BT Securities Corp. and Bear, Stearns & Co. are reported to be lining up for slices of the commonwealth's municipal debt pie, according to Carribean Business, a San Juan-based weekly.
Robert E. Foran, a senior managing director in the public finance department of Bear Stearns, declined to comment on the report. Officials at BT Securities were not available for comment yesterday.
The Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico, the commonwealth's fiscal agent, employes 11 underwriters on deals to raisde money for its 17 independent issuers, such as the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, as well as for a small amount of general obligation debt.
Last year, nine deals came out of the island, raising $1.5 billion, according to statistics compiled by Securities Data Co./Bond Buyer. The Government Development Bank, until recently under the leadership of Ramon Cantero-Frau, has been reducing annual issuance, which peaked with 1987's $2.7 billion in debt sold.
Demand for the commonwealth's paper is high because under federal tax laws it is exempt from taxes levied by all levels of government.
Meriemill Rodriquez, spokeswoman for the Government Development Bank, could not confirm whether the two firms were seeking spots on the commonwealth's bond syndicate.
Nor could she say whether the commonwealth is restructuring its syndicate because of its recent change in management. In July, the bank announced that Mr. Cantero-Frau would be replaced by Jose Berrocal, who was then chief counsel to Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon.
At present, Ms. Rodriguez said, the commonwealth's syndicate includes the following 11 firms: Banco Popular de Puerto Rico; Citicorp Securities Markets Inc.; First Boston (Puerto Rico) Inc.; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Kidder, Peabody & Co.; Lehman Brothers; Merrill Lynch & Co.; PaineWebber Inc.; Prudential Securities Inc.; Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.; and Dean Witter Puerto Rico Inc.