DALLAS — The Arizona Board of Regents on Tuesday priced $123 million of bonds for the University of Arizona in one of the largest deals of the year from the state.
The negotiated issue was led by Wells Fargo, with Barclays Capital and Stone & Youngberg as co-managers. RBC Capital Markets was financial advisor and Squires Sanders was bond counsel.
The UA bonds carry AA ratings from Standard & Poor’s and an equivalent Aa2 from Moody’s Investors Service. The outlooks are stable from S&P and negative from Moody’s.
“We could take a negative rating action if the operating environment remains challenged and the university is unable to maintain break-even or better operations on a full-accrual basis, if financial resource ratios decline relative to the rating category, or if the university issues a significant amount of additional debt,” Standard & Poor’s analysts wrote.
The issue was made up of $78.5 million of Series A system revenue bonds and $44.6 million of Series B system revenue refunding bonds. Further sales results were not available Tuesday afternoon.
Series A will finance improvements at the university’s football stadium and other athletic facilities. After this deal, the university will have $520 million of revenue system debt. The debt is secured by a variety of pledged revenue sources that analysts view as equivalent to a general obligation. The sources include tuition and some auxiliary revenue.
Total debt for the university is $1.84 billion. It includes $460 million of state-supported certificates of obligation, $520 million of revenue bonds, $187 million of SPEED (Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development) debt, and $38.6 million in other capital leases, according to Standard & Poor’s.
Current total debt service is front-loaded, with annual debt service of $99.5 million occurring in 2016.
“As a result, UA’s debt burden is, in our opinion, above average for this rating category, at 6.6%,” S&P analysts wrote. “Management reported that the university may issue additional revenue bonds in calendar 2012.”
Based in Tucson, UA is one of three state universities, along with Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. All three are governed by the Board of Regents.
Enrollment at UA has grown by an average of about 1.5% annually during the past five years. Fiscal 2011 appropriations were flat at $344.6 million due in part to the May 19, 2010, passage of Proposition 100, which allows for an increase in the state sales tax to 6.6% from 5.6% through May 31, 2013.