size of deals are ramping up rapidly," Philipp said, pointing out that a $1 billion deal could reference $2 billion to $3 billion of loans. "It's far more important to the industry than the size of its issuance might indicate," he said.

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