BRADENTON, Fla. — Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp. last week closed on a $2.4 billion bond sale to have liquidity on hand in case a hurricane strikes the state during the upcoming storm season, which starts June 1.
The offering, which closed April 6 and priced on March 22, saw more interest from retail investors and was a lower cost of financing over liquidity secured last year, officials said in a report to the State Board of Administration, a panel of top-level elected officials, including the governor, that oversees the state-run nonprofit insurer.
Total interest costs were more than 150 basis points lower than in 2009, saving Citizens more than $36 million, and retail investors bought more than $650 million of bonds, nearly double the amount placed with retail investors last year, according to a report submitted in advance of the SBA’s meeting today.
“Citizens was able to place bonds with a broad array of top-tier institutional and retail investors,” said a statement from John Forney with Raymond James and Associates Inc., the fund’s financial adviser.
Citizens successfully placed $2.4 billion of bonds with maturities between one and seven years and interest rates ranging from 1.28% to 4.43%, which completed the liquidity program without the need for bank facilities.
The transaction was structured as $1.55 billion of tax-exempt bonds, $500 million of short-term notes, and $350 million of tax-exempt floating-rate notes based on a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association index with an aggregate true interest cost of 3.714%.
“Due in part to this bond issue, Citizens will have adequate liquidity resources to handle the upcoming storm season and meet its obligation to policyholders,” said James Malone, chairman of the Citizens Board of Governors.
“The success of Citizens in closing this bond sale is not only indicative that capital markets are coming back, but also of Citizens’ ability to access capital at extremely favorable rates,” Malone said. “This achievement provides important cash flow to Citizens, which will ensure timely claims payment in the event of a hurricane.”
Citizens offers property and windstorm insurance throughout Florida in areas where it is not available from the private insurance sector.
It is currently the largest property insurer in Florida with just over one million policies providing approximately $405 billion of coverage.
Also at today’s SBA meeting, the board will be asked, once again, to approve the issuance of up to $710 million of bonds by the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Finance Corp. to pay claims losses for 2004 and 2005 hurricanes.
The so-called Cat Fund brought the financing request to the SBA earlier this year but board members postponed action and asked for information about continuing, and in some cases escalating, new and reopened claims being filed so many years after the hurricanes hit the state.
A detailed report on claims activity will be presented today as well.
The Cat Fund is a state-run nonprofit program that provides lower cost reinsurance to the private property insurance market as well as to Citizens.