Chase Manhattan Corp. took another step toward building a high-yield business in Europe by lead-managing a $550 million senior subordinated note for Willis Corroon, the U.S. insurance broker.

The 10-year notes carry 9% interest, which is equal to 432 basis points over 10-year Treasury bonds.

According to Chase sources, $100 million worth of the issue, which was launched last week, was bought by European investors. The rest were sold to U.S. institutional investors and mutual funds specializing in high-yield instruments.

The sources said that though investor demand for high-yield issues in emerging markets remains weak, demand for high-yield issues by U.S. and European companies is strengthening.

Chase has been seeking to develop a market for high-yield borrowers and investors in Europe after this year's introduction of a single currency in the European Union.

The bank noted in a recent study that it expected "demand for high-yield corporate debt to grow quickly throughout Europe" as a result of both the single currency and falling yields on government bonds.

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