Following its first-ever Euro-dominated deal backed by Australian mortgage-backed securities, SG Cowen Securities Corp. is launching a swap currency securitization program with several deals in the pipeline for 2000, despite its recent exit from the residential MBS business last month.
As recent as last week, the company was launching a securitization backed by Korean corporate loans and leases into the U.S. private placement market. Moreover, it just closed a commercial mortgage-backed securities deal in Hong Kong, for China Estates.
All of this activity has taken place as Cowen's parent company, Societe Generale SA, fired 24 people from its U.S. MBS and investment-grade debt trading division last month in its move toward exiting the U.S. MBS business. The French bank also put up for sale its U.S. securities clearing business, which processes trades for about 30 clients.
According to Thomson Financial Securities Data, Societe Generale did not rank in the top 25 MBS underwriters in the U.S. last year, and the parent company wanted to shed businesses that weren't making any money.
However, SG Cowen's international programs are still going strong in the CMBS and ABS arenas.
Indicative of the company's effort to ramp its cross border securitization businesses, the company's currency swap was a privately placed collateralized loan obligation, said Greg Medcraft, managing director and deputy global head at Cowen.
The deal, set to close at press time, features an International Finance Corp. (IFC) A/B loan structure, allowing Cowen to take advantage of IFC's preferred creditor status, bypassing Korea's triple-B minus sovereign rating.
SG Cowen, which is in the section 20 investment-banking subsidiary of Societe Generale, runs three U.S. asset-backed commercial paper conduits, worth roughly $18 billion combined. Globally the company manages conduits with assets in excess of $25 billion.
Recently, a panelist on a Fabozzi -Arizona session entitled "Emerging Asset Classes and Emerging Markets: What's in Store for the New Millenium," Medcraft said, "I think, frankly, with the disintermediation and with globalization, you're going to see a lot more foreign collateral, public and private, accessing the U.S. market. And you're going to see foreign investors buying more U.S. securitized product."
Among other recent ventures, Cowen just closed a deal in Europe backed by Australian mortgage-backed securities.
"We're the first to do a Euro-denominated deal backed by Australian dollar," Medcraft said.
"We've basically got three key focuses," he explained. "We're looking at cross border opportunities, which means U.S. collateral to the Euro markets, Euro collateral to the U.S. markets, Australian collateral to the U.S. markets, and so on. The second part is a focus on credit intensive structures, which are largely targeted at the private and 144A markets. And the third is just looking at the way we can expand our traditional conduit business."
Domestically, Cowen managed Sunterra Corp.'s $100 million timeshare receivables securitization. The deal, which closed in December, was also privately placed.
"We have a pretty clear strategy," Medcraft said. "We really don't want to compete with the U.S. public markets. We really want to focus on where we can add value to our clients."
Cowen is looking toward developing Internet platforms to trade its securities, Medcraft said.
"I think it's obviously a wave of the future," he said. "I think you're going to see it emerging across asset-backed commercial paper. You've already seen it in the public markets with Discover and Fannie Mae."
Medcraft offered two variations on the Internet trading platform. An issuer or underwriter, with a program with perpetual offerings, can maintain a secure site which investors check frequently, allowing them the opportunity to freely bid.
Alternatively, Medcraft described a situation where either the issuer or small bank is bringing deals occasionally. In this case, the issuer would send e-mails to investors, with brief deal descriptions and bidding instructions.