- THE THREE-RING BOND CIRCUS
by Kevin Pranis
- The process of putting together a bond deal is complicated and delicate. Investors choose from thousands of options when buying municipal bonds and most seek deals that involve something between little risk and no risk at all. Yet the projects financed by bonds are often massive, involving dozens of risk factors. The task of investment bankers and others who put together bond deals is to put together a package that not only eliminates or minimizes risk factors, but also minimizes the appearance of risk.
- The task is made more difficult because bond issuers are in a “catch-22”: many key parties to a bond deal are unwilling to commit until all of the other pieces are in place. In many cases, for the deal to happen, all of the pieces must fall into place simultaneously or at least appear to do so. As a result, some have compared a new development to a three-ring circus. It is the task of the investment banker to ensure that keep each ring in motion, and often to create the impression that each ring is in motion when inevitable delays arise.
- Because many or all of the pieces are in motion up until the moment the bonds are sold, there is no fixed sequence of events leading to a bond issue. Instead, there is a long list of pieces that investment bankers try to assemble in a coherent package. Some pieces are required by law or by investors, others could strengthen the issue but are not necessary and some only become essential if pulled out in the light, like a thread that will unravel the shirt if not put back in place.
- The following pages cover the key steps in the bonding process:
- Financing I Financing Team, Capital Requirements
- Financing II Capital Sources, Revenue Sources
- Financing III Deal Structure/Terms, Bond Ratings & Insurance
- Financing IV Authorizations/Reviews, Investors
- Construction Process Contractors, Construction Plan, Land Title, Utilities, Insurance, Environmental Regulation, Authorizations/Permits
- Key Documents Official Statement, Financial Statements, Contracts/Agreements, Bond Counsel Opinion, Feasibility Study