Its official. New Mexico Highlands University will take over the College of Santa Fe.
There are several interesting aspects of the takeover, including this little bullet point, one among many in a story by the Santa Fe New Mexican. According to the letter of intent outlining the deal, there is:
• An agreement for both schools to cooperate in refinancing the colleges debt, which totals about $35 million, $25 million of which is in revenue bond debt.
Bing! Bing! Bing! Is that ringing any bells for you? In the wake of GRIPgate, refinancing CSFs debt will likely receive far more scrutiny than it normally would have.
In August, Bloomberg News reported on CSFs debt:
The College of Santa Fe in New Mexico is stuck with debt thats threatening to consume a larger share of its $27 million budget. The rate on a $25 million bond sold by the college is now at 10 percent, more than double a year ago. The college has been unable to persuade a bank to put up a letter of credit that would guarantee the bonds from default and help lower rates, said David Rivard, the schools vice president of finance.
NMHU, which will help refinance that debt, has many of the same connections that are under scrutiny in a federal probe of bond deals involving Gov. Richardsons GRIP projects and the University of New Mexico. In March 2008, NMHU regents approved a bond purchase agreement with New Mexico Finance Authority that involved RBC Dain Rauscher Capital Marketing, one of the firms involved in UNM bond deals. And RBC Dain Rauscher was a contributor to Richardsons Si Se Puede political action committee.
NMHUs bond counsel is Duane Browne of Modrall, Sperling, the same attorney and the same firm used by the New Mexico Finance Authority to advise on details of the GRIP financing.
An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority.