BRADENTON, Fla. — Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp. plans to sell up to $900 million of revenue bonds to provide liquidity for the upcoming hurricane season, which begins June 1.
Bond proceeds will be used if needed to pay claims filed with Citizens’ high-risk account, which includes policies covering windstorm and property damage in about 29 of Florida’s 35 coastal counties.
The state-run insurer’s governing board authorized the sale and approved bond documents at its meeting last Wednesday.
The CPIC bonds are expected to be sold in late June, according to the nonprofit agency’s chief financial officer, Sharon Binnun.
While the exact structure of the deal will be established closer to pricing, the transaction may be sold in four subseries, with most of the deal pricing as fixed-rate, tax-exempt bonds with maturities up to eight years. The issue may also include some floating-rate debt.
“We anticipate the majority of the bonds will be fixed-rate, tax-exempt bonds, but market conditions may change and we have built in flexibility for various structures,” Binnun said.
The use of fixed-rate, tax-exempt bonds “provides Citizens some permanence and certainty over its planning horizon, while taking advantage of the lower rates available in the short end of the yield curve,” according to documents submitted to the governing board.
CPIC’s finance team has already made presentations to rating agencies, though ratings for the upcoming bond issue have not been released. The agency’s current bonds are rated A2 by Moody’s Investors Service and A-plus by Standard and Poor’s.
The plan of finance was developed in consultation with senior underwriters and the agency’s financial adviser, Raymond James & Associates Inc.
“Citizens’ credit is strong,” Binnun said. “We are working with our financing team and anticipate the deal will be well received in the marketplace.”
The agency is required to obtain approval for its bond issuances from the state Office of Insurance Regulation. Once that approval is granted there is a 30-day appeal period before the bonds can be sold in June.
Citi will be the book-runner, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman, Sachs & Co., JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley as senior managers. Co-managers will be Loop Capital Markets LLC, Ramirez & Co., and Wells Fargo Securities.
Bond counsel is Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. Disclosure counsel is Bryant, Miller & Olive PA.
Last April, Citizens closed on a $2.4 billion bond sale to have liquidity on hand for the high-risk account in the 2010 hurricane season. The sale made the insurer the largest issuer in the Southeast last year.
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. The deal sold with maturities between one and seven years and interest rates ranging from 1.28% to 4.43%,
Retail investors bought more than $650 million of the 2010 bonds, which was nearly double the amount placed with retail investors in 2009 when Citizens sold just over $1 billion for the high-risk account.
Citizens also provides personal residential and commercial property insurance in other areas of Florida where private underwriting capacity is not available. Those policies are placed in separate accounts from the high-risk account, which has the most exposure.