LOS ANGELES -- California has become the latest issuer to structure a deal with an expanded presale order period for individual investors.
On Thursday, California will price $141.62 million of Public Works Board lease revenue bonds. The underwriting team working on the negotiated transaction expanded the presale order period to three days from the usual two or three hours in order to reach socalled "mom and pop" buyers.
After the retail-only order period ends tomorrow, institutional orders will be taken, and a final pricing will take place Thursday, said Aimee Brown, a principal with Artemis Capital Group Inc., senior managing underwriter on the deal.
This is the largest transaction the woman-owned firm has led in its five-year history, said Brown, who heads its San Francisco office.
The retail-only order period "helps spur early interest in the financing, and that is a way to help bring in more orders and lower the cost to the state," Brown said.
"In this kind of market, individuals are looking at a variety of alternative investments, including municipals, and it takes a little more time to attract them to a deal," she added.
Deals generally are priced in a couple of hours, and "retail buyers can't gear up fast enough under those circumstances," Brown said.
"You can only make so many phone calls in a two- or three-hour period, but over two or three days, you can make an exponential number of calls," she added.
Retail-only order periods have been used with increasing frequency in recent weeks. The largest transaction was a $702 million sale of general obligation bonds issued by New York City last week. In that deal, individuals bought about $300 million of the issue.
Brown said the technique will also be used by the Los Angeles Unified School District and San Diego.
"I would like to say it is a brand-new idea, but it's not," said Brown. "We just think in this kind of market it is a successful idea."
A retail order is defined as an order from any individual investor, a bank trust department, or an investment adviser.
"The idea is to give the retail broker more time," Brown said. "It gives you some retail interest going into the formal pricing, and makes it easier to be more aggressive in setting final interest rates."
"If you have a portion of the issue spoken for at retail, that is less bonds you have to look to for the institutional market to price," said Brown. "It helps, too, if we can increase retail interest by giving them more time to make their decision."
Artemis Capital is being assisted by a team of seven co-managers chosen by the state treasurer's office. Among the co-managers are two minority-owned firms and three firms owned by disabled veterans.
To maximize retail penetration, the management team will be assisted in the bond distribution by a 10-member syndicate and a 20-member selling group selected by the treasurer's office.
Proceeds of the issue will finance construction of 12 facilities -- including libraries, classrooms, and learning resource centers -- on 10 California community college campuses.
The lease revenue bonds are being issued by the five-member state public works board. Authorization to issue the bonds was granted by the state legislature.
In the transaction, the public works board enters into lease-purchase agreements with the community colleges. Payments from the leases are used to satisfy the principal and interest payments on the bonds issued by the board.
This is the board's fifth sale of bonds for the community college district since 1987.
The bonds have been rated A-minus by Standard & Poor's Corp., A by Moody's Investors Service, and A-minus by Fitch Investors Service.