WASHINGTON -- Baltimore plans to issue $57 million of tax-exempt bonds this week to finance its share of the $151 million Baltimore Convention Center Expansion Project, the city said in a statement yesterday.

Alex Brown & Sons Inc. and Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. will be senior managers of the offering, and Merrill Lynch & Co. will serve as co-senior manager. There will also be four co-managers: Artemis Capital Group, Grigsby Brandford & Co., Kidder Peabody & Co., and Lehman Brothers.

The fixed-rate bonds will be insured by Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., enabling them to carry a Aaa rating from Moody's Investors Service and AAA ratings from Standard and Poor's Corp. and Fitch Investors Service.

The city plans to offer serial maturities from 1998 through 2014 as well as a term bond maturing in 2019.

Baltimore officials expect high investor demand for the bonds because this is the first and only offering of this type by the city and because them is a short supply of Maryland paper in the market.

"Recognizing this demand, the city has instructed its underwriters to fill the orders of Baltimore and Maryland residents first ahead of all other orders," the statement said.

The portion of the convention center expansion project not financed with the Baltimore bonds will be covered by Maryland and by the state stadium authority, city officials said.

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