While Citigroup Global Markets maintained its first quarter lead in the ABS league tables, two through five was tossed like a salad in the busy final week of the quarter, according to numbers officially released by Thomson Financial (see full league tables, p. 26-34). When the croutons landed, however, Lehman Brothers had separated itself from the pack as the clear No. 2 behind Citigroup, having claimed about $6 billion of credit on March 30.

While Citigroup's volume declined slightly versus the same period last year, Lehman roughly doubled its underwriting volume - $18.7 billion in 1Q04 versus $9.5 billion in 1Q03.

Third-place Merrill Lynch also closed strong, finishing the quarter with $14.6 billion of ABS supply led, more than triple the $4.5 sold in 1Q03. Notable lead mandates for Merrill included both programmatic and infrequent issuers, nabbing sole leads in many cases. Throughout the quarter, Merrill led large offerings for Sallie Mae, Saxon Mortgage, National City Bank and Redwood Trust, as well as smaller deals from Capital One Financial and MBNA America Bank.

Just $500 million behind Merrill was mortgage ABS leader RBS Greenwich Capital, with $14.1 billion sold in the first three months of the year. RBS Greenwich's 1Q03 book of business was more than double the $6.7 billion it sold in the same period last year.

Deutsche Bank Securities, which looked as though it had the inside track on the No. 2 spot the week before slipped to No. 5 when the final numbers were tallied. Deutsche Bank finished 1Q04 a little less than $400 million behind RBS Greenwich with nearly $13.8 billion of new-issue ABS sold.

The No. 6 slot is a virtual tie between Credit Suisse First Boston and Countrywide Securities, each with $12.8 billion of underwriting credit.

JPM/BOCM strong

but not enough...

The combined JPMorgan Securities/Banc One Capital Markets would have been good for third, behind Citigroup and Lehman, totaling nearly $16 billion. Seventh-place JPMorgan was the more active of the two in the first quarter, with $11.2 billion sold, while Banc One led $4.6 billion to close the quarter in fourteenth.

Should JPMorgan's acquisition of Banc One successfully close later this year, Thomson Financial will combine the underwriting credit of the two entities for full 2004 league table figures.

The pair has taken a proactive approach in spreading the business between the two, acting as joint lead managers on six transactions since the mid-January acquisition announcement, five of which came off the respective parent companies' captive issuance vehicles, including two Bank One issuance Trust transactions and a Chase Credit Card Master Trust offering. The combined entities issued $6.3 billion of internally generated collateral-backed ABS.

Banc of America Securities, with $10.8 billion, and Morgan Stanley with $9.7 billion, round out the top 10 leading U.S. ABS underwriters.


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