Unicapital Corp., which recently completed its debut equipment lease-backed securitization, will enter the asset-backed securities market in full force going forward, launching two to three deals a year, said Glen Stein, senior vice president at Unicapital.

"We're going to have a small- and middle-ticket securitization program," Stein said. "We got our first transaction done in September, and it's a nice template for things to come."

Unicapital's first deal was a $365 million privately placed Rule 144A, guaranteed by Ambac. Credit Suisse First Boston managed the deal, with Banc of America Securities and Unicapital Securities as co-managers.

For future deals, Steve Hiesch, executive vice president of Unicapital, said, "As a company policy we like to use those underwriters who support Unicapital activities with their balance sheets."

Unicapital became a publicly owned company in May 1998, and has acquired portfolios with average lives of 14 years to 15 years, Stein said. The company is growing fast. Year-to-date totals for 1999 show $1.2 billion in loan origination, up 63% from last year. "Our originations are robust. Securitization is only one source of funding," Stein said, explaining that, percentage-wise, Unicapital has only sold a small portion of its portfolio.

As for the next deal: "Frankly we're hoping to come in the first quarter, whether or not we do that depends on several things," Stein said, naming market conditions as one factor. "I think it's going to be a backlog of issuance ready to come in January - and then I could see some tightening, after that initial supply comes through."

Though future deals are expected to increase in size, Stein said, "I don't think that's related to doing a public deal. The deal we did, even though it was 144A, was big enough to go public."

It is a regulatory issue, Stein explained. "The experience that other leasing companies have had with the Securities and Exchange Commission is that it has taken longer to get through that process, including the plain English requirements."

Unicapital will likely place its next deal in the private market, Stein added, but the company does plan to file a shelf at some point.

Most recently, Unicapital increased an existing lending facility through Key Global Finance to $125 million. This facility is an example of a financing method Unicapital uses as an alternative to securitization.

"It's a slightly different animal than securitization," said Stein. "And it works well for our company and our technology and finance group.

"Key Global Finance will look at a certain volume of deals and, provided they meet the credit criteria, they will basically buy them from us. We do the servicing, and they pay us 100% of the present value for those deals."

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