Citi and Bank of America Merrill Lynch continued to vie for the top underwriting position in the municipal bond industry, according to mid-year rankings from Thomson Reuters.

Citi — the top-ranked underwriter for each year of the past decade — maintained the top spot from January to June 2010 as it ran the books on 217 deals worth $29.24 billion.

Bank of America Merrill was a tight second. It senior managed 239 issues worth $28.98 billion, garnering a 14.3% market share against Citi’s 14.4%.

Since Bank of America merged with Merrill Lynch in January 2009, competition between it and Citi has been intense.

Citi’s underwriting volume fell 7.4% this year compared to the same period one year ago when it underwrote 199 issues worth $31.58 billion, which gave it a 16.2% slice of the market.

By contrast, volume at B of A Merrill jumped by 9.3% versus the same period last year when it led 247 issues worth $26.52 billion. The boost in volume this year trimmed Citi’s mid-year dominance from $5.06 billion last year to just $263 million.

JPMorgan was the only other firm to take a double-digit share of the total market. It maintained the number-three position, serving as lead underwriter on 194 deals totaling $23.33 billion, or 11.5% of all issuance.

The mid-year rankings suggest that continued market volatility over the past year has done little damage to the top underwriters.

Together with Morgan Stanley, which led 158 deals worth $19.64 billion, the top four banks controlled 49.8% of the $203 billion issued from January to June. Thomson Reuters’ database Thursday showed mid-year volume up from the $200 billion figure it reported Wednesday.

The top eight positions among underwriters were unchanged from both the mid-year and end-year 2009.

For taxable Build America Bonds, Bank of America enjoyed a slight edge with 40 BAB deals worth $7.96 billion in the first half of the year, while Citi led 49 deals totaling $7.90 billion.

As with total volume, the top four firms controlled nearly half of all BAB issuance, which over the last six months comprised $56 billion.

Recent notable movements include Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., a minority-owned firm that ranked 10th for the half after emerging as a top-10 player in the first quarter. It was lead underwriter on 26 issues worth $4 billion from January to June. Siebert’s business was tilted toward the first quarter of the year, when it led deals totaling more than $3 billion. In the second quarter, it led on issues totaling $912 million.

Siebert attained the top-10 ranking thanks to a number of large deals. Its average issue size was $154 million in the period, which is more than Citi’s $134 million average and about seven times the $21.8 million average size of eighth-ranked Morgan Keegan & Co..

E.J. De La Rosa & Co., a minority-owned investment bank solely focused in California, increased its mid-year volume by 61.9% from the same period last year to $2.46 billion.  It ranked 13th from January to June, while in the second quarter it ranked 10th  — only the second minority-owned firm to do so, according to data going back to 1990.

Among small issues of $10 million or less, Robert W. Baird & Co. took the top spot by volume and number of issues. The Milwaukee-based firm led 247 deals totaling $968.8 million, outperforming second-placed Morgan Keegan, which led 172 issues worth $822 million.

RBC Capital Markets, the top small-deal underwriter for 16 consecutive years through 2006, placed fourth with 131 issues worth $697.6 million. That is one position behind Roosevelt & Cross Inc., which led 201 issues totaling $743.1 million.

In rankings of financial advisers, Public Financial Management Inc. increased business volume and easily kept its first-place ranking, while the volume of business done by rival Public Resources Advisory Group tumbled precipitously.

PFM advised on 466 issues from January to June totaling $27.24 billion, marking a 14% increase from the same period last year and amassing a 17.1% market share.

PRAG advised on just 59 issues worth $14.1 billion, a 41% decline in volume from the same period a year ago. It was enough to maintain its second-place ranking, but its market share fell to 8.8% from 15.4% in the first two quarters last year.

Much of PFM’s dominance was related to the firm’s work on BABs. PFM advised on 92 BAB issues totaling $10.63 billion, or 22.6% of all possible deals. PRAG also took advantage of the new asset by advising on 20 issues worth $6.13 billion, a 13% portion of the market.

The biggest issuers in the market through the end of June were Illinois and California.

Illinois floated $7.78 billion through 10 issues in the first two quarters, while California sold six issues running to $6.0 billion.



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