14 March 2018

The Facebook Data Center at Stanton Springs & the $42 Billion "Phantom Bonds"

The Piedmont Chronicles 

As has been reported by several publications, Facebook is coming to the Georgia Piedmont. Specifically, a data center that is to be located at Stanton Springs. The Governor announced it last week, and it's been quite the thing.

The attention of this publication was more focused of the bond issuance, made between the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton & Morning Hornet LLC (Facebook), of an amount not to exceed to exceed $42 billion.

$42 Billion. Let that sink in for a second. As a point of comparison, may I offer up three things: 

  • The most expensive  building ever constructed on Earth is the Abraj Al Bait building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. In today's dollars, this building cost approx. $15 billion.
  • The largest bond offering in the history of Earth was Verizon's in 2013 which was a total of $49 billion. Nothing else comes within $30 billion, and there are no municipal or authority bonds anywhere close to that.
  • The bond issuing for the Baxter Baxalta Shire behemoth was $1.137 billion. 

But remember, friends, we're talking "phantom bonds" here. They call them that because no money actually changes hands since the company is the one actually buying the bonds. Got it? 

But, we also see that the first phase will be approx $750 million, and then three more possible phases that would each be around a half-billion dollars. But those are not guaranteed by Morning Hornet, the company that actually entered into the agreement. So, if all four phases are done, we're talking about maybe $2.5 billion. 

And don't forget about the PILOT payments - that's "payments in lieu of taxes" - that Facebook will be paying the JDA. Those are supposed to start up in 2024 and that first year will see a $2 million payment. 

$2 million vs $2.5 billion vs. $42 billion. 

More to come...

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As always, thanks for reading.