LOS ANGELES - Honolulu priced $913 million of tax-exempt and taxable general obligation bonds Thursday at historic low interest rates and refinanced older bonds to save taxpayers more than $75 million, officials said.
Honolulu refinanced more than $625 million of GO bonds. The average interest rate on the tax-exempt bonds for new projects was 3.20%, the lowest rate the city has achieved in recent history, officials said.
“This is a great day for Honolulu and it will help the city continue to bend the debt curve,” said Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle in a statement.
City officials said they believe the $2.7 billion in orders for the bonds resulted from the city’s comprehensive investor marketing program. Those efforts included an internet-based presentation viewed by more than 35 major institutions, and in-person meetings and conference calls with institutional investors in Honolulu and on the U.S. mainland.
A one-day retail order period generated more than $140 million of orders from individual investors and their advisors, officials said. Local financial institutions were active participants in the bond issue.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch served as the lead underwriter for the offering with Piper Jaffray & Co. as the co-manager.
Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service maintained the city’s existing general obligation bond ratings at AA-plus and Aa1 respectively — both with stable outlooks.
In its report, Fitch analysts said Honolulu’s economy benefits from a resilient visitor industry juxtaposed with a substantial non-tourism economy that balances tourism’s inherent volatility.
Moody’s cited the city’s large economic base, sound financial operations with recently improved reserve levels, and a manageable debt profile as its reasoning behind the Aa1 rating.