Brazil's Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) was set to take its seven-year export receivables-backed deal on the road last week with lead manager Banc of America.

The deal will initially be marketed at a size of $200 million but has a structure that will support issuance of up to $400 million. BofA will take the steel company to New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. Pricing has been slated for late this week.

The long-awaited transaction was originally mandated in 1998, but market turbulence and internal complications have put the deal off until now.

It will include an unwrapped tranche rated Baa2 by Moody's Investors Service and BBB-plus by Fitch, as well as a tranche wrapped by MBIA that has been rated AAA by all three agencies.

Official price guidance was yet to be set last week, but the unwrapped piece is expected to come in at a spread of around 300 basis points over Treasuries. The wrapped segment will likely price at a spread in the 150 basis point range.

The lack of a Standard & Poor's rating on the unwrapped tranche is conspicuous, as MBIA typically requires an investment grade rating from both Moody's and S&P to wrap a deal.

"It's certainly not a requirement that monoline insurers only cover investment grade deals," said one banker close to the transaction. "The real question is the capital rates they are charged for each deal."

While no breakdown has been announced between the wrapped and unwrapped tranches, investors are likely to show a stronger appetite for the wrapped piece, a source close to the transaction said. The 144A transaction will be marketed to dedicated emerging markets buyers and private placement investors.

The delay in pricing of the transaction is largely a function of market conditions, the source close to the deal said. CVRD's capital needs have never been dire and the volatility and spread widening on Brazilian bonds in 1999 gave the issuer reason to pause. But now that Brazilian spreads are hitting record lows and have fallen through those of Argentina, the company likes what it sees, the source said, and it may use its new seven-year as a platform for future issuance.

Portugal could be about to launch its first mortgage-backed deal, if reports that Credit Suisse First Boston has been mandated to structure a securitization for Banco Internacional do Funchal are to be believed. Although CSFB was unable to comment as ASRI went to press, market rumors suggest that it will arrange a E500 million securitization of residential mortgages for the Portuguese bank.

If the transaction does take off, it will be watched to see what structure CSFB employs to get around the registration charges for transferring mortgage loans into an SPV, which have so far hindered the development of the Portuguese MBS market.

Bayerische Landesbank is continuing to work on the structure of the deal for French giant Electricite de France. Although figures of E2 billion have been suggested for the size of the transaction, an official at the bank said that this had not yet been decided. The official did confirm though that the deal should launch around the end of this year.

Commerzbank has added to its ABS staff by appointing Iain Barbour to the post of global head of structured finance research. Barbour, who previously held the position of director of ABS research at Barclays Capital, will now report to Gordon Morrison, Commerzbank's head of quantitative research.

U.K. car dealer Pendragon is believed to be in discussions with banks for a GBP100 million transaction. The company is considering a deal that would be backed by the income it receives on its freehold properties, worth somewhere in the region of GBP120 million.

At Moody's Investors Service's London office, Jerry Torsney has been promoted from being an analyst with the asset backed commercial paper team to assistant vice president and analyst of the structured finance group. He will report to Detlef Scholz, who heads Moody's European activities.

SG has hired Shammi Malik to run the secondary books for its ABS business in London. He was previously at Natexis Bank in London. The appointment is a further sign of SG's commitment to ABS after the poaching earlier this year of a team of structurers from Tokyo-Mitsubishi International.

Securitization has yet to get going in Taiwan, where local regulations make ABS deals difficult. This has led the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei to call for restrictions on securitization to be stopped. In its annual white paper, Amcham called for "more liberalization without cronyism and artificial restrictions, reform of financial institutions and securitization of assets."

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