Now that Thomson Financial BankWatch has set down its inaugural asset-backed rating, the group is gearing up for an active end of quarter.

"We're still looking to add some people within the next couple of weeks," said Norman Last, asset-backed group head at TFBW. "We have a few more transactions that will be pricing in the next couple of weeks as well, for a number of different asset classes."

TFBW was the sole rating agency on Paragon Auto Receivables Owner Trust 2000-A, a two part deal worth approximately $25 million. A $4.5 million, A-class, with a coupon of 7.04%, was given Thomson's short-term rating of TBW-1. A $20 million B-class, with a coupon of 8.77%, was rated BBB. The deal was managed by Descap Securities Inc.

Many asset-backed market participants have welcomed TFBW, hoping the agency will look at deals that don't necessarily fit into the standard mold, a role formerly held by Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co., which Last had been running prior to Duff's merger with Fitch (then Fitch IBCA).

As would be anticipated, the Paragon deal is slightly different than bread-and-butter auto deals, in that the loans in the portfolio, which are of prime credit, are backed by high-line used automobiles. The issuer, called lendnetwork.com, was formally known as Paragon Acceptance Corp.

"This is our first asset-backed securities rating, but it's for an issuer that has done a number of asset-backed transactions," Last said. "Your typical private asset-backed investor looked at these transactions and bought them as well. I think it's important that this shows investor acceptance of the Thomson Financial BankWatch rating."

Thomson Financial Bank Watch is owned by Thomson Financial, which also owns Asset Sales Report.

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