ATLANTA - In an unusually comprehensive selection of underwriters, Orange County, Fla., Tuesday picked syndicates for four separate negotiated tax-exempt financings totaling about $230 million, county officials said yesterday.

The county's seven-member Board of Commissioners also chose bond counsel for three of the four negotiated deals and two upcoming competitive financings, according to Jim Moye, the county's chief deputy comptroller.

"We have been through underwriter selection in the past, and it is always an arduous affair," Linda Chapin, Orange County's chairman, said yesterday.

"Our thought this time was to pick teams all at one time that would cover financings for two years," she continued. "That way we thought we could best get a variety of firms and ones that have demonstrated their commitment to the county."

When the selection process was completed late Tuesday afternoon, the commissioners had tapped 23 securities firms and seven law firms as participants in the underwritings, Moye said.

Chapin also said that at the urging of both her and county commissioner Mable Butler, a minority or woman-owned firm was chosen as co-senior manager for each of the four negotiated financings.

"Commissioner Butler pushed for, and got the other commissioners to agree, that minority or woman-owned firms should be included because they had been cut out of previous deals and must now gain the experience necessary to develop as businesses," a spokesman for Butler said yesterday.

For one deal, a $26 million issue to be sold to fund the purchase of so-called environmentally sensitive land, a woman-owned firm, Artemis Capital Group Inc., will run the books, Chapin said. Miami-based Guzman & Co., a Hispanic-owned firm, will serve as co-senior manager.

The co-managers selected - all minority-owned firms - were Pryor, McLendon, Counts & Co.; Reinoso & Co.; W.R. Lazard, Laidlaw & Mead Inc.; and Argyle Securities Corp.

The commissioners chose Smith, Barney, Harris, Upham & Co. as lead manager for the largest upcoming deal of the four, a $150 million bond issue backed by a one-half cent sales tax. Seattle-based, woman-owned Smith Mitchell Investment Group Inc. was named co-senior manager. Proceeds from the offering, which finance officials hope to sell in late August, will be used to fund a new courthouse.

Co-managers chosen to round out the syndicate were: Merrill Lynch & Co.; PaineWebber Inc.; Lehman Brothers; Bear, Stearns & Co.; Morgan Stanley & Co.; Clayton Brown & Assoc.; William R. Hough & Co.; Howard Gary & Co.; and United Daniels Securities Inc.

For another issue, Prudential Securities Inc. was chosen to head up a $30 million certificates of participation financing expected to be sold in late October to fund a new radio system for the county's police and fire department. Philadelphia-based Pryor, McLendon, Counts & Co. was chosen co-senior manager.

Co-managers named by the commissioners were: Merrill Lynch; Bear Stearns; NationsBanc Capital Markets Inc.; Leedy Corp.; and M.R. Beal & Co.

Rounding out the slate of upcoming negotiated deals, the country tapped Goldman, Sachs & Co. to head a $23 million issue that will refund tourist-development tax bonds sold in 1990. Atlanta-based Ward, Bradford & Co. was chosen as co-senior manager on the financing.

The commissioners also picked seven co-managers for this offering: Prudential Securities; Kidder Peabody & Co.; First Boston Corp.; Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp.; Barnett Banks Trust Co.; Raymond James & Assoc. Inc.; and Douglas James Securities Inc.

Moye said the Goldman-led team chosen Tuesday could also negotiate a tourist development tax debt issue that is tentatively planned for 1995. This financing, about $120 million in size, will fund further expansion of the city's civic center.

In the selection of bond counsel, Moye said Holand & Knight was chosen for the sale tax revenue issue.

A joint venture between Ruden, Barnett, McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell and Perry & Arrington was selected as bond counsel for the COPs issue, he said.

The commissioners named a joint venture between Squire, Sanders & Dempsey and McCrary and Moseley as bond counsel for the tourist development tax issue.

He said the commissioners have already selected Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson, P.A. as bond counsel for the environmental issue.

Moye said bond counsel chosen for the competitive deals were Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen & Quintel, P.A. for a $15 million solid waste refunding issue set for August. Also, Foley & Lardner was selected for a $10 million general obligation bond issue that is scheduled for sale in early September and that will be used to refund outstanding bonds used to finance library facilities.

Moye said that underwriter selection was based on seven commissioners ranking the top four underwriters from shortlisted groups of underwriters.

The first choice of each commissioner was given four points, down to one point for fourth place.

On this basis, he said, Smith Barney and Prudential Securities each garnered 24 points for the deals they will lead manage. Goldman and Artemis got 22 points for their respective underwritings, he said.

Tuesday's underwriter selection process, in which PaineWebber was not chosen as lead manager for any deal, follows a year in which the firm dominated Orange County negotiated underwritings.

In 1992, the firm ran the books on a $300 million tourist development tax revenue bond issue sold in April and a $133.1 million water utilities system revenue refunding issue sold in November. The county sold two smaller negotiated deals last year: a $43.3 million of improvement and revenue refunding debt lead-managed by First Boston Corp. and a $42.7 million solid waste facilities revenue bond issue lead-managed by Bear Stearns.

In 1990, PaineWebber lead-managed a $61.5 million tourist development tax bond issue.

"No conscious effort was made to exclude PaineWebber, but I can't say that the fact they have done other large deals recently didn't play a part in the final decision of the commission," said county chairman Chapin. "Again, our thought was to spread the business around."

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