Chase Manhattan Bank's more than $490 million issue of automobile pass-through securities yesterday had the tightest spread of any public auto-backed issued in the past 24 months, sources familiar with the deal said.

The issue, Chase Manhattan Grantor Trust 1991-A, was priced at 99.854 with a 6.9% coupon to yield 6.91% or 69 basis points over the two-year Treasury's average life.

The deal marked the bank's first such issue. A wholly owned subsidiary, Chase Lincoln First, issued an auto-backed deal last June.

Key to the tight spread were the issue's 1.5 year average life, the scarcity tied to a first-time issue and the underlying receivables' strong credit quality, Pat Bonan, a managing director at Chase Securities Inc. which led the offering, said.

"It was just a good portfolio," she said, citing the receivables' credit quality and geographic diversity.

The transaction also marks just the second time that a cash collateral account has been used as credit enhancement on an automobile receivables issue.

Backing the offering are simple interest auto receivables originated by dealers across the U.S.

The issue has a final distribution date of Setp. 15, 1997, and an expected final maturity of Dec. 15, 1994. Co-managing the deal with Chase were Bear, Stearns & Co. and First Boston Corp.

Overall the high-grade market was down slightly and appeared to be taking a breather yesterday, following Tuesday's cavalry charge, when corporations sold close to $2 billion worth of debt.

Tuesday's pace keeps the market well on track to record the most new corporate debt public issues since 1986, one analyst said. According to Securities Data Co., principal amount of new issue straight corporate debt totalled $152 billion in 1986. Year-to-date 1991, the market has seen $119 billion of new issues.

Asked for the significance of yesterday's rush, one trader cautioned against reading too much into day-to-day variations.

"Four of the issuers (Tuesday) were jumbo issuers," he said. Tuesday's biggest offering was Ford Motor Company's $700 million two-part deal.

As for the high-yield market, it was off a 1/4, traders said. One offering expected there soon, a $100 million of senior notes by Amphenol Corp., is expected to be sold like a private placement, an analyst said.

Elsewhere in the private placement market, Storage Technology Corporation closed a $55 million debt private placement deal last Friday, David Reid, a company spokesman said.

Although the company set out to offer $50 million, strong investor demand led it to increase the offering, a source familiar with the deal said.

The 9.53% senior secured notes maturing in 1996 were rated Baa3 by Moody's Investors Service, Reid said. Hanifen, Imhoff Inc. acted as agent. The offering was circled in late June. Three of the four buyers were insurance companies.

Storage Technology will use proceeds for working capital, capital expenditures and general corporate purposes, he said.

Based in Louisville, Colo., Storage Technology makes, markets, and services information storage and retrieval sybsystems for high performance computers. At yearend 1990, the company had $1.14 billion in annual revenues, Reid said.

The 22-year-old company completed a debt private placement and some resarch and development limited partnerships in the early 1980S, he said.

Another company, Allright Corp., sold its entire $50 million issue of 10-year notes to Prudential Capital Corp., a Prudential subsidiary. Prudential did not disclose other terms relating to the private placement.

Based in Houston, Texas, Allright is the nation's largest parking operator with operations across the U.S. and Canada.

In other private placement news, Merrill Lynch & Co. announced that Andrew Hanson had joined its group as a vice president. Mr. Hanson, who formerly worked at Bear, Stearns, and Bankers Trust Co., will be responsible for structuring and marketing its investment grade private placements.

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