Fiat Group zoomed onto the private placement track last week with a $20 million credit tenant lease transaction. Legg Mason joined the race, agenting what some sources called, "a uniquely structured transaction."

Sources close to the transaction confirmed that though the deal took on the typical credit tenant lease structure that many of the deals last week, Legg Mason did not lend directly to the issuer. Instead, the group dealt directly with a private borrower that was in turn expected to back up Fiat for construction. "The issuer is not the credit tenant in this case," explained the source.

The notes carried an 11-year maturity and were said to have priced around 225 basis points over Treasurys.

The Fiat group is composed of a variety of companies that penetrate a variety of market segments. Fiat Auto UK includes the popular FIAT and ALFA ROMEO brands. Ferrari and Maserati are also subsidiaries of the group, along with the Fiat Auto Financial Group.

In March 1999, Fiat acquired PICO (Progressive Tools and Industries Co.). The group plans to merge the technologies of both PICO and Comau, an industrial manufacturer, and create the world's biggest automotive production systems group. (For related story, see Global Briefs, p. 21.)

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