San Diego County names tobacco bond team
SAN DIEGO, Calif., July 31 (Reuters) - San Diego County has put together a team to sell its tobacco-backed bond issue, naming Merrill Lynch & Co. as senior underwriter for a deal expected to total in the $400-million range, a county official said on Monda
J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. and A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. are co-underwriters, while the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is bond counsel on the deal expected to price in November, said Lisa Keller-Chiodo, the county's capital finance manager.
``It was a relief to actually get a team together but now the real work begins,'' she said in a telephone interview, adding the money will be used on health-care programmes.
San Diego is slated to receive some $945 million of the $206 billion that will pour into state and local coffers over the next 25 years under the settlement reached in November, 1998 between the tobacco industry and 46 states.
Other California municipalities are also considering issuing debt backed by the tobacco settlement. Sacramento County, for example, plans to use its share to issue $116.8 million in bonds to fund projects like a new health care clinic.
And some smaller local governments are exploring whether to band together in order to issue bigger tobacco bonds and spread out the costs. But Keller-Chiodo said San Diego County decided it was large enough to go it alone.
``That is not an option that would work for us,'' she said. ``We feel we are strong enough on our own.''