The Saint Louis Art Museum
received from Moody's Investment Services today its first institutional rating, which the Museum had sought in anticipation of financing the expansion of its historic building in Forest Park.
In April, the Art Museum appointed J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., New York, as Senior Managing Underwriter and Edward Jones Investment Banking of St. Louis as Co-Senior Managing Underwriter for the anticipated bond financing for the Museum's expansion project. The higher an institution's credit rating on a bond issue, which translates into reduced interest costs, the more marketable its bonds.
"The ratings are an important component of the Museum's financial plan to support the expansion project," said Brent R. Benjamin, director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. "We are pleased with this vote of confidence in our vision of the Museum's future."
According to Moody's, the Aa3 long-term bond credit rating is based on four major factors:
• Highly engaged board of commissioners and trustees providing sound governance;
• Prominence and role of the institution in the community;
• Leading position as a comprehensive art museum; and
• Sound operational oversight characterized by prudent financial planning and strong operating performance.
Designed by London-based architect David Chipperfield, the Saint Louis Art Museum's $125 million expansion project is being financed through the largest capital campaign for a cultural institution in St. Louis. As of November 30, 2008, the Museum's Campaign has raised commitments of more than $120 million toward its initial $125 million goal. This total represents a combination of over $50 million in cash contributions to date and promised gifts to support the expansion project.
Facing an unstable credit market, the Museum's Board of Commissioners decided in early November 2008 to delay the start of the project. Once begun, construction is anticipated to take approximately two years.