University of Tampa

The University of Tampa was established in 1933 when Tampa Junior College was transformed into The University of Tampa that now enrolls students from 50 states and 132 countries. UT’s enrollment has grown from 2,400 in fall 1994 to 9,600 in the 2019-2020 academic year.  Today, UT is ranked among the best of the best by U.S. News & World ReportForbes and The Princeton Review.  Its consistently improving demand metrics, operating strength, and strong governance and administration provide for the bases for UT’s “A-” long-term debt ratings by S&P and Fitch.

$81,320,000
City of Tampa, Florida
Revenue and Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2020A
University of Tampa Project
(The “Series 2020A Bonds”)

$57,050,000
City of Tampa, Florida
Taxable Revenue Refunding Series 2020B
University of Tampa Project
(The “Series 2020B Bonds”)

Wye River Group Served as the University of Tampa’s Independent Financial Advisor for these transactions.

Project Overview

The Series 2020A Bonds are tax-exempt bonds, the proceeds of which were used to finance new capital projects in the amount of $75 million and to refinance an existing direct purchase bank loan in the amount of $15 million.  The Series 2020B Bonds are taxable bonds, the proceeds of which were used to advance refund UT’s Series 2012 Bonds.  UT’s credit profile is characterized by extremely strong operations combined with modest balance sheet metrics.  UT was able to maintain its existing long-term debt ratings of “A-“ from both S&P and Fitch for the Series 2020A Bonds and the Series 2020B Bonds even when it added $70 million of new debt (an increase of nearly 40%). Both issues were sold on May 21 and settled on June 4, 2020.

Financing Overview

The sale of the Bonds was complicated by the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, just shortly before the initial scheduled sale.  Final governmental approval of the Bonds was delayed because governmental offices and operations had been closed for virtually all of March 2020.  Further, the municipal market had seized up in early March, causing significant volatility and effective complete lack of market access for private higher education institutions (among others).  Wye River, working with entire finance team – including UT, the underwriters, the City of Tampa (as governmental issuer), and the entire legal team – postured the Bonds for sale as quickly as possible.  A “window of opportunity” to sell the Bonds efficiently appeared in late May.  Both issues were sold on May 21 and settled on June 4, 2020.  It is meaningful that the Bonds were sold in spite of the significant uncertainly surrounding higher education credits at the time, a clear affirmation of the market’s confidence in UT’s credit and long-term performance prospects.  The Series 2020A Bonds, structured with maturities mostly in the 25-30 year range.  The Series 2020B Bonds produced annual debt service savings of approximately $450,000, which was effectively the target the University had set when the financing process began.  UT was also able to refinance a variable rate direct purchase bank loan that had periodic “put” rights for the lender, and convert that debt to committed, long-term funding at rates that are not significantly higher than what had been the average of the variable rates since that loan was made in 2012.

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