CHICAGO - With a new chairman at the helm, the Illinois Finance Authority board yesterday gave preliminary approval to deals for the University of Chicagoand Alexian Brothers Health System, and also approved a restructuring of another health system's floating-rate bonds.

The board gave initial approval to the University of Chicago's plan to issue up to $125 million to current refund debt sold in 1998. The university would issue variable-rate bonds and entered into a forward swap agreement in 2005 in conjunction with the deal. The university will pay a fixed-rate of 3.19% to counterparty Merrill Lynch Capital Services that will pay 68% of the London Interbank Offered Rate. The current bonds carry rates between 5 and 5.25%.

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