Virgin Rail (Brightline) IPO, Bonds, Success, Branding

This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Virgin Rail USA formerly known as Brightline, and Virgin Worldwide Rail operations, past and present.
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Arlington
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO & Rebranding

Post by Arlington » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:33 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:Richard Branson is going to be on CNBC this morning.
What'd he say? Did he only talk space tourism?
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

Arlington
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO & Rebranding

Post by Arlington » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:37 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Somehow, "alternative financing" means additional public fund guarantees of any bond issue. That translates to "subsidy".
Just curious: is your definition of subsidy: "anything that demands lower returns than public shareholders"

For me, if they're asking for public subsidies, that puts them in whatever category Boeing and Amazon are in.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

bostontrainguy
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO & Rebranding

Post by bostontrainguy » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:55 pm

Arlington wrote:
bostontrainguy wrote:Richard Branson is going to be on CNBC this morning.
What'd he say? Did he only talk space tourism?
Sorry they didn't even mention Virgin rail or the failed IPO! He definitely does dislike the idea of "going public" in general though.

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2019/02/14/r ... sense.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

SouthernRailway
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO & Rebranding

Post by SouthernRailway » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:37 pm

Being a public company requires meeting so many regulatory requirements and imposes such significant additional costs that I don't see why anyone would want to go public unless adequate capital was not available or there were existing investors who wanted to exit and make a profit. The first might apply in this case but the second would not. Fortress and Softbank are two of the world's leading financial institutions so they must have done their homework about this whole project.

EDITED TO ADD:

I now see that Brightline has "requested" $950MM in new bonds. I guess it thinks that cash flow from its properties can suffice to pay them off, or that it'll raise equity financing at some point and pay off the bonds?

EuroStar
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO & Rebranding

Post by EuroStar » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:52 pm

The IPO was cancelled, but the bonds are a hit with the buyers: https://www.bondbuyer.com/news/wowed-in ... df17b30000. Short quote:
In the largest municipal bond deal of the week, the $1.75 billion of unrated private activity bonds priced Monday with the Florida Development Finance Corp. as the conduit issuer on behalf Virgin Trains USA, formerly known as Brightline.
The deal, upsized from $1.5 billion initially proposed in bond documents, priced a day ahead of schedule because of strong demand.
The article goes to say that they are looking for another $950 million for the segment to Orlando and that they need the approval of the aforementioned Florida Development Finance Corp.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO & Rebranding

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:26 am

Miami Herald has an article that I consider "cautiously optimistic":

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/busine ... 18879.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair Use:
…If you build it, will people ride it?

It is the question now dictating the future of Brightline, the express train that hopes to take passengers from Miami to Orlando and beyond.

Almost a year after launching its service from Miami, tens of thousands of passengers now hop the train for the Miami-to-West Palm run, and back, each month. In February the figure totaled more than 78,000, according to a monthly Brightline ridership filing. (In an email provided after this story was published Monday at 7 a.m., Brightline shared that its March ridership totaled over 90,000.)

The number of riders is on a recent uptick, the company reports. Still, passenger levels remain below the company’s initial projections, and Brightline continues to operate at a loss. In February, the company decided to forgo an initial public offering (IPO), one that Bloomberg reported was set to be the largest of the year.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO & Rebranding

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:53 pm

Palm Beach Post reports "Brightline got the loot":

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/2019 ... rlando-leg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair Use:
Securing crucial funding for its ambitious expansion plans, Virgin Trains USA this week raised $1.75 billion in a bond sale.

Virgin Trains, parent of the Brightline rail service, sold the tax-exempt bonds to pay for its planned expansion to Orlando.

But investors were so keen on owning a piece of the system — and collecting yields of 6 percent in an era of microscopic interest rates — that the company brought in more demand than expected. The Bond Buyer, a trade publication, reported that Virgin Trains’ debt issue received about $4 billion of orders.

“We received an overwhelming positive response from qualified investors who recognize our early success and the long-term potential for our business,” the company said in a statement. “This financing provides Virgin Trains the necessary funds to start construction into Orlando, creating additional economic benefits for Florida.”.
I guess 6% Tax free yield is a "draw", but lest we forget that "tax free 6%" is secured only by the cash flow of VTUSA.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO & Rebranding

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:15 am

Likely, this week is proving to be amongst the most significant in Virgin/Brightline's history. Here is an Editorial by the Orlando Sentinel's Board:

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion ... story.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair Use:
Remember back in 1999, when Central Florida was just one Orange County Commission vote away from building a light rail line along Interstate 4?

Remember back in 2011 when newly elected Gov. Rick Scott turned down $2 billion in federal money for high-speed rail between Orlando and Tampa?

Let’s hope we’re not going to remember 2019 as the year Florida passed up yet another opportunity to kick our addiction to roads.

On Friday, a quasi-government agency is scheduled to decide whether Virgin Trains USA — the new name for Brightline — should be allowed to sell $950 million in tax-exempt bonds to complete a rail project linking Miami and Orlando. The agency already approved $1.75 billion in bonds for the project.

The bond proceedings themselves would be a crashing bore to the average person. But they’re key to Virgin Trains’ plans.

We’ve been on board with this idea from the start, in part because Florida desperately needs transportation options. A state with this many people cannot continue to rely so heavily on roads to move people around. It’s a losing proposition...
There does, however, appear to be a conflict between the Post's reporting noted in my immediate, and the opinion expressed here by the Sentinel's Board.

I do think the Board's position of keep the government out of it, is a bit optimistic. True, these bonds are "6% tax-free" and will be privately placed with "institutionals". Presumably they are professional enough to know what they are getting into, being quite aware that they will be paid only from the farebox after the trains are gassed up and the drivers are paid - and, oh, the wine vendor.

Now what I think is unsaid is that these institutional holders are betting on is that they will be bailed out at the "Tallytrough" should there be a default.

Finally, I remain astounded how far the initiative has come (again "for those tuning in late", I thought it was a ploy to "fatten up the steer" to sell the railroad to the State) and further acknowledge that in my sixty five years of following industry affairs, including eleven "inside", I have never been so mistaken regarding an outcome.

troffey
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO & Rebranding

Post by troffey » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:20 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote: It is my hope that if it's all over, they will go out in the same manner as did the Santa Fe on A-Day Eve.
Forgive my ignorance Mr. Norman, but what are you referring to?

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO, Bonds & Rebranding

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:44 am

Mr. Troffey, the Santa Fe ended their passenger service on A-Day Eve (April 30, 1971) with the same standard that prevailed through the Streamliner era. No amenities had beed "nickeled and dimed" away.

It is my hope that if Brightline/Virgin "doesn't make it", they will exit with the same standard of service they offer today.

Jeff Smith
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO, Bonds & Rebranding

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:19 pm

Still predicting doom and gloom?
Next stop, Willoughby
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ExCon90
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO, Bonds & Rebranding

Post by ExCon90 » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:24 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Mr. Troffey, the Santa Fe ended their passenger service on A-Day Eve (April 30, 1971) with the same standard that prevailed through the Streamliner era. No amenities had beed "nickeled and dimed" away.

It is my hope that if Brightline/Virgin "doesn't make it", they will exit with the same standard of service they offer today.
As a parenthetical note, I rode the Super Chief on Labor Day weekend of 1971, and it was like Amtrak hadn't happened yet. That train and everything about it was still "Santa Fe All The Way." And I think it was ATSF president John Reed, sometime after that, who withdrew from Amtrak the right to the name Super Chief because of the deterioration of standards, forcing them to choose another name--thus the Southwest Chief.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO, Bonds & Rebranding

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:03 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:Still predicting doom and gloom?
Mr. Smith, it's far too early to predict if the enterprise will be successful. Presently, running a Miami-West Palm "deluxe scoot", it is not. If it gets "built out" to MCO, that will be the test.

But I will concede that if FECI/Softbank can show to themselves (they're now a privately held concern) that the value of their Real Estate holdings have been enhanced owing to Virgin/Brightline, then it "has a chance".

Finally. the "institutions" who have bought the "junk rated" tax-free bonds are placing their bets that, in event of a default, they can line up at the "Tallytrough" - and get fed.

troffey
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Re: Virgin Rail - Brightline IPO, Bonds & Rebranding

Post by troffey » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:46 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Mr. Troffey, the Santa Fe ended their passenger service on A-Day Eve (April 30, 1971) with the same standard that prevailed through the Streamliner era. No amenities had beed "nickeled and dimed" away.

It is my hope that if Brightline/Virgin "doesn't make it", they will exit with the same standard of service they offer today.
Ah, I understand now. Thank you.

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Re: Virgin Rail née Brightline/AAF Orlando - Miami FL FEC

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Tue May 28, 2019 7:22 am

This article, appearing in Today's Wall Street Journal gives insight, as well as mention, regarding the successful underwriting of the "junk". Apparently, in search of yield, institutional investors are willing to take a high risk of default:

Fair Use:
Virgin Trains U.S.A., backed by Fortress Investment Group, has benefited from high demand for munis. Also known as Brightline, the train seeks to connect Orlando, Fla., to Miami.

But it didn’t fill up its trains with as many passengers as expected in 2018 after station opening delays, according to bond-offering and financial documents. The company also faced losses, financial records show. A spokesman for the train said it had always projected a “multiyear ramp-up” for revenue and ridership.

Even so, in April, muni investors lent Virgin about $1.8 billion to expand, marking the largest unrated muni bond deal over the past five years, according to calculations by MMA.

Brian Wynne, head of public finance at Morgan Stanley , which underwrote the bonds, said high demand enabled the railway to sell $250 million more in debt than initially planned, with yields roughly a fifth of a percentage point less than expected. Virgin could issue $950 million more in the coming months, according to the Florida Development Finance Corporation.

Such bonds “enable the private sector to deliver critical infrastructure projects,” said Wes Edens, co-chief executive of Fortress and Chairman of Virgin Trains..
Promise; you won't find these "puppies" in my portfolio.

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