CHICAGO — The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board on Thursday approved new pools of underwriters as it gears up to enter the market in late summer with a roughly $200 million issue that will launch borrowing for a $12 billion, 15-year capital program.

The agency established the firms from proposals submitted earlier this year by broker-dealers.

The authority board previously approved new financial advisory and bond counsel pools also after a competitive selection process.

The senior and co-senior manager pool is made up of 14 firms: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, BMO Capital Markets, Citi, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Jefferies & Co., JPMorgan, Loop Capital Markets LLC, Morgan Stanley, Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., RBC Capital Markets LLC, Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., Wells Fargo Securities and William Blair & Co.

The pool of 17 co-managers the agency will draw from includes Cabrera Capital Markets LLC, Duncan-Williams Inc., Fifth Third Securities Inc., Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Mesirow Financial Inc., M.R. Beal & Co., Oppenheimer & Co., National Financial Services LLC, Piper Jaffray & Co., PNC Capital Markets LLC, Raymond James | Morgan Keegan, Rice Securities LLC, Robert W. Baird & Co., Stifel Nicolaus & Co., the Williams Capital Group LP and U.S. Bancorp.

The firms were approved to provide "underwriting and remarketing services for an initial term of three years, with options to renew for up to two years," said spokeswoman Wendy Abrams. "No plans have been finalized at this time regarding timing, size or structuring of the deal this summer."

The team also has not yet been selected. Underwriting services fees were capped at $2.50 per $1,000 par amount of bonds underwritten and remarketing services at an annual fee not to exceed 0.045% of the amount of bonds remarketed.

The authority previously chose four financial advisory firms.

The high scorer, Public Financial Management Inc., will be adviser to the authority on an ongoing basis.

Three others were chosen to advise on individual transactions — A.C. Advisory Inc., Columbia Capital Management LLC and Acacia Financial Group Inc.

The bond counsel pool includes Burke Burns & Pinelli Ltd., Chapman and Cutler LLP, Foley & Lardner LLP, Ice Miller LLP and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

Also on the list are Mayer Brown LLP, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Pugh, Jones, & Johnson PC, Quarles & Brady LLP and Schiff Hardin LLP.

The authority board last August approved a new $12 billion program to maintain and expand the 286-mile system, along with a steep increase in passenger tolls.

The additional toll revenue will go toward repaying $4.8 billion of borrowing to support the Move Illinois program.

Toll revenues are expected to rise to $973 million this year from $680 million in 2011, primarily due to the 87.5% toll increase that took effect Jan. 1.

Debt service has a priority claim on the system's revenues after operations are funded.

The agency had exhausted its borrowing capacity under the current toll structure based on its policy of maintaining a two-times debt service coverage ratio considered critical to its double-A

The new program funds construction of new toll roads and projects aimed at keeping the 52-year-old system's existing roadways in a state of good repair through 2026.

The program provides $8 billion for improvements to existing roads and $4 billion for new and expanded roadways.

Moody's Investors Service rates the authority Aa3. Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's rate the tollway's $4 billion of debt AA-minus. Fitch assigns a negative outlook. It affirmed its rating and outlook in March.

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