Going head-to-head with the sector's leading issuer is rarely recommended, especially if the contender is planning its first foray into the public term markets. But student lender Nelnet did just that last week and came out looking pretty good. The strong historical performance of Sallie Mae actually helped Nelnet, as European buyers, who had shied away from Sallie in recent offerings, were targeted during a two-week roadshow put on by the issuer.
"This structure looked almost exactly like past Sallie Mae structures," said Jeff Noordhoek, senior vice president of capital markets for Colorado-based Nelnet. "By offering two- and seven-year seniors, along with a slightly longer sub class, we had an established structure already familiar to investors, and benefited from it."