Coast Aquarium Freed from Some (High-Interest) Bonds
By Matthew Kish
The Portland Business Journal
November 1, 2013
The Oregon Coast Aquarium this week said it will buy back more than $500,000 in bonds early, another sign that its once-shaky finances continue to improve.
The 1998 departure of Keiko, the killer whale made famous in the movie “Free Willy,” ripped a giant hole in the aquarium’s balance sheet by leaving it without a main attraction.
Since then, the popular tourist venue has struggled to stay ahead of $12.4 million in debt it accrued before Keiko’s departure.
Its finances have been on the upswing since CEO Carrie Lewis set in place a turnaround plan in 2011. It ended its 2012 fiscal year with a nearly $850,000 profit, a huge turnaround from 2011 when it lost nearly $300,000.
This week, it said it will spend $340,000 to pay off bonds due in 2015. It’ll spend another $185,000 to retire part of the $660,000 in bonds that come due in 2016.
Deidra Krys-Rusoff, a portfolio manager at Portland-based Ferguson Wellman who specializes in bonds, said the move will free the aquarium from some high interest payments. The 2015 bonds paid 4.4 percent interest. The 2016 paid 4.5 percent.
“We’re going along well and we’d like to see this continue in the future and I think it will,” said Rick Goulette, the aquarium’s chief financial officer.