ABN AMRO closed its $550 million synthetic CDO program, North Sea Island CDO 1, which provides exposure to ABN AMRO's $3 billion portfolio of high-grade asset-backed securities under its North Sea Funding arbitrage conduit. The transaction is the first draw under the program and coincides with the restructuring of the conduit.

"The new Basel II rules are already changing the way conduit sponsors operate their vehicles, and these two North Sea transactions lead the current wave of restructurings we expect will occupy the conduit sector's attention for the next several years," said Mark Nicolaides, the partner leading the Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw team that advised on the structuring and documentation. "We have developed considerable expertise in this area and see further improvements in conduit technology as a critical competitive requirement."

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