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Chicago pulls off $674 million refinancing, but at a heavy price tied to junk status

May 27, 2015
Chicago Sun-Times

Cash-strapped Chicago eased its immediate financial crisis Wednesday by converting $674 million of variable rate debt to fixed interest rates, but paid a heavy price tied to its junk bond rating. Market analyst Brian Battle agreed that Chicago had no choice but to refinance. He argued that investors appeared to be driven largely by the discount that the bonds were sold at, meaning the long-term costs to the city could be considerable.

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Chicago's Position Bolstered by Deal Overhaul

May 22, 2015
Bond Buyer

Chicago's revamp of its $800 million floating-to-fixed debt restructuring helps its position as it heads into the market this week with battered credit ratings, say several buyside participants. "It was a good tactical decision to delay. It's very difficult coming into the market the week after those kind of downgrades," said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. "The decision to upsize was smart and to bring in more horsepower was a good idea."

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S&P ends at all-time highs but traders eye weak volume

May 21, 2015

The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Thursday after disappointing economic data bolstered expectations that an interest rate hike is likely to come only later in the year. Traders warned that below-average volume in recent sessions suggests that not all of Wall Street may be confident in the market's gains. "It doesn't matter if we're at an all-time high if there are just two guys trading a stock back and forth," said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. "It's something to be aware of."

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THE WATCHDOGS: Generous pension benefits only one part of state, city financial crisis

May 17, 2015
Chicago Sun-Times

One of every four retired workers from the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools is getting a pension of more than $60,000 a year. Are these workers to blame for the pension crisis that sparked historic downgrades last week in Chicago’s and CPS’ bond ratings — ratings that might require City Hall to pay $2.2 billion to financial institutions much earlier than planned? Not by a long shot. The downgrade from Moody’s means the reworked deals will come at a steeper price than if the city’s bond rating had remained higher, said Brian Battle, director of trading for Performance Trust Capital Partners, a Chicago firm that analyzes bonds for investors.

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