The Philippine government has repeated its plan to securitize up to P80 billion ($1.9 billion) worth of receivables of two public housing agencies, National Home Mortgage Corp. and Pag-IBIG Fund. At least four firms including Salomon Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers have submitted proposals, said trade secretary Jose Pardo at a conference in Manila last week.

"They are knocking on our doors and expressing an interest to acquire these receivables," he said, echoing earlier statements. But any decision still awaits the completion of due diligence being done by domestic accounting firm Sycip, Gorres, Velayo & Co., which was expected at the end of August.

Pakistan's only securitization to date was recently downgraded, again. Duff & Phelps lowered to double-B from double-B plus the $250 million future flow issue by Pakistan Telecommunication Co., citing increased financial pressures on the transaction following the army's ouster of the prime minister last month. It remains on negative ratings watch.

Daiei OMC, a retail chain operator in Japan, is looking to do several domestic asset-backed issues before Japan's fiscal year end next March, said bankers in Tokyo. The firm is planning to securitize credit cards, and revolving and installment-type shopping loans.

ABI, the Italian bankers' association, said that in July Italian non-performing loans totaled Lit62.2 trillion ($34 billion), down Lit5.5 trillion compared with July 1998. The association said that though this was the fourth consecutive year-on-year fall in NPLs the sharp fall was largely due to an increase in bad loans securitizations.

Rumors doing the rounds in London last week suggested that Nomura Securities's Private Finance Group, run by Guy Hands, is considering taking on equity partners in a move that would turn it into something resembling a private equity fund.

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