The V.I. Public Finance Authority sold $146 million of Matching Fund Bonds on Thursday, according to Government House. The bond issue raised $130 million to fund operating costs of the government over three fiscal years, as well as to fund tax refunds, workers compensation costs and WAPA accounts receivable.
The bonds were sold at an all-in cost of 4.45 percent for the 20-year bond issue, well below the budgeted cost for the financing and among the lowest interest costs ever achieved on a long-term financing by the V.I. government, Government House said.
Investor demand was strong, as mutual fund companies, asset managers and insurance companies put in orders for almost $600 million of bonds, allowing the interest cost to be pushed to the final low level.
“The market response was extraordinary,” according Troy Clark, a banker with the financing team in the prepared statement. “Institutional investors did a lot of work digging into this credit, and clearly they voted with their money and liked what they saw.”
“This was a real demonstration of support for the Virgin Islands and its success in building the local rum industry," Clark said.
The bonds were rated in the triple-B rating category by all three of the national rating agencies, with a stable-to-positive outlook. The market reception validated the administration’s view that this was a good time to come to market.
“We have said time and again that this is a good market and that investors understand the progress we are making here," Gov. John deJongh Jr. said.
"I encourage the Senate to act on our capital projects and energy legislation so that we can take advantage of the strong and continuing demand for our bonds,” he said. “This is no time to put things off for tomorrow, because today we learned that we can indeed raise capital at historically low levels."
Commissioner of Finance Angel Dawson, who as executive director of the V.I. Public Finance Authority managed the financing effort, said “this financing was a strong, collective effort, and the results exceeded all of our expectations.”
“We worked one on one with the institutional portfolio managers and credit analysts, and clearly that work paid off in a big way.” Dawson also urged the Senate to act on capital projects and energy legislation before them and to authorize bonding "so that we can take advantage of the current market and move forward with those important projects.”