ATLANTA -- The Orlando-Orange County, Fla., Expressway Authority has chosen PaineWebber Inc. to lead-manage an underwriting team that will sell up to $920 million in refunding bonds, the authority's finance director said yesterday.

The official, Gregory V. Dailer, also said the authority selected Lehman Brothers as co-senior manager.

According to Dailer, the authority's five-member board of directors unanimously approved the senior management team on Wednesday from a group of four finalists that also included Merrill Lynch & Co. and Bear, Stearns & Co.

The financing team must now be approved by Florida's cabinet, which meets next Wednesday. The cabinet, which comprises the governor and the state's six top elective and appointed officials, sets administrative policy in the state.

Municipal market sources said they expect the cabinet to confirm the authority's selection.

The choice of PaineWebber, if confirmed by the cabinet, would continue the firm's success in landing Florida negotiated deals. PaineWebber ranks 5th this year as lead manager in the state with 16 financings totaling $1.06 billion, according to Securities Data.

Dailer said the senior managers will first work out an overall financial plan that will identify refunding candidates from among the authority's current $920.3 million in outstanding debt. That debt includes senior lien bonds sold in 1985, 1986, and 1988, and junior lien bonds sold in 1990.

Authority officials currently foresee a refinancing between $500 million and $850 million, Dailer said. The underwriting team also may be asked to considered possible new-money issues to be determined later, he added.

"We want to sell the refunding bonds as soon as possible," he said.

Dailer pointed out that in choosing its senior underwriters, the authority's board of directors endorsed the selection made by a six-member evaluation team. Two staff members from the authority, Orlando County's assistant county manager, and three members of Florida's Division of Bond Finance made up the team.

According to a tally of the evaluations' votes made available by the authority, PaineWebber garnered a total of 23 out of 24 possible votes, followed by 15 votes for Lehman Brothers, and 11 apiece for Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns.

Under the ranking criteria, each evaluator was asked to rank the candidates in order of preference, with the first choice given four points, descending to one point for fourth choice. All but one of the evaluators ranked PaineWebber first.

Evaluators based their rankings of firms on a 135-point system that gave heavy weighting to candidates' experience and the quality of the financial plan presented.

"We believe the evaluation was done in a very professional and objective manner," said Dailer, who also served as one of the six evaluators.

He said the authority will soon send out a request for proposals for co-managers.

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