Chase Manhattan Corp. is doing more in mortagages than expanding its originations. It also has become the latest company to get into the business of packaging other lenders' loans as securities.

Chase is trying to sign up 20 top lenders for its "conduit" program, said Sam Cooper, president of Chase Mortgage Finance Corp.

Up to $2 Billion of 1994 Loans Anticipated

He said the program should handle $1.5 billion to $2 billion of loans next year, mainly jumbos.

Several companies, including Country-wide Credit Industries and Meridian Bancorp, have started conduits in the past year to tap increased investor demand for privately issued mortgage securities.

The big draw of these securities: higher yields than on paper issued by government-sponsored secondary market agencies.

Sharing a Competitive Advantage

In starting a conduit, Chase is, in effect, sharing with rivals one of its greatest competitive advantages: sophisticated securitization capabilities. In the first half of this year, it bundled more than $2 billion of its own jumbos into securities.

Mr. Cooper, whose unit handles the securitization, cites some compelling reasons to open up the service to other lenders. For one thing, Chase will be able to spread its fixed costs over a greater number of deals.

More Clout on Wall Street

In addition, the increased issuance should boost the unit's clout among Wall Street dealers, he said.

Lenders sell jumbos to conduits because these loans, by definition, exceed the $202,300 maximum for loans that can be sold to the government-sponsored secondary market agencies.

"We have a couple of lenders signed on, and we're following up on four or five leads right now," Mr. Cooper said.

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