At least that was the message this week from banks and other corporations for the Securities and Exchange Commission, which dropped its fees on shelf registrations by almost half. The SEC requires a specific budget appropriation to determine the cost of filing a shelf, said a department spokesman. Otherwise, the cost, which had been 1/29th of a percent of the face amount, reverts to the level originally established in 1933, 1/50th of a percent. The discount brought 119 filings for a total of $116.7 billion in registrations on the first day, shattering the one-day record. The pace continued on the second day, with 104 filings for a total of $49.6 billion. Banks accounted for a significant part of that. J.P. Morgan & Co., Chemical Banking Corp., and Barnett Banks were toward the top of the list of bank filers who have seized the opportunity, filing shelves of $2.74 billion and $3 billion, and $2 billion, respectively. Banc One also benefited, filing to offer up to $600 million in debt securities. The shelves have "got to be something that's in your corporate plan," said George Miling, treasurer at Banc One Corp. "If it's cheaper today than it was yesterday, you have to look at it." Several banks also filed to offer billions of dollars in asset-backed securities. MBNA America Bank registered to offer up to $5 billion in asset-backed certificates. Citibank filed a sizable $10 billion in credit card participation certificates. Capital One Master Trust, a unit of Capital One Financial Corp., filed for up to $2 billion in asset backed certificates. Finance companies also joined the fray, with Green Tree Financial Corp. filing two shelves: one to offer $1.25 billion in certificates and the other to offer $5 billion in pass-through certificates. Household Finance Corp. filed a shelf for up to $1.8 billion in debt securities and warrants.
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