The growth of the structured synthetic asset-backed securities market is being driven by the entrance of cash ABS investors crossing over to derivatives, rather than corporate credit-default swap players adding ABS to their mix.
Marketers say inquiries from cash managers are swamping them, as these investors are lured by the superior liquidity, greater historical rating stability and higher returns of the underlying. A seven-year synthetic collateralized debt obligation of high-grade ABS is returning a pickup of roughly 325 basis points, for example, compared with 290 bps in a cash CDO and 210 bps in a corporate synthetic. Reasons offered for traditional CDS investors lagging behind were varied, but salesmen noted it can take longer for these investors to get comfortable with the ABS market.
Structurers say they are packaging exposure to spread risk in a variety of ways. These include constant proportion portfolio insurance written on synthetic ABS indices and single names (DW, 3/3), as well as default risk in the form of tranches of CDOs referencing portfolios of synthetic ABS. The week of June 22, for example, of the EUR22 billion in ABS CDOs issued in London, one quarter was synthetic.