By: The Bond Buyer
November 09, 2020, 8:00 a.m. EST
The Bond Buyer Monday announced the recipients of its annual Deal of the Year awards, marking the 19th year that it has recognized outstanding achievement in municipal finance.
For the second straight year, The Bond Buyer has named winners in 10 categories: five awards in our regional areas of coverage, along with five in additional categories. All award winners are also finalists for the national Deal of the Year Award, which will be announced at a virtual event to be held Dec. 16.
“This year’s lineup reflects the full range of communities and public purposes this market comprises,” said Mike Scarchilli, Editor in Chief of The Bond Buyer. “The deals honored exemplify the creativity and resourcefulness this industry brings to bear on projects that advance the infrastructure and quality of life in the nation’s municipalities. These qualities take on additional importance here in 2020, as issuers across the nation face unprecedented challenges.”
The Bond Buyer’s editorial board considered a range of factors when judging entries, including: creativity, the ability to pull a complex transaction together under challenging conditions, the ability to serve as a model for other financings, and the public purpose for which a deal’s proceeds were used.
For the 10th year, the Deal of the Year event will also include the presentation of the Freda Johnson Award for Trailblazing Women in Public Finance. This year marks the sixth in which the organization is honoring two public finance professionals; one from the public sector and one from the private. The 2020 honorees are California Treasurer Fiona Ma and Suzanne Mayes of Cozen O’Connor.
Here are the 2020 Deal of the Year award winners:
The Buckeye Tobacco Settlement Financing Authority’s $5.53 billion offering of tobacco settlement asset-backed refunding bonds is the winner in the Midwest region. Not only the largest deal of 2020 but arguably also the most complex, the refinancing avoided an expected near-term default, and the $3.8 billion 2055 maturity is among the most actively traded bonds in the high-yield market.
The Cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and DFW International Airport’s $2.045 billion sale of joint revenue refunding bonds is the winner in the Southwest. In coming to market with three separate refinancings in a 16-day period, DFW became the first major airport to issue bonds during the COVID-19 pandemic, opening the market for other major airports.
In the Northeast, the winner is the Power Authority of the State of New York’s $1.23 billion issuance of tax-exempt and taxable revenue bonds. The deal included $791.6 million of green bonds, the authority’s first such issuance, representing the largest public power green bond transaction of all time.
FAR WEST REGION
The California Health Facilities Financing Authority’s $500 million issuance to benefit the California Department of Housing and Community Development is the winner in the Far West. This was the inaugural issuance under the $2 billion “No Place Like Home” program, the municipal market’s first large bonding program created to invest in homeless housing infrastructure and secured directly by taxes on high-income residences.
The winner in the Southeast region is the city of Tampa, Florida’s $362.8 million issuance of water and wastewater systems revenue and refunding revenue bonds. At the time of the sale, it was the largest bond sale in Florida completed since the start of the pandemic, and was the year’s largest Southeast water and wastewater financing by par amount.
HEALTH CARE FINANCING
The Health Care winner is the $1.16 billion Bon Secours Mercy Health financing, which helped pave the way for the reopening of the capital markets for not-for-profit health systems amid the pandemic. Other issuers involved in the deal included Allen County, Ohio, the South Carolina Jobs-Economic Development Authority, and the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority.
The Ford Foundation’s $1 billion issuance of taxable social bonds is the winner in the ESG/Green financing category. The transaction represented the first-ever social bond offering by a United States nonprofit foundation in the taxable corporate bond market and led the way for numerous other nonprofit foundations to follow suit.
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP FINANCING
The P3 winner is the $236.8 million Arizona Industrial Development Authority financing for Nebraska’s Lincoln South Beltway project. The first-of-its-kind transportation project utilizes an innovative contractor-led build finance structure and delivered the largest single-contract project in the history of conduit issuer Nebraska Department of Transportation.
SMALL ISSUER FINANCING
The Small Issuer honoree is the recently formed Idawy Solid Waste District, a union of three Idaho counties and one in Wyoming, for its $22.36 million issuance of tax-exempt and taxable revenue bonds. This is the first financing of this type in Idaho and is the first time a county from another state has joined with Idaho counties to pursue a joint project.
The Connecticut Green Bank’s $16.8 million issuance of “Green Liberty Bonds” is this year’s Innovative Financing winner. Modeled after the Series-E War Bonds of the 1940s, this new sub-category of green bonds is sold in maximum denominations of $1,000, making them accessible to everyday citizens and retail investors.