Two of the top U.S. credit-rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Service, have given the South Carolina State Ports Authority strong financial ratings, citing solid financial position, strong financial management, high debt service coverage and competitive advantages relative to other ports in the region, SCSPA said Monday.
The ratings come as SCSPA issues $165 million in new revenue bonds to fund several major projects included in its 10-year, $1.3-billion capital plan. This is the first bond issue for the organization in nearly 12 years.
Standard & Poor’s assigned its A+ long-term underlying rating with a stable outlook on SCSPA’s series 2010 bonds while it affirmed the A+ rating on SCSPA’s existing series 1998 bonds. The rating agency referenced SCSPA’s well-balanced cargo flow between imports and exports, diversity among its customers and solid regional position.
By The Numbers: Containerized Ocean Trade - Georgia & South Carolina Ports.
Moody’s Investors Service assigned an A1 rating with a stable outlook to SCSPA’s series 2010 bond issue and affirmed the A1 rating on outstanding series 1988 revenue bonds. Moody’s cited SCSPA’s low debt levels and distinct competitive advantages, including Charleston’s deep water, which makes the port well-positioned after the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2014.
SCSPA is issuing the new series of revenue bonds to fund nearly $78 million in new projects, including a new terminal operating system, new cruise terminal and major improvements to Columbus Street Terminal.
The bonds also will reimburse SCSPA $86 million in capital expenditures. SCSPA plans to close on the bond issue in early December.
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