ATLANTA -- Louisiana's State Bond Commission yesterday gave the green light to a $125 million state general obligation bond refunding after several days of uncertainty over whether Governor-elect Edwin Edwards wanted to delay the deal.
In a tumultuous session of the bond commission last Thursday, advisers to Mr. Edwards unexpectedly told commission members that the governor-elect wished to review the issue. This prompted the commission to postpone approving the refunding until yesterday.
State Treasurer Mary Landrieu, who is also chairwoman of the bond commission, said she was happy the refunding was apporved.
"I'm pleased that some misunderstandings have been cleared up and taht we are back on track," said Ms. Landrieu. She added that she had a 15-minute telephone conversation with Mr. Edwards on Monday in which the governor-elect said he had no desire to delay the sale.
"The governor-elect indicated to me that he had linmited knowledge of the deal, but no problems with the way it is put together and no intention of holding it up," she said. Mr. Edwards said he was pleased Louisiana is offering college savers bonds, she added.
The bond commission unanimously approved distribution of preliminary offering statements for the refunding issue after a brief discussion of the governor's phone call, the treasurer said. She said there was no direct testimony from Mr. Edwards' transition team.
Governor-elect Edwards, who was elected in a runoff election against David Duke on Nov. 16 and who will take office on Jan. 13, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The commission's action yesterday, Ms. Landrieu said, means that pricing of the $25 million college savers' portion of the deal will occur before Christmas as planned. The remainder of the deal, $100 million of variable-rate debt, will likely be sold at the beginning of January.
Ms. Landrieu said she plans to meet with Mr. Edwards and is transition team in the "next several weeks" to brief him on the state's next bond sale after the refunding issue, a new-money GO offering that the commission hopes to sell competitively in late January or early February. She said the issue could be as large as $225 million, which is the amount of debt the state expects to retire this year.
"We want to give the new administration time to review the state's current debt position, its debt management plan, and the projects to be funded with this bond issue," she said.
G. Anthony Gelderman 3d, the tresurer's general counsel, said yesterday that the issue's underwriters, a team headed by Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co., hope to price the college savers bond portion on Dec. 18. This, he said, would alow time for distribution of an official offering statement contaiing the state's comprehensive audited statement for the last fiscal year, which ended July 1, 1991.
He said the variable-rate portion will likely be sold during the first 10 days of January.
The negotiated sale is Louisiana's first offering since Mr. Edwards' election. It will be the state's first borrowing since its GOs were upgraded late last year, and its first deal involving college savers' bonds.
The sale will refinance $128.3 million of debt remaining from Louisiana's 1985-D variable-rate bond issue.
In December 1990, Standard & Poor's Corp. raised Louisiana's rating to A from triple-B-plus, citing improvement in the state's cash flow and fiscal reforms recently approved by state voters. Moody's Investors Service continues to rate the state's GOs Baal.