Introduction to Underwriting Services

Prager & Co., LLC was founded more than 25 years ago as a municipal underwriting firm and continues to provide the same high level of market expertise and execution today. The firm's investment banking staff offers expertise in all major areas of tax-exempt and taxable municipal finance and works collaboratively with our dedicated underwriting desks—one in San Francisco and the other in New York City—to develop a plan of finance and marketing plan to suit each individual engagement. Below is a summary of the Firm's underwriting performance from 2007 through 2012:

  • Senior manager on 185 lead or sole managed financings totaling over $6.5 billion in par amount
  • Co-manager on 143 financings totaling over $126 billion in par amount
    Source: SDC Thomson

Prager's underwriting desk devotes its full focus on each transaction it brings to market. In addition, the Firm regularly uses its own capital to support primary underwriting transactions and provide liquidity in the secondary market. Prager's real time capital market insight, coupled with the Firm's established investor relationships and in-house credit expertise, allow it to effectively market a borrower's underlying credit and maximize investor demand.

The Firm is particularly proud of its work underwriting smaller, complex, difficult to structure transactions of first time issuers or unknown credits issuing taxable or tax exempt debt. For example, one municipal client was about to proceed with the construction of a subterranean parking garage when several lawsuits were filed to stop construction. Due to the ongoing litigation, the bulge bracket underwriter originally selected was unable to find a way to structure the note financing and move forward. Prager found a constructive way to issue the notes while the project was being challenged and build a robust plan of finance. Soon thereafter Prager executed the plan of finance, allowing the project to be completed.

Another example of Prager's relationship driven "client first" approach occurred during the 2008 financial crisis. During the financial crisis FGIC's rating was downgraded. The liquidity provider to an educational issuer allowed the downgrade to automatically trigger termination provisions in the governing agreement. This created a cascade of events commencing with bondholder puts/tenders and the remarketing agent's (also the liquidity provider) refusal to accept bonds for tender. Prager stepped in and completed a wholesale refinancing/ restructuring of the underlying bonds. The Firm still banks this client today.

Prager's relationship-driven approach is coupled with an analytical discipline towards capital structure decisions. The Firm works with its clients to address such critical issues as:

  • restructuring debt portfolios to meet strategic or budgetary objectives;
  • replacing or refinancing debt supported by third party credit;
  • implementing direct purchase structures; and
  • managing outstanding derivatives portfolios.

Prager maintains a database of more than two thousand bonds and two hundred interest rate swaps for its clients. As a member of the MSRB, the Firm subscribes to the secondary market data feed for municipal bonds. Armed with this data, Prager offers a variety of secondary market reports including post-issuance pricing, performance over time, and yield curve analysis, both on a portfolio and per-issue basis.

For clients with commercial paper programs or variable rate demand bonds Prager maintains a database of taxable and tax-exempt CP trades and daily/weekly VRDN resets. Such data allow the Firm to compare par-weighted average bond or CP rates to dealer, peer or market indices. For clients with derivatives, Prager provides daily mark-to-market and accrued interest reports for comparison with counterparty statements.