BRADENTON, Fla. — After a successful and rare competitive deal last year, Appalachian State University in northwestern North Carolina this week plans to competitively sell $25.8 million of general revenue refunding bonds.
Proceeds will be used to take advantage of the low interest rate environment and lock in debt service savings to refund all or portions of the university’s 2002, 2003A and 2005 bonds, officials said.
The special obligation bonds are expected to be sold Thursday with serial maturities from 2013 to 2028, though bidders can designate two term bonds.
The transaction is expected to generate around $2 million, or 8.2% in present-value savings.
The bonds are rated Aa3 by Moody’s Investors Service and will be issued by the University of North Carolina.
The competitive offering is rare because most of the state’s public universities sell by negotiation, according to financial adviser Walter Goldsmith, a senior vice president with Davenport & Co. Hunton & Williams LLP is bond counsel.
In May 2011, Appalachian State sold its first competitive new-money deal in a $60.4 million transaction. The bonds sold in maturities ranging from $1.5 million with a 1.18% interest rate and a 2% coupon in 2014, to $2.12 million at an interest rate of 3.2% and a 5% coupon in 2022, to $7.7 million with a 4.58% interest rate and a 4.5% coupon in 2036.
Greg Lovins, interim vice chancellor for business affairs, said the university was pleased with last year’s results.
“We received eight bids on the May bond sale and the winning bid from Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley & Co. saved us a considerable amount on debt-service payments,” Lovins said.
For this week’s offering, the university decided to stay with a competitive sale based on market conditions, supply and the feedback from last year’s bidders, he said.
Moody’s Aa3 rating is based on the state’s historically strong financial support, the university’s market position as a growing public institution with undergraduate and graduate programs, and favorable operating performance, according to Moody’s analyst Eva Bogaty.
“Offsetting these factors are the recent reductions in state support and the university’s increasing debt burden resulting in highly leveraged operations and balance sheet,” Bogaty said.
Appalachian’s general revenue bonds are payable from a broad range of available funds. In fiscal 2011, $155 million of available funds provided 9.75 times coverage of debt service on general revenue bonds.
After this week’s sale, the university will have $288.6 million of direct debt outstanding from various sources.
Appalachian State University is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and has seen consistent growth over the past 10 years. The total enrollment for graduate and undergraduate programs is 17,000 students. The school offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.