For the fifth straight quarter, Salomon Smith Barney has rolled in as the No. 1 bank in the U.S. public/144A asset-backed securities market, according to preliminary figures provided by Thomson Financial.

With approximately $27.9 billion in year-to-date proceeds, Salomon maintained a $3 billion lead over No. 2 lead manager Credit Suisse First Boston, which managed approximately $24.9 billion.

For the quarter, Salomon brought in $13.2 billion, which was a $1.3 billion lead over CSFB and a $1.6 billion lead over JPMorgan, by preliminary count.

In the 144A market, CSFB continued its dominance, bringing in $9.5 billion for a 24% market share. With just under $4.5 billion in CDOs, CSFB has nearly doubled the volume of its closest rival, Lehman Brothers (No. 4 overall). Without the CDO business, CSFB still rules the 144A market, partly attributable to the bank's activity in the aircraft lease-backed sector.

"It was a fantastic quarter for issuers," said Joe Donovan, managing director and group co-head of ABS at CSFB. "Spreads held tight. Deals got done at excellent levels, and there was excellent liquidity. We couldn't be more happy with our book of business and the quality of the names."

CSFB boasts that it is the "first choice among issuers who have a choice," in that the firm doesn't benefit from in-house volume-generating business units.

The bank did first-time business with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, for a $200 million timeshare-backed deal, and also GECAS (LIFT) and Sallie Mae. The bank scored repeat business from American Express and Ford Motor Credit, among others.

On a purely public sampling, JPMorgan has been the No. 2 bank so far this year.

"We're very pleased to be in the position that we're in," said Bill Haley, managing director and head of the ABS capital markets group at JPMorgan. "We've worked very hard to provide a full service platform that's valued by our issuing and investing clientele."

According to Haley, JPMorgan scored a number of first-time mandates this quarter, including a recent credit card deal for FleetBoston Financial Corp., an auto-loan deal for BMW Financial Services and a home-equity deal for GMAC-Residential Funding Corp.

Notably, JPMorgan's $11.6 billion for the quarter is a solid $2.7 billion increase over the bank's $8.9 billion in the first quarter, which marked the largest quarter-over-quarter increase in market share of any bank in the public/Rule 144A league table.

Meanwhile, fourth and fifth place banks Lehman Brothers and Deutsche Bank came in at $18.6 billion and $16 billion, respectively.

"We had a good diverse group of business across all asset types, and we see that as a strategy and a strength going forward," said Nelson Soares, managing director and head of the ABS group at Lehman.

Notably, Banc of America and Bear Stearns both remain strong contenders for a top five seat. Both banks have managed more than $10 billion worth of ABS this year, for the No. 6 and No. 7 spot. Bear Stearns managed just $12.8 billion for all of 2000.

On the flipside, Goldman Sachs, at $2.1 billion for the half-year (according to preliminary data), has spent its second quarter in a row outside of the top ten, down to No. 14 from No. 8 this time a year ago. Excluding the 144A market, Goldman rolled in at No. 17, with just $154 million in lead-managed proceeds.

The bank scored most of its business in the 144A CDO market, underwriting notables like FleetBoston's Flagship CLO, plus two high-yield deals, for Nicholas-Applegate and Capital Guardian. Also, Goldman was lead manager on a catastrophe bond called Residential Reinsurance worth $155 million, as well as a $755 million home-equity deal off the bank's GRMT shelf.

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