Liberty University issues taxable bonds
Liberty University issued $120 million worth of tax-exempt education facilities bonds in December 2010, marking the university’s initial public bond offering. On Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, Liberty announced its second IPO, this time in the corporate bond market selling $100 million of taxable bonds.
The bonds will provide long-term low-interest rate financing for construction projects that are part of the university’s five-year campus transformation plan. Projects include the renovation and additions of several academic buildings, the Jerry Falwell Library, new student housing, a makeover of the DeMoss courtyard, and a new medical school.
Standard & Poor’s rated Liberty’s bonds ‘AA,’ as they did the tax-exempt bonds in 2010; Moody’s Investors Service rated Liberty for the first time this year, assigning the taxable bonds an ‘A1’ rating.
In 2010, the rating placed Liberty among the nation’s top 78 Standard & Poor’s-rated universities and colleges for financial strength.
In its report released last week, S&P cites Liberty’s “exceptionally strong operating surpluses driven by continued growth in online enrollments, growing financial resources,” and its “niche as mission-oriented university with online courses.” Moody’s said it “anticipates Liberty will continue to enjoy strong student demand with a successful brand centered on an evangelical Christian identity and attractive pricing for a non-profit private university. … Liberty is one of the largest universities in the country experiencing a period of phenomenal growth.”
“Our Board of Trustees decided that Liberty should take advantage of its strong financial condition and historically low interest rates to finance its ambitious building plans over the next few years,” said Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. “We believe it would be unwise to use our cash reserves for capital improvements. Liberty is blessed. We are thankful for how Liberty continues to thrive when many universities are struggling.”
Liberty University is the nation’s largest non-profit, private four-year university, Virginia’s largest four-year university and the world’s largest Christian university. More than 12,000 students attend classes on its 6,500-acre residential campus and more than 61,000 study in its thriving online education program.