MBNA CLOSES BENCHMARK DEALS


Two benchmark credit card deals from U.S. credit card firm MBNA one in Euros backed by U.S. assets and the other in sterling backed by assets in the U.K. were among the notable features of the last few weeks in the European securitization market.

The Euro-denominated deal, led by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, is the second time that MBNA has issued in the single currency. The E500 million deal has a five-year maturity and is rated triple-A by Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch IBCA.

It priced at 99.779 for a spread of 41 bps over the 3.5% 07/04 BTAN, a level that seemed to please everyone in what was a difficult environment, coming just after the rumbles in Argentina.

An MBNA official said that the pricing was comparable to what it could have achieved in U.S. market, with the added advantage of increasing the range of its investors.

The pricing of the sterling deal for MBNA's U.K. subsidiary MBNA International Bank came in at 15 basis points over Libor for the senior triple-A tranche and 40 over for the junior piece. According to Ashley Kibblewhite, director of syndicate with lead manager Merrill Lynch, pricing on the 3.5 year deal split the difference between MBNA's five year deals and their deals with just a couple of years left to maturity. An official at another bank in the syndicate suggested that this was an impressive achievement given the choppy state of the markets.

Kibblewhite added that the unusual maturity of the deal came about due to a combination of demand from Merrill clients and MBNA's desire for a deal that fills a gap in its range of maturities.