Our Practice 2017-04-25T19:39:33+00:00

We have worked on a wide variety of financings for governmental, non-profit and for-profit projects and have represented issuers, borrowers and financial institutions.

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Non-Profit

Roger, Mae Charles and Terri have worked with most of the healthcare institutions in the State of Georgia throughout their careers in the capacity of bond or underwriter’s counsel.

Notable recent transactions include financings for Georgia Regents Health, Southeast Georgia Health System, The Medical Center of Central Georgia, Columbus Regional Health, Archbold, Houston Healthcare and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Our firm has extensive experience in the financing of projects for institutions of higher education with particular emphasis on projects for member institutions of the University System of Georgia.

We have been engaged in transactions involving 26 of the 30 issuing colleges and universities in the State of Georgia in connection with the issuance of more than $2 billion in tax‑exempt bonds.

Our lawyers were on the ground floor of developing the public/private venture program utilized by the University System of Georgia. We have fostered long-standing relationships with the Board of Regents’ staff and the Attorney General’s office. We offer our clients unique expertise and insight into the business and legal requirements affecting these transactions.

Our higher educational experience also extends to private colleges and universities. Recent matters include financings for Emory University, Spelman College, Oglethorpe College and Wesleyan College.

The IRS has increased its enforcement activity and routinely examines tax-exempt debt issuances, particularly 501(c)(3) financings. Murray Barnes Finister has represented multiple clients in these examinations.

To date, our clients have been 100% successful in obtaining a “no action” finding by the IRS. We deliver these services in a cost-effective and efficient manner so as to minimize the expense and intrusion to our clients.

In addition to healthcare financings and financings for colleges and universities, we have worked on financings for primary schools, YMCA’s, multifamily housing and nursing homes.

 

Government

We have vast experience implementing and leveraging the special 1% sales tax for the benefit of counties, cities and schools.

Our firm’s experience allows us to provide invaluable advice regarding the election process to ensure that the relevant election laws are not violated and to ensure that our clients retain the desired flexibility with respect to the use of the sales tax proceeds.

We have enabled our clients to leverage the sales tax through the issuance of general obligation bonds, revenue bonds and certificates of participation.

Roger was integrally involved in the development of ACCG’s, GMA’s and GSBA’s lease purchase programs immediately following the adoption of the laws allowing lease-purchase transactions.

Because of his early and continued involvement in these programs, Roger has unique insight into the intricacies of these transactions. He has worked on more lease-purchase transactions than any other lawyer in the State and was involved in multiple court cases successfully defending the validity of such transactions.

The powers granted to tax allocation districts (TAD) and urban redevelopment agencies are powerful tools for financing urban redevelopment projects, both public and private.

Our firm has provided ongoing advice to Invest Atlanta (the redevelopment agent for the City of Atlanta) on various TAD-related issues, including uses of tax allocation increment, early redemptions of TAD Bonds and the extension of TAD legislation.

In addition, we have served as bond counsel for the Westside TAD (located in the Atlanta Centennial Park area) and were key advisors with respect to the use of TAD funding to acquire the Martin Luther King Jr. papers for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

We have also served as outside counsel to Gwinnett County with respect to the development of TAD policies and procedures and the review of redevelopment plans for various Gwinnett County TADs and as Underwriter’s Counsel for bond issues for the Atlanta Beltline TAD and the City of Ellenwood TAD.

The firm routinely represents counties and development authorities when they are establishing or implementing economic incentive programs.

These programs include, but are not limited to, ad valorem property tax abatement. We focus on ensuring that the incentives are politically acceptable to all taxing entities, legal and enforceable so that the parties obtain the benefit of their bargain.

As was evidenced by court cases in Coweta and Cobb Counties, improperly structured transactions will be challenged and set aside. We also represent for-profit companies that will benefit from the economic incentives.

Recent SEC rules require that issuers (or beneficiaries of issues) file an annual report and notices of certain material events with MSRB’s Electronic Municipal Market Access.

These requirements are fairly new, and many issuers are failing to meet their obligations. The consequences of not satisfying these requirements can result in a ban on selling bonds to the public market or an SEC enforcement action.

As a result, requests for our firm to assist in the preparation and filing of the relevant information have increased dramatically.

 

Financial

Since the firm’s inception in 2004, Murray Barnes Finister has served as underwriter’s counsel with respect to more than 200 bond issues.

Each of the partners of Murray Barnes Finister has experience in all areas of securities law affecting the issuance of municipal bonds, including blue sky law. In addition to preparing the primary offering documents and agreements relating to the purchase of bonds, we routinely assist our underwriting clients in facilitating the rating agency process and advise on credit enhancement and interest rate management strategies related to the bond issue.

We assist with post-issuance securities law compliance, including continuing disclosure and material event notices with EMMA. We stay abreast of securities law developments, from both the SEC and the MSRB.

We pride ourselves not only on the relationships established with our underwriting clients, but also with maintaining good working relationships with other members of the financing team, whether issuers, financial advisors, trustees or rating agencies. Our goal is to work collaboratively in order to drive a successful outcome for the entire financing group.

Our firm has represented and continues to represent national, regional and local banks in connection with loans to governmental, quasi-governmental and non-profit entities.

Prior to 2008 and the related financial crisis, we also routinely represented banks in connection with the issuance of letters of credit and interest rate hedging products. After 2008 and the implementation of new banking regulations, we helped design and implement direct bond purchase programs whereby banks effectively substituted their letters of credit with direct-purchase bonds.