LOS ANGELES - Officials with the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. breathed a sigh of relief this week after three rating agencies said a decision by corporation directors to transfer $200 minion to the state's general fund in fiscal 1995 would not trigger any immediate rating actions.
However, Standard & Poor's Corp., in affirming its A-plus rating on the corporation's housing bonds, assigned a negative outlook to its long-term general obligation rating.
Moody's Investors Service, which rates the corporation's debt Aa, and Fitch investors Service, which rate$ AA, also affirmed their ratings on the housing corporation,
The corporation has about $2.8 billion of outstanding debt.
Standard & Poor's negative outlook "reflects the potential depletion of [the corporations] capital base a Standard & Poor's press release issued Tuesday said. The transfer could restrict the corporation's "ability to meet its legislative mandate of providing affordable housing for Alaska."
The rating confirmation prompted a "sigh of relief shared by the housing corporation and the state of Alaska," corporation cash manager Tony Price said Tuesday. Corporation directors approved the transfer last Friday.
Alaska said it needed the money to help solve its budget gap for the fiscal year beginning July 1 because of lower than expected oil prices which provide about 85% of the states revenues.
"Despite the pending $200 million transfer, boldholders' protection remains strong," a Moody's press release issued Monday said. "The corporation can easily absorb the release of the transferred funds, particularly when taking into account residual assets that will become available and undesignated in the near term upon retirement of various bond
However, Moody's said any amendments to the $200 million state payment transfer, "particularly any increase to the authorized transfer amount, would trigger further review of the corporation's outstanding Moody's ratings."
A Fitch release issued Tuesday said "although the transfers will result in a direct decline in the corporation's capital base, the plan will allow for an orderly transfer of surplus funds without an overly disruptive effect on its liquidity or working capital management.
"Transferred funds will be generated primarily from accumulated surplus capital released from various bond indentures that have experienced rapid debt retirement as a result of high mortgage prepayment activity," the Fitch release said.
The $200 million transfer was prompted by the state legislature's joint budget and audit committee report released in March. The report said a three-week review of the corporation's assets found that it had $535 million of excess cash that could be transferred to the general fund over three years.
The legislative committee speculated that if the $535 million was withdrawn, such a move would cause credit deterioration and prompt a downgrade in bond rating even though no bond covenants would be
The transfer of $200 million is the total amount corporation directors have so far agreed to provide the state, Price said. He said his understanding is that "the additional $335 million" that the legislative committee suggested be withdrawn "won't be taken."
"But, of course, we never know what tomorrow holds," Price said.
To evaluate the impact of the transfer, the corporation will hire a financial adviser "for a third-party review of the process" scheduled for completion this fall, a corporation press release issued last Friday said.
The financial adviser will help identify for the corporation's seven directors "what we need in reserve for bondholder security and to meet the obligations of the corporation," Price said.
The 350-employee corporation administers several programs. It finances single-family mortgages for first-time homeowners and operates a lending program to provide affordable housing for low-income residents in rural areas.
The corporation "has been considered a source of funds by the legislature since the beginning of the session," the corporation release said. The drop in oil prices, "combined with a legal determination requiring the state to restore almost $1 billion to the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund, resulted in serious projected shortfalls for both the state's current and next fiscal years."
The general fund payments will be made in four "installment of $50 million each on July 15, Oct. 14 Jan. 16, 1995, and April 14, 1995, according to a corporation payment plan. The plan said the transfer "presumes that the corporation's fiscal 1995 operating and capital budgets will be adopted the govenor."