Despite lower issuance compared with 2002, last year the CMBS asset class made the leap from the U.K. to continental Europe, according to a report by Standard & Poor’s. Clay Hunt, managing director for international CMBS in Standard & Poor’s Structured Finance Ratings group, commented: ‘CMBS issuers entered new real estate markets, developing the experience and legal frameworks that will help drive the market.’ Varying collateral pools and transaction types made it to market in 2003, the report noted, indicating an encouraging sign of future expansion of the asset class. Further driving issuance, investors are looking to diversify their CMBS holdings to include euro-denominated issuance backed by Continental collateral, the report said. ‘We’re seeing the number of investors in subordinate and non-investment-grade bonds is increasing, and these investors are not scared off by headlines of softening real estate markets,’ Hunt said. According to the report, the volume of CMBS issued in 2003 was 35 per cent down on the year before, but most of the decline can be attributed to the absence of two issuers that came to market with large transactions in 2002 that did not revisit the market in 2003.
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