BRADENTON, Fla. - Miami-Dade County is preparing to sell $600 million of airport revenue bonds in an offering next week that takes advantage of provisions in the federal stimulus bill that allows the county to sell the debt without being subject to the alternative minimum tax.

The bonds are being sold to support Miami International Airport's ongoing capital improvement program, for which $4.5 billion of debt is outstanding. MIA is considered an important gateway to and from Latin America.

The new-money deal was delayed slightly until the non-AMT provisions were signed into law and the county hopes they will bring interest rates down, said Anne Syrcle Lee, chief financial officer for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department.

The county's aviation debt usually is sold in two series, with 70% of the bonds subject to the AMT and 30% sold as non-AMT bonds. While next week's sale will also be sold in two series, all of the debt will be non-AMT serial and term bonds.

"The new [stimulus] law ought to have a favorable effect on the interest as well as its attractiveness to the retail market," Lee said. "I think it's reasonable to say it will save us money, but since we're going to be one of the early [non-AMT] sales and the market is just coming back, there's not enough history to make a projection."

The county hopes to issue another $1.3 billion of non-AMT airport debt before the stimulus exemption expires in December 2010.

Book-runner Barclays Capital is expected to begin a pre-pricing and retail order period on Wednesday and the sale of the bonds will conclude on Thursday. About $200 million of the deal is expected to be insured.

"We will apply the $200 million where we get the most bang for the buck," Lee said. "We'll decide that the day of pricing."

The bonds are rated A, A2, and A-minus by Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service, and Standard & Poor's, respectively.

Fitch revised its outlook on MIA bonds to negative from stable because of concern over potential contraction in the lucrative Latin American market "as a result of global recessionary effects on air travel factors that are largely out of MIA's control," the agency's analysts said.

The timing of future airport bond sales to take advantage of the AMT exemption is being coordinated with Miami-Dade's plans to sell debt for the construction of a $515 million baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins, according to Lee. A schedule for the sale of the ballpark debt has not been released, nor have ratings.

In addition to Barclays on the airport sale next week, the syndicate is composed of Citi, Estrada Hinojosa & Co., Goldman, Sachs & Co., Jackson Securities, JPMorgan, Loop Capital Markets LLC, Morgan Keegan & Co., M.R. Beal & Co., Raymond James & Associates Inc., Rice Financial Products Co., Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., and Wachovia Bank NA.

First Southwest Co. and Frasca & Associates LLC are financial advisers.

Edwards & Associates PA is bond counsel. Greenberg Traurig PA is co-bond counsel. GrayRobinson PA is underwriters’ counsel. Edwards Angell Palmer and Dodge LLP and Rasco Klock Reininger Perez Esquenazi Vigil & Nieto are co-disclosure counsel.

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