Bond deal for Metropistas

The private operator of PR-22 in Puerto Rico issued $435m in senior secured notes.

Toll road concessionaire Autopistas Metropolitanas de Puerto Rico (Metropistas) is refinancing its debt with a $435 million senior secured note offering.

The bond issuance will rejig a portion of the $750 million debt Metropistas used to obtain a 40-year lease of Puerto Rico Highway 22 (PR-22) in a $1.4 billion public-private partnership (PPP; P3). The transaction will also fund $75 million in ‘major maintenance’.

Metropistas reached a financial close on the lease for PR-22, as well as Puerto Rico Highway 5 (PR-5), in fall 2011. Transportation conglomerate Abertis and Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners II (GSIP II) own Metropistas.

Moody’s Investors Service assigned a ‘Baa3’ rating to the notes – due June 2035 – calling the outlook ‘stable’. Meanwhile, rival agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) based its ‘BBB-‘ rating on traffic and revenue risk.

S&P termed Metropistas an efficient toll road operator, but called the economic uncertainty in Puerto Rico – a US territory – detrimental.

“Although traffic and revenue from PR-22 has shown strong resilience, the recession was especially severe in Puerto Rico and it is still recovering,” S&P said.

Chicago-based Fitch Ratings for its part rated 61 percent of US toll roads ‘A’ or better in a recent report.

PR-22 is a 52-mile road, while newly built PR-5 is four miles. PR-22 is the main corridor for San Juan, the capital of the Caribbean island.

PR-22 marked the first ever P3 in Puerto Rico, not to mention the first ‘brownfield’ toll road project in the US since the would-be lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 2008.

Metropistas was selected over rival a consortium teaming Morgan Stanley Infrastructure (MSI) and OHL Concesiones.

Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, Santander, Scotiabank, WestLB, La Caixa, Caja Madrid, CIB Credit Agricole, ING Capital, Intesa Sao Paulo, RBC Capital Markets, Siemens Financial Services and Societe Generale financed Metropistas.