Credit Suisse First Boston managed to snag the top spot for the third quarter league tables, as the investment bank generated $32.7 billion in asset-backed securities transactions.

According to figures released from Securities Data Co., First Boston claimed nearly 16% of the public and Rule 144A market for the first nine months of 1999 (see below and p. 12). Subtract Rule 144A and First Boston still led the pack with $26.4 billion in proceeds, through 86 deals.

"Internally for us we've been doing quite well," said Jorge Calderon, managing director of asset finance at First Boston. "It's one more year of having the same team together - everything is in place, nothing has changed, same strategy - while things at some of the other shops have really changed materially. I think in part, the market has responded to that."

According to Calderon, with one exception, the top 11 people from his group have been at First Boston for six years or more. "And that's very unusual," he said. "We're not only a group that's very coordinated, but a group that's very coordinated across different products."

Different products, Calderon explained, include warehousing, conduit financing, trading areas, and financial businesses in Europe and Asia as well.

Meanwhile, Salomon Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers seesawed at second place, depending on how the scope of the market. In public deals, excluding Rule 144A transactions, Salomon's near $24.5 billion in proceeds was significantly more than Lehman's $19 billion in proceeds, helping Salomon claim its place as No. 2. However, when public and Rule 144A deals are combined, Lehman edged into second place with $27.9 billion in proceeds, roughly $1.3 billion over Salomon's $26.6 billion in year-to-date combined proceeds.

"I think it's been a good year," said Paul Sveen, Lehman's managing director of asset financing,. "We've really over time began to focus on the aggregate numbers, only because so much more business is being done as 144A these days than there used to be. We're just a reflection of what issuers are wanting to do."

Lehman plans for a big fourth quarter. "We're really excited about it," Sveen said. "I think there's going to be really good trades in November. We do have a pipeline going into October and November."

George Graham, co-head of asset-backed and mortgage finance at Salomon, also sees a heavy fourth quarter.

"The tone here is very positive," said Graham, phoning in from last week's asset-backed conference in Bermuda. "I think you're going to see a lot positive things in the forth quarter. I think issuance is going to be bigger than most people had originally predicted."

Salomon's underwriting business accounting for 15% of the public market since Jan. 1, up from nearly 9% for the comparable 1998 period. "The CitiGroup merger has been an important part of our business," said Graham.

Graham added that only $3 billion of Salomon's proceeds represents the Citibank credit card business, comparing Salomon with other banks "who are doing half their business with their own bank."

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