A phrase repeated so often it sounds like a broken record - that the firm managing a CDO makes a difference in its overall performance - must be falling on deaf ears, some said, as more and more new managers set up shop. While a firm classified as "new" could be run by an experienced staff, the sheer number of them entering the market has equity investors looking for a way to gauge performance.

In 1999, there were a handful more than 100 CDO managers across the U.S. and Europe. That number ballooned to roughly 550 total managers in 2005 and 636 total managers by the end of 2006, according to Morgan Stanley research published last week. Moreover, by the end of last year, the number of unique managers with at least one CDO under their belt had grown to 343 in the U.S. and 112 in Europe.

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