(Reuters) - Just over a quarter of Detroit's $5.2 billion of outstanding water and sewer revenue bonds were returned to the city for repurchase on Wednesday, 24 hours before the tender offer was due to expire.
Bondholders have until 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) on Thursday to decide whether to accept repurchase prices offered by the city. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 25.07 percent or nearly $1.3 billion of the senior and second lien bonds were tendered, according to tender agent Bondholder Communications Group. here
Some series of bonds had tender rates of less than 3 percent. Others were much higher, including 79 percent of $90.6 million of senior lien water bonds sold in 2004.
Robert Apfel, president of Bondholder Communications, said a last-minute posting of tenders was expected as brokers and banks working on behalf of their clients typically wait until just before the deadline expires. The tender offer was launched on Aug. 7.
Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and the city's Board of Water Commissioners will decide whether enough bonds were ultimately tendered and if sufficient savings can be achieved through a bond refunding to raise money for the tender. The water board has scheduled a meeting for Friday.
If U.S. Judge Steven Rhodes, who is overseeing Detroit's historic bankruptcy case, subsequently signs off on the bond plan, the city could either sell up to $5.5 billion of the refunding bonds on the municipal market next week through Citigroup (C.N) or privately place the debt with Citigroup and other financial institutions.
Ahead of the tender expiration, the city released preliminary sale documents late Tuesday for the possible bond issues.
In a report this week, Janney Capital Markets said that in some instances, the tender price Detroit is offering to existing water and sewer bondholders "is well below recent trading levels." The bonds are rated at junk levels.