For the first time ever, New York City is expected today to price a general obligation issue using minority-owned firms as bookrunning senior managers.
The $300 million fixed-rate deal will feature Grigsby Brandford & Co., a San Francisco, Calif.-based minority bond firm, and Pryor, McClendon, Counts & Co., a Philadelphia-based minority-owned firm. In March, city officials appointed both firms to its emerging managers underwriting group, a special bracket designed to give minority-owned firms the opportunity to gain bond market experience.
In June, the New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority sold $375 million of bond anticipation notes, using the minority firm of WR Lazard, Laidlaw & Mead Inc. as its senior manager. And during the city's last bond issue, priced on July 20, Artemis Capital Group Inc., a women-owned firm, served as bookrunner on a $37 million portion of a $300 million variable-rate note issue.
But today's issue is the first city GO deal for which minority-owned firms will serve as lead managers.
Underwriters said yesterday that the deal will feature about $110 million of variable-rate debt. EAch firm will evenly split the bookrunning chores on the floating rate securities with Lehman Brothers serving as the re-marketing agent, said underwriting executives at Grigsby Brandford.
Although the bonds are scheduled to sell as single issue, city officials have structured the transaction as two separate deals. Grigsby will act as lead manager on roughly half of the transaction, and Pryor will serve as boo-running, senior manager on the other half. Each firm will lead a 13-member co-management syndicate.
According to the deal's preliminary officials statement dated Aug. 5, the issue is comprised of $300 million of fixed-rate debt with maturities ranging from 1995 through 2023. City officials could not be reached to confirm the variable-rate portion of the deal. Underwriters at Grigsby Brandford said the city is also considering using derivatives on the issue. City officials also could not be reached for comment on their use of swaps or other derivative products.
Grigsby will serve as bookrunner on $147.56 million of bonds with maturities ranging from 1995 to 2011. Pryor will serve as lead manager for $152.44 million of bonds maturing between 2012 and 2023.
Underwriting officials say the municipal market's recent strength should help the issue to be priced with a maximum yield around 5.80% for bonds due in 2007. Sources said the deal's longest maturities would be priced with long bonds around 6%.
In secondary trading yesterday, traders said outstanding city 5 3/4 bonds due in 2015 were quoted at 5.93% bid.
Neither underwriting executives nor city officials yesterday would comment on the deal's pricing.
"We are giving two quality minority firms the opportunity to lead-manage a deal from the largest issuer in the country," said Roger Anderson, the city's deputy comptroller for finance. "It's the best experience and best exposure they can get."
Officials at Grigsby Branford said as of June 30, they have capital of $7.9 million. Officials at Pryor could not be reached for comment. But according to its last audited financial report with the Securities and Exchange Commission, dated March 1992, the firm has a net capital at $2.7 million as of Dec. 31, 1991.
Anderson of the comptroller's office said the city is confident that the firms can complete the deal and withstand any adverse market reactions despite their relatively low capitalization when compared to large Wall Street firms.
Officials at Grigsby said they will assume 22% of the liability on the deal, while each of their deal's 13 co-managers will assume liability for 6% of the deal.