SOURCE: Cleco Corp.

March 06, 2008 16:30 ET

Cleco Subsidiary Issues $180 Million of Securitized Bonds

Securitization Structure Will Lower Customers' Storm Costs

PINEVILLE, LA--(Marketwire - March 6, 2008) - Cleco Power LLC today announced that its special purpose subsidiary, Cleco Katrina/Rita Hurricane Recovery Funding LLC, has closed the issuance of $180.6 million of its securitized storm recovery bonds. Cleco Power LLC is the vertically integrated electric utility subsidiary of Cleco Corp. (NYSE: CNL).

The issuer will use the net proceeds from the issuance of the bonds to pay Cleco Power the purchase price of Cleco Power's rights under the financing order described below. Cleco Power will use approximately $50 million of such funds to establish a storm reserve fund for future storm damage, with the remaining portion of the proceeds (approximately $125 million), which is reimbursement for unrecovered storm costs from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, being used for working capital and other general corporate purposes.

Debt service for the bonds will be paid by a special monthly storm recovery surcharge paid by all of Cleco Power's retail customers. The bonds were issued in two tranches and have an effective weighted average life of seven years and a weighted average interest rate of 4.86 percent. A $113 million, five-year weighted average life tranche was issued with an interest rate of 4.41 percent, and a $67.6 million, 10.5-year weighted average life tranche was issued with an interest rate of 5.61 percent.

The Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) issued a financing order in September 2007 authorizing Cleco Power to securitize its unrecovered storm restoration costs. Prior to this, the LPSC authorized Cleco Power to recover restoration costs through an interim storm recovery plan. The securitization structure is expected to decrease the current interim storm surcharge by $2.26 per average monthly residential bill.

"This has been a joint endeavor between Cleco and the LPSC," said Cleco President and CEO, Michael Madison. "The LPSC passed the orders needed for the rating agencies to favorably rate the bonds. With their help, we issued AAA-rated bonds, the highest rating possible. This high rating will save our customers money."

Louisiana utilities have never before issued securitized bonds to finance storm restoration costs. Cleco Power started the process in 2006, which required state legislative action and regulatory approval.

"We've been working on this process for over two years," said Madison. "We made a commitment to implement the best storm-recovery plan for our customers, and we kept our promise. Our securitization team's persistence resulted in monthly customer savings from this special financing. They navigated through many unknowns and developed a storm-recovery financing structure good for our customers and our company."

Pathfinder Capital Advisors LLC acted as financial advisor to the LPSC, and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC acted as structuring agent and sole book runner on the transaction.

This news release does not constitute an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, any security and shall not constitute an offer, solicitation or sale in any jurisdiction in which such offering would be unlawful.

Cleco Corp. is a regional energy services company headquartered in Pineville, La. It operates a regulated electric utility company that serves 273,000 customers across Louisiana. Cleco also operates a wholesale energy business that has approximately 1,350 megawatts of generating capacity. For more information about Cleco, visit www.cleco.com.

Contact Information

  • Investor Contacts:
    Cleco Corporation:
    Ryan Gunter
    (318) 484-7724
    Rodney J. Hamilton
    (318) 484-7593

    Analyst Inquiries:
    Dresner Companies
    Kristine Walczak
    (312) 726-3600

    Media Contact:
    Cleco Corporation
    Robbyn Cooper
    (318) 484-7136