Salomon Smith Barney, which dominated the ABS underwriting market from 1999 through 2001, is off to a hot start in 2003, with almost $20 billion of ABS supply sold in the first quarter, according to preliminary numbers from Thomson Financial. Salomon has captured roughly 18% of the market so far, landing mandates on transactions from Sallie Mae, Toyota Motor Credit and, of course Citibank N.A., along with numerous global MBS issues.

Being the captive underwriter for Citibank has its benefits, especially in light of Citi's increased securitization volume. Thus far in the year, Citibank has priced $5.9 billion of credit card ABS, accounting for 32.6% of first-quarter credit card ABS supply. This is up sharply from the 14% of sector volume that Citibank averaged per quarter last year.

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