Recent days have brought one of the most significant announcements in the story of Aberdeen.
We have become the first local authority in Scotland to launch and complete a bond issue – issuing £370million to invest in a brighter future.
The bond has been a great success, with the level of funding raised surpassing our expectations and underlining the overwhelming confidence from investors in our organisation and our city.
It is innovative, intelligent and puts Aberdeen City Council at the forefront of local government finance. Our intention is to use the funding from the bond issue to invest in our capital programme.
What does it mean for all of us as residents of Aberdeen?
In broad terms it is about supporting the biggest transformational programme the region has ever seen, with a wide and varied list of vital projects at the heart of our vision to create a Smarter City. It demonstrates Aberdeen is leading from the front and willing to drive change.
These are exciting times and the bond issue has a big part to play. We are determined to build on our place as a global city, proud of our past but invigorated by the plans for the future.
We are the first Council in Scotland to turn to the financial markets in this way – but I have absolutely no doubt that where we lead others will follow.
This dynamic attitude towards innovation is typical of the type of approach we see day in and day out at Aberdeen City Council, with a real appetite to continue to learn and evolve.
The injection of £370m of funding is obviously the main outcome of the bond issue, but the process has been valuable in underlining the strength of our finances as a Council.
To be able to turn to the markets we had to first achieve a credit rating – and Moody’s Investors Service has, after a lengthy and thorough period of assessment, assigned Aa2 status.
It has taken a tremendous amount of time, energy and expertise to reach this stage and I’m very appreciative of all who have played their part.
In achieving the credit rating we have had a third party review of the systems and processes which have given us a solid financial footing and provided the confidence required to be able to deliver the transformation we view as vital to the long term prospects of Aberdeen.
A recent Audit Scotland report also shone a light on our current status, with reserves of £100m highlighted. Although that figure has fallen by £28m since the peak in 2014-15 due to investment in major enhancements, such as the Third Don Crossing, it demonstrates the type of prudent approach which helped secure the credit rating from Moody’s which has in turn paved the way for the bond issue.
Having successfully put our finances and the organisation as a whole under the microscope it is fantastic to be pushing ahead with such positive news for the city with a ringing endorsement from the investment markets.