CHICAGO -- Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. will be the senior managing underwriter for an upcoming Ohio general obligation bond issue of up to $120 million that may include the state's first college saver bonds, the state treasurer's office announced Wednesday.

State Treasurer Mary Eillen Withrow said yesterday she was "pretty sure" a portion of the bonds would be sold as college savers and that her office was meeting next week with the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority to discuss the possibility.

Although that authority was set up by the state Legislature in 1989 to manage college saver bond programs, the bonds would have to be issued by one of the state's bonding agencies -- an action that none of the agencies has yet taken.

Ms. Withrow said that while a final determination has not been made on how many bonds will be sold, she hoped to issue the full $120 million authorization because "the market is so good now." Municipal interest rates are at their lowest levels since March 1987 and are close to their lowest levels since 1979.

She added that Dean Witter's "good record" with college saver bond issues in other states, as well as its underwritting experience and presence in Ohio, were factors in choosing the firm to head the bond issue.

Alex Rorker, a managing director at the firm, said the tentative schedule calls for the bonds to be priced in December. "We're very glad to have been selected, and I think it's great the treasurer's office is hoping to tuse its bonding power to provide for Ohio residents to save for college," he said.

The treasurer's office had sent out a request for proposals last month to firms interested in serving as underwriters for the local government public infrastracture improvement bond issue.

According to Carol Rowan, a spokeswoman for the treasurer's office, Dean Witter was chosen from 40 applicants. Those applicants had been whittled down to 10 firms that were interviewed last week.

McDonald & Company Securities Inc. and Banc One Capital Corp. were selected as co-senior managers. A press release from the treasurer's office said additional co-managers would be added based on the final size of the issue. Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. was chosen as the deal's financial adviser last month.

The upcoming infrastructure improvement bond issue will mark the state's third since voters approved the total issuance of $1.2 billion of the bonds in a 1987 referendum.

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