April 13 The amount of U.S. municipal debt
covered by insurance rose in the first quarter of 2012, but
continued to be a small part of the new issue market, according
to Thomson Reuters data on Friday.
Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp, the market's sole
insurer, secured just $3.6 billion of the $78.9 billion of muni
debt sold in the first three months of 2012. That was an
increase of nearly 114 percent from the first quarter of 2011
and 8.6 percent higher than in last year's fourth quarter.
Insured bonds, which accounted for 57.3 percent of issuance
in the $3.7 trillion debt market for states, cities and others
in 2005, sank to just 5.5 percent of issuance in 2011 after last
decade's financial crisis stripped insurers of their coveted
triple-A ratings and drove some out of the business.
Letters of credit backed $558 million of debt in 10 deals in
the last quarter, up nearly 22 percent from the same period in
2011, but down 85 percent over the last quarter of 2011. US
Bancorp was the top provider, accounting for $413
million of the total, Thomson Reuters reported.
Bank of America ranked a far second, followed by PNC
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, last year's top bond counsel,
continued to dominate in the first quarter with 93 deals
totaling $7.4 billion. Nixon Peabody ranked second with 17 deals
totaling $3.9 billion.