LOS ANGELES -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), a unit of Sempra Energy, has closed a public offering of $300 million of 30-year first-mortgage bonds.
The transaction is a financial landmark for SoCalGas -- the first time it has used a minority-owned investment bank as co-lead in a bond offering. In a transaction earlier this year, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Sempra Energy's other California utility subsidiary, closed a public offering of $250 million of first-mortgage bonds using a minority-owned investment bank as a co-lead for the first time.
As part of its overall commitment to supplier diversity, SoCalGas selected New York-based minority-owned investment banks Ramirez & Co., Inc. and The Williams Capital Group, L.P. to be two of five joint lead managers, along with Goldman, Sachs & Co., Mitsubishi UFJ Securities (USA) Inc. and RBS Securities Inc.
"SoCalGas is proud of its ongoing commitment to provide opportunities for minority-owned banks and investment banking firms," said Lee Schavrien, senior vice president of finance, regulatory and legislative affairs for SoCalGas. "Diversity is a core value at our company, and having Ramirez & Co. and Williams Capital participate as joint leads in our financial transactions is good for customers and for the communities we serve."
The bonds bear an interest rate of 5.125 percent and mature on Nov. 15, 2040. The proceeds of the bonds will be used mainly to retire maturing long-term debt and other working capital needs. The bonds are rated "Aa3" by Moody's Investors Service and "A+" by Standard & Poor's Corp.
"With this transaction, SoCalGas once again demonstrates national leadership in utility supplier diversity, this time in the important area of financial services," said California Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon. "In 1989, SoCalGas was the first utility in the U.S. to institute a supplier diversity program for the procurement of natural gas for its customers. SoCalGas has consistently exceeded the diversity supplier goals of the Commission's General Order 156, and today it continues this tradition of diversity by selecting two minority-owned investment banks to co-lead this public offering. I applaud SoCalGas for its proven commitment to diversity."
Last year, SoCalGas reached a new milestone in spending with diverse business enterprises -- businesses owned by women, minority, and disabled veterans -- according to a year-end report released by the utility. In 2009, SoCalGas made 34.5 percent of its purchases for products and services from diverse suppliers, which is significantly more than the CPUC's 21.5-percent goal for the state's investor-owned utilities. Over the past 15 years, SoCalGas has spent $1.4 billion on products and services with diverse suppliers and an additional $3.2 billion on natural gas from these businesses. SoCalGas also has increased its investments with minority community-focused banking institutions.
CPUC General Order 156 requires investor-owned utilities to submit annual plans for increasing the participation of businesses owned by women, minorities and disabled veterans in utility procurement.
Southern California Gas Co. has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 140 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing safe and reliable energy to 20.7 million consumers through nearly 5.8 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles in diverse terrain throughout Central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. Southern California Gas Co. is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy. Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company.