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The Ultimate MBS Site

By Tanya Helenius

Internet sites are often long on hype and short on substance, but some financial firms are finally figuring out how to put together sites that have real value. One of the most interesting recent debuts is the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter commercial mortgage-backed securities site, a private, password-protected site available only through Morgan Stanley’s extranet.

The site recently took home a 1998 NewMedia Invision award, and was the only institutional site to receive an award at the winter Invision Festival, joining CNN Interactive, Chase Funds and Microsoft Investor.

Institutional buyers of mortgage-backed securities can get granular detail on commercial mortgage-backed securities research, charts of historical spreads and a live ticker fed by MSDW’s trading desk. Once registered, users have access to an array of deal information, including price yield tables, term sheets and bond cash-flow charts. The prospectus for each deal is also available on-line. Data on financial instruments are sortable by ticker symbol, collateral details and issuer. The ticker chart can also be viewed in a separate window, even when the user has left the site.

Historical spreads are available for every issue, fueled by two years’ worth of raw data. Data can also be plugged into drop-down analytical models. Technical teams from Morgan Stanley and Net Technologies Inc., the firm that created the site, worked together to select and include the most viable analytical models. Another handy feature is the ability to download prospectus-related figures into an Excel spreadsheet. In addition, the user can zoom in on the data, in order to sift through the financials with greater accuracy. Remittance reports, generally faxed after a user request has been made, are now electronically delivered—a move that saves time and ensures confidentiality.

Putting the site together took about nine months, from pre-project strategy-and-focus discussions to final roll-out. Ben Wolkowitz, managing director and head of fixed-income research at Morgan Stanley, also heads up that firm’s fixed-income Internet strategy unit. He notes that although giving clients electronic access to the information will save Morgan Stanley a considerable amount in printing and postage, cost savings was not its primary motivation.

For information about gaining access to the site, contact Howard Esaki, principal and head of commercial mortage-backed securities research at MSDW, at esaki@ms.com.

Misys Buys C-ATS
Suddenly, there appears to be some order in the chaotic world of derivatives software. On December 14, 1998, Misys announced plans to acquire C-ATS Software Inc. for $60 million. The announcement, which came a few months after SunGard’s acquisition of Infinity, caught competitors and other technologists by surprise. Arch-rivals C-ATS and Infinity will now compete with the support of two well-financed parents.

The motivation for Misys was straightforward. The company plans to integrate C-ATS’s CARMA product into the product line of its Midas-Kapiti subsidiary. Although it offers Global Manager/Risk Vision, a conventional credit limits management system, it desperately needed a credible credit risk analytics package.

The motivation for C-ATS was a bit more difficult to discern. “C-ATS was making a turnaround. Its data structure was getting good reviews and its CARMA product was gaining momentum,” said one consultant. “I suppose you should sell while the company’s on a rise.” The purchase price represented a premium of 60 percent over the closing price of C-ATS shares last December 11.

Although Misys recently purchased Summit Systems, it reportedly has no plans to integrate C-ATS and Summit. C-ATS’s older C-atalyst product will continue to be offered separately.

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