Faced with growing criticism, Securities Data Co. is considering meeting with bankers about a new syndicated lending league table unveiled last week.

The new book-manager table gives credit to lenders who price and structure deals, known as "bookrunners." Historically, the syndicated lending market has used agent-only tables, which give full credit to all top-tier participating lenders.

Since Securities Data announced the new league table in June, complaints and kudos for the new rankings have been building. Securities Data is owned by Thomson Holdings Inc., which owns American Banker.

Lenders that fall substantially in the new rankings have lodged the most complaints against the new format. But those whose position improves have long pushed for the new tables, which more closely resemble those for the bond markets.

Jasmin Chanana, an analyst for Securities Data, Newark, N.J., said the meeting would be a forum for loan-market participants to discuss the new tables and offer advice on how Securities Data should compile the information.

"We can't dictate how we're going to do that," Mr. Chanana said. "We need input from the market to hammer out the issues."

Deals are often won or lost by a lender's standing on the tables, on the principle that a high-volume lender has the experience to execute a syndication. And the market has long complained that agent-only tables give undue credit to lenders who have participated only by handling a deal's documents or arranging meetings.

One of the strongest supporters of the new league tables is Chase Manhattan Corp. Chase has long held the No. 1 position on the agent-only tables, but the planned merger of two top-five lenders, NationsBank Corp. and BankAmerica Corp., now threatens that position.

However, on the new book-manager tables, Chase's dominance of the market widens. Through the first half of 1998, Chase is credited with 237 loan packages, worth $118 billion, about 23% of the market. A merged NationsBank and BankAmerica would rank second, with 335 deals, worth $74.4 billion, about 15% of the market on a pro forma basis.

Securities Data's main competitor in loan statistics, Loan Pricing Corp., may face the same scrutiny. Sources say Loan Pricing plans to unveil its own version of a book-manager table called a "lead-arranger" table. That table will give credit to the lead arranger as determined by the issuer's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Jim Davis, Loan Pricing's president, did not return calls seeking comment.

Mr. Chanana said Securities Data analysts considered such a criteria for its new league table but decided that SEC filings often did not reflect which lender had really shepherded the deal. Securities Data takes its information from a financing's confidential paperwork.

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