BRADENTON, Fla. — The Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority’s new board learned Wednesday night that its defaulted bonds, sold to build the Garcon Point Bridge in north Florida, may be repaid without losses to investors.
But it could take more than 60 years longer than the final payoff date that is now scheduled, a consultant said.
The authority has $115.9 million of outstanding debt, which went into payment default in July because there was not enough in reserve to make a full payment.
The trustee, Bank of New York Mellon, declined to make a partial payment on the bonds, which reach final maturity in 2028.
Initial modeling indicates that based on current revenues, and projected growth of about 3%, the authority’s bonds would not be paid off until 2089, according to Sean Gumbs, a senior managing director with FTI Consulting Inc., a corporate finance and restructuring firm hired by BNY Mellon as financial advisor for the SRBBA.
FTI, whose corporate headquarters are in West Palm Beach, Fla., has also assisted Jefferson County, Ala., with its governmental restructuring efforts. The county filed for bankruptcy last month.
Because of a lease-purchase agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation, which operates and maintains the Garcon toll bridge, the FDOT will be owed $550 million as an unsecured creditor if the authority’s bonds are paid off in 2089, Gumbs said.
“The resolution is clear that the bondholders will get paid off — the question is, how long it will take?” he said, adding that he believes a reasonable solution can be developed between the authority and bondholders.
Warren Bloom, a veteran bond attorney and shareholder with Greenberg Traurig LLP who represents the trustee, said BNY Mellon looked forward to being “part of the solution” as restructuring talks proceed.
Though no major decisions concerning the SRBBA’s debt were made Wednesday, three new board members were sworn in. That allows regular board meetings to resume after a year’s hiatus. Most of the authority’s board members resigned after the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an inquiry last year believed to be centered on the SRBBA’s disclosure practices.
Morgan Lamb was elected chairman of the reconstituted board.
To move potential restructuring talks along, the board decided to meet monthly. The next meeting is Jan. 18, and after the Jan. 1 bond payment is due.
There was no discussion from the board about future bond payments, though a representative of a retail bondholders’ group asked the authority to make an interest payment that was missed earlier this year.