DALLAS — RBC Capital Markets will remain financial advisor for the North Texas Tollway Authority, and First Southwest Co. will be added under a selection process scheduled to be approved next week.
The two firms were chosen after the NTTA board voted last December to launch a search for firms to compete with its so-called legacy contractors, companies that had been working for the agency for years without having to bid for contracts.
The NTTA’s customer service, projects, and operations committee selected First Southwest as general municipal financial advisor and RBC as FA for public-private partnerships or P3 projects.
“I am confident in our selections,” said NTTA chief financial officer Janice Davis. “We have two good teams, each focused on a specialization.”
The board may accept, reject or modify the committee’s recommendations. If it approves, NTTA staff will begin negotiating contract terms, the agency said.
As an agency created by the state, the NTTA finances, builds and operates toll projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Unlike the Harris County Toll Road Authority in Houston, the NTTA’s jurisdiction includes multiple counties and cities, with board members appointed by the counties it serves.
The board still faces a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for unspecified allegations. News reports have quoted sources saying that the investigation centers on conflicts of interest by current or previous board members.
As the selection of financial advisors nears its conclusion, the NTTA is also pursuing a search for legal services, including bond counsel.
A request for qualifications was sent April 20. McCall, Parkhurst & Horton has handled the agency’s bond counsel duties for years. Locke, Lord Liddell has provided other legal services.
“The NTTA continues to fulfill its pledge to revisit all of the authority’s major procurements during 2012, and to ensure complete transparency in the process,” said NTTA chairman Kenneth Barr.
Also last month, the board named Gerald E. Carrigan as the agency’s executive director. Carrigan had been interim director.
As financial advisor, RBC has handled billions of dollars worth of bond transactions for the NTTA, including some of the most difficult in the agency’s history during the financial meltdown of 2008. The collapse came as the authority was trying to finance a $3.2 billion project.
Dallas-based First Southwest Co. is the perennial top-ranked financial advisory services firm in terms of volume in the Southwest.
The NTTA has around $7.8 billion in first-tier, second-tier, third-tier and subordinate debt outstanding. About 79%, or $6.1 billion, is first-tier system revenue bonds.
The authority has a limited ability to incur additional parity senior debt at the current ratings of A-minus from Standard & Poor’s, analysts wrote in a recent report.
Standard & Poor’s rates the NTTA’s second-tier bonds BBB-plus with stable outlooks on both tiers. Moody’s Investors Service rates the senior-lien debt A2 and second-tier bonds A3.
The outlook returned to stable from negative on Nov. 3.