The state of Hawai‘i issued $750 million in general obligation bonds in a sale that closed early Tuesday morning, according to the state Department of Budget and Finance.
The bonds will provide critical funding for various public buildings and facilities, elementary and secondary schools, community college and university facilities, public libraries, parks, and highways, among other public improvement projects.
“My administration is deeply committed to investing in Hawai‘i’s future, strengthening the local economy, and prudent fiscal management,” said Governor Josh Green, M.D. in a news release update. “The success of this bond sale is a critical step forward in delivering on these promises.” The state sold its bonds at an opportune time, as interest rates have decreased more than 0.75% since October.
In preparation for the bond sale, Gov. Green, Director of Finance Luis Salaveria, and other senior state officials met with bond rating agencies that included S&P Global Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, and Fitch Ratings, to facilitate their review of the state’s credit quality.
Following these presentations, all three agencies affirmed the state’s strong bond ratings of AA+, Aa2, and AA, respectively, with stable outlooks. In their reports, the agencies cited the state’s strong financial position, prudent fiscal planning and oversight, and long-standing commitment to addressing pension funding and other liabilities as evidence of the state’s strong credit quality.
“The long-term rating is supported by recent recovery in the (leisure and hospitality) sector that has been fueled by rebounding domestic and international tourism activity, and visitor spending that has contributed to substantial growth in its revenue base,” S&P Global Ratings said in its report. “We expect Hawai‘i’s economy to remain on an improving trajectory, supporting its ability to maintain structural budget performance and build on already very strong reserve and liquidity levels.”
Under Gov. Green, the state has made critical investments in housing, healthcare, education, and infrastructure while also bolstering the state’s rainy day funds and paying down long-term liabilities, according to the news release.
The state conducted an extensive marketing campaign prior to the bond sale, that included dissemination of an online investor presentation, meetings with local on-island investors, and a live virtual presentation to some of the largest institutions that buy municipal bonds. The bonds received significant interest and over $2.5 billion of orders from 76 distinct investors.
Traditional financial institutions represented the largest buyer segment, which placed $2.1 billion in total orders. The state also received strong interest from other buyer segments including retail, municipalities, and international accounts.
Municipalities across the country placed more than $300 million in orders. On-island orders from individuals, professional retail and banks totaled nearly $32 million, and national retail contributed an additional $36 million. The state also received interest from accounts internationally with orders totaling more than $60 million from Japan, Canada, Sweden, and Norway.
Morgan Stanley served as the lead managing underwriter for the bond sale, with BofA Securities and Citigroup as co-senior managers, and eight firms as co-managers.