State of Arkansas Big River Steel Project

In order to be competitive in the global market for jobs and investment, Arkansans passed Amendment 82 to the Arkansas Constitution in 2004 authorizing the use of general obligation bonds for major economic development projects approved by the Arkansas General Assembly (the “Assembly”).

In 2013, as part of an incentive package to entice Big River Steel LLC to build a $1.3 billion steel mill and recycling facility in Osceola, AR, the State’s legislature approved the first and only project to date, an issuance of $125 million in general obligations bonds for grant and loan funding.  However, there was a deadline of June 30, 2014 within the approval to consummate the transaction, and the political climate did not appear to support an extension. Project planning, other funding negotiations, and closing requirements forced an extremely tight timeline to meet the looming expiration date.

Further, a significant portion of the project needed prepayment flexibility without a penalty in two years from issuance.

The Solution

Crews, as Senior Manager, successfully led the financing through a daunting last minute schedule as the pieces to finalize the project ultimately came together. The bonds were priced Friday afternoon June 27th and closed one business day later on Monday June 30th, the last possible day.

The Difference

Crews worked hard to serve our client in extraordinary ways by:

  1. Achieving excellent pricing for this taxable transaction despite the unusual timing circumstances (Many of the maturities were sold at lower interest rates than a higher “AAA” credit-rated Texas general obligation bond priced the same week);
  2. Allowing early, 2-year optional redemption for a significant portion of the financing with minimal interest rate impact.