The New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority said yesterday that Pryor, McClendon, Counts & Co. served as bookrunning co-senior manager for a "special" syndicate underwriting in the largest MTA bond deal ever led by a minority firm.

Bear, Stearns & Co. also served as co-senior manager on the $150 million bond refunding that was priced yesterday. [See The Municipal Market column for retails.]

The authority, which oversees mass transportation operations in 12 New York counties as well as a multibillion-dollar capital program, said this was the first time that Pryor McClendon had served as senior manager for an MTA bond offering.

The refunding represents the third time a minority-owned firm has senior-managed an authority bond offering.

"This refunding shows our continuing commitment to involve minority and women-owned firms in our activities," MTA Chairman Peter E. Stangl said in a press release. "Pryor, McClendon, Counts & Co. has a long history and a proven track record with the MTA, having been co-managers in our underwriting syndicates since 1982."

The offering consisted of $150 million of New York City Transit Authority Transit Facilities Revenue Bonds Series, 1993. The bonds to be refunded, NYCTA Transit Facilities Revenue Bonds Series 1990, were issued as a noncapital program financing to build the Transit Authority's Livingston Plaza Building in Brooklyn, the authority said in a statement.

The authority said the bond issue has been contemplated since November 1992 as part of the refunding issues approved by the MTA board.

Current market indications, the authority said, are such that a standard, bond-insured offering for the refunding could produce more than $7 million in present value savings, or approximately 4.80% percent. Bond insurance for the transaction is being provided by Financial Security Assurance Inc.

The two prior bond deals headed by firms owned by minorities or women were the 1990 sale of $66.9 million of MTA Transit Facilities Revenue Bonds senior-managed by WR Lazard, Laidlaw & Mead, a minority-owned firm, and the sale earlier this year of $88 million of Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Beneficial Interest Certificates by an underwriting group led by Artemis Capital Group, a women-owned firm.

Both firms were special co-managers in the Livingston Plaza refunding.

The special co-manager underwriting bracket used by the MTA allows firms to progress more quickly toward a senior management role, said Richard J. Visconti, senior vice president and manager of the municipal bond department at WR Lazard.

By dividing an underwriting team into four management brackets -- senior manager. co-senior manager, special co-managers, and comanagers, the MTA "creates that extra tier by which a firm can work its way up through the group. attain additional profits. bonds, and better treatment in the allotment process," Visconti said.

"It makes it easier to work your Way up and it allows the authority to reward firms" that have performed well in previews financings, he said.

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