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IFA Approves $1B, Mostly for Hospitals

CHICAGO — The Illinois ­Finance Authority board yesterday signed off on more than $1 billion of borrowing, mostly on behalf of nonprofit hospitals seeking to enter the tax-exempt market before the end of the year.

The board gave final approval to the issuance of up to $650 million from Advocate Health Care Network, the Chicago area’s largest hospital system.

Advocate will include $132 million for new projects. The remainder of the authorization, if tapped, would restructure existing debt to reduce credit and renewal risk and provide financing for its acquisition of BroMenn Healthcare, which serves the Bloomington-Normal area in central Illinois.

Oak Brook-based Advocate has about $448 million of weekly variable-rate securities outstanding that carry a standby bond purchase agreement that expires in April 2011.

“AHCN desires the flexibility to restructure all or a portion of these bonds and their associated floating-to-fixed-rate swaps, if deemed necessary or advisable, into fixed rate and-or other modes of variable-rate bonds in order to reduce risk and increase its committed capital exposure,” according to IFA documents

Advocate has ratings of AA from Fitch Ratings and ­Standard & Poor’s and Aa3 from Moody’s Investors Service. It expects to issue the debt by the end of the year using Citi as its senior manager,with Loop ­Capital Markets LLC and Cabrera ­Capital Markets LLC as co-managers. Chapman and Cutler LLP is bond counsel.

The system intends to use a fixed-rate structure but could shift to a variable-rate one if rates rise.

Advocate operates nine acute-care hospitals. Its acquisition of BroMenn allows the system to expand its reach into central Illinois.

As part of the merger agreement, Advocate will finance the construction of a new bed tower and other projects at BroMenn’s main  213-bed campus and its 25-bed Eureka Community Hospital.

The Finance Authority’s board also signed off on the Rehabilitation ­Institute of Chicago’s sale slated for later this fall of $100 million of new-money and refunding bonds that in part will cover costs to acquire a site for a replacement facility.

The RIC will refinance about $60 million of existing debt. It will use another $30 million to acquire land near its existing 155-bed hospital and outpatient facility in downtown Chicago, near the medical center campus of Northwestern University.

“RIC has determined that constructing a new facility is the most cost-effective way to meet the latest rehabilitation facility standards while also increasing its capacity,” IFA documents say.

Construction is expected to begin in the next three to five years. The hospital specializes in providing comprehensive rehabilitation services to the physically disabled.

JPMorgan is underwriter. JPMorgan Chase NA and Northern Trust Bank NA are providing direct-pay letters of credit for the variable-rate transaction. Both banks carry top short-term credit marks. The institute does not carry underlying ratings. Shattuck Hammond Partners is financial adviser and Jones Day is bond counsel.

Meanwhile, Chicago-based Resurrection Health Care received final approval to issue $120 million of fixed-rate bonds later this fall to refund existing floating-rate debt ahead of the expiration of letters of credit that currently support the debt.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the senior manager and Jones Day is bond counsel. Resurrection holds a 31% market share and has ratings of A-minus from Fitch, BBB-plus from Standard & Poor’s, and Baa1 from Moody’s.

Standard & Poor’s in May revised its rating to negative from stable, citing “sizeable” losses that have eroded the Catholic system’s liquidity and debt-service coverage ratios. It has about $600 million of debt. Analysts said they remain concerned over the system’s floating-rate exposure.

“While Resurrection continues to maintain a leading market position in many of its markets, and while specific cost-savings initiatives should support the credit, some meaningful and sustained improvement in financial operations is required to return the outlook to stable,” said analyst Suzie Desai.

Southern Illinois Healthcare Enterprises Inc. also received final approval from the IFA to sell up to $85 million of fixed-rate refunding bonds. Shattuck Hammond is financial adviser. No underwriter has been named yet.

The system has underlying ratings in the high single-A category but expects to insure the bonds with coverage from Assured Guaranty Municipal. It operates three acute-care facilities in downstate Carbondale, Herrin, and Murphysboro.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago received preliminary IFA approval for its new-money and restructuring sale of up to $70 million.

The new money will finance the purchase and installation of a new heating and air conditioning system and other improvements. The refunding portion is for $30 million of outstanding debt.

The museum opened in 1933 in a renovated building as part of the Century of Progress Exposition and is the oldest science museum of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Its 1.5 million annual visitors makes it one of the top-10 visited museums in the country.

The variable-rate bonds will carry LOCs from JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Harris Bank, and Northern Trust. Banc of America Merrill Lynch is senior manager.

Though the IFA’s recent agendas have been crowded with new health care and higher education deals, the increased volume of late is not expected to offset a drop in fee revenue forecast in fiscal 2010, officials said.

Due to market turmoil, the authority also saw a drop in deals in fiscal 2009, which ended June 30.

Overall revenue fell to $7.2 million in fiscal 2009 from $10.3 million in fiscal 2008, and this year revenue is expected to reach only $5.6 million, said IFA spokeswoman Marj Halperin.

The Finance Authority last month cut nine staff positions. Six were layoffs and three were vacant positions. Those laid off included longtime program managers Townsend Albright and Sharnell Curtis-Martin.

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