San Francisco banker takes on city's debt manager position
Anna Van Degna, a San Francisco investment banker, has been named the city's new debt manager.
Van Degna left a position as managing director in Stifel, Nicolaus & Company’s public finance department March 19 to replace Nadia Sesay as director of the City and County of San Francisco Office of Public Finance.
Van Degna said she spent her second day in the new position working on the city’s competitive general obligation bond sale that closed Tuesday.
“It has been a busy couple of weeks getting up to speed,” she said.
Moody’s Investors Service upgraded San Francisco’s GO bonds one notch to Aaa ahead of the $251 million pricing on March 20, citing its effective management of pension and retiree health liabilities.
Van Degna, who had worked with the city as a client, said it has been interesting to see how the decisions are made about what receives funding and what does not. As a banker, she said, her role was to structure the bonds, not to be involved in the decision about which projects to fund.
Van Degna began work at Stone & Youngberg in 2002, staying after the firm was acquired by Stifel in 2011. Prior to that, she worked for two years in corporate finance banking covering telecommunications at Morgan Stanley. She has a bachelor of science degree in hospitality from Cornell University. She serves on the executive committee of the Northern California Women in Public Finance.
Like many people in public finance, she didn’t set out to work in the municipal world. “I wanted to own a restaurant, but developed an interest in banking and finance in college,” she said.
An interest in working with nonprofits led to the job at Stone & Youngberg and working with municipalities, she said.
She has structured and brought to market more than 250 municipal bond transactions totaling several billions of dollars for California cities, counties and special districts.
Sesay had directed the city’s $3.5 billion debt portfolio for 12 years and was with the Office of Public Finance for 19 years.
She had been doing double duty for more than a year, heading the public finance department while leading the city’s Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure. Sesay was appointed interim director of the commission in January 2017 and then permanent director in October. The commission handles the debt for the city’s former redevelopment agency.
Through clean-up legislation on the redevelopment agency dissolution of 2011, San Francisco received permission to issue new debt in 2015 under the successor agency to its RDA on long-range projects to develop affordable housing and infrastructure on its Transbay, Mission Bay and Hunters Point Shipyards development areas. Sesay will help structure debt on the projects expected to result in 22,000 new housing units, including 7,000 affordable units, and 12 million square feet of new commercial space.
The successor agency issued $90 million in taxable bonds for affordable housing and $20 million in tax exempt debt for Transbay infrastructure projects last year, said Jim Morales, the commission's general counsel.