Port Authority Selects MWBEs, SDVOBs to Assist With $8 Billion Bond Issuance

Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole
Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole

New underwriting team includes significantly higher levels of participation from Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Enterprises

The Port Authority today announced that it selected a new best-in-class pool of underwriters to assist agency staff with critical fiscal decisions surrounding the issuance of approximately $8 billion in bonds over the next three years to help finance transportation projects in the agency’s 10-year, $32 billion Capital Plan.

The selection of the new underwriting pool involved a competitive and rigorous procurement process that began in November 2018. Initially, 36 proposals were received in response to this public solicitation, including more than half – 20 – from Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) or Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise (SDVOB) firms. In the final selection for the senior manager group of underwriters, MWBE participation rose from 20 percent to 33 percent and in the co-manager group of underwriters, participation rose from 28 to 57 percent.

“We have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that we make the best possible decisions when funding our $32 billion Capital Plan,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “We believe the new underwriting pool provides us with top flight financial experts to assist agency staff in making the right decisions when dealing with the bond market. We also are delighted that participation by veteran and minority-owned businesses has increased, providing an opportunity for these professional service firms to become part of our underwriting pool.”

“The $8 billion in bonds we plan to issue over the next three years requires extensive due diligence and market research to ensure we are getting the best financial terms possible,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “We are confident that our new underwriting team – which includes significantly higher levels of MWBE and SDVOB participation – will give us a broad based spectrum of expertise to support our broad underwriting program.”

The agency’s underwriting team consists of three distinct roles for senior managers, co-managers and selling group members in the issuance of Port Authority debt obligations. The senior managers plan and schedule the issuance of debt obligations, structure terms and best price, serve as lead for marketing and distribution of debt obligations and commit capital as necessary. The co-managers assist with the marketing and distribution of debt obligations and assist with committing capital as necessary. And the Selling Group markets and sells bonds to retail investors.

Following the procurement process for the Senior Manager Group, the level of MWBE participation at the senior manager level rose from 20 percent in the existing pool to 33 percent in the newly selected pool. In the Co-Manager Group, the level of SDVOB participation rose from 6 percent to 14 percent and the level of MWBE participation rose from 28 percent to 57 percent. And in the Selling Group, the level of SDVOB participation rose from 20 percent to 25 percent.

The increase in participation by MWBEs and SDVOBs aligns with a policy adopted by the Port Authority Board of Commissioners in February 2018, which called for increased participation of MWBEs, not only in typical construction contracts, but in all contracts including those for professional services. The 2018 policy requires the agency’s contractors to make a good-faith effort to achieve a 20-percent participation goal for sub-contractors with minority business enterprises (MBEs) and a 10-percent goal with certified women-owned business enterprises (WBEs). Previously, the agency’s guidelines were 12 percent for MBEs and 5 percent for WBEs.

The new senior manager underwriting pool approved by the Board consists of: Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Citibank Global Markets Inc.; Goldman Sachs, Co. LLC; Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., Inc; Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. LLC; and UBS Financial Services Inc. The co-manager underwriting pool consists of Academy Securities, Inc.; Blaylock Van, LLC; J.P. Morgan Securities, LLC; Jefferies LLC; Loop Capital Markets LLC; Oppenheimer & Co, Inc.; and Rice Financial Products Co. The selling group consists of Drexel Hamilton, LLC; FTN Financial Capital Markets; Mischler Financial Group, Inc.; NW Capital Markets Inc.; Rockfleet Financial Services Inc.; Stern Brothers & Co.; Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. & Backstrom McCarley Berry Co.; and The Williams Capital Group.