Merrill Lynch & Co. led all underwriters by managing $842.5 million in initial public offerings in the first quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

The Wall Street behemoth was followed by Credit Suisse First Boston, at $833.6 million, and J.P. Morgan Securities, at $605.4 million.

Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. of Arlington, Va., showed the biggest growth, leading IPOs worth $499 million, up from $141 million in the fourth quarter.

"This is a remarkable achievement for our young firm," said its president, W. Russell Ramsey, in a press release.

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