Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Some sources of bond information, including the New York State Dormitory bonds issued for the Vertical Campus

At the request of an accounting professor last week I searched for the preliminary and final official statements for several bond financings, included the bond issue from 1996 by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York which financed Baruch's Vertical Campus. Prior to the availability of the Internet, these documents would be kept in the offices of the parties involved with the financings, with access available to the public for inspection upon request, usually at a municipal office.

We occasionally receive questions at the reference desk about the financings of the buildings. Last year a freshman in an English class wrote her research paper on such financings being available for dormitories.

(When I worked as a legal assistant in a law firm in Minneapolis I helped with new bond issues, including those to help fund college projects, and always sent a copy to the college's attorney. So I contacted by e-mail the college's counsel, John Duggan, Jr., who relayed he didn't have the documents, but he e-mailed the appropriate attorney at 80th Street. I learned that the bonds issued in 1996 were refunded in late 2005, and new bonds were issued. I received the preliminary official statement from the attorney for the new issue. It is a pdf file of more than 100 pages. I have it saved on my computer and I would be happy to share it with you if you like. The accounting professor was very pleased and said that the students were more interested than usual in the topic of bonds.)

I also learned that older offering statements are now available from Thomson's Munistatements. com for a cost. They do allow a short trial period and five free downloads so I downloaded the information about the 1996 Dormitory Authority offering which financed the Vertical Campus, among other CUNY construction projects. I also saved this lengthy document. (Thomson would have charged more than $300 for it.)

(Although the Dormitory Authority's web site is very well known, it doesn't retain information about issues that have been refunded.)

How did I know what series of bonds were issued for the vertical campus? I first searched the Dormitory Authority's web site for outstanding bonds but nothing came up that matched the time period. I searched the Bond Buyer, which is available in a number of our databases, for Baruch College and CUNY and the New York Dormitory Authority. I knew the building was underway when I joined the library in 1998, so I looked for stories about offerings made in 1996 and 1997. Then I learned that the series 1996 bonds had been refunded last year and new bonds issued. (Refundings take place for various reasons, often a drop in interest rates.)

I learned that I-deal prospectus has offering materials for pending and recently issued bonds of various types available for free. The backfile is about one year, from what I can determine. I've summarized these sites below:

Dormitory Authority of the State of New York: this site contains a great deal of information about current and outstanding debt of colleges, hospitals, and other institutions in New York.

I-dealprospectus.com: free site for offering materials for municipal bonds of various types and debt and equity offerings by firms. Free registration required. Backfile of one year.

Thomson's Munistatements.com: free limited trial to approved searchers. Five free downloads available.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

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