European MBS Market takes off
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European MBS Market takes off

Abbey National’s eye-catching mortgage-backed securitization (MBS) programme has touched a new height with its £2.25 billion ($3.375 billion) Holmes Financing 1, the largest ever securitization of European mortgages. Brian Morrison, the bank’s director of treasury services and international, says making the bonds fully SEC registered opens up a vast investor base in the US. “This takes us into a new ball game, which is the really big market,” he says.

The latest funding follows on from three earlier deals that have made Abbey the industry benchmark. Following the launch of a £250 million pilot issue in February 1998, the Abbey MBS programme shifted into high gear last October with two £1 billion deals called Holmes 1 and 2. All the transactions, including the latest £2.25 billion deal, were lead managed by Schroder Salomon Smith Barney. Abbey says it is considering funding up to 10% of its £60 billion mortgage book through securitization.

Philip Middleton, director of banking strategy at KPMG, says the transaction illustrates the way Abbey is becoming more innovative in thinking about its business.

“The bank is in an awkward position, as it is not small enough to be a dot com play and not large enough like Barclays to sell itself as big and beautiful,” he says.

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