Amarket for Asian asset-backed securities may finally be emerging after a few false starts. James France, director of structured finance at ING Barings, said: 'This will be a watershed year.' ING Barings alone hopes to bring at least five asset-backed deals to the market this year. Last year saw a trickle of five deals, worth a total of about US$1 billion. The value of this year's deal flow is estimated by bankers at $2 billion to $5 billion. In 1993 and 1994, several Hong Kong mortgage-backed deals were launched with a resounding thud. Bankers said they learned several lessons from those first mistakes and the Asian deals coming out now look very different. Asian securitisations are being led by car loans, credit-card receivables and rent flows - unlike in the United States, where the market was first dominated by mortgage-backed instruments, with other, more creative, deals following. Thai and Indonesian finance companies have been the market leaders, bringing a number of car-loan and lease receivables to market. A $200 million receivables deal from Indonesia's Astra Sedaya Finance and a similar $250 million financing called Thai Cars were two of the first Southeast Asian deals. Jakarta-based Bank Bira followed with a $60 million securitisation of car loans earlier this year. Nithipat Leasing, a Thai company, recently issued $120 million worth of car-loan purchase-backed securities. Most of the deals in Asia so far have been guaranteed by credit enhancement firms. These firms put their triple-A ratings behind an issue, but for a price. One recent issuer, Philippine Airlines, decided to forego the credit enhancement and tap the market on its own merits. Chase Manhattan put together an unusual deal for the carrier, securitising US dollar credit-card receivables on trans-Pacific flights. Tony Li, managing director of international capital markets at Chase, said this type of securitisation which is based on future revenue flows rather than existing loans or mortgages, was a bit more difficult to explain to investors. The Philippine Air securitisation, unrated and unenhanced, was marketed to a group of investors already comfortable with the carrier's credit - Asian investors. 'We carried the road show all over Asia, explaining this deal. The issue size could have been larger, but there was not enough flow to support it,' Mr Li said. The deal was capped at $75 million, against demand of $150 million, he said. Some issuers are already coming back for follow-up deals. Mr France said Nithipat Capital planned to launch Southeast Asia's first mortgage-backed securities. Astra Sedaya Finance also hoped to come back to the market with a deal denominated in rupiah. 'This will be the first fully domestic asset backed deal in Asia, outside of Japan and Hong Kong,' Mr France said. A few Hong Kong names, such as Sino Land's Robert Ng, are also bundling assets and selling them to investors in the form of securities. The transaction is secured by the rental income on local commercial buildings, including Sino Plaza, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, Empire Centre, Ritz Plaza and Queen's Place.