California Bonds Fail on Advice Bill Lockyer Couldn’t Refuse
By Michael B. Marois
Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- For California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, the offer from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. was too good to refuse.
If California was willing to forgo competitive bidding for a $4.5 billion bond offering, the banks promised more orders from individuals and a lower bill to the taxpayers. The firms insisted that by negotiating with them, the state would benefit from its special relationship with the Wall Street troika and wind up with what two underwriters called a salutary “buzz” to boost demand for the debt.
When the October offering failed to sell as planned, California was forced to accept 8 percent less money than it needed and to pay as much as $123 million more in interest than the banks said was sufficient for the market. And the threesome made $12.4 million on the deal, contributing to record bonuses in the securities industry a year after getting a total of $80 billion in a federal bailout.