Not surprisingly, this year is shaping up to be another slow run for the franchise sector, which has seen just two deals, both backed by nontraditional franchise loans to car dealerships, a collateral type unscathed by the headline deterioration associated with convenience store and gas station (C&G) loans. Including dealership franchise ABS, the sector could see about $700 million in deals before yearend (currently halfway there), according to an industry banker. Last year, there was just under $600 million in franchise ABS, by Thomson Financial's tally.
Below the headlines, however, Wells Fargo, which has been a rumored term candidate over the past two years, privately placed a $250 million, unrated securitization primarily with an ABCP conduit. That transaction was structured as a term deal with a portion placed with a non-conduit third party, sources said. Wells, which originates about $300 million in franchise loans each year, structured this deal on its own, another reason it went unseen by the primary ABS market.