Iowa Fertilizer Co. – For Profit Enterprises Can Issue Tax Exempt Debt

The for-profit Iowa Fertilizer Co. sold $2.6 billion in taxexempt debt through the Iowa Finance Authority last week.  The deal, rated BB minus by Fitch and S&P, was 1.3x oversubscribed.  The project qualified for tax exempt status as a Midwestern Disaster Area (MDA) bonds.  MDA bonds were authorized by the Heartland Disaster Relief Act of 2008, which was promulgated after severe storms, tornado and flooding impacted the Midwest.  The main feedstock in fertilizer is natural gas, and these high yield bonds come to the market as the Midwest benefits from oil and natural gas exploration and production.  For example, the North Dakota legislature is wrangling with a $1.6 billion biennium budget surplus, as oil and gas production lift its local economies.  As an investor in the tax exempt market, we watch new issues like these because it gives us insight into possible shift in fundamentals and highlights the fact that not all tax exempt bonds are issued to support the public good.