A bond syndicate yesterday slammed the brakes on the pricing of New York City's $1.21 billion refunding issue, delaying the sale until today because they feared the market would be roiled by news that the state's budget gap for fiscal 1993 could be $3.6 billion or higher.
A spokesman for the state's budget division yesterday said the state's budget gap for fiscal 1993, which had been estimated to be about $1.8 billion in July, "could more than double." That would mean the fiscal 1993 gap would be at least $3.6 billion.
The gap for fiscal 1992, which began April 1, was projected to be $689 million in an update in late October. The spokesman said that gap could also widen.
Officials from the city and senior manager J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. believed investor concerns could have spoiled the day for the city's innovative refunding of enhanced GOs with unenhanced bonds, and driven up yields. The officials said the delay would allow investors time to digest the budget news.
"It's going to take a little while for the word to get around on the state's budget problems," said Eric H. Altman, a managing director with J.P. Morgan. "We don't want to be pricing in the middle of the all the numbers flying around."
He added, "We'll wait for the dust to settle. We don't want to shove something into the market while people are digesting the information."
Preliminary pricing talk had the yields on the long-term city bonds pegged at 7.80%, about 7.40% in 10 years, and shorter maturities yielding about 4.75%.
But as result of market conditions and the budget news, Mr. Altman said yesterday evening while meeting with the city officials that there will probably be a "slight concession to the market" of about five basis points on maturities 10 years and out.
Also at the pricing meeting at J. P. Morgan was Michael W. Geffrard, deputy executive director of the city's Office of Economic Development. He said, "We are going to see where things are in the morning. The likelihood is that we are going to go in morning."
The state's budget problems did not just stop at the city's front door, but also stalled the closing of Metropolitan Transportation Authority's $440 million negotiated refunding issue, priced last week.
Moving to comply with disclosure requirements, Goldman, Sachs & Co., the senior manager, scrambled to add a supplement about the state's finances to the deal's official statement.
A syndicate headed by Morgan Stanely & Co. is expected today to close on a $225 million state competitive GO deal bought last week, which will include the supplement.
An MTA spokesman said the deal is now expected to close on Thursday, although a syndicate member said it could close today. The refunding issue is particularly sensitive to the state's budget because the bonds are secured with annual state appropriations.
There was talk in the market yesterday that in light of the latest news, the deal might be pulled because investors are balking at buying the bonds at the prices agreed to last week. The investors are reacting to the state's troubling budget news, the sources said, adding that they have a right ot walk away from the bonds because of the latest disclosure statement.
The MTA's director of finance, Edward Armendariz and officials with Goldman Sachs could not be reached for comment yesterdayl evening.
This is not the first time the state or the city has run into last-minut glitches on bond sales because of the need to disclose timely budget information. About two years ago, the state's dormitory authority pulled a negotiated sale from the market to update an official statement because of state budget problems.
New York City's finances are closely entwined with the state's, and the budget gap could have an detrimental impact on the city's own fiscal plans. In addition, the city has its own budget problems and is now trying to devise a credible five-year financial plant o win the hearts of its fiscal monitors -- and $1 billion from the Municipal Assistance Corp.
The latest budget news out fo Albany does not bode well for the state or the city. The state's addition to its official statement said, "There can be no assurance that the potential gaps will not materially exceed those projected in the revised 1991-1992 state financial plan and the most recent assessment for the 1992-1993 fiscal year."
The budget spokesman said, "We are trying to reach an agreement with the Legislature to close the 1992 and 1993 budget gaps. Those talks are constructive and are continuing."
The executive branch and lawmakers are discussing a plan to close the projected budget gaps with a multiyear plan, which may entatil spending freezes and deficit borrowing. Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Mel Miller, D-Brooklyn, support spreading the gap-closing plan over two fiscal years. But Senate Majority Leader Ralph Marino, R-Muttontown, has so far balked at signing onto such a plan.
Word of the state's burgeoning fiscal woes trickled out on Monday evening after Goldman Sachs, a co-senior manager on the city deal, said it would "sticker" the MTA official statement with the latest state budget news. And early yesterday, syndicate managers, led by J.P. Morgan Securities, huddled in telephone conferences trying to decide the fate of the city offering.
After mulling over the problem -- at one point a city official said, "We may be in the market in an hour or we may be in the market tomorrow" -- J.P. Morgan postponed the sale until today.
"It is really more of a market issue," rather than a reflection on the city, said one member of the Dinkin's administration. "You don't want to be n a position of chasing investors."
Concerned investors want to know the latest information on the state, the city official said. Otherwise, the large institutional investor may seek more compensation for their investment risk by presuring the syndicate to drop the prices and raise the yields on the city offering, the official added.
The state attributes its problems to a national recession and the potential loss of $1 billion in revnues. The "sticker" notice says, "if the final phase of the [state's] personal income tax cut is implemented and the business tax surcharge drops from the current 15% to 10%, as required by existing statute, receipts for the 1992-1993 fiscal year will be reduced by almost $1 billion.
"This potential revenue loss is a primary factor in a budget gap for the 1992-1993 fiscal year, which in July 1991 was assessed by the Division of the Budget at about $1.8 billion."