Massachusetts Wednesday announced that it has resolved a termination event on the fifth and final Massachusetts Turnpike Authority swap with UBS Securities LLC as counterparty.
The agreement saves the commonwealth from a potential $71 million termination payment on the floating-to-fixed-rate derivative for a notional amount of $207.6 million. The swap was the last remaining MassPike derivative in need of resolution after state officials and UBS reached agreement on four floating-to-fixed-rate swaps in late July, avoiding a possible $190 million payment at that time.
Recent upgrades for MassPike and a new rating from Standard & Poor’s helped cure the termination event with UBS on the swaps. UBS now deems that Standard & Poor’s A-minus rating on the senior MassPike bonds associated with the fifth and final swap affirms a sufficient credit-quality level to prevent termination of the derivative.
“The rating upgrades on the turnpike’s bonds and the positive outcome of our negotiations with UBS are the direct result of transportation reform and the collaborative effort of many, including the governor, the legislature, the Executive Office of Transportation, and MassPike,” Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez said in a press release. “I also want to thank deputy treasurer Colin McNaught for his advice and support throughout the negotiations with UBS. Thanks to this collaborative effort, we have secured an agreement that saves the commonwealth and tollpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.”
In mid-July, the state agreed to direct $100 million each year to debt-service costs on MassPike’s subordinate debt. That action boosted the subordinate credit ratings, with the bonds now carrying a AA rating from Standard & Poor’s. Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings assign A1 and A ratings to the subordinate bonds, respectively.
On Tuesday, MassPike released a request for qualifications for underwriters. It is considering a potential refinancing on $800 million of fixed-rate senior and subordinate bonds that are attached to the floating-to-fixed-rate UBS swaps. The authority has long said that switching the debt to variable rate would better match the bonds with the derivatives.
On Nov. 1, MassPike will no longer exist. It will become part of a new bonding entity called the Massachusetts Transportation Authority. MassDOT will oversee most surface transportation entities throughout the state, including the commonwealth’s largest public transportation agency, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.