Funding New Infrastructure Projects – Public Private Partnerships

Municipal market watchers are expecting a light new issuance calendar in 2013.  A limited supply of tax-exempt debt may support market technicals, but does not help the need to renovate, upgrade, or build out existing infrastructure.  In November, the Bond Buyer reported that the west coast of North America (California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia) would need an estimated $1 trillion of infrastructure funding over 30 years.  To address the issue, west coast states and provinces formed the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange, a first-of-its-kind partnership formed to cooperate on financing public infrastructure projects through private investments.  Moving back to the southeast, the State of Georgia is moving forward on a $1 billion toll project, which started as the state’s first full public-private partnership but has become a more traditional, largely state-financed, project.  The toll project will be funded with a combination of state and federal motor fuel sales tax, toll-backed bonds, GARVEEs and gap financing from a private partner.  The private partner will design and build the project and provide as much as $160 million in gap financing, which the state expects to repay when the project is completed.  The State of Georgia ended the initial public-private partnership to maintain control of sovereign state interests, toll revenues and rates.   Public-private partnerships can take multiple forms, and SNW will look at the capacity, covenants and character of each deal to assess if it is appropriate for our clients’ portfolios.