Asset Backed Debt Securities (ABS)

Issuers of credit have begun following the lead set by mortgage lenders by using asset securitization as a means of raising funds. Securitization meaning that the firm repackages its assets and sells them to the market. In general, an ABS comes through certificates issued by a grantor trust, which also registers the security issue under the Securities Act of 1933. These securities are sold to investors through underwritten public offerings or private placements. Each certificate represents a fractional interest in one or more pools of assets. The selling firm transfers assets, with or without recourse, to the grantor trust, which is formed and owned by the investors, in exchange for the proceeds from the certificates. The trustee receives the operating cash flows from the assets and pays scheduled interest and principal payments to investors, servicing fees to the selling firm, and other expenses of the trust. From a legal perspective, the trust owns the assets that underlie such securities. These assets will not be consolidated into the estate of the selling firm if it enters into bankruptcy. To date, most ABS issues have securitized automobile and credit-card receivables. It is expected that this area will grow into other fields, such as computer leases, truck leases, land and property leases, mortgages on plant and equipment, and commercial loans.