BRADENTON, Fla. - Florida's Greater Orlando Aviation Authority will restart its search for a new financial advisor as the authority embarks on a multi-billion expansion program at Orlando International Airport.
The first search for an FA, which began last year, resulted in questions being raised by First Southwest about potential conflicts of interest, ownership, and other issues at Public Financial Management. Both firms applied for the job.
During a finance committee's review of responses to the airport's request for proposals, PFM was ranked No. 1 on a short list of three firms, Frasca and Associates LLC was second, and Raymond James and Associates was third.
GOAA Executive Director Phil Brown and general counsel Marcos Marchena wrote a five-page review of questions raised by First Southwest, with responses provided by PFM, and determined that the RFP's "request for disclosure of potential conflicts as well as the disclosure by PFM of its ownership structure could have been more robust."
PFM's response to the RFP said the firm is owned by 85 managing directors and a private equity investor, which was not identified.
The executive staff review concluded that all three short-listed firms "can serve the authority well as financial advisor."
The finance committee, however, decided Feb. 19 to issue a new RFP for the job.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, GOAA board chairman Frank Kruppenbacher said that he wanted the RFP to include more detail about what would be considered a conflict.
"Nobody did anything wrong," he was quoted as saying.
PFM managing director David Moore, who is based in Orlando, welcomed the committee's decision.
"I think it's great that they are going through a process that will be open and transparent for all respondents," Moore said.
First Southwest has raised questions about PFM's ownership structure in other situations, where the firm has fought against issuers trying to limit financial advisory procurements to firms that do not underwrite bonds, as First Southwest does.
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority has $937 million in long-term debt and loans. Its senior revenue bonds are rated AA-minus by Fitch Ratings, AA3 by Moody's Investors Service, and A-plus by Standard & Poor's.