UG offers new investor platform

by Mary Rupert

The Unified Government recently reached out to investors through the BondLink website, a resource that connects investors to bonds that the UG is offering.

With more than $530 million in outstanding bonded debt, the UG is hoping to reach more investors in order to get the most favorable interest rates on bonds, according to Kathleen VonAchen, chief financial officer for the UG.

She said the UG is most concerned about the bonds that are sold in the primary market. Once those bonds are sold, investors may sell them to other investors on the secondary market, she added.

It’s to the UG’s advantage to get the lowest interest rate it can, and that is helped by having more investors looking at it, she said.

“More than 1,000 investors are registered on the website, from all over the country,” she added. That includes investors for other pages on the BondLink website, not just for the UG’s page.

VonAchen said that the UG has had no problems selling its bonds, it’s just adding the website page to improve the number of investors.

The last bond issue was for the Legends Apartments-Garage project, in June, and there were seven times the number of offers from investors than bonds they could sell, she said. The more investors that put in a bid, the lower the price, she added.

“By adding our information to the BondLink website, all these investors can see our information and be potential investors,” VonAchen said.

VonAchen said there are a number of projects that could turn into a bond issue in future months. There were a lot of projects approved in the CMIP (Capital Maintenance and Improvement Plan), she added.

When the UG issued temporary notes for general obligation bonds in February, the UG paid 3.26 percent when they were sold, she said.

The $26.8 million community improvement district sales tax revenue bonds sold near the end of May had an interest rate of 4.63 percent, she said, adding that a sales tax revenue bond is considered by the market to be more volatile than a property tax-backed bond.

There is always the potential that people will shift to bonds depending on how they feel about the stock market, von Achen said. If more people want to buy bonds, that is good for the sellers including the UG, since the interest rate is reduced.

At the end of May, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates 1 percent. The UG does everything it can to keep its interest rate low, she added. In August, the UG kept its interest rate the same, and two weeks after it sold the apartment-garage bonds, the Fed increased the interest rate, she said. Some analysts expect interest rates to increase twice more before the end of the year, she added. (Analysts’ projections are subject to change.)

“The bottom line is we’re trying to keep the cost of our debt as low as possible,” VonAchen said. “Whenever there’s a chance to refinance our current outstanding debt to get a lower interest rate, we do it, so we’re always looking at it. That website has a wealth of information.”

The new UG page on the BondLink website is at