NTTA adviser mandate split

The North Texas Tollway Authority has decided to break up the financial adviser position occupied by RBC Capital Markets and issue a separate request for qualifications for a PPP adviser. RBC had acted as the sole financial adviser to the NTTA since 1983.

A recent financial adviser search undertaken by the North Texas Tollway Authority, a state transport agency, underscored a step to halve a role long-held by RBC Capital Markets.

RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank owned by Royal Bank of Canada, the largest financial services provider in Canada, began acting as financial adviser to the authority in 1983.

But a separately published request for qualifications (RFQ) has split the traditionally recognised contract, stating the NTTA is looking for a financial adviser along with a discrete public-private partnership (PPP) adviser. RBC Capital Markets had handled each function within the context of its long-time mandate.

A spokesman for the NTTA in Plano, Texas characterised each RFQ as an “open invitation”. He said the existing contract with RBC Capital Markets expired in 2011, pointing out the authority first wanted to divvy up the advisory mandate in 2007, but pulled back because of works related to State Highway 121 and State Highway 161.

The spokesman said each RFQ is due the final week of March. 

Though RBC Capital Markets has not guided the NTTA in a bona fide PPP, it has performed municipal financing services to the authority. In 2011, the NTTA issued a $1.3 billion bond offering managed by RBC Capital Markets.

The NTTA, regarded as the most important road builder in Texas, has come under past criticism for not holding competitive bidding processes, instead preferring to keep incumbent service providers, such as RBC Capital Markets.

RBC Capital Markets in New York did not respond to a request for comment. It could not be determined if the firm would complete for each contract, or focus on a particular one.