March 25, 2005

Record bond sale nets funds for VUMC projects

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Neil Boothby, professor of Clinical Population and Family Health and director of the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, spoke twice during the annual World Health Week. His lecture Tuesday at the School of Medicine was titled "After the Flood: The Pyschological Consequences of the Tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia."
photo by Dana Johnson

Record bond sale nets funds for VUMC projects

Vanderbilt University recently completed a $391 million bond issue, the largest in the school's history.

$167 million — considered 'new' money from the bond issue — will fund current and future capital projects at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, including construction of MRB IV, buildout of several floors of the Doctors' Office Tower at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital, the new Emergency Department and renovation the fifth and sixth floors in Vanderbilt University Hospital.

The bulk of the remaining funds, approximately $214 million, will be used to re-fund prior bond issues.

“The total dollar amount was the largest in Vanderbilt's history, and it will probably end up being one of the biggest deals for a private university this year,” said Jim Kasnick, senior manager with VUMC's Department of Finance. “Most of these projects are already under construction and we will use the proceeds to reimburse those expenses based on funding budgets in our Medical Center financial plan.”

It also gives Vanderbilt a lower cost of capital and more future financing options by restructuring the funding of prior bond issues. “Through this innovative structure VUMC will save roughly $500,000 annually compared to any previous or existing variable rate bonds of the University” said Bret Perisho, director of Finance.

This latest bond issue represents months of work for the Department of Finance team. The paperwork, documentation and regulatory procedures involved in a transaction of this scope are enormous. Anyone who's bought a house and has been a little nervous about signing all the papers would shudder at the sight of this deal's 'book,' or closing documents.

“A tax-exempt deal such as this is heavily influenced by regulations. The closing documents will be in a book about eight inches thick,” Kasnick said.

Since 2000, Vanderbilt has averaged a bond issue or refunding every year. However, last year the University established a $350 million commercial paper program that will serve as a low-cost “line-of-credit” and provide interim funding between bond issues. According to Rick Wagers, senior vice president and chief financial officer, “The goal now is to issue bonds every two or three years to cut back on administrative time and transaction fees, which can be substantial on deals of this size.”

The bond issue was underwritten by lead manager Goldman, Sachs & Co., and co-manager's, Merril Lynch & Co. and Morgan Keegan & Co.