The financing arm of the municipal electric utility in Roseville, CA, received a negative outlook from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (S&P) on a $209.35 million tax-exempt bond to finance a 20-year, 46 Bcf natural gas pre-pay deal with Merrill Lynch & Co. because of recent financial disclosures by Merrill. S&P also gave an “AA-” rating to Roseville Natural Gas Financing Authority, the fuel financing unit of the muni in Roseville, a suburb east of Sacramento. S&P said the rating reflects a recent outlook revision for Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., which provides guarantees to the financing authority’s gas supplier and interest rate swap counterparty. The outlook downgrade followed Merrill’s announcement that it expects to record a material loss in the third quarter caused by a more significant exposure to leveraged loan commitments, subprime mortgages, etc. S&P’s previous outlook assumed less exposure for Merrill. The Roseville gas financing arm is a state-chartered joint powers authority and a nonprofit public financing entity in California. The public financing arm used the proceeds from the $209.35 million to fund prepayment for a long-term gas supply deal from Merrill Lynch Commodities Inc. The gas is set for Roseville’s electric power generation system, priced at a first-of-the-month index from the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. citygate delivery point, minus a specific discount, according to S&P.
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