Ziegler Closes $23M Lee County Community Charter Schools, LLC, Series 2012 Issue

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) September 10, 2012

Ziegler, a specialty investment banking firm, is pleased to announce the successful closing of $ 22,805,000 financing for Lee County Community Charter Schools (LCCCS). LCCCS is a Florida single-member LLC created for the purpose of serving as the borrower on a Series 2007 Bond issue for the benefit of schools operated by the Lee Charter Foundation, Inc. (LCF). LCF, the sole member of LCCCS, was incorporated in September 2001 to assist with the establishment, development, and administration of charter schools. LCF currently holds charters for seven operating charter schools including a new school that opened in the fall of 2012. Of these seven schools, six are included in LCCCSthe remaining school is not included in the obligated group for either the Series 2007 or Series 2012 Bond issues.

LCCCS served as the borrower on $ 80,520,000 of tax-exempt Series 2007A and $ 1,645,000 of taxable Series 2007B Bonds issued through the Lee County IDA. Proceeds were used to fund the acquisition of four school facilities by LCCCS. Proceeds of the Series 2012 supplemental issue were used to refinance an outstanding bank loan that funded construction of an expansion facility occupied by two of the six LCCCS schools (Gateway Charter School and Gateway Intermediate Charter School), as well as the acquisition of a new K-8 facility (Manatee Charter School).

The Series 2007 Bonds were rated BB by Standard & Poors at issuance, and were subsequently upgraded to BB+ in 2011. Although the addition of a new school to the obligated group resulted in a downgrade to BB upon issuance of the Series 2012 Bonds, it is anticipated that the bonds will again be upgraded once Manatee Charter School reaches stabilizationparticularly considering LCCCS strong historical performance. LCCCS achieved historical pro-forma coverage in excess of 1:1 in FY 2010 and 2011, easily meeting the additional bonds test even without the add-back of over $ 800,000 of non-continuing rent expense for the Gateway Expansion facility. Enrollment has grown steadily, driven in large part by the solid academic performance of the schoolsof the five LCCCS schools that carry a letter grade (Manatee had not completed a year of operations), three are rated A, the strongest rating, with the remaining two being rated B.

Despite not having underwritten the 2007 issue, Ziegler was able to leverage the existing investor base on the Series 2007 bonds as well as bring new buyers to the table. Zieglers investment banking and sales & trading teams worked with each investor and the borrower to structure a final covenant package that accommodated the request of the various parties. Thanks to these focused efforts, Ziegler was able to price the issue aggressively, continuing its ongoing support of the CSUSA charter network.

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