Fitch downgrades $537 million Vermont Municipal Bond Bank general resolution bonds to ‘AA’

first_imgSource: Fitch Ratings CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– 11.17.2010 Fitch Ratings assigns an ‘AA’ rating to the following 2010 Vermont Municipal Bond Bank bonds, issued under the 1988 General Resolution:–$24,280,000 (federally taxable recovery zone economic development bonds) series 5.The bonds are expected to sell via negotiation during the week of Nov. 15, 2010.In addition, Fitch downgrades $536,855,000 in outstanding general resolution bonds to ‘AA’ from ‘AAA’.The Rating Outlook is Stable.RATING RATIONALE:–The rating downgrade is due to the program cash flows failure to pass Fitch’s ‘AAA’ stress test.–The program’s pledged reserves and loan repayments, excluding federal subsidies, allow the bonds to withstand borrower defaults of up to 20.3% for four years without causing an interruption in bond payments. This is consistent with Fitch’s criteria for assigning an ‘AA’ rating given the loan pool’s borrowers’ credit quality, size and diversification.–The program, which consists of 298 borrowers, is diverse with low single-borrower concentration.–The program’s loan security is strong, with approximately 98% of all loans backed by a general obligation pledge and additional protection from borrower defaults through a state-aid intercept mechanism.KEY RATING DRIVERS:–Fitch will continue to evaluate the bond bank’s ability to balance future leveraging with program resources to maintain borrower default tolerance levels that pass Fitch’s ‘AA’ stress test scenarios.–Credit quality of the bonds is linked to repayment performance on the program’s loan portfolio.SECURITY:Program bonds are secured by borrower loan repayments and debt service reserve funds. A state moral obligation on the reserve fund and a state-aid intercept provision for borrowers provide additional credit enhancement.CREDIT SUMMARY:Established in 1970, The Vermont Municipal Bond Bank (VMBB) is a quasi-state agency. It is administered by a five-member board consisting of four gubernatorial appointees and the state treasurer. The bond bank issues bonds and uses the proceeds to make loans to local government borrowers throughout the state. Virtually all of Vermont’s eligible municipalities use the bond bank as their primary borrowing vehicle because it offers local government borrowers the lowest cost of capital.The loan pool consists of 298 borrowers from cities, towns, counties, school districts and other local governments throughout the state. Approximately 98% of all loans are backed by a general obligation pledge; the remaining are backed by utility pledges from four borrowers. About 51% of the loans are to school districts, which are further backed by an intercept mechanism that includes any state funds payable to borrowers. State aid is reportedly over 90% of school district debt service. The loan portfolio’s largest borrower, Springfield School District, comprises only 5% of the portfolio. The top 10 borrowers account for 33% of the total outstanding loan balance.Fitch analyzed the default tolerance of the VMBB loan pool using a stress test it also applies to state revolving funds and other municipal loan pools. The stress test considers loan quality, single risk concentration, reserve fund size, and debt service requirements. Due to the already tight margins on the program’s stressed cash flows, with the issuance of the 2010 series 5 bonds, the program cash flows fail to pass Fitch’s ‘AAA’ stress test by $4.4 million and $2 million in 2014 and 2027, respectively; this scenario assumes that no scheduled federal debt service subsidies are received. Per its report ‘Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market — Credit Considerations’ dated April 27, 2010, Fitch assesses the ability of the issuer to pay full interest on the BABs, regardless of the subsidy. While Fitch believes there could be offsets to some annual subsidy payments, it believes that VMBB management would take action to address the reasons for the offset and avoid multiple years with no subsidy, including the use of certain optional redemption provisions for its federally subsidized bonds. Even if the federal subsidies were considered in Fitch’s analysis, the stressed cash flows would still miss Fitch’s ‘AAA’ test by $1.3 million in 2014. Nevertheless, the program’s pledged reserves and loan repayments, excluding the federal subsidies, allow the bonds to withstand borrower defaults of up to 20.3% for four years without causing an interruption in bond payments. This is consistent with Fitch’s criteria for assigning an ‘AA’ rating given the loan pool’s borrowers’ credit quality, size and diversification.The debt service reserve fund, which is sized at the least of maximum annual debt service, 125% average annual debt service, or 10% of bond proceeds, is funded with bond proceeds and invested in U.S. treasury and agency securities. Pledged reserves currently total $51.3 million, or 9.5% of bonds outstanding. In addition, the bank currently maintains approximately $10.9 million in unrestricted general fund reserves, which are not pledged to bondholders but may be used if a deficiency occurs. The bonds are also supported by a state moral obligation to replenish the debt service reserve fund if it falls below its minimum specified level. Neither the intercept nor the moral obligation has ever been utilized, because no borrower has defaulted on a loan repayment since the bond bank began operations in 1970.Loan payments are due 15 days before the bond payment dates. Under Vermont’s state intercept provision, if a borrower fails to make its scheduled loan repayment, the bond bank will certify the failure of that payment with the state treasurer. The state treasurer would then pay the defaulted loan amount to the bank’s trustee from amounts appropriated and payable by the state to the defaulted borrower, if available. If sufficient state aid is unavailable, it will be paid from subsequent interceptable state aid payments, with bond bank reserves covering the temporary shortfall. To date, this mechanism has not been tested as there have not been any loan defaults in the history of the program.Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com(link is external).Applicable Criteria and Related Research:–‘Revenue-Supported Rating Criteria’ (Oct. 8, 2010);–‘State Revolving Fund and Municipal Loan Pool Rating Guidelines’ (April 28, 2008);–‘Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market – Credit Considerations’ (April 27, 2010).For information on Build America Bonds, visit www.fitchratings.com/BABs(link is external).Applicable Criteria and Related Research:State Revolving Fund and Municipal Loan Pool Rating Guidelineshttp://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=3…(link is external)Revenue-Supported Rating Criteriahttp://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=5…(link is external)Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market — Credit Considerationshttp://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=5…(link is external)ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY’S PUBLIC WEBSITE WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE ‘CODE OF CONDUCT’ SECTION OF THIS SITE. last_img read more

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The Latest: Rams deferring fans’ season tickets for a year

first_imgThe NFL Players Association says 95 players are known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.That number is up from 72 in the union’s last report on July 10.On Monday, the NFLPA and the NFL reached agreement on COVID-19 testing as rookies begin reporting to training camps. Most veterans come in next week, though some players rehabbing injuries could report this week.Players will be tested daily for the coronavirus for at least the first two weeks of training camp, per the league’s new testing protocols. After two weeks of daily testing, if the positivity rate of those tests falls below 5% among players and team individuals with close access to them, testing would go to every other day. If the positivity rate doesn’t fall below that threshold, daily testing would continue until it drops. The tournament that was supposed to mark the official return of men’s professional tennis amid the coronavirus pandemic has been canceled.The Citi Open in Washington, scheduled to start with Aug. 13 qualifying, was called off Tuesday because of what tournament manager Mark Ein said are “too many unresolved external issues, including various international travel restrictions as well as troubling health and safety trends.”The men’s and women’s pro tours both have been suspended since March and are planning to return next month. The first event on the most recently announced calendar is a women’s tournament in Palermo, Italy, starting Aug. 3.With Washington’s hard-court tournament now gone, the first chance for men to play sanctioned matches will be the Masters-level event usually played in Cincinnati that was moved to the site of the U.S. Open, starting Aug. 22.That is to be followed by the U.S. Open, beginning Aug. 31. ___A Russian team playing in the Kontinental Hockey League has withdrawn from a pre-season tournament after 20 people from the club tested positive for the coronavirus.Avangard Omsk general manager Alexei Volkov says the positive tests come from players and members of team staff who were tested during training camp. Volkov adds that the people are in isolation and that most don’t have obvious symptoms.Avangard was scheduled to play in a pre-season tournament from Aug. 4-9 in Sochi.The last KHL season was cut short midway through the playoffs when the coronavirus pandemic made international travel difficult. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___The Los Angeles Rams are deferring their fans’ season tickets for the upcoming season in brand-new SoFi Stadium to 2021. The Scottish soccer federation says the pandemic-delayed competition will be completed on Dec. 20. That is more than seven months after the original date for the final on May 9.The competition was stopped at the semifinal stage. Defending champion Celtic will play Aberdeen and Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibernian will meet in the other semifinal on the weekend of Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at Hampden Park in Glasgow.Organizers say players who would ordinarily be barred from playing for a second team in the same competition can play for their new club even if they were earlier fielded by a different team.The 2020-21 season in the Scottish league will start on Aug. 1. The 2019-20 league season did not resume after the lockdown and Celtic was declared champion based on average points per game.___ ___Storied Russian hockey club CSKA Moscow says that seven players have tested positive for the coronavirus.The club says the unnamed players tested positive Tuesday and that none of them are displaying symptoms.CSKA says in a statement the team has been tested for the virus each day since returning from vacation.The announcement comes hours after another Kontinental Hockey League club, Avangard Omsk, said that it was withdrawing from a pre-season tournament following positive tests for 20 people. That figure included players and staff. “It was crazy down there. Everything was like open and semi-normal, but I wasn’t partaking in all that,” he said. “I just kind of figured I was doing enough to not get it.”Norris said his symptoms didn’t seem major at first — he woke up sweating a bit and achy — but in retrospect, he realized those symptoms may have been more significant.“The heavy symptoms only lasted a few days,” Norris said. “A few days after that test, I was like, ‘I feel like 100%.’”He said he sent out a message to the team telling them not to take the virus lightly.___ Associated Press The Latest: Rams deferring fans’ season tickets for a year More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Detroit Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris says he found out about his positive test about a month ago, but his COVID-19 symptoms were already clearing up by then.Norris was cleared to rejoin the Detroit player pool and said he threw a bullpen session Tuesday. He has a simulated game Thursday.Norris confirmed his positive test earlier this month to the Detroit News, but he said Tuesday he got the initial result June 23. “That was the test we took down in Florida. I was obviously super bummed, but my symptoms had pretty much cleared up by that time,” he said. “Once the Phillies camp had that little outbreak, they shut our camp down. … I didn’t know I was positive until I got to Detroit.”Norris said he was taking precautions while in Florida. July 21, 2020 ___AUSTIN, Texas — Texas will delay the start of the public high school football season for its largest schools by a month as the state grapples with a recent surge of new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.Instead of starting practice Aug. 3, those schools can now start Sept. 7. The first games can be played Sept. 24, a month after the originally scheduled opening weekend. The University Interscholastic League said it focused the delay on larger schools as many of them are in the states largest metropolitan areas, which have been hit hardest by the surge of virus cases. Some school districts are already changing their calendars to delay the start of the academic year, or to begin the year with several weeks of online classes. The Houston school district, the largest in the state, won’t meet on campus until mid-October. The UIL’s announcement said it also anticipates that not all schools will start at the same time and could face disruptions during the season.“These adjustments reflect the public health situation at this time and the varying numbers of COVID-19 cases across different geographic areas of the state,” the UIL said in its announcement.___Danielle Collins has been kicked out of World TeamTennis for breaking the league’s COVID-19 protocols.WTT CEO Carlos Silva says Collins left The Greenbrier resort hosting all of the matches during the league’s three-week season and went out of the state of West Virginia. The KHL is aiming to start the new season on Sept. 2 and expects to finalize the calendar after a board meeting scheduled for next week.___Swimming governing body FINA is giving almost $6.5 million to help athletes prepare for the postponed Tokyo Olympics.FINA says it wants to help athletes who “endure hardships related to their training and competitive opportunities due to the pandemic.”The plan includes $4 million for at least 160 national federations to support athletes with expenses for training, competitions and living over the next year. A further $2 million will support 100 scholarships for athletes who currently do not have Olympic qualifying standards to prepare at national or continental centers. FINA supports regional bases in Russia, Senegal, Thailand and the United States.Grants totalling $460,000 will go to continental swimming bodies to distribute.___The ISTAF track meet in Berlin has outlined plans to have up to 3,500 spectators in attendance on Sept. 13.Organizers say they have developed a wide-ranging plan to ensure spectators stay healthy but haven’t revealed specifics. They were hoping for up to 45,000 fans at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin before the pandemic. “The protocols have been put in place and communicated numerous times to protect the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff,” Silva said.Collins is a 26-year-old American who was a semifinalist at the 2019 Australian Open. She has been ranked as high as No. 23 and currently is No. 51.She was playing for the Orlando Storm at WTT, which took all nine of its teams and put them at The Greenbrier, where the season began July 12 and ends Aug. 2.The WTT is not affiliated with the WTA or ATP professional tours, which have been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic and plan to resume next month.___ Meet director Martin Seeber says he hopes it will be “a first small step back to normality.”Pole vault world record holder Armand “Mondo” Duplantis is headlining the event.The announcement comes as other European track meets plan to bring fans back. Tickets are on sale for the Diamond League meet in Monaco next month and organizers in Lausanne are staging a pole vault competition in the city which could have 5,000 fans if Swiss authorities agree.___This season’s Scottish Cup final will be played midway through next season. The Rams announced the decision in an email to their season ticket holders outlining their current plans for the multibillion-dollar stadium, which is on schedule to open next month.Fans can get a refund on their payments for 2020 seats, or they can roll over that money to next season. All single-game tickets already purchased will also be canceled and refunded because the Rams expect their stadium capacity to be limited to only about 15,000, even if fans are allowed inside SoFi at all this season.The team also said it expects the NFL to cancel the entire preseason, which means the stadium’s first scheduled game is now the Rams’ Sunday night season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 13.All of the season ticket holders’ stadium seat licenses have been extended by one year. SoFi Stadium’s seat licenses will be refunded by the Rams after 50 years, essentially turning them into an interest-free loan by fans to finance construction of the stadium.___last_img read more

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Streamlined visas extended

first_imgSimpler and faster visa processing, known as Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP), will now be extended to students enrolled in advanced diploma level courses, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, and Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, announced earlier this week. The announcement comes after streamlined visa processing arrangements have been put in place for prospective students of selected low immigration risk education providers who offer bachelor, masters or doctoral degree level courses. The government will now provide direct access to SVP for the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector providers by extending it to low immigration risk providers that offer advanced diploma level courses, a spokesman for the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Michaelia Cash, told Neos Kosmos.“Eligibility to participate in the extended arrangements will be based on education providers meeting statistical thresholds of low immigration risk. Visa applicants without access to SVP will continue to have their visas processed under the recently simplified Assessment Level Framework,” Ms Cash said. Education Minister Christopher Pyne said that changes will benefit Australia’s VET and higher education sectors, supporting the sustainable growth of Australia’s international education industry while providing a vital boost to the economy.“The number of international students seeking to study in Australia continues to rebound positively, with an increase of over 27 per cent in the number of visas granted to offshore applicants in the 2013-14 program year,” Minister Pyne said.It is believed the arrangements will help attract more students from overseas, once the extension is implemented in early 2015.With students visas often being the easy pathway to migrate to Australia, the government ensured that immigration risk will be appropriately managed and consistent with the approach used for the existing SVP arrangements.“An education provider’s immigration risk level is calculated by assessing data about the prospective and actual international students associated with that provider. This includes data about visa refusals, including refusals due to fraud, and compliance with visa conditions,” a spokesperson for Assistant Minister Michaelia Cash told Neos Kosmos. “Education providers that do not maintain a low immigration risk rating once given access to SVP may be removed from the arrangements. The genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirement also provides a safeguard to ensure that only genuine applicants are granted a visa.”Vasilis Mitroulas, director of the consulting company Let’s Go Study Australia, set up in 2012 in Melbourne to meet the increased demands of Greeks wanting to study abroad, told Neos Kosmos the changes in student visas arrangements will not affect them, with most of their clients already being Assessment Level 1. With new arrangements, student visa applications are assessed as though they are a lower immigration risk, similar to the current Assessment Level 1, regardless of the applicant’s country of origin. The changes will be more advantageous for higher assessment level nationals, director Vasilis Mitroulas told Neos Kosmos. “In essence, most of our clients are classified Assessment Level 1, which means that these students are classified low migration risk and as such are afforded less scrutiny and red tape when applying for a student visa.”If it is implemented properly, the streamlining of the visa application process is necessary, Mr Mitroulas said, as more genuine students are allowed to come to Australia for the purpose of study. “Let’s not forget that international education is Australia’s second biggest export sector, so streamlining the process will naturally attract more potential international students that will benefit Australia as a whole.“It may be true that it will attract more migrants, however we must not lose sight of the fact that a student visa is just that – a student visa. It may however provide a platform or pathway to migrating to Australia. Students with skills or studying towards skills which are in demand in Australia can increase their likeliness of a prolonged stay in Australia which could lead to permanency.”Since its start in 2012, Let’s Go Study has assisted over 400 Greek students to gain entry into Australian education providers. Students have enrolled in English language schools, vocational colleges, TAFE and universities. The benefit for the students is twofold, Mr Mitroulas said, as a student visa also permits the student to work part-time during college course time and full-time during semester breaks. “Whilst the opportunities in their home country are at a minimum at the moment due to the economic crisis they can equip themselves with English language skills and other recognised qualifications which will increase their employability upon their return to Greece. “In saying that, many of our students have also achieved work sponsorships in Australia in various fields including engineering, automotive professions, hospitality, building and construction, nursing and IT, amongst others.”For more information about streamlined visa processing arrangements, visit www.immi.gov.au/students/student-visa-non-university.htm Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

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