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OCPAC receives $4-million donation

June 05, 2007|Mike Boehm | Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Performing Arts Center has announced a $4-million donation from one of its board members and his wife -- the first report of progress since October on its campaign to pay off the debt on the new Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

The gift from Jane Driscoll, a manager and co-founder of an Irvine-based hedge fund, and Jim Driscoll, who serves on the center's board, brings the amount raised to $164 million -- but it doesn't represent any widening of the donor pool for the campaign, which still has about $76 million to go toward its goal of $240 million. The Driscolls previously had given $1 million.

Instead of taking a pay-as-you-go approach to fund the new hall, the center has borrowed $265 million to cover construction costs and some of the early interest payments. It floated $85 million in bonds in late March on top of $180 million in initial borrowing in 2004.

Although analysts for Standard & Poor's gave the new tax-free issue an A rating, the same as for the 2004 offering, its report noted that the center had "high debt levels" for an organization of its size and that it would have to come up with about $9.4 million a year for interest payments alone between now and 2026.

After that, the principal is scheduled to come due, and the center will be obligated to pay about $30 million a year until 2034, when the bonds mature. The S&P report also noted that the center expects annual fundraising needs of $12 million to pay for its expanded operations -- about $3 million more than it required before expansion to balance its budget.

The A rating is "very good" for an arts organization, Mary Peloquin-Dodd, Standard & Poor's managing director for higher education and nonprofit bond ratings, said Monday. The S&P report, a guide for investors, cited the center's "stable" fiscal track record, its "exceptionally active, committed and involved board" and its position as a leading competition-free cultural institution in a wealthy, fast-growing county.

mike.boehm@latimes.com

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