Build America Mutual Assurance Co., the start-up mutual municipal bond insurer, is open for business in Florida.
The muni-only financial guarantor’s announcement brings the company’s licensing count to 49 states, plus the District of Columbia, BAM said in a press release Friday.
“We are also pleased to note that, with the addition of our Florida license, we are very close to completion of our nationwide insurance licensing project,” Robert Cochran, Build America chairman, said in the announcement.
BAM launched in July 2012 and began regularly insuring public finance deals in January, claiming 38% of the financial guarantee market as of the first half of this year, putting pressure on Assured Guaranty, the lone surviving bond insurer after the financial crisis.
BAM’s licensing in Florida presents an opportunity to write business in the fifth-most prolific state for public finance.
The state of Florida was responsible for $10.7 billion in par of long-term bonds this year across 180 issues as of Friday, according to preliminary figures by Thomson Reuters.
In July, the state changed regulations that defined financial guarantors as stock companies so as to include BAM. California, Texas, New York and New Jersey lead the country in public finance bond issuance volume.
“Access to a new mutual bond insurer, such as Build America Mutual, provides a valuable tool to assist local governments in Florida by lowering borrowing costs,” Jeannie Garner, Florida League of Cities director of insurance and financial services, said in a statement. “Lower costs will, in turn, help critical capital projects move forward more quickly and ultimately speed up the path to economic recovery.”
Only Kentucky remains on BAM’s to-do list for licensing.
The Bluegrass State should be in the insurer’s potential portfolio by October, the company said in an email.
Assured launched a muni-only business, Mutual Assurance Corp. in July with licenses in 30 jurisdictions.
Since then, MAC has gained licensing in eight more jurisdictions including Florida, New Jersey and Texas.
The municipal-only model embraced by BAM and MAC, along with rising interest rates and concern over municipal defaults, may lead to an influx of investors looking for bond insurance, analysts have said.
Bond insurers, who were as of midyear on the worst start to a year since the financial crisis, got a boost in July and August as insured bonds outperformed general obligation debt as falling bond prices and default concerns placed higher value on insurance wraps.