Like last year and the year before, the municipal underwriting business at Bank of America Merrill Lynch started this year at number one.

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In a quarter that saw a slight increase in total long-term volume, the bank was the leading book-runner on all issues through the first quarter of 2013.

B of A Merrill worked on 101 issues, totaling $12.2 billion by par amount, giving it a 15% market share, according to Thomson Reuters data. B of A Merrill also began and finished last year in the number one spot, ending 2012 with a 14.5% market share.

The bank took first place among competitive issues, working on a total of $3.7 billion, but came in second place to JPMorgan among negotiated issues, with $8.5 billion.

B of A Merrill declined to comment.

Yields have slightly increased since the beginning of the year but have remained relatively low, maintaining a favorable environment for municipal issuers. The overall muni market saw $81.2 billion of new issues during the first quarter, up a slight 4% from the same period last year.

“There have been a number of large transactions this quarter, which we were pleased to have managed,” said Paul Palmeri, managing director and head of public finance at JPMorgan. The bank was senior manager on seven of the 10 largest transactions during the quarter.

The bank worked on the largest offering so far this year — a $2.4 billion general obligation bond sale by the state of California. JPMorgan was also senior manager on the JobsOhio Beverage System’s $1.5 billion sale of liquor revenue bonds, the Regents of the University of California’s $1.5 billion sale of revenue bonds, and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s $1.4 billion sale revenue bonds.

JPMorgan took second place behind B of A Merrill for the first quarter, working on 78 issues totaling $12 billion, with a 14.8% market share. That amount was up slightly from $10.3 billion during the first quarter last year, when it also took second place.

While JPMorgan increased its participation in larger transactions during the first quarter, it has also maintained its number one spot among negotiated deals, working on 50 issues, totaling $9.2 billion.

“We have, over the last number of years, continued to improve our banking capabilities and presence, and the first quarter results are a real testament to the progress we’ve made,” Palmeri said.

JPMorgan has been a leader among senior managers in the transportation, energy, higher education and health care sectors and, according to Palmeri, the business plans to see more activity in the housing sector next quarter. He also said the practice will continue to try to be a leader in new product development.

During the first quarter, the bank worked on its first tender-option bond deal in callable commercial paper mode, which Palmeri said was well-received by the market.

Coming in third among top senior managers for all issues, Citi moved up one spot from the same period last year, with 91 issues totaling $8 billion during the first quarter.

Morgan Stanley held the third spot during the first quarter last year, but dropped down to number six this year with 53 issues totaling $4.1 billion. Wells Fargo moved up to fourth place from fifth, with 50 issues totaling $5.8 billion.

RBC, which started 2012 in seventh place and ended it at fifth place, remained at number five during the first quarter this year, with 178 issues totaling $4.9 billion. Almost all of those deals — 172 totaling $4.6 billion — were negotiated, helping the bank to climb three spots from last year’s sixth place among senior managers on negotiated-only issues.

“RBC is pleased to remain in the top five through the first quarter 2013, aided by an especially strong top three place for negotiated only transactions,” Chris Hamel, head of municipal finance, and Mark Maroney, head of municipal capital markets, said in a statement. “This confirms what a broader array of clients are telling us: that RBC is among the leading firms active in U.S. municipal underwriting.”

Among financial advisors, Public Financial Management once again dominated the rankings during the quarter. On all long-term issues, no other firm came close to PFM’s 14.4% market share of 176 issues totaling $8.4 billion.

“Of course, it’s always gratifying to retain the leadership position PFM has held for the past 15 years, and certainly, we believe that our ongoing dedication to serving the client’s needs as our only goal has helped us stay here,” said John Bonow, chief executive officer of PFM Group.

PFM was the top financial advisor across the board, working on 92 negotiated issues totaling $5.8 billion, 84 competitive issues totaling $2.6 billion, and 75 small issues totaling $428.4 million.

“Our capacity and ability to provide comprehensive financial advice also contributes to our industry leadership,” Bonow said, explaining that the firm has a dedicated pricing group that allows PFM to give clients a perspective on appropriate pricing. “Additionally, we have sector experts across all areas of governmental and non-profit finance together with an intensely local presence in nearly 40 locations across the country,” he said. “We know our markets.”

While the firm worked on more transactions than other financial advisors, Bonow said that PFM focuses on finding the optimal funding solution for the client, including those that may not involve debt.

“We are involved in many public-private partnerships and similar alternative funding situations and we continue to extend our ability to provide comprehensive, budget, workforce, pension and [other post-employment benefits] advice and services.”

FirstSouthwest took the second spot among financial advisors for all issues with 154, totaling $6.2 billion. The firm jumped two spots from last year when it worked on $4.2 billion. Public Resources Advisory Group kept its number three spot with 23 issues totaling $6.2 billion. Acacia Financial Group took fourth place, and Lamont Financial Services took fifth.

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