Denver International Airport's $2.5 billion sale wins Deal of the Year

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The city and county of Denver won The Bond Buyer’s 17th annual Deal of the Year award for its $2.5 billion financing on behalf of Denver International Airport.

Once derided as a “field of dreams” far from downtown Denver, the airport has become one of the nation’s major airline hubs and a powerful economic engine for the region. The deal, issued to finance the bulk of a $3.5 billion capital program, marked the largest AMT bond transaction and the largest airport revenue bond ever issued.

“This year, our editorial board has selected a massive transaction that financed a major infrastructure project critical to its region,” said Michael Scarchilli, Editor in Chief of The Bond Buyer, at the Dec. 6 gala. “It was the issuer’s first new-money transaction in five years, and is the first deal to ever win this award from the Southwest Region.”

Coming just months after Congressional tax reform and ongoing price discovery in the municipal market, it was unclear if a deal this size would struggle. Despite the concern, the transaction found a receptive market with 145 unique investors and $5.7 billion in orders.

For 17 years, the editors of The Bond Buyer have selected outstanding municipal bond transactions for recognition. The 2018 awards, which were distributed at a ceremony at 583 Park Avenue in Manhattan, drew nominations that represent the diverse range of communities and public purposes served by the municipal finance market.

The other finalists were:

The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority’s $107.3 million issuance of general revenue variable rate bonds. With Libor being phased out, this financing marks the municipal market’s first-ever issuance of bonds based on the SOFR index, and the sixth SOFR-based deal in the overall fixed income market.

The Michigan Finance Authority’s $288.6 million sale on behalf of Wayne County. The deal funded the county’s new $500 million criminal justice complex in Detroit and marked a milestone for the previously distressed government, paving the way for another high-profile display of Detroit's revival.

The state of West Virginia’s $1.3 billion of deals as part of its $2.6 billion Roads to Prosperity highway program. The state’s largest-ever infrastructure initiative, it will finance hundreds of new and backlogged transportation projects, creating new jobs in all 55 counties and boosting the state’s economy.

The California Municipal Finance Authority’s $1.18 billion private activity bond offering on behalf of the Los Angeles International Airport to fund an Automatic People Mover (APM). It is the first APM procured as a P3 in the U.S., and the largest P3 deal ever in California.

The Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority’s $1.2 billion transaction on behalf of Advocate Aurora Health. The deal was a recapitalization of Aurora Health debt after its merger with Advocate Health to create a unified capital structure.

The Placer County, Calif., Public Financing Authority’s $39.8 million issuance of taxable revenue refunding green bonds to fund its mPOWER program. The transaction can serve as a “take-out financing” template for municipalities that choose to self-administer PACE programs.

California’s Jefferson Union High School District’s $5 million issuance, believed to be the first voter-approved teacher-staff housing general obligation bonds in the nation. The deal provides an alternative path for school districts to address local rental housing shortages.

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Denver City & County Deal of the Year