The Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday gave the go-ahead for a revenue bond issue of up to $250 million for the county’s John Wayne Airport.
The deal is moving forward with a boost from Standard & Poor’s after the agency Wednesday upgraded the long-term rating for the airport’s senior-lien bonds to AA-minus from A-plus.
“The upgrade reflects our view of the airport’s uniquely strong market position; the strength of the enterprise’s finances and liquidity position, both historical and projected; and the finalization of the capital improvement plan, effectively expanding the airport to its maximum facility capacity with minimal debt needs going forward,” Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Mary Ellen Wriedt said in a statement.
The upgrade brings Standard & Poor’s into alignment with Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service, which affirmed their respective AA-minus and Aa3 ratings.
The financing has been in the works for some two years as part of a long-range capital improvement plan, but the federal stimulus legislation will allow the airport to benefit from lower borrowing costs as a result of its temporary suspension of the alternative minimum tax for most airport bonds, according to a staff report prepared for the supervisors.
Citi will be the book-runner for the bond deal.
Sidley Austin LLP is bond and disclosure counsel, and Frasca & Associates LLC is the financial adviser.