Bond Buyer announces finalists for 2019 Deal of the Year

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The Bond Buyer Friday announced the recipients of its annual Deal of the Year awards, marking the 18th year that it has recognized outstanding achievement in municipal finance.

This year, The Bond Buyer increased to 10 the number of categories of deals eligible for awards. The 2019 awards, which considered deals that closed between Oct. 1, 2018, and Sept. 30, 2019, includes three new additions: ESG/Green, Public-Private Partnership (P3), and Innovation, the last of which replaces the Non-Traditional category, which has been retired.

All 10 award winners are also finalists for the national Deal of the Year Award, which will be announced at a Dec. 4 ceremony held at the Conrad New York Downtown in lower Manhattan. The winner will also be revealed at BondBuyer.com later that evening.

“This year’s lineup reflects the full range of communities and public purposes this market comprises,” said Mike Scarchilli, Editor in Chief of The Bond Buyer. “The deals honored vary in size, complexity and structure — as were the nominations we received, which were deeper and more diverse than ever.”

The Bond Buyer’s editorial board considered a range of factors when judging entries, including: creativity, the ability to pull a complex transaction together under challenging conditions, the ability to serve as a model for other financings, and the public purpose for which a deal’s proceeds were used.

For the ninth year, the Deal of the Year gala will also include the presentation of the Freda Johnson Award for Trailblazing Women in Public Finance. This year marks the fifth in which the organization is honoring two public finance professionals; one from the public sector and one from the private. The 2019 honorees are public finance professional Ritta McLaughlin, most recently the MSRB's Chief Education Officer, and Courtney Shea, owner and managing member of Columbia Capital Management LLC.

Here are the 2019 Deal of the Year award winners:

INNOVATIVE FINANCING
The first recipient of the Innovative award is the Cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas’ nearly $1.2 billion taxable refinancing. DFW’s plan to discontinue issuing alternative minimum tax bonds and focus entirely on taxable debt resulted in the largest ever taxable airport deal and international orders totaling 39% of the deal size.

ESG/GREEN FINANCING
The inaugural winner in the ESG/Green category is the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $545 million offering of Proposition C sales tax revenue bonds, which included $418.5 million second-party-verified green bonds. The transportation issuance was the second largest green deal in 2019, and the second largest green offering in California history.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP FINANCING
The first-ever honoree in the P3 category is Transurban’s 95 Express Lanes for $262 million of Senior Lien Revenue Bonds, issued by Virginia Small Business Financing Authority (VSBFA), to fund its 10-mile Fredericksburg Extension project.

HEALTH CARE FINANCING
The Health Care winner is the $6.5 billion CommonSpirit Health financing, the largest ever by a not-for-profit health system. The financing consisted of both a complex debt restructuring of nearly 50 series of debt and new money reimbursement. It generated the largest order book for a municipal not-for-profit transaction, with $40 billion in orders.

SMALL ISSUER FINANCING
The Vermont Municipal Bond Bank is the Small Issuer honoree for its $31.5 million issuance of Local Investment Bonds. The designation serves a two-fold purpose: raising awareness of the social and environmental impacts of the projects the Bond Bank funds, and making access to those investments more widely available through $1,000 denominations.

NORTHEAST REGION
The Battery Park City Authority claimed the Northeast crown for its $673 million offering for resilience projects in a neighborhood devastated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The complex financing saw the authority issue variable-rate demand bonds and SIFMA floating-rate notes for the first time. The transaction also received a second-party sustainability bond designation.

MIDWEST REGION
The Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank is the winner in the Midwest for its $625 million issuance of bonds secured by lease rental payments for its Community Justice Campus. The design consolidates operations and replaces the current outdated, overcrowded, and unsafe facilities with three new, modernized buildings on a single campus.

SOUTHWEST REGION
The Southwest recipient is the City of Austin’s $464.5 million offering of taxable revenue bonds to fund its acquisition of a biomass-fired power plant for the city’s electric utility. The transaction created a clear path to eliminate an above-market power purchase agreement, a source of considerable cost and frustration for the city and Austin Energy.

SOUTHEAST REGION
The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, Florida wins the Southeast for a $347.6 million refunding utilizing "Cinderella bonds," which employ a crossover taxable and tax-exempt convertible refunding bond structure. This creative approach allowed the issuer to solve a problem it otherwise couldn’t have after the elimination of tax-exempt advance refunding.

FAR WEST REGION
The San Diego Association of Governments’ $331 million capital grants receipts revenue bond sale is the honoree in the Far West. The first public market, stand-alone securitization of a federal full-funding grant agreement in nearly 20 years, the deal accelerated the completion of the city’s $2.2 billion Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project.

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