The largest underwriters continued to dominate the municipal market in the first quarter of 2010, but one minority-owned, municipal-only firm managed to break into the top 10.

First Quarter Rankings

The 10 biggest underwriters accounted for 77.5% of all quarterly volume, which totaled $102.65 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Citi, the top-ranked municipal underwriter for each year of the past decade, senior managed 16.0% of all volume in the first three months of the year as it completed 99 deals worth $16.39 billion. Compared to the same period last year, that’s a 24% increase.

Only two other firms took double-digit market shares in the league tables.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which garnered the top rank in the first  and third quarters last year, outpaced Citi in number of issues but fell behind in volume.

The firm managed 116 deals worth $13.82 billion, reflecting a 13.5% market share. That’s near its 13.7% portion in 2009 business overall but a reduction from the 18.1% share it senior managed in the prior first quarter.

JPMorgan also maintained its 2009 third-place ranking with 82 deals worth $10.88 billion, a 10.6% market share.

The most notable movement in the rankings was the emergence of Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. into the top 10.

The largest minority-owned underwriter in each year of the last decade, Siebert jumped from ranking 12th last year to eighth in early 2010.

Just five years ago it placed 26th overall, but its growth has been rapid thanks to talent picked up from larger firms during the turmoil.

“It was all part of our strategy following the crisis in 2008,” said chairman Napoleon Brandford, noting that his firm picked up 30 bankers during the financial crisis from the likes of Bear Stearns, UBS Securities, and Lehman Brothers.

“We felt that because we were a national firm, we were best positioned to take one of those firms’ places in the top 10,” he added. “The advantage we have over most of our colleagues is that we have these 20 offices across the country, and we’ve always done very large deals.”

Indeed, whereas seventh-ranked RBC Capital Markets senior managed 142 deals with an average deal size of $25.1 million, Siebert ran the books on just 21 deals, but the average deal size was more than six times larger at $155.0 million. Similarly, top-ranked Citi’s average deal size was $164 million.

Siebert’s recent deals include large transactions for the nation’s largest three cities.

It senior managed a $675 million general obligation deal for New York in mid-March, a $930 million deal for the Los Angeles Department of Airports in late March, and a $793 million GO deal in Chicago in early January.

“We’ve always focused on the 50 largest urban metropolitan areas and the 23 largest states,” Brandford said. “We found that when those three firms went out of business, the institutional salesmen at those firms were looking for a place to land, and they came to us.”

Siebert was also the sixth-largest co-manager in the first quarter. Following in that success, fellow minority-owned firms Loop Capital Markets and Ramirez & Co. were also among the top co-managers, ranking eighth and 12th, respectively.

The top co-manager was Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which worked on 116 issues for a total of $5.53 billion.

For issuance of taxable Build America Bonds, Citi’s dominance was even more pronounced. Of the $27.45 billion issued so far in 2010, Citi underwrote $5.15 billion of deals, or 18.8% of the market.

Barclays Capital, which ranked fifth overall, underwrote 15.2% of the BABs market. Goldman, Sachs & Co., ranked sixth overall, accounted for 13.8% of BAB volume.

Among senior managers of small issues worth less than $10 million, Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. maintained the top spot it climbed to last year after ranking eighth in 2008.

The firm senior managed 115 deals worth $443.8 million, reflecting a market share of 8.7%.

Small deals added up to $5.1 billion overall, or less than 5% of the total muni market, slightly less than in first-quarter 2009.

Maintaining a position held since 1998, the top financial adviser so far this year is Public Financial Management Inc., which named five new managing directors in late January.

The firm pulled off a record year for volume in 2009, and compared to first-quarter 2009, business has grown by 22% as it consulted on 234 issues worth $13.39 billion.

In the second spot, Public Resources Advisory Group consulted on 29 issues worth $9.30 billion.

In notable movements among advisers, Peralta Garcia Solutions LLC moved up from 94th last year to fourth last quarter. The minority- and women-owned firm based in Illinois has consulted on only three issues, but one was a GO taxable pension deal in Illinois worth nearly $3.5 billion.

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