S-11 1 nt10017017x2_s11.htm S-11

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As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 28, 2020
Registration No. 333-
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM S-11
FOR REGISTRATION UNDER THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933
OF SECURITIES OF CERTAIN REAL ESTATE COMPANIES
AFC Gamma, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
AFC Gamma, Inc.
525 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 1770
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 510-2390
(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of registrant’s principal executive offices)
Leonard M. Tannenbaum
AFC Gamma, Inc.
525 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 1770
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 510-2390
(Name, address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of agent for service)
Copies to:
C. Brophy Christensen, Esq.
Jeeho M. Lee, Esq.
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Times Square Tower
7 Times Square
New York, New York 10036
(212) 326-2000
Christopher Bellini, Esq.
Seth Popick, Esq.
Cozen O’Connor P.C.
33 South 6th Street, Suite 3800
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402
(612) 260-9000
Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public: As soon as practicable after the effective date of this Registration Statement.
If any of the securities being registered on this Form are to be offered on a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933 check the following box:
If this Form is filed to register additional securities for an offering pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, please check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.
If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.
If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(d) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering.
If delivery of the prospectus is expected to be made pursuant to Rule 434, check the following box.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
 
Accelerated filer
Non-accelerated filer
 
Smaller reporting company
 
 
 
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided to Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act.
CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE
Title of Each Class of
Securities to be Registered
Proposed Maximum
Aggregate Offering
Price(1)(2)
Amount of
Registration Fee
Common stock, $0.01 par value per share
$115,000,000
$12,546.50
(1)
Estimated solely for purposes of computing the amount of the registration fee pursuant to Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.
(2)
Includes the aggregate offering price of additional shares that the underwriters have the option to purchase.
The registrant hereby amends this Registration Statement on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the registrant shall file a further amendment which specifically states that this Registration Statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or until the Registration Statement shall become effective on such date as the Securities and Exchange Commission, acting pursuant to said Section 8(a), may determine.

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The information in this preliminary prospectus is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This preliminary prospectus is not an offer to sell nor does it seek an offer to buy these securities in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted.
PROSPECTUS (Subject to Completion)Dated December 28, 2020
  Shares

AFC Gamma, Inc.
Common Stock
AFC Gamma, Inc. is offering    shares of its common stock, or approximately    % of our common stock upon completion of this offering (or    % if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full). This is our initial public offering and no public market currently exists for our shares. We anticipate that the initial public offering price will be between $   and $    per share.
Our affiliated persons (as defined in Form S-11 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”)) beneficially own (as determined in accordance with the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”)) an aggregate of 785,064 shares of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 5,495,447 shares, on a post-split basis), or approximately    % of our common stock upon completion of this offering (or    % if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full). At our request, the underwriters have reserved for sale, at the public offering price, up to    shares (the “Reserved Shares”) offered by this prospectus for sale to affiliated persons. No underwriting discounts or commissions will be applied to the Reserved Shares.
We intend to apply to list our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market (“Nasdaq”) under the symbol “AFCG.”
We believe we have been organized and we intend to elect, and to operate our business so as to qualify, to be taxed as a real estate investment trust for U.S. federal income tax purposes (a “REIT”), commencing with our taxable year ending December 31, 2020. To assist us in qualifying as a REIT, among other purposes, shares of our common stock will be subject to restrictions on ownership and transfer including, subject to certain exceptions, a 6.2% ownership limit in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive. Our Board of Directors, in its sole discretion, may exempt (prospectively or retroactively) stockholders from this ownership limit and Leonard M. Tannenbaum (our “Sponsor”) has been granted an exemption allowing him to own up to 24.9% of our common stock. See “Description of Capital Stock—Ownership Limitations and Exceptions.”
We are an “emerging growth company” as defined under the U.S. federal securities laws and, as such, are subject to reduced public company reporting requirements. Investing in our common stock involves risks. See “Risk Factors beginning on page 23 of this prospectus. The most significant risks relating to your investment in our common stock include the following:

We were recently formed and have limited operating history, and may not be able to successfully operate our business, integrate new assets and/or manage our growth or to generate sufficient revenue to make or sustain distributions to our stockholders.

Competition for the capital that we provide may reduce the return of our loans, which could adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.

We are externally managed by AFC Management, LLC (our “Manager”) and our growth and success depends on our Manager, its key personnel and investment professionals, and our Manager’s ability to make loans on favorable terms that satisfy our investment strategy and otherwise generate attractive risk-adjusted returns; thus, if our Manager overestimates the yields or incorrectly prices the risks of our loans or if there are any adverse changes in our relationship with our Manager, we may experience losses.

We provide loans to established companies operating in the cannabis industry which involves significant risks, including the risk to our business of strict enforcement against our borrowers of the federal illegality of cannabis, and such loans lack liquidity, and we could lose all or part of any of our loans.

Our ability to grow our business depends on state laws pertaining to the cannabis industry. New laws that are adverse to our borrowers may be enacted, and current favorable state or national laws or enforcement guidelines relating to cultivation, production and distribution of cannabis may be modified or eliminated in the future, which would impede our ability to grow our business under our current business plan and could materially adversely affect our business.

As a debt investor, we are often not in a position to exert influence on borrowers, and the stockholders and management of such companies may make decisions that could decrease the value of loans made to such borrower.

Our growth depends on external sources of capital, which may not be available on favorable terms or at all.

Interest rate fluctuations could increase our financing costs, which could lead to a significant decrease in our results of operations, cash flows and the market value of our loans.

There are various conflicts of interest in our relationship with our Manager, including conflicts created by our Manager’s compensation arrangements with us, which could result in decisions that are not in the best interests of our stockholders.

Maintenance of our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act”), may impose significant limits on our operations. Your investment return in our Company may be reduced if we are required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act.

We may be deemed to be Closely Held (as defined below), which, subject to our ability to redeem certain shares of our capital stock, would result in us failing to qualify as a REIT and, subject to any required approvals by our Board and our stockholders, would trigger our dissolution and windup process.

Failure to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes would cause us to be taxed as a regular corporation, which would substantially reduce funds available for distributions to our stockholders.

We may incur significant debt, and our governing documents and current credit facility contain no limit on the amount of debt we may incur.

We may in the future pay distributions from sources other than our cash flow from operations, including borrowings, offering proceeds or the sale of assets, which means we will have less funds available for investments or less income-producing assets and your overall return may be reduced.

There is currently no public market for our common stock and the value of our common stock may be volatile and could decline substantially.
Neither the SEC nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the accuracy or adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
 
Price to Public
Underwriting Discounts
and Commissions(1)(2)
Proceeds to
Company(2)
Per Share
$     
$     
$     
Total
$
$
$
(1)
See “Underwriting” for additional disclosure regarding of the compensation payable to the underwriters.
(2)
Reflects that no underwriting discounts or commissions will be applied to the Reserved Shares.
We have granted the underwriters the right to purchase up to an additional    shares of common stock at the public offering price less the underwriting discount and commission to cover over-allotments within 30 days after the date of this prospectus.
The underwriters expect to deliver the shares of common stock to on    , 2021.
JMP Securities
Ladenburg Thalmann
Seaport Global Securities
   , 2021

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Through and including    , 2021 (the 25th day after the date of this prospectus), all dealers effecting transactions in these securities, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus. This is in addition to a dealer’s obligation to deliver a prospectus when acting as an underwriter and with respect to an unsold allotment or subscription.
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IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THIS PROSPECTUS
We and the underwriters have not authorized anyone to provide you with information or to make any representations other than those contained in this prospectus or in any free writing prospectuses prepared by or on behalf of us or to which we have referred you. We have not, and the underwriters have not, authorized anyone to provide you with any other information, and we take no responsibility for, and provide no assurance as to the reliability of, any other information that others may give you. We are offering to sell, and seeking offers to buy, the shares only under circumstances and in jurisdictions where offers and sales are permitted and we are not making an offer to sell, or seeking offers to buy, the shares under any circumstances or in any jurisdiction in which the person making such offer, solicitation or sale is not qualified to do so or to anyone to whom it is unlawful to make an offer, solicitation or sale. You should assume that the information appearing in this prospectus is accurate as of the date on the front cover of this prospectus only, regardless of the time of delivery of this prospectus or any sale of the shares. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects may have changed since that date.
ROUNDING
We have made rounding adjustments to some of the figures included in this prospectus. Accordingly, numerical figures shown as totals in some tables may not be an arithmetic aggregation of the figures that preceded them.
MARKET AND INDUSTRY DATA
We use market data and industry forecasts and projections throughout this prospectus, and in particular in “Prospectus Summary” and “Business.” We have obtained the market data from certain third-party sources of information, including publicly available industry publications and subscription-based publications. Industry forecasts are based on industry surveys and the preparer’s expertise in the industry and there can be no assurance that any of the industry forecasts will be achieved. Any industry forecasts are based on data (including third-party data), models and experience of various professionals and are based on various assumptions, all of which are subject to change without notice. None of such data and forecasts was prepared specifically for us. No third-party source that has prepared such information has reviewed or passed upon our use of the information in this prospectus, and no third-party source is quoted or summarized in this prospectus as an expert. We believe these data are reliable, but we have not independently verified the accuracy of this information. Because the cannabis industry is relatively new and rapidly evolving, such market and industry data may be subject to significant change in a relatively short time period. While we are not aware of any misstatements regarding the market data presented herein, industry forecasts and projections involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change based on various factors, including those discussed under the heading “Risk Factors.” These and other factors could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in these publications and reports.
NON-GAAP METRICS
This prospectus contains “non-GAAP financial measures” within the meaning of Regulation G promulgated by the SEC. Non-GAAP financial measures are financial measures that are not presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the U.S. (“GAAP”) and this prospectus therefore includes a reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable financial measures calculated in accordance with GAAP.
We use certain non-GAAP financial measures, some of which are included in this prospectus, both to explain our results to stockholders and the investment community and in the internal evaluation and management of our businesses. Our management believes that these non-GAAP financial measures and the information they provide are useful to investors since these measures permit investors and stockholders to assess the overall performance of our business using the same tools that our management uses to evaluate our past performance and prospects for future performance.
While we believe that these non-GAAP financial measures are useful in evaluating our performance, this information should be considered as supplemental in nature and not as a substitute for or superior to the related financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP. Additionally, these non-GAAP financial measures may differ from similar measures presented by other companies.
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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY
This summary highlights selected information contained elsewhere in this prospectus. It does not contain all of the information that may be important to you and your investment decision. Before investing in our common stock, you should carefully read this entire prospectus, including the matters set forth under “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.
Unless the context otherwise requires, the terms “Company,” “AFCG,” “we,” “us” or “our” in this prospectus refer to AFC Gamma, Inc. and the terms “shares” or “common stock” refer to shares of our common stock, $0.01 par value per share.
Overview
AFC Gamma, Inc. is a commercial real estate finance company founded in July 2020 by a veteran team of investment professionals. We originate, structure, underwrite and manage senior secured loans and other types of loans for established companies operating in the cannabis industry in states that have legalized medicinal and/or adult use cannabis. As states continue to legalize cannabis for medical and adult use, an increasing number of companies operating in the cannabis industry need financing. Due to the capital constrained cannabis market which does not typically have access to traditional bank financing and faces limitations on accessing equity markets, we believe we are well positioned to become a prudent financing source to established cannabis industry operators given our stringent underwriting criteria, size and scale of operations and institutional infrastructure. Our objective is to provide attractive risk-adjusted returns over time through cash distributions and capital appreciation by providing loans to state law compliant cannabis companies. The loans we originate will primarily be structured as senior loans secured by real estate, equipment, licenses and/or other assets of the loan parties to the extent permitted by applicable laws and the regulations governing such loan parties. Some of our targeted borrowers have their equity securities listed for public trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange (“CSE”) in Canada and/or over-the-counter (“OTC”) in the United States. Our loans will typically have up to a five-year maturity and contain amortization and/or cash flow sweeps. As of December 26, 2020, members of our management team, provided by our Manager, and the members of the investment committee of our Manager (the “Investment Committee”) who advises on our investments and operations, have sourced loans worth approximately $4.7 billion across the cannabis industry in various states while maintaining a robust pipeline of potentially actionable opportunities.
We are an externally managed Maryland corporation and will elect to be taxed as a REIT under Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), commencing with our taxable year ending December 31, 2020. We believe that our proposed method of operation will enable us to qualify as a REIT. However, no assurances can be given that our beliefs or expectations will be fulfilled, since qualification as a REIT depends on us continuing to satisfy numerous asset, income and distribution tests described under “U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations—Taxation,” which in turn depends, in part, on our operating results and ability to obtain financing.
As of December 26, 2020, we have originated and funded loans totaling approximately $135.0 million in aggregate original principal amount to companies operating in the cannabis industry, have approximately $92.5 million of loans outstanding and are committed to approximately $19.8 million in additional loans and commitments from existing loans, with approximately $485.2 million of potential loans actively under review in our pipeline. The Audit and Valuation Committee of our Board of Directors (our “Board”) assists our Board in its oversight of the determination of the fair value of assets that are not publicly traded or for which current market values are not readily available by evaluating various subjective and objective factors, including input provided by an independent valuation firm that we currently retain to provide input on the valuation of such assets. See “Management—Audit and Valuation Committee” of this Prospectus.
Our management team, provided by our Manager, and the Investment Committee members of our Manager have over 100 combined years of lending industry experience. Collectively, the teams have also directly structured over $10.0 billion in loan transactions and taken three companies public. As of December 26, 2020, the members of our management team, provided by our Manager, and the Investment Committee members of our Manager have reviewed 229 loans, of which we have funded ten loans, entered into non-binding term sheets for three loans and are currently evaluating 31 loans. Our Manager employs stringent underwriting standards, that analyze, among other factors, loan collateral, cash flows of the borrower, the financial condition of the borrower,
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borrower’s prior experience in the cannabis industry, and/or state regulatory dynamics. We believe our relationship with our Manager benefits us by providing access to a robust pipeline of potentially actionable opportunities, an extensive relationship network of cannabis industry operators and significant back-office personnel to assist in the origination and management of loans.
Our Competitive Strengths
We expect opportunities to provide loans in the cannabis market to rise due to states’ continued legalization of cannabis and the growth of state cannabis programs. We believe we are well positioned to become a strong financing source of choice for cannabis industry operators due to the following factors:
Leading loan origination platform in high-growth market with extensive barriers to entry: Through our size and scale of operations, as well as our incumbency and institutional infrastructure, we believe we are well positioned to become a strong financing source of choice for cannabis companies. Currently, we are able to take advantage of the capital supply/demand imbalance to further our intention to generate strong risk-adjusted returns by providing operators debt capital. Additionally, to the extent states across the United States legalize cannabis, the demand for capital to fund operations should increase and we believe we will be positioned to continue funding these borrowers both as an investment lender and institutional capital provider to an expanding universe of operators.
Compelling risk-adjusted returns vs. other real estate property types: We seek to obtain strong risk-adjusted yield-to-maturity (“YTM”) internal rates of return (“IRR”) with average annual gross cash returns on our loans within the range of 12% to 20% through coupons, original issue discount (“OID”), prepayment or exit fees, and other fees. Our Manager expects to earn agency and other fees related to the services it provides to us and, upon consummation of this offering, 50% of any such fees will reduce the Base Management Fees (as defined herein) paid by us to our Manager (such reduction, a “Base Management Fee Rebate”). As a result of such reduction, we will be credited by our Manager with the value of such fees to our investors’ returns.
Experienced Management Team: Our Manager administers our business activities and day-to-day operations subject to the overall supervision of our Board. Our Manager’s team is comprised of leading professionals with extensive and diverse expertise and significant financing industry experience. We believe that the length and breadth of this team’s financing experience and their ability to source and execute a wide variety of loans is one of our significant competitive advantages.
Strong Underlying Collateral: Our loans are primarily secured by real property and certain personal property, including licenses, equipment, and other assets to the extent permitted by applicable laws and the regulations governing our borrowers. As of December 26, 2020, our portfolio of loans had real estate collateral coverage of approximately 1.28 times our aggregate funded principal amount of such loans. Some of our targeted borrowers have their equity securities listed for public trading on the CSE in Canada and/or OTC in the United States.
Flexible Structure: We believe we have a more flexible funding structure, with the ability to redeploy funding more quickly than the typical REIT land ownership models. Our funding structure commits and funds loans with an average maturity of four years with significant prepayment protections whereas certain competitors with typical REIT land ownership models have long-term leases averaging approximately 16 years. The duration of our loans, as compared to the length of leases usually employed by REIT land ownership models, allows us to redeploy our capital with more flexibility as market changes occur instead of being locked in for longer periods of time. This model also allows our borrowers to retain control of their real estate assets, which is important to their businesses and allows for more flexibility regarding their capital structure.
Significant Sponsor Investment: Our Sponsor, Leonard M. Tannenbaum, who also serves as our Chief Executive Officer, invested approximately $47.8 million in our Company in August 2020. The Sponsor’s investment was structured to include a combination of cash and a transfer of loan assets at fair value plus accrued and unpaid interest, to us. The investment resulted with our Sponsor directly and indirectly acquiring approximately 477,500 shares of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 3,342,500 shares, on a post-split basis), or approximately    % of our common stock upon completion of this offering (or    % if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full). Additionally, a fund controlled by Jonathan Kalikow, our Head of Real Estate, one of our directors and an affiliate of our Manager, invested approximately $9.6 million in cash in our Company in August 2020. Our Sponsor, through AFC Finance, LLC, an entity wholly-owned by our Sponsor, and Gamma Lending Holdco LLC, an entity controlled by Jonathan Kalikow and his father, have also
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provided us a $40.0 million secured revolving credit facility (the “Revolving Credit Facility”). As of December 26, 2020, we did not have any borrowings outstanding under our Revolving Credit Facility. We did not incur any fees or costs related to the origination of the Revolving Credit Facility and we are not required to pay any commitment fees under the Revolving Credit Agreement (as defined below). Our obligations under the Revolving Credit Agreement are secured by a first priority security interest in substantially all of our existing and future assets.
Underwriting and Investment Process
Our Manager’s rigorous underwriting and investment process enables us to source, screen and ultimately provide senior secured loans to established cannabis industry participants in states that have legalized medicinal and/or adult use cannabis. Our Manager as well as the management team provided by our Manager and our Board are attuned to the macro-environment and political environment as they relate to the lending and cannabis industries.
We expect to benefit from the tested method of capital allocation and on-going investment monitoring developed by our Manager. The primary objectives of the investment process are for it to be repeatable, dependable, and produce attractive risk-adjusted returns. The primary components of the investment process are as follows:
Origination
Underwriting
Investment Committee
Legal Documentation and
Post-Closing
Direct origination platform works to create enhanced yields by originating and structuring loans, as well as putting in enhanced controls
Disciplined underwriting process leads to a highly selective approach
Focused on managing credit risk through comprehensive investment review process
Investment team works alongside external counsel to negotiate credit agreements and collateral liens
Platform drives increased deal flow, which provides for improved loan selectivity
Potential loans are screened based on four key criteria: company profile, state dynamics, regulatory matters and real estate asset considerations
The Investment Committee must approve each loan before commitment papers are issued
Emphasis is placed on financial covenants and limitations on actions that may be adverse to lenders
Allows for specific portfolio construction and a focus on higher quality companies
Other tools that we frequently use to verify data include, but are not limited to: appraisals, quality of earnings, environmental reports, site visits, comparable company analyses and background checks
Members of the Investment Committee currently include: Leonard M. Tannenbaum, Jonathan Kalikow and Robyn Tannenbaum. It is intended that the Investment Committee will be expanded to five members consisting of the three current members and our to-be named Managing Director, Portfolio Management and General Counsel
Portfolio is proactively managed to monitor ongoing performance, in some instances, through seats on borrowers’ boards of directors or board observer rights
As of December 26, 2020, 34 active loans in pipeline at various stages in the diligence process
As of December 26, 2020, we had passed on 185 of 229 sourced loans due to, among other reasons, lack of collateral, lack of cash flow, stage of company, no previous experience and state dynamics
 
 
 
 
In addition to the underwriting and investment process described above, we conduct due diligence to provide reasonable assurance that borrowers are complying with applicable state cannabis laws and not violating certain federal priorities with respect to cannabis set forth in applicable U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”)
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memoranda. We conduct extensive cannabis regulatory due diligence on each borrower, including, but not limited to reviewing and verifying, as applicable: (i) all of the borrower’s cannabis licenses by location; (ii) all license applications and all related documentation submitted by the borrower to applicable regulators for obtaining a state license to operate its cannabis-related business; (iii) available information about the borrower from the state licensing and enforcement authorities; (iv) letters of any approvals, violations or warnings to the borrower and any related businesses; (v) lists of brands and trademarks owned and products sold by the borrower; (vi) the borrower’s supply contracts, customer contracts and compliance and quality control procedures; (vii) legal opinions regarding transferability of licenses (if applicable); and (viii) any applicable management agreements to which the borrower is a party.
We typically require a significant amount of information with respect to each of our borrowers and any guarantors, including: (i) ownership structure charts; (ii) the borrower’s and each related entity’s organizational documents; (iii) the borrower’s and any guarantor entity’s operating agreements; (iv) a list of judgments, liens, and criminal convictions against senior management; (v) a list of pending or threatened claims/litigation by or against the borrower or any guarantors as well as the status of any such claim/litigation; (vi) information about other liabilities, including loans and foreclosures, and bankruptcies; (vii) lending and banking references; (viii) certificates of good corporate standing for all loan parties (within 30 days of close); and (ix) other background information obtained through various means such as Google, credit and Lexis/Nexis searches. We also conduct financial due diligence on borrowers, typically including, at least, reviewing: (a) audited or certified annual financial statements for the previous year and, where available, unaudited monthly financial statements; (b) a detailed operating budget for the forward looking year; (c) a list of any non-recurring/extraordinary revenues or expenses for current and prior fiscal years; (d) details of corporate overhead or other corporate eliminations; (e) an accounts payable aging report; (f) accounts receivable aging report; (g) total gross (retail vs wholesale) sales for the past two years, by location; (h) balance sheet, within 30 days of closing, the last three months of bank deposits; (i) a capitalization table; (j) a list of information technology/software used; (k) proof of insurance policies; and (l) resumes of key personnel/management. Additionally, we conduct extensive due diligence on properties owned or leased by our borrowers and any related guarantors.
Our Portfolio
As of December 26, 2020, our portfolio was comprised of loans to eight different borrowers, totaling approximately $92.5 million in total principal amount, with approximately $19.8 million in additional unfunded loan commitments to such borrowers. As of December 26, 2020, our loan portfolio had a weighted-average YTM IRR of 21.7% and was secured by real estate, cash flows, licenses and with respect to certain of our loans, substantially all assets in the borrowers and certain of their subsidiaries. The YTM IRR on our loans is comprised of (i) OID, (ii) cash interest, (iii) payment-in-kind (“PIK”) interest, which is capitalized and added to the outstanding principal balance of the applicable loan, (iv) amortization, (v) unused fees, (vi) prepayment premiums, (vii) make-whole premiums, (viii) late fees, (ix) arranger fees and (x) the right (each an “Assigned Right”) to acquire warrants and/or equity of the borrower as part of the consideration for us to provide a loan to such borrower, which we promptly sell. During the period from July 31, 2020 (date of commencement of operations) through December 26, 2020, we sold all of our Assigned Rights to our affiliate, AFC Warehouse, LLC (“AFC Warehouse”), using a sale price based on fair value as determined by our Board based on various subjective and objective factors, including input from an independent third-party valuation firm that we currently retain to provide input on the valuation of such assets. Certain of our loans have exit fees and extension fees, which are not included in our YTM IRR calculations. The below summarizes our loan portfolio as of December 26, 2020, unless otherwise specified.
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Loan#
Original
Funding
Date(1)
Original
Loan
Maturity
Maturity
With
Extensions
Our
Total
Commitment
Percentage
of Total
Portfolio
Total
OID(2)(5)
Principal
Balance
as of
12/26/2020
Exit
Fees
Cash
Interest
Rate
PIK
Interest
Fixed/
Floating
Amortization
During
Term
Prepayment
Penalty(3)
Extension
Fee(s)
Unused
Loan
Fee
 
YTM
IRR(3)(5)
 
Public Co. A - Real Estate Loan
7/3/2019
6/27/2021
12/27/2021
$2,940,000
2.6%
1.9%
$2,940,000
N/A
10.5%
N/A
Floating
No
Yes
2.0%
N/A
 
13.5%
 
Public Co. A - Equipment Loan
8/5/2019
3/5/2024
3/5/2024
4,000,000
3.5%
7.6%
3,352,176
5.0%
12.0%
N/A
Floating
Yes
Yes
N/A
N/A
 
13.9%
 
Public Co. B
1/31/2020
7/24/2021
7/24/2022
5,000,000
4.4%
1.3%
4,373,781
N/A
16.0%
N/A
Fixed
Yes
Yes
2.0%
N/A
 
19.4%
 
Sub. of Public Co. C(4)
2/12/2020
2/18/2025
2/18/2025
15,000,000
13.3%
19.0%
12,024,064
2.5%
16.8%
3.0%
Fixed
Yes
Yes
N/A
0.5%
 
28.6%
 
Private Co. A
5/8/2020
5/8/2024
5/8/2024
34,000,000
30.1%
7.9%
33,344,325
2.0%
13.0%
4.0%
Fixed
Yes
Yes
N/A
2.0%
 
23.4%
 
Private Co. B
9/10/2020
9/1/2023
9/1/2023
8,000,000
7.1%
4.0%
2,522,846
6.0%
13.0%
4.0%
Fixed
Yes
Yes
N/A
5.0%
 
24.2%
 
Private Co. C
11/5/2020
12/1/2025
12/1/2025
22,000,000
19.5%
4.0%
11,907,763
7.0%
13.0%
4.0%
Floating
Yes
Yes
N/A
5.0%
 
21.7%
 
Sub. of Public Co. D
12/18/2020
12/18/2024
12/18/2024
10,000,000
8.9%
1.9%
10,000,000
N/A
12.9%
N/A
Fixed
No
Yes
N/A
N/A
 
14.2%
 
Private Co. D
12/23/2020
1/1/2026
1/1/2026
12,000,000
10.6%
8.8%
12,000,000
2.0%
13.0%
2.0%
Fixed
Yes
Yes
N/A
N/A
 
19.8%
 
 
 
SubTotal
 
$ 112,940,000
100.0%
7.4%
$ 92,464,954
3.1%
13.5%
2.9%
 
 
 
Wtd Average
 
21.7%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Information as of December 26, 2020 unless otherwise specified. Borrower names have been kept confidential due to confidentiality agreement obligations.
(1)
All loans originated prior to July 31, 2020 were purchased from an affiliated entity at fair value plus accrued interest on July 31, 2020.
(2)
Loans originated before July 31, 2020 were acquired by us, net of unaccreted OID, which we accrete to income over the remaining term of the loan.
(3)
Assumes no prepayment penalties or early payoffs.
(4)
Loan to Subsidiary of Public Company C includes a $3.0 million initial funding of a $15.0 million aggregate loan commitment, which has interest that includes 3.0% PIK interest. The amortization of the loan exceeds PIK interest. The loan also includes two early advances totaling $9.0 million against the $15.0 million aggregate loan commitment, with a 19.0% interest rate. Statistics shown are for the $15.0 million loan commitment, except the weighted average interest rate, which is based on the weighted average interest rate as of December 26, 2020.
(5)
YTM IRR for Public Company A, subsidiary of Public Company C, Private Company A and Private Company D is enhanced by purchase discounts attributed to the fair value of equity warrants that were separated from the loans prior to our acquisition of such loans. The purchase discounts accrete to income over the respective remaining terms of such loans.
For additional information regarding this initial portfolio, see “Business.”
Illustrative Description of Borrowers:
Public Company A
Single-state cultivator, producer and full-service brand fulfillment partner that produces a wide range of products in the Nevada market. Public Company A operates a +/- 400,000 square foot greenhouse and 55,000 square foot processing and custom packaging facility, which is capable of producing 140,000 pounds of dry flower per year.
Public Company B
Vertically integrated multi-state cultivator, distributor and retailer of medical and recreational cannabis in the U.S. Public Company B operates through multiple cultivation sites and dispensaries. Additionally, Public Company B has licenses and facilities in ten states and 20 brands.
Subsidiary of Public Company C
Single-state vertically-integrated cultivator and retailer with operations in Florida, one of the fastest growing markets in the United States. Operations consist of two greenhouse cultivation facilities, multiple dispensaries and a car delivery system to extend its retail network.
Private Company A
Multi-state operator with operations in six states. Private Company A is a vertically integrated cultivator and retailer of both medical and adult-use cannabis that primarily operates under its own brand. Private Company A’s business segments include cultivation, extraction and processing, retail products, and dispensaries.
Private Company B
Single-state operator currently constructing an indoor cultivation facility to wholesale product to the medical and adult use markets in Michigan. Private Company B produces high-end cannabis strains and intends to focus on the high-end, top-tier cannabis niche. The management team has over 20 years’ experience in the cannabis industry, including ten years in Michigan.
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Private Company C
Single-state vertically integrated cultivator and retailer of medical cannabis. Private Company C operates under a Chapter 20 Clinical Registrant license and has partnered to collaborate on multifaceted studies to substantiate safety and positive therapeutic outcomes. Private Company C currently operates a cultivation facility and three dispensaries with the ability to add three additional dispensary locations.
Subsidiary of Public Company D
Public Company D participates in the medical and adult use market across Canada and in several US states where cannabis has been legalized for therapeutic or adult use. Subsidiary of Public Company D, is a premier medical marijuana cultivator, processor and distributor in Pennsylvania. Public Company D also has operators in California, New Jersey and Utah.
Private Company D
Single-state operator who operates five dispensaries, the maximum amount of dispensaries for any operator, in the State of Ohio. Private Company D historical focus has been dispensary operations and has licenses in other states, where it also operates dispensaries.
Collateral Overview
Our loans are secured by various types of assets of our borrowers, including real property and certain personal property, including licenses, equipment, and other assets to the extent permitted by applicable laws and the regulations governing our borrowers.
The below represents the real estate collateral securing our loans as of December 26, 2020. The values in the table below were measured at the time of underwriting and based on various sources of data available at such time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Real Estate
 
Borrower
Date
Our
Total
Commitment
Percentage
of
Total
Portfolio
Total
Funded
Debt
Issuance
Our
Percentage
of the
Total Loan
Estimated
Real
Estate
Value(1)
Real Estate
Collateral
Coverage
Implied Real
Estate
Collateral
Our
Real
Estate
Collateral
Coverage
 
Public Co. A - Real Estate Loan(2)
7/3/2019
$2,940,000
2.6%
$30,000,000
9.8%
$107,000,000
3.57x
$10,486,000
3.57x
Public Co. A - Equipment Loan
8/5/2019
$4,000,000
3.5%
$20,000,000
20.0%
Public Co. B(3)
1/31/2020
$5,000,000
4.4%
$20,000,000
25.0%
$53,100,000
2.66x
$13,275,000
2.66x
Subsidiary of Public Co. C(4)
2/12/2020
$15,000,000
13.3%
$15,000,000
100.0%
$31,178,600
2.08x
$31,178,600
2.08x
Private Co. A(5)
5/8/2020
$34,000,000
30.1%
$42,500,000
80.0%
$51,384,281
1.21x
$41,107,425
1.21x
Private Co. B(6)
9/10/2020
$8,000,000
7.1%
$8,000,000
100.0%
$14,556,107
1.82x
$14,556,107
1.82x
Private Co. C(7)
11/5/2020
$22,000,000
19.5%
$22,000,000
100.0%
$23,733,032
1.08x
$23,733,032
1.08x
Subsidiary of Public Co. D(8)
12/18/2020
$10,000,000
8.9%
$120,000,000
8.3%
$26,058,332
0.22x
$2,171,528
0.22x
Private Co. D(9)
12/23/2020
$12,000,000
10.6%
$12,000,000
100.0%
$7,500,000
0.63x
$7,500,000
0.63x
 
 
$112,940,000
100.0%
$289,500,000
39.0%
$314,510,351
1.09x
$144,007,691
1.28x
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(1)
To the extent the applicable loan is intended to fund any acquisitions and/or construction, the applicable figure includes expected total basis on such future construction and/or acquisitions plus appraised value.
(2)
Public Company A real estate is based on cost basis.
(3)
Public Company B real estate is based on cost basis.
(4)
Subsidiary of Public Company C real estate is based on an existing cultivation property and the completed and stabilized value of a to-be-built facility. The anticipated completion date for the to-be-built facility is November 2021.
(5)
Private Company A real estate is based on the cost basis of various facilities constituting real estate collateral, plus anticipated capital expenditures for one facility that is being converted for cannabis cultivation purposes. The conversion is anticipated to be completed in February 2021.
(6)
Private Company B real estate is based on the expected total cost basis of a to-be-built facility, as completed. The anticipated completion date for the to-be-built facility is July 2021.
(7)
Private Company C real estate is based on the costs basis of two facilities, including the capital expenditures for one facility that is being converted for cannabis cultivation purposes. The construction of the to-be-converted facility is divided into six phases. The first phase was completed in December 2020, and the anticipated completion date for the remaining phases of construction is November 2021.
(8)
Subsidiary of Public Company D real estate based on total cost basis.
(9)
Private Company D real estate is based on appraised value.
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Our Loan Origination Pipeline
As of December 26, 2020, our loan origination pipeline consisted of 34 potential new loans representing anticipated total loan commitments of approximately $485.2 million. We are in various stages of our evaluation process with respect to these loans. We are reviewing, but have not yet issued indications of interests or entered into term sheets with respect to, 28 of these potential loans. We have issued indications of interest with respect to three of the 34 potential loans, comprising $55.0 million of anticipated loan commitments, and have executed non-binding term sheets with respect to three additional potential loans, comprising approximately $62.7 million of anticipated loan commitments. There can be no assurance that we will enter into definitive documentation with respect to any of these loans.
As of December 26, 2020, in connection with the three loans representing approximately $62.7 million of anticipated loan commitments, prospective borrowers have executed non-binding term sheets and have each entered into a period of exclusivity (ranging from 45 to 60 days) with us with respect to the proposed loans. Additionally, two of the three prospective borrowers have paid to us expense deposits to cover the direct costs of our due diligence and underwriting process. We are currently completing our underwriting process and negotiating definitive loan documents for each of these three potential loan investments. These three potential loans remain subject to satisfactory completion of our underwriting and due diligence processes, definitive documentation and final approval by the Investment Committee. As a result, no assurance can be given that any of these potential loans will close on the anticipated terms or at all. We intend to fund these potential loans using capacity under our Revolving Credit Facility, existing cash and/or, depending upon the timing of closing, net proceeds from loan repayments, or net proceeds from this offering.
Our Manager
We are externally managed and advised by our Manager, an “Exempt Reporting Adviser” pursuant to Section 203(m)-1 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (“Advisers Act”), which intends to register as an investment adviser under the Advisers Act, and an affiliate of Mr. Tannenbaum, Robyn Tannenbaum, our Managing Director, Origination, Investor Relations and Marketing, and Mr. Kalikow. Each of our officers is employed by our Manager and certain of our officers are members of its Investment Committee. The executive offices of our Manager are located at 525 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 1770, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 and the telephone number of our Manager’s executive offices is (561) 510-2390.
As of the date of this prospectus, our Manager is comprised of 13 investment and other professionals. Members of the Investment Committee of our Manager and our management team provided by our Manager have a combined 100 years of investment management experience and are a valuable resource to us. Currently, our Manager and its affiliates manage several externally-managed vehicles totaling over $200.0 million in assets, including our Company and AFC Warehouse, one of our affiliates. Leonard M. Tannenbaum, our Sponsor and Chief Executive Officer, has 25 years of investment management experience. He has taken three entities public and has managed several externally-managed investment vehicles with approximately $5.0 billion of assets under management in the aggregate. During his career, Mr. Tannenbaum has underwritten over 500 loans with over $10.0 billion in principal value. Jonathan Kalikow, our Head of Real Estate, has 25 years of experience focused on hard money lending in commercial real estate transactions. Through his funds, he currently manages approximately $2.0 billion in assets.
Mr. Tannenbaum personally has invested approximately $47.8 million into us and is our largest stockholder. Additionally, a fund controlled by Mr. Kalikow and his father have invested approximately $9.6 million in us.
Our Management Agreement
Pursuant to our Management Agreement with our Manager, our Manager will manage our loans and our day-to-day operations, subject at all times to the further terms and conditions set forth in our Management Agreement and such further limitations or parameters as may be imposed from time to time by our Board. Under our Management Agreement, our Manager has contractual responsibilities to us, including to provide us with a management team, who will be our executive officers, and the Investment Committee. Our Manager will use its commercially reasonable efforts to perform its duties under our Management Agreement.
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Upon consummation of this offering, the initial term of our Management Agreement shall continue until July 31, 2023. After the initial term, our Management Agreement shall automatically renew every year for an additional one-year period, unless we or our Manager elect not to renew. Our Management Agreement may be terminated by us or our Manager under certain specified circumstances.
Upon consummation of this offering, our Management Agreement will provide that upon the date on which our equity equals or exceeds $1,000,000,000, we may, at our election, provide our Manager with a written offer for an internalization transaction in which our Manager will contribute all of its assets to us, or in the alternative, the equity owners of our Manager will contribute 100% of the outstanding equity interest in our Manager to us. If the offer price of such internalization transaction has not been agreed prior to the date that is the three-month anniversary of the date on which our equity equals or exceeds $1,000,000,000, then we shall have the right, but not the obligation, to consummate such internalization transaction, effective as of such date, at an internalization price equal to five times the sum of (i) the average annual Base Management Fee and (ii) the average annual Incentive Compensation (as defined below), in each case, earned by our Manager during the 12-month period immediately preceding the most recently completed fiscal quarter.
For additional information, see “Our Manager and Our Management Agreement.”
The following table summarizes the fees and expense reimbursement that we will pay to our Manager under our Management Agreement, as amended upon consummation of this offering:
Type
Description
Payment
Base Management Fees
An amount equal to 0.375% of our Equity (as defined below), determined as of the last day of each such quarter. The Base Management Fees are reduced by 50% of the aggregate amount of any other fees earned and paid to our Manager during such quarter resulting from the investment advisory services and general management services rendered by it under our Management Agreement, including any syndication, structuring, diligence, monitoring or agency fees relating to our loans, but excluding the Incentive Compensation. Under no circumstances will the Base Management Fee be less than zero. Our Equity, for purposes of calculating the Base Management Fees, could be greater than or less than the amount of stockholders’ equity shown on our financial statements. The Base Management Fees are payable independent of the performance of our loan portfolio.

For additional information, see “Management Compensation—Base Management Fees.
Quarterly in arrears in cash.
 
 
 
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Type
Description
Payment
Incentive Compensation
An amount with respect to each calendar quarter (or portion thereof that our Management Agreement is in effect) based upon our achievement of targeted levels of Core Earnings. No Incentive Compensation is payable with respect to any fiscal quarter unless our Core Earnings for such quarter exceed the amount equal to the product of (i) 2% and (ii) Adjusted Capital (as defined below) as of the last day of the immediately preceding fiscal quarter (such amount, the “Hurdle Amount”). The Incentive Compensation for any fiscal quarter will otherwise be calculated as the sum of (i) the product of (A) 50% and (B) the amount of our Core Earnings for such quarter, if any, that exceeds the Hurdle Amount, but is less than or equal to 166-2/3% of the Hurdle Amount and (ii) the product of (A) 20% and (B) the amount of our Core Earnings for such quarter, if any, that exceeds 166-2/3% of the Hurdle Amount. Such compensation is subject to Clawback Obligations (as defined below), if any.

For additional information, see “Management Compensation—Incentive Compensation” and “Management Compensation—Incentive Compensation—Incentive Compensation Clawback.
Quarterly in arrears in cash.
Expense Reimbursement
We pay all of our costs and expenses and reimburse our Manager or its affiliates for expenses of our Manager and its affiliates paid or incurred on our behalf, excepting only those expenses that are specifically the responsibility of our Manager pursuant to our Management Agreement. Pursuant to our Management Agreement, we reimburse our Manager or its affiliates, as applicable, for our allocable share of the compensation, including annual base salary, bonus, any related withholding taxes and employee benefits, paid to (i) our Manager’s personnel serving as our Chief Executive Officer (except when the Chief Executive Officer serves as a member of the Investment Committee), General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Managing Director of Origination, Investor Relations and Marketing, as applicable, based on the percentage of his or her time spent managing our affairs and (ii) other corporate finance, tax, accounting, internal audit, legal, risk management, operations, compliance and other non-investment personnel of the Manager and its affiliates who spend all or a portion of their time managing our affairs; provided that we are not obligated to reimburse our Manager or its affiliates, as applicable, for any compensation paid to Mr. Tannenbaum, Mr. Kalikow and Mrs. Tannenbaum. Our share of such costs are based upon the percentage of time devoted by such personnel of our Manager or its affiliates to our affairs.

For additional information, see “Management Compensation—Expense Reimbursement.
Monthly in cash.
 
 
 
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Type
Description
Payment
Termination Fee
Equal to three times the sum of (i) the average annual Base Management Fee and (ii) the average annual Incentive Compensation, in each case, earned by our Manager during the 12-month period immediately preceding the most recently completed fiscal quarter prior to the date of termination. Such fee shall be payable upon termination of our Management Agreement in the event that (i) we decline to renew our Management Agreement, without cause, upon 180 days prior written notice and the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of our independent directors that there has been unsatisfactory performance by our Manager that is materially detrimental to us taken as a whole, or (ii) our Management Agreement is terminated by our Manager (effective upon 60 days’ prior written notice) based upon our default in the performance or observance of any material term, condition or covenant contained in our Management Agreement and such default continuing for a period of 30 days after written notice thereof specifying such default and requesting that the same be remedied in such 30-day period.

For additional information, see “Management Compensation—Termination Fee.
Upon specified termination in cash.
Our Growth Strategy
Our objective is to provide attractive risk-adjusted returns over time through cash distributions and capital appreciation. We intend to achieve this objective by sourcing, underwriting, structuring and funding loans to state law compliant cannabis companies.
Over the past 16 months, our manager and its affiliates have had access to over $4.0 billion of potential loan opportunities. We believe we are well positioned to take advantage of the supply and demand imbalance that exists in the market. As the cannabis industry continues to evolve and to the extent that additional states legalize cannabis, the demand for capital continues to increase as operators seek to enter and build out new markets. We provide borrowers an institutional and flexible alternative for financing. As we continue to grow our equity base, we believe we can commit to additional transactions with strong risk-adjusted returns to diversify our portfolio and act as a lead agent on larger deals that we can syndicate.
We intend to primarily focus on cannabis industry operators with strong collateral, in the form of real estate, equipment, licenses, and other assets owned by the borrower. Our Manager will regularly evaluate loans and we currently retain an independent third-party valuation firm to provide input on the valuation of unquoted assets, which our Manager considers along with various other subjective and objective factors when making any such evaluation. The collateral underlying our loans is located in states in the U.S. that we believe have attractive regulatory environments for companies operating in the cannabis industry, economic conditions and commercial real estate fundamentals.
Key elements of our strategy include:
Targeting loans for origination and investment that typically have the following characteristics:
principal balance greater than $10 million;
real estate collateral coverage of at least one times the principal balance;
secured by commercial real estate properties, including cannabis cultivation facilities, processing facilities, and dispensaries; and
well-capitalized sponsors with substantial experience in particular real estate sectors and geographic markets.
Diversifying our financing sources with increased access to equity and debt capital, which may provide us with a lower overall cost of funding and the ability to hold larger loan sizes, among other things.
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We draw upon our Manager’s expertise in sourcing, underwriting, structuring and funding capabilities to implement our growth strategy. We believe that our current growth strategy provides significant potential opportunities to our stockholders for attractive risk-adjusted returns over time. However, to capitalize on the appropriate loan opportunities at different points in the economic and real estate investment cycle, we may modify or expand our growth strategy from time to time.
Key Financial Measures and Indicators
As a commercial real estate finance company, we believe the key financial measures and indicators for our business are Core Earnings, Adjusted Core Earnings (as defined below), book value per share and dividends declared per share.
Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings
In addition to using certain financial metrics prepared in accordance with GAAP to evaluate our performance, we also use Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings to evaluate our performance excluding the effects of certain transactions and non-GAAP adjustments we believe are not necessarily indicative of our current loan activity and operations. Each of Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings is a measure that is not prepared in accordance with GAAP. We define Core Earnings as, for a specified period, the net income (loss) computed in accordance with GAAP, excluding (i) non-cash equity compensation expense, (ii) Incentive Compensation, (iii) depreciation and amortization, (iv) any unrealized gains, losses or other non-cash items recorded in net income (loss) for the period, regardless of whether such items are included in other comprehensive income or loss, or in net income (loss); provided that Core Earnings does not exclude, in the case of investments with a deferred interest feature (such as OID, debt instruments with PIK interest and zero coupon securities), accrued income that we have not yet received in cash, and (v) one-time events pursuant to changes in GAAP and certain non-cash charges, in each case after discussions between our Manager and our independent directors and after approval by a majority of such independent directors. We define Adjusted Core Earnings, for a specified period, as Core Earnings excluding certain non-recurring organizational expenses (such as one-time expenses related to our formation and start-up).
We believe providing Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings on a supplemental basis to our net income as determined in accordance with GAAP is helpful to stockholders in assessing the overall performance of our business. Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings should not be considered as substitutes for GAAP net income. We caution readers that our methodology for calculating Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings may differ from the methodologies employed by other REITs to calculate the same or similar supplemental performance measures, and as a result, our reported Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other REITs.
We also use Core Earnings to determine the fees we pay our Manager. For information on the fees we pay our Manager, see “Management Compensation.”
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The following table provides a reconciliation of GAAP net income to Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings (in thousands, except per share data):
 
For the period from July 31, 2020
(date of commencement of
operations) to September 30, 2020
Net Income
$2,106,250
Adjustments to net income
 
Non-cash equity compensation expense
Incentive Compensation to Manager(1)
Depreciation and amortization
Unrealized (gain), losses or other non-cash items
(1,563,800)
One-time events pursuant to changes in GAAP and certain non-cash charges
Core Earnings
$542,450
Adjustments to Core Earnings
 
Certain organizational expenses
616,190
Adjusted Core Earnings
$1,158,640
Basic weighted average shares of common stock outstanding
(in shares, on a post-split basis)
5,376,411
Adjusted Core Earnings per Weighted Average Share (on a post-split basis)
$0.22
(1)
Our Manager has agreed to waive the Incentive Compensation for the period from July 31, 2020 (date of commencement of operations) through December 31, 2020.
Book Value Per Share
We believe that book value per share is helpful to stockholders in evaluating our growth as we scale our equity capital base and continue to invest in our target investments. The book value per share of our common stock as of September 30, 2020 was $105.27 on a pre-split basis.
Dividends Declared Per Share
For the period from July 31, 2020 (date of commencement of operations) through September 30, 2020, we did not declare dividends. In December 2020, we declared (i) a regular cash dividend of $2.45 per share of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or $0.35 per share, on a post-split basis), relating to the period since our inception through the fourth quarter of 2020, to be paid on December 30, 2020 to stockholders of record as of December 23, 2020 and (ii) a special cash dividend of $1.85 per share of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or approximately $0.26 per share, on a post-split basis) to be paid on December 30, 2020 to stockholders of record as of December 23, 2020. The total amount of the regular cash dividend payment and the special cash dividend payment will be $2.2 million and $1.6 million, respectively. The payment of these dividends, including the special cash dividend, is not indicative of our ability to pay such dividends in the future.
Recent Developments
Preliminary December 31, 2020 Estimates
Our estimated net income allocable to our common stockholders for the  -month period ended   , 2020 was approximately $  million or $  per common share (after giving effect to the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering). Net income of approximately $  million was comprised of approximately $  million in total revenues, incurred operating expenses of approximately $  million and a net change unrealized gain on investments of $  million. This reflects only the first months of our fourth quarter. We estimate that our total revenues for the fourth quarter will be in the range of $  million to $  million assuming   , and expect net income for the quarter to be in the range of $  million to $  million or $  to $  per common share (after giving effect to the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering). These estimated ranges are preliminary and may change. We and our auditors have not begun our normal quarterly and annual closing and review procedures for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2020, and there can be no
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assurance that final results for our fourth quarter or annual period will not differ from our estimated results, including as a result of the   month of our fourth quarter or as a result of quarter-end and annual closing procedures or review adjustments. In addition, the estimates for this  -month period and the fourth quarter will be subject to quarter and year-end closing procedures and/or adjustments, and should not be viewed as a substitute for full interim and annual financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP that have been reviewed and/or audited by our auditors. These preliminary results could change materially and are not necessarily indicative of the results to be achieved for our fourth quarter or any future period. As a result of the foregoing considerations and the other limitations described herein, investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on this preliminary financial information.
As a result of our operating activities during the quarter ended September 30, 2020, including our closed loan originations described above under “Our Portfolio” and based on our management’s expectation that our operating results for the three months ended December 31, 2020 will be comparable to our operating results for the period from July 31, 2020 (date of commencement of operations) through September 30, 2020, we anticipate the book value per share of our common stock, which is computed in accordance with GAAP, will be between approximately $   and $   per common share (after giving effect to the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering) as of December 31, 2020. Our estimated range of book value per share is preliminary and subject to completion of our normal quarterly closing and review procedures for the quarter ended December 31, 2020. Given the timing of our estimate, however, the actual book value per share of our common stock as of December 31, 2020 may differ materially, including as a result of our year-end closing procedures, review adjustments and other developments that may arise between now and the time our financial results for the three months ended December 31, 2020 are finalized. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on our estimate. This estimated range has been prepared by, and is the responsibility of, our management and has not been reviewed or audited or subjected to any other procedures by our independent registered public accounting firm. Accordingly, our independent registered public accounting firm does not express an opinion or any other form of assurance with respect to this estimate.
See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Growth Strategy—There are material limitations with making estimates of our results for current period or other periods prior to the completion of our and our auditors’ normal review procedures for such periods,” “Risk Factors,” “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements,” “Selected Financial Data,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our financial statements and the related notes thereto included elsewhere in this prospectus.
Additional Equity Private Placement Closing
In November 2020, on a pre-split basis, we sold and issued 114,711 shares of our common stock in a second closing of our private placement offering (the “Additional Closing”), at a purchase price of $106.31 per share, after giving effect to the reallocation of organizational costs, and with gross proceeds of approximately $12.3 million in cash.
In December 2020, we sold and issued 125 shares of our 12.0% Series A Cumulative Non-Voting Preferred Stock, $0.01 par value per share (the “Series A Preferred Stock”), in a private placement offering (the “Series A Offering”), at a purchase price of $1,000 per share, with gross proceeds of $125,000 in cash. See “Description of Capital Stock" for additional information regarding our Series A Preferred Stock.
Updates to Our Loan Portfolio
In October 2020, we sold our loan to Public Company B with a principal amount of $7.0 million and received proceeds of approximately $7.35 million. As of September 30, 2020, the loan was recorded on the balance sheet with a fair value of approximately $7.32 million and had an original maturity date of January 2024.
In October 2020, we amended the credit agreement governing our loan to Private Company A to allow for Private Company A’s exercise of its right to access the incremental loan facility in the principal amount of $2.5 million, of which $2.0 million was to be funded by us and $500,000 was to be funded by the other lender under the facility. Our total commitment under the credit agreement was increased from $32.0 million to
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$34.0 million. The total commitment for all lenders under the credit agreement was increased to $42.5 million. We funded our portion of $2.0 million of the incremental loan in October 2020 and received OID of approximately 14.9% of the funded incremental principal amount.
In November 2020, we amended the credit agreement governing our loan to Subsidiary of Public Company C to upsize the commitment amount of the bridge loan to the borrower from $5.0 million to $9.0 million. The amendment did not change any other material terms of the credit agreement governing such loan. We funded the remaining $4.0 million of the bridge loan in November 2020 and received OID of approximately 22.5% of the funded incremental principal amount.
In November 2020, we entered into a credit agreement with Private Company C, to provide senior secured term loan commitments of $22.0 million. We funded $11.0 million of such commitments at closing, and Private Company C may draw on the remaining commitments until the one year anniversary of the closing date. The outstanding amount of the term loans bears interest at a rate of (i) the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) plus 12.0% per annum, subject to a 1.0% floor, paid in cash and (ii) 4.0% per annum PIK, subject to a step down to 2.0% per annum upon occurrence of the Step Down Trigger (as defined therein). Commencing on December 1, 2021, Private Company C must make monthly amortization payments equal to 10.0% of the aggregate principal amount of the funded term loans (together with any capitalized interest) in equal installments. The remaining outstanding balance of the terms loans have a maturity date of December 1, 2025. The obligations of Private Company C under the credit agreement are secured by substantially all of its assets. Under the credit agreement, Private Company C is required to pay (a) an unused fee of 5.0% per annum on any unused commitments under the credit agreement, until the one year anniversary of the closing date, (b) an agent fee, equal to 1.0% of the outstanding amount of the term loans, on each yearly anniversary of the closing of the credit agreement, and (c) an exit fee, equal to 7.0% of the aggregate loan commitment amount, at maturity (or, if earlier, upon full repayment of the loans, including upon acceleration of the loans). If Private Company C prepays the outstanding terms loans prior to maturity for any reason (other than in connection with monthly amortization and certain other limited mandatory prepayments), the prepaid amounts will be subject to a make-whole amount during the first year following the closing date, a 4.0% prepayment premium during the second year following the closing date, and a 3.0% prepayment premium during the third year following the closing date. The term loans are also subject to OID of 4.0% of the aggregate loan commitment amount.
In November 2020, we funded an additional $5.9 million of undrawn principal of our senior term loan to Private Company A for the acquisition of a new collateral property pursuant to the terms of the credit agreement. After funding, the outstanding balance of the loan was approximately $32.6 million and the remaining undrawn commitments equaled approximately $1.4 million.
In December 2020, we entered into a credit agreement with Subsidiary of Public Company D, to provide a senior secured term loan of $10.0 million. The outstanding amount of the term loan bears interest at a rate of 12.875% per annum and has a maturity date of December 18, 2024. The obligations of Public Company D under the credit agreement are secured by substantially all of its assets. If Subsidiary of Public Company D prepays the outstanding term loan prior to maturity for any reason (other than in connection with certain mandatory prepayments), the prepaid amounts will be subject to a make-whole amount during the first eighteen months following the closing date, a 6.44% prepayment premium between eighteen months through thirty months following the closing date and a 3.22% prepayment premium between thirty months through forty-two months following the closing date. The term loan is also subject to OID of 1.875% of the total loan amount.
In December 2020, we entered into a credit agreement with Private Company D, to provide a senior secured term loan of $12.0 million. The outstanding amount of the term loan bears interest at a rate of (i) 13.0% per annum and (ii) 2.0% per annum PIK. Commencing in January 2022, Private Company D must make monthly amortization payments equal to 5.0% per annum of the aggregate principal amount of the funded term loan (together with any PIK interest that has been capitalized and added to the outstanding principal balance of the loan as of January 1, 2022) in equal installments. The remaining outstanding balance of the term loans has a maturity date of January 1, 2026. The obligations of Private Company D under the credit agreement are secured by substantially all of its assets. Under the credit agreement, Private Company D is required to pay (a) an agent fee, equal to 1.0% of the outstanding amount of the term loans, on each yearly anniversary of the closing of the credit agreement and (b) an exit fee, equal to 2.0% of the aggregate loan commitment amount, at maturity (or, if earlier, upon full repayment of the loans, including upon acceleration of the loans). If Private Company D prepays the outstanding term loan prior to maturity for any reason (other than in connection with monthly
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amortization and certain mandatory prepayments), the prepaid amounts will be subject to a make-whole amount during the first year following the closing date, a 4.0% prepayment premium during the second year following the closing date, a 3.0% prepayment premium during the third year following the closing date and a 2.0% prepayment premium during the fourth year following the closing date. The term loan is also subject to OID of 8.8% of the aggregate loan commitment amount.
Sale of Assigned Rights
In October 2020, we sold to AFC Warehouse, our affiliate which is also managed by our Manager, Assigned Rights to acquire and/or assign (i) a warrant to purchase 540,732 shares of common stock of Private Company A at an exercise price of $0.01 per share and (ii) a warrant to purchase 551,768 shares of common stock of Private Company A at an exercise price of $0.75 per share for an aggregate purchase price of $217,783, representing the fair value of such Assigned Rights as of the date of such sale, as determined by our Board (based on various subjective and objective factors, including input from an independent third-party valuation firm) and approved by AFC Warehouse.
In November 2020, we also sold to AFC Warehouse an Assigned Right to acquire and/or assign a warrant to purchase 3,000,000 common shares of Public Company C at an exercise price of $0.375 per share for an aggregate purchase price of $858,216, representing the fair value of such Assigned Right as of the date of such sale, as determined by our Board (based on various subjective and objective factors, including input from an independent third-party valuation firm) and approved by AFC Warehouse.
Dividends Declared Per Share
In December 2020, we declared (i) a regular cash dividend of $2.45 per share of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or $0.35 per share, on a post-split basis), relating to the period since our inception through the fourth quarter of 2020, to be paid on December 30, 2020 to stockholders of record as of December 23, 2020 and (ii) a special cash dividend of $1.85 per share of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or approximately $0.26 per share, on a post-split basis) to be paid on December 30, 2020 to stockholders of record as of December 23, 2020. The total amount of the regular cash dividend payment and the special cash dividend payment will be $2.2 million and $1.6 million, respectively. The payment of these dividends, including the special cash dividend, is not indicative of our ability to pay such dividends in the future.
COVID-19
The spread of a novel strain of coronavirus (“COVID-19”) has caused significant business disruptions in the United States beginning in the first quarter of 2020 and has resulted in governmental authorities implementing numerous measures to try to contain the virus, such as quarantines, shelter-in-place or total lock-down orders and business limitations and shutdowns (subject to exceptions for certain “essential” operations and businesses). Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical cannabis companies have been deemed “essential” by 29 states administering shelter-in-place orders and adult use cannabis has been deemed “essential” in eight of those states. Consequently, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related regulatory and private sector response on our financial and operating results for the period ended September 30, 2020 was somewhat mitigated as all of our borrowers were permitted to continue to operate during this pandemic and, as of December 26, 2020, we have not experienced any payment defaults by our borrowers nor have we made any concessions on any payments due.
Regardless, the full extent of the economic impact of the business disruptions caused by COVID-19 is uncertain. The outbreak of COVID-19 has severely impacted global economic activity and caused significant volatility and negative pressure in financial markets. The global impact of the outbreak has been rapidly evolving, and many countries, including the United States, have reacted by instituting quarantines, mandating business and school closures and restricting travel. As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic is negatively impacting almost every industry directly or indirectly, including the regulated cannabis industry. Although some of these measures have been lifted or scaled back, a recent resurgence of COVID-19 in certain parts of the world, including the United States, has resulted in the re-imposition of certain restrictions and may lead to more restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The extent of any effect that these disruptions may have on our operations and financial performance will depend on future developments, including possible impacts on the performance of our loans, general business activity, and ability to generate revenue, which cannot be determined. For more information see
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Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Growth Strategy—The current outbreak of COVID-19, or the future outbreak of any other highly infectious or contagious diseases, could materially and adversely impact or cause disruption to our borrowers and their operations, and in turn our ability to continue to execute our business plan.”
Risks Associated with Our Business
Our business and our ability to execute our strategy are subject to many risks. Before making a decision to invest in our common stock, you should carefully consider all of the risks and uncertainties described in “Risk Factors” immediately following this Prospectus Summary and all of the other information in this prospectus. These risks include, but are not limited to, the following:
We were recently formed and have limited operating history, and may not be able to successfully operate our business, integrate new assets and/or manage our growth or to generate sufficient revenue to make or sustain distributions to our stockholders.
Competition for the capital that we provide may reduce the return of our loans, which could adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.
We are externally managed by our Manager and our growth and success depends on our Manager, its key personnel and investment professionals, and our Manager’s ability to make loans on favorable terms that satisfy our investment strategy and otherwise generate attractive risk-adjusted returns; thus, if our Manager overestimates the yields or incorrectly prices the risks of our loans or if there are any adverse changes in our relationship with our Manager, we may experience losses.
We provide loans to established companies operating in the cannabis industry which involves significant risks, the risk to our business of strict enforcement against our borrowers of the federal illegality of cannabis, and such loans lack liquidity, and we could lose all or part of any of our loans.
Our ability to grow our business depends on state laws pertaining to the cannabis industry. New laws that are adverse to our borrowers may be enacted, and current favorable state or national laws or enforcement guidelines relating to cultivation, production and distribution of cannabis may be modified or eliminated in the future, which would impede our ability to grow our business under our current business plan and could materially adversely affect our business.
As a debt investor, we are often not in a position to exert influence on borrowers, and the stockholders and management of such companies may make decisions that could decrease the value of loans to such borrower.
Our growth depends on external sources of capital, which may not be available on favorable terms or at all.
Interest rate fluctuations could increase our financing costs, which could lead to a significant decrease in our results of operations, cash flows and the market value of our loans.
There are various conflicts of interest in our relationship with our Manager, including conflicts created by our Manager’s compensation arrangements with us, which could result in decisions that are not in the best interests of our stockholders.
Maintenance of our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act may impose significant limits on our operations. Your investment return in our Company may be reduced if we are required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act.
We may be deemed to be “closely held” within the meaning of Section 856(a)(6) (without regard to Section 856(h)(2)) of the Code (“Closely Held”), subject to our ability to redeem certain shares of our capital stock, would result in us failing to qualify as a REIT and, subject to any required approvals by our Board and our stockholders, would trigger our dissolution and windup process.
Failure to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes would cause us to be taxed as a regular corporation, which would substantially reduce funds available for distributions to our stockholders.
We may incur significant debt, and our governing documents and current credit facility contain no limit on the amount of debt we may incur.
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We may in the future pay distributions from sources other than our cash flow from operations, including borrowings, offering proceeds or the sale of assets, which means we will have less funds available for investments or less income-producing assets and your overall return may be reduced.
There is currently no public market for our common stock and the value of our common stock may be volatile and could decline substantially.
If any of the factors enumerated above or in “Risk Factors” occurs, our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In that case, the trading price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose some or all of your investment.
Corporate Information
Our principal executive offices are located at 525 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 1770, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, and our telephone number at this address is (561) 510-2390. Our website is www.afcgamma.com. Information contained in, or accessible through, our website is not a part of, and is not incorporated into, this prospectus.
Restrictions on Ownership and Transfer of Securities
To assist us in complying with the limitations on the concentration of ownership of a REIT imposed by the Code, among other purposes, our Articles of Incorporation (as amended and restated by our Articles of Amendment and Restatement, which will become effective immediately prior to the completion of this offering, our “Charter”) prohibits, with certain exceptions, any person from beneficially or constructively owning more than 6.2% in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of the aggregate outstanding shares of our capital stock. Our Charter also prohibits any person from, among other things, beneficially or constructively owning shares of our capital stock that would result in us being Closely Held after June 30, 2021, or otherwise cause us to fail to qualify as a REIT. See “Description of Capital Stock—Ownership Limitations and Exceptions” for more information.
Our Charter provides that any transfer of shares of our capital stock in violation of the foregoing restrictions will result in the shares so transferred being automatically transferred to a trust for the benefit of a charitable beneficiary, and the purported transferee acquiring no rights in the shares. To the extent that, upon a transfer of shares of our capital stock pursuant to the Charter, a violation of any provision of the Charter would nonetheless be continuing, then such shares of our capital stock shall be transferred to that number of trusts, each having a distinct trustee and a charitable beneficiary or charitable beneficiaries that are distinct from those of each other trust, such that there is no violation of any provisions of the Charter. Our Charter also provides that if a transfer of shares of our capital stock would result in our capital stock being beneficially owned by less than 100 persons, the transfer will be void ab initio, and the transferee shall acquire no rights in such shares of our capital stock. If a transfer of shares of our capital stock would result in our assets being deemed “plan assets,” the transfer shall also be void ab initio. See “Description of Capital Stock—Transfer Restrictions” for more information.
Federal Income Tax Status
We intend to elect to be taxed as a REIT commencing with our taxable year ending December 31, 2020. Our qualification as a REIT depends on our ability to meet, on a continuing basis, through actual investment and operating results, various complex requirements under the Code, relating to, among other things, organizational requirements, the sources of our gross income, the composition and value of our assets, and our distribution levels. We believe that we have been organized in conformity with the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT under the Code, and that our proposed method of operation will enable us to meet the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT.
We generally will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on the portion of our taxable income or capital gain that is distributed to stockholders annually for as long as we qualify as a REIT. This treatment substantially eliminates the “double taxation” (i.e., at both the corporate and stockholder levels) that typically results from investment in a corporation. Under the Code, REITs are subject to numerous organizational and operational requirements, including a requirement that they distribute each year at least 90% of their REIT taxable income, computed without regard to the dividends paid deduction and our net capital gain. If we fail to qualify for taxation as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes in any taxable year and the relief provisions do not apply, we will be subject to tax on our taxable income at regular corporate rates and may be disqualified from
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taxation as a REIT for the four taxable years following the year during which we ceased to qualify as a REIT. Distributions to stockholders in any year in which we fail to qualify as a REIT will not be deductible by us, nor will we be required to make those distributions. Even if we qualify for taxation as a REIT, we may be subject to certain federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income. See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations” for more information.
Distributions
Any future determination to make distributions will be at the discretion of our Board, subject to compliance with applicable law and any contractual provisions, including under agreements for indebtedness that we may incur, that restrict or limit our ability to make distributions, and will depend upon, among other factors, our results of operations, financial condition, earnings, capital requirements and other factors that our Board deems relevant.
We intend to make regular quarterly distributions to holders of our common stock. U.S. federal income tax law generally requires that a REIT distribute annually at least 90% of its REIT taxable income, without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding net capital gains, and that it pay tax at regular corporate rates to the extent that it annually distributes less than 100% of its REIT taxable income. We intend to make distributions in an amount at least equal to the amount necessary to maintain our qualification as a REIT. See “Distribution Policy” for a summary of our distribution policy and “U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations—Taxation—Requirements For Qualification—Annual Distribution Requirements” for a summary of our distribution requirements as a REIT.
Implications of Being an Emerging Growth Company
We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in Section 2(a)(19) of the Securities Act as modified by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”). As an emerging growth company, we are eligible and may choose to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including:
an exemption from the auditor attestation requirements with respect to internal control over financial reporting under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”);
exemption from say-on-pay, say-on-frequency and say-on-golden parachute voting requirements;
reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements; and
an extended transition period to defer compliance with new or revised accounting standards until such date that a private company is otherwise required to comply with such new or revised accounting standards.
Following this offering, we will continue to be an emerging growth company until the earliest to occur of (i) the last day of the fiscal year during which we had total annual gross revenues of at least $1.07 billion (as indexed for inflation), (ii) the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of the date of the first sale of common stock under this registration statement, (iii) the date on which we have, during the previous three-year period, issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt or (iv) the date on which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer,” as defined under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”).
We have elected to take advantage of the extended transition period to comply with new or revised accounting standards and to adopt certain of the reduced disclosure requirements available to emerging growth companies. As a result of the accounting standards election, we will not be subject to the same implementation timing for new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies which may make comparison of our financials to those of other public companies more difficult. Additionally, because we have taken advantage of certain reduced reporting requirements, the information contained herein may be different from the information you receive from other public companies in which you hold stock. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock and This OfferingWe are an “emerging growth company,” and we cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make shares of our common stock less attractive to investors” for certain risks related to our status as an emerging growth company.
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The Offering
Common stock offered by us
    shares.
Common stock to be outstanding after this offering
   shares (or     shares, if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full).
Over-allotment option offered by us
   shares.
Use of Proceeds
We estimate that the net proceeds to us from this offering, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, will be approximately $    million (or $    million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full), based on the assumed initial public offering price of $    per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus.
We intend to use the net proceeds received from this offering (i) to repay any borrowings that are outstanding under our Revolving Credit Facility (as defined below) at consummation of this offering, if any, (ii) to fund loans related to unfunded commitments to existing borrowers, Public Company C, Private Company A, Private Company B and Private Company C, in an aggregate principal amount of approximately $19.8 million, (iii) to originate and participate in commercial loans to companies operating in the cannabis industry that are consistent with our investment strategy and (iv) for working capital and other general corporate purposes. We expect that more than 75% of our net proceeds received from this offering will be used as specified in clauses (ii) and (iii) of the foregoing sentence.
Certain of our affiliates are lenders under the Revolving Credit Agreement governing our Revolving Credit Facility and, in such capacity, such affiliates will receive the net proceeds from this offering to the extent any borrowings are outstanding under the Revolving Credit Agreement at consummation of this offering and such net proceeds are used to repay such borrowings. As of December 26, 2020, we did not have any borrowings outstanding under our Revolving Credit Facility.
Pending application of the net proceeds, we may invest the net proceeds from this offering in interest-bearing, short-term investments, including money market accounts or funds, commercial mortgage-backed securities and corporate bonds, which are consistent with our intention to qualify as a REIT and to maintain our exclusion from registration under the Investment Company Act. See “Use of Proceeds.”
Purchases by Officers and Directors
Certain of our officers and directors may purchase shares of our common stock in this offering at the public offering price. No underwriting discount will be
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paid on the shares of common stock purchased by our executive officers and directors in this offering. Any shares purchased by our executive officers or directors in this offering will be subject to the lock-up agreements described in “Underwriting—No Sales of Similar Securities.” We are not making loans to any of our directors, employees or other persons to purchase such shares. See “Underwriting—Purchases by Officers and Directors.”
Proposed Nasdaq symbol
“AFCG.”
Risk Factors
See “Risk Factors” and other information included in this prospectus for a discussion of factors you should carefully consider before deciding to invest in shares of our common stock.
The number of shares of common stock to be outstanding after this offering includes the number of shares of common stock outstanding as of December 26, 2020. This number excludes:
(i)
67,586 shares of common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 473,102 shares, on a post-split basis) expected to be reserved for future grant or issuance under our 2020 Stock Incentive Plan (after giving effect to the issuance of options referenced in clause (iii) below), which shares will automatically increase each year starting on    ,    , as more fully described in “Management—2020 Stock Incentive Plan”;
(ii)
132,414 shares of common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 926,898 shares, on a post-split basis) issuable upon exercise of options outstanding as of December 26, 2020, having a weighted-average exercise price of approximately $103.59 per share; and
(iii)
up to 100,000 shares of common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 700,000 shares on a post-split basis) issuable upon exercise of options authorized as of December 26, 2020, to be issued immediately prior to the consummation of this offering at an exercise price equal to the per share price to the public in this offering on a post-split basis.
Unless the context indicates otherwise, all information in this prospectus assumes:
(i)
882,770 shares of common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 6,179,392 shares, on a post-split basis) outstanding as of December 26, 2020;
(ii)
the underwriters will not exercise their over-allotment option in this offering;
(iii)
no issuance or exercise of stock options on or after December 26, 2020;
(iv)
no purchases of Reserved Shares by existing stockholders or their affiliates pursuant to the indications of interest, described above or pursuant to the directed share program;
(v)
the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering; and
(vi)
the effectiveness of our Articles of Amendment and Restatement, which will occur immediately prior to the completion of this offering.
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Summary Financial and Other Data
The following table sets forth our summary financial and other data. The following data should be read in conjunction with our financial statements and the related notes thereto and the section entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” Any interim financial data is not necessarily indicative of results that may be experienced for the full year or any future reporting period, and the historical financial data presented may not be indicative of our future performance.
The following data gives effect to the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering.
 
As of and for the period from July 31,
2020 (date of commencement of
operations) to September 30, 2020
Statement of Operations Data:
 
Revenue
 
Interest Income
$1,594,769
Total revenue
1,594,769
 
 
Expenses
 
Management fees, net (less rebate of $84,167)
142,067
General and administrative expense
204,262
Organizational expense
616,190
Professional fees
89,800
Total expenses
1,052,319
 
 
Net realized and change in unrealized gains / (losses) on loans at fair value
 
Change in unrealized gains / (losses) on loans at fair value, net
1,563,800
Total net realized and change in unrealized gains / (losses) on loans at fair value
1,563,800
 
 
Net Income / (loss) before income taxes
2,106,250
Income tax expense
Net Income / (loss)
2,106,250
 
 
Earnings per common share:
 
Basic earnings per common share (in dollars per share, on a post-split basis)
$0.39
 
 
Weighted average number of common shares outstanding:
 
Basic weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares, on a post-split basis)(1)
5,376,411
 
 
Balance Sheet Data:
 
Total assets(1)
$82,717,823
Total liabilities
$1,862,641
Total stockholders’ equity(1)
$80,855,182
 
 
Other Financial Data:
 
Core Earnings(1)(2)
$542,450
Adjusted Core Earnings(1)(2)
$1,158,640
Adjusted Core Earnings per weighted average share of common stock (on a post-split basis)(1)(2)
$0.22
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(1)
Does not give effect to the Additional Closing or the Series A Offering, the changes to our loan portfolio, the sale of Assigned Rights or the dividends to our stockholders subsequent to September 30, 2020. See “—Recent Developments” for additional information.
(2)
We use Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings to evaluate our performance excluding the effects of certain transactions and non-GAAP adjustments we believe are not necessarily indicative of our current loan activity and operations. Each of Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings is a measure that is not prepared in accordance with GAAP. We define Core Earnings as, for a given period, the net income (loss) computed in accordance with GAAP, excluding (i) non-cash equity compensation expense, (ii) Incentive Compensation, (iii) depreciation and amortization, (iv) any unrealized gains, losses or other non-cash items recorded in net income (loss) for the period, regardless of whether such items are included in other comprehensive income or loss, or in net income (loss); provided that Core Earnings does not exclude, in the case of investments with a deferred interest feature (such as OID, debt instruments with PIK interest and zero coupon securities), accrued income that we have not yet received in cash, and (v) one-time events pursuant to changes in GAAP and certain non-cash charges, in each case after discussions between our Manager and our independent directors and after approval by a majority of such independent directors. We define Adjusted Core Earnings, for a specified period, as Core Earnings excluding certain non-recurring organizational expenses (such as one-time expenses related to our formation and start-up). We believe providing Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings on a supplemental basis to our net income as determined in accordance with GAAP is helpful to stockholders in assessing the overall performance of our business. Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings should not be considered as substitutes for GAAP net income. We caution readers that our methodology for calculating Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings may differ from the methodologies employed by other REITs to calculate the same or similar supplemental performance measures, and as a result, our reported Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other REITs. We also use Core Earnings to determine the fees we pay our Manager. For information on the fees we pay our Manager, see “Management Compensation.” The following table provides a reconciliation of GAAP net income to Core Earnings and Adjusted Core Earnings (in thousands, except per share data):
 
For the period from July 31, 2020
(date of commencement of
operations) to September 30, 2020
Net Income
$2,106,250
Adjustments to net income
 
Non-cash equity compensation expense
Incentive Compensation to Manager(1)
Depreciation and amortization
Unrealized (gains), losses or other non-cash items
(1,563,800)
One-time events pursuant to changes in GAAP and certain non-cash charges
Core Earnings
$542,450
Adjustments to Core Earnings
 
Certain organizational expenses
616,190
Adjusted Core Earnings
$ 1,158,640
Basic weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares, on a
post-split basis)
5,376,411
Adjusted Core Earnings per Weighted Average Share (on a post-split basis)
$0.22
(1)
Our Manager has agreed to waive the Incentive Compensation for the period from July 31, 2020 (date of commencement of operations) through December 31, 2020.
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RISK FACTORS
An investment in our common stock involves a high degree of risk and should be considered highly speculative. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the following risk factors, which address the material risks concerning our business and an investment in our common stock. If any of the risks discussed below occur, our business, prospects, liquidity, funds from operations, internal rate of return, financial condition and results of operations, and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders could be materially and adversely affected, in which case the value of our common stock could decline significantly and you could lose all or part of your investment. Some statements in the following risk factors constitute forward-looking statements.
Risks Related to Our Business and Growth Strategy
We were recently formed and have limited operating history, and may not be able to operate our business successfully or to generate sufficient revenue to make or sustain distributions to our stockholders.
We were formed on July 6, 2020 and have limited operating history. As of December 26, 2020, our portfolio consisted of loans to eight different borrowers (such loans, collectively, our “Existing Portfolio”), and we intend to continue making loans upon completion of this offering. We are subject to all of the business risks and uncertainties associated with any new business, including the risk that we will not achieve our investment objectives and that the value of your investment could decline substantially. We cannot assure you that we will be able to operate our business successfully or profitably, or implement our operating policies. Our ability to provide attractive returns to our stockholders is dependent on our ability both to generate sufficient cash flow to pay our investors attractive distributions and to achieve capital appreciation, and we cannot assure you that we will be able to do either. There can be no assurance that we will be able to generate sufficient revenue from operations to pay our operating expenses and make or sustain distributions to stockholders. Our limited resources may also materially and adversely impact our ability to successfully implement our business plan. The results of our operations and the implementation of our business plan depend on several factors, including the availability of opportunities to make loans, the availability of adequate equity and debt financing, the federal and state regulatory environment relating to the cannabis industry (which are described below under “–Risks Related to the Cannabis Industry and Related Regulations”), conditions in the financial markets and economic conditions.
Competition for the capital that we provide may reduce the return of our loans, which could adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.
We compete as an alternative financing provider of debt financing to cannabis companies. Several competitors have recently entered the marketplace, and these competitors may prevent us from making attractive loans on favorable terms. Our competitors may have greater resources than we do and may be able to compete more effectively as a capital provider. In particular, larger companies may enjoy significant competitive advantages that result from, among other things, a lower cost of capital and enhanced operating efficiencies.
Additionally, some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of loans, deploy more aggressive pricing and establish more relationships than us. Our competitors may also adopt loan structures similar to ours, which would decrease our competitive advantage in offering flexible loan terms. In addition, due to a number of factors (including but not limited to potentially greater clarity and/or unification of the laws and regulations governing cannabis by states and the federal government including through federal legislation or descheduling of cannabis, which may, in turn, encourage additional federally-chartered banks to provide their services to cannabis-related businesses), the number of entities and the amount of funds competing to provide suitable capital may increase, resulting in loans with terms less favorable to investors. Moreover, we strategically benefit from the cannabis industry’s currently constrained access to U.S. capital markets and if such access is broadened, including if the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and/or the Nasdaq Stock Market were to permit the listing of plant-touching cannabis companies in the U.S., the demand among U.S. cannabis companies for private equity investments and debt financings, including our target loans, may materially decrease and could result in our competing with financial institutions that we otherwise would not. Any of the foregoing may lead to a decrease in our profitability, and you may experience a lower return on your investment. Increased competition in providing capital may also preclude us from making those loans that would generate attractive returns to us.
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If we are unable to successfully integrate new assets and manage our growth, our results of operations and financial condition may suffer.
We may in the future significantly increase the size and/or change the mix of our portfolio of assets. We may be unable to successfully and efficiently integrate new assets into our existing portfolio or otherwise effectively manage our assets or our growth effectively. In addition, increases in our portfolio of assets and/or changes in the mix of our assets may place significant demands on our Manager’s administrative, operational, asset management, financial and other resources. Any failure to manage increases in size effectively could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We will allocate the net proceeds of this offering without input from our stockholders.
While we expect that more than 75% of our net proceeds received from this offering will be used as specified in “Use of Proceeds,” no assurance can be given that the potential identified loans will close on the anticipated terms or at all. Further, if these potential loans do not close, while we intend to use the proceeds from this offering to originate and participate in other commercial loans to companies operating in the cannabis industry that are consistent with our investment strategy, which we would expect to have similar characteristics as the terms reflected in “Use of Proceeds,” you will not be able to evaluate the exact manner in which the net proceeds of this offering will be invested or the economic merit of our future loans before purchasing our securities. As a result, we may use the net proceeds of this offering to invest in loans with which you may not agree. Additionally, our loans will be selected by our Manager with input from the Investment Committee; our stockholders will not have input into such investment decisions. Both of these factors will increase the uncertainty, and thus the risk, of investing in our securities. The failure of our Manager to apply the net proceeds of this offering effectively or to find loans that meet our loan criteria in sufficient time or on acceptable terms could result in unfavorable returns, could cause a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our stockholders, and could cause the value of our securities to decline.
Pending application of the net proceeds, we may invest the net proceeds from this offering in interest-bearing, short-term investments, including money market accounts or funds, commercial mortgage-backed securities and corporate bonds, which are consistent with our intention to qualify as a REIT and to maintain our exclusion from registration under the Investment Company Act. These investments are expected to provide a lower net return than we seek to achieve from investment in our target loans. We expect to reallocate this portion of the net proceeds into our portfolio or loans within six months, subject to the availability of appropriate loan opportunities. Our Manager intends to conduct due diligence with respect to each loan and suitable loan opportunities may not be immediately available. Even if opportunities are available, there can be no assurance that our Manager’s due diligence processes will uncover all relevant facts or that any loan will be successful.
We cannot assure you that (i) we will be able to enter into definitive agreements to invest in any new loans that meet our investment objectives, (ii) we will be successful in consummating any loan opportunities we identify or (iii) any of the loans we may make using the net proceeds of this offering will yield attractive risk-adjusted returns. Our inability to do any of the foregoing likely would materially and adversely affect our business and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Our loans’ lack of liquidity may adversely affect our business.
Our Existing Portfolio includes, and our future loans will likely include, loans to private companies, which are less liquid than publicly traded securities. Certain of our target investments such as secured loans are also particularly illiquid due to a variety of factors, which may include a short life, potential unsuitability for securitization and greater difficulty of recovery in the event of a default or insolvency by the company to which we have provided a loan. The illiquidity of our loans may make it difficult for us to sell such loans if the need or desire arises. Further, applicable laws and regulations restricting the ownership and transferability of loans to regulated cannabis companies in conjunction with many parties not wishing to invest in cannabis businesses as a result of cannabis being federally illegal may make it difficult for us to sell or transfer such loans to third parties. In addition, many of the loans we make, to the extent they constitute securities, will not be registered under the relevant securities laws, resulting in a prohibition against their transfer, sale, pledge or disposition except in a transaction that is exempt from the registration requirements of, or otherwise in accordance with, those laws. As a result, we may be unable to dispose of such loans in a timely manner or at all. If we are required and able to liquidate all or a portion of our portfolio quickly, we could realize significantly less value than that which we
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had previously recorded for our loans and we cannot assure you that we will be able to sell our assets at a profit in the future. Further, we may face other restrictions on our ability to liquidate a loan in a company to the extent that we or our Manager have or could be attributed as having material, non-public information regarding such company. Our ability to vary our portfolio in response to changes in economic, regulatory and other conditions or changes in our strategic plan may therefore be relatively limited, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Our Existing Portfolio is, and our future portfolio may be, concentrated in a limited number of loans, which subjects us to an increased risk of significant loss if any asset declines in value or if a particular borrower fails to perform as expected.
Our Existing Portfolio is, and our future loans may be, concentrated in a limited number of loans. If a significant loan to one or more companies fails to perform as expected, such a failure could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results, and the magnitude of such effect could be more significant than if we had further diversified our portfolio. A consequence of this limited number of loans is that the aggregate returns we realize may be significantly adversely affected if a small number of loans perform poorly, if we need to write down the value of any one loan, if a loan is repaid prior to maturity and we are not able to promptly redeploy the proceeds and/or if an issuer is unable to obtain and maintain commercial success. While we intend to diversify our portfolio of loans as we deem prudent, we do not have fixed guidelines for diversification. As a result, our portfolio could be concentrated in relatively few loans and in a limited number of borrowers.
Our portfolio of loans is concentrated in certain property types or in particular industries, such as cannabis, that are subject to higher risk of foreclosure, or secured by properties concentrated in a limited number of geographic locations, economic and business downturns relating generally to such region or type of asset which may result in defaults on a number of our loans within a short time period, which may reduce our net income and the value of our common stock and accordingly reduce our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
We may lend to multiple borrowers that share a common sponsor. We do not have a limit on the amount of total gross offering proceeds that can be held by multiple borrowers that share the same sponsor. We may face greater credit risk to the extent a large portion of our portfolio is concentrated in loans to multiple borrowers that share the same sponsor.
Our Existing Portfolio contains loans to companies with operations that are geographically concentrated in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and we will be subject to social, political and economic risks of doing business in those states and any other state in which we in the future have lending exposure.
Our Existing Portfolio contains loans to companies with operations that are geographically concentrated in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Circumstances and developments related to operations in these markets that could negatively affect our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations include, but are not limited to, the following factors:
the development and growth of applicable state cannabis markets;
the responsibility of complying with multiple and likely conflicting state and federal laws, including with respect to retail sale, distribution, cultivation and manufacturing of cannabis, licensing, banking, and insurance;
unexpected changes in regulatory requirements and other laws;
difficulties and costs of managing operations in certain locations;
potentially adverse tax consequences;
the impact of national, regional or state specific business cycles and economic instability; and
access to capital may be more restricted, or unavailable on favorable terms or at all in certain locations.
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Loans to relatively new and small companies involve significant risks.
We primarily provide loans to established companies operating in the cannabis industry, but because the cannabis industry is relatively new and rapidly evolving, we may also from time to time provide loans to relatively new and/or small companies. Loans to relatively new and/or small companies involve a number of significant risks, including, but not limited to, the following:
these companies may have limited financial resources and may be unable to meet their obligations, which may be accompanied by a deterioration in the value of any collateral securing our loan and a reduction in the likelihood of us realizing a return on our loan;
they typically have shorter operating histories, narrower product lines and smaller market shares than larger and more established businesses, which tend to render them more vulnerable to competitors’ actions and market conditions (including conditions in the cannabis industry), as well as general economic downturns;
they typically depend on the management talents and efforts of a small group of persons; therefore, the death, disability, resignation or termination of one or more of these persons could have a material adverse effect on such borrower and, in turn, on us;
there is generally less public information about these companies. Unless publicly traded, these companies and their financial information are generally not subject to the regulations that govern public companies, and we may be unable to uncover all material information about these companies, which may prevent us from making a fully informed lending decision and cause us to lose money on our loans;
they generally have less predictable operating results and may require substantial additional capital to support their operations, finance expansion or maintain their competitive position;
we, our executive officers and directors and our Manager may, in the ordinary course of business, be named as defendants in litigation arising from our loans to such borrowers and may, as a result, incur significant costs and expenses in connection with such litigation;
changes in laws and regulations, as well as their interpretations, may have a disproportionate adverse effect on their business, financial structure or prospects compared to those of larger and more established companies; and
they may have difficulty accessing capital from other providers on favorable terms or at all.
We may need to foreclose on loans that are in default, which could result in losses.
We may find it necessary to foreclose on loans that are in default. Foreclosure processes are often lengthy and expensive. Results of foreclosure processes may be uncertain, as claims may be asserted by the relevant borrower or by other creditors or investors in such borrower that interfere with enforcement of our rights, such as claims that challenge the validity or enforceability of our loan or the priority or perfection of our security interests. Our borrowers may resist foreclosure actions by asserting numerous claims, counterclaims and defenses against us, including, without limitation, lender liability claims and defenses, even when the assertions may have no merit, in an effort to prolong the foreclosure action and seek to force us into a modification or buy-out of our loan for less than we are owed. Additionally, the transfer of certain collateral to us may be limited or prohibited by applicable laws and regulations. See “The loans that are in our Existing Portfolio or that we expect to make in the future may be secured by properties, that are, and will be, subject to extensive regulations, such that if such collateral was foreclosed upon those regulations may result in significant costs and materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.” For transferable collateral, foreclosure or other remedies available may be subject to certain laws and regulations, including the need for regulatory disclosure and/or approval of such transfer. If federal law were to change to permit cannabis companies to seek federal bankruptcy protection, the applicable borrower could file for bankruptcy, which would have the effect of staying the foreclosure actions and delaying the foreclosure processes and potentially result in reductions or discharges of debt owed to us. Foreclosure may create a negative public perception of the collateral property, resulting in a diminution of its value. Even if we are successful in foreclosing on collateral property securing our loan, the liquidation proceeds upon sale of the underlying real estate may not be sufficient to recover our loan. Any costs or delays involved in the foreclosure or a liquidation of the underlying property will reduce the net proceeds realized and, thus, increase the potential for loss.
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In the event a borrower defaults on any of its obligations to us and such debt obligations are equitized, we do not intend to directly hold such equity interests, which may result in additional losses on our loans in such entity.
The properties securing our loans may be subject to contingent or unknown liabilities that could adversely affect the value of these properties, and as a result, our loans.
Properties securing our loans may be subject to contingent, unknown or unquantifiable liabilities that may adversely affect the value of our loans. Such defects or deficiencies may include title defects, title disputes, liens or other encumbrances on properties securing our loans to borrowers. The discovery of such unknown defects, deficiencies and liabilities could affect the ability of our borrowers to make payments to us or could affect our ability to foreclose and sell the properties securing such loans, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. Further, we, our executive officers, directors and our Manager may, in the ordinary course of business, be named as defendants in litigation arising from our loans.
We may in the future foreclose and acquire properties without any recourse, or with only limited recourse, against the prior property owner with respect to contingent or unknown liabilities. As a result, if a claim were asserted against us based on ownership of any of these properties, we may have to pay substantial amounts to defend or settle the claim. If the magnitude of such unknown liabilities is high, individually or in the aggregate, our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations would be materially and adversely affected.
Construction loans involve an increased risk of loss.
Our loan portfolio and current pipeline includes construction loans and we may continue to invest in such loans in the future. If we fail to fund our entire commitment on a construction loan or if a borrower otherwise fails to complete the construction of a project, there could be adverse consequences associated with the loan, including, but not limited to: a loss of the value of the property securing the loan, especially if the borrower is unable to raise funds to complete it from other sources; a borrower’s claim against us for failure to perform under the loan documents; increased costs to the borrower that the borrower is unable to pay; a bankruptcy filing by the borrower; and abandonment by the borrower of the collateral for the loan.
Our investments in construction loans require us to make estimates about the fair value of land improvements that may be challenged by the Internal Revenue Service.
We invest in construction loans, the interest from which would be qualifying income for purposes of the gross income tests applicable to REITs, provided that the loan value of the real property securing the construction loan was equal to or greater than the highest outstanding principal amount of the construction loan during any taxable year. For purposes of construction loans, the loan value of the real property is generally the fair value of the land plus the reasonably estimated cost of the improvements or developments (other than personal property) that secure the loan and that are to be constructed from the proceeds of the loan. There can be no assurance that the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) would not challenge our estimates of the loan values of the real property.
If our Manager overestimates the yields or incorrectly prices the risks of our loans, we may experience losses.
Our Manager values our potential loans based on yields and risks, taking into account estimated future losses and the collateral securing a potential loan, if any, and the estimated impact of these losses on expected future cash flows, returns and appreciation. Our Manager’s loss estimates and expectations of future cash flows, returns and appreciation may not prove accurate, as actual results may vary from estimates and expectations. If our Manager underestimates the asset-level losses or overestimates loan yields relative to the price we pay for a particular loan, we may experience losses with respect to such loan.
Some of our portfolio loans may be recorded at fair value and, as a result, there will be uncertainty as to the value of these loans.
Some of our portfolio loans may be in the form of positions or securities that are not publicly traded. The fair value of securities and loans that are not publicly traded may not be readily determinable. Subject to the discretion of the Audit and Valuation Committee of our Board, we may value these loans quarterly, or more frequently as circumstances dictate, at fair value, which may include unobservable inputs. Because such valuations are subjective, the fair value of certain of our assets may fluctuate over short periods of time and our determinations of fair value may differ materially from the values that would have been used if a ready market for these loans existed. Our results of operations for a given period and the value of our securities generally
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could be adversely affected if our determinations regarding the fair value of these loans were materially higher than the values that we ultimately realize upon their disposal. The valuation process can be particularly challenging, especially if market events make valuations of certain assets more difficult, unpredictable and volatile.
Declines in market prices and liquidity in the capital markets can result in significant net unrealized depreciation of our portfolio, which in turn would reduce our net asset value.
Volatility in the capital markets can adversely affect our loan valuations. Decreases in the market values or fair values of our loans are recorded as unrealized depreciation. The effect of all of these factors on our portfolio can reduce our net asset value (and, as a result our asset coverage calculation) by increasing net unrealized depreciation in our portfolio. Depending on market conditions, we could incur substantial realized and/or unrealized losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The loans and other assets we will obtain may be subject to impairment charges, and we may experience a decline in the fair value of our assets.
We will periodically evaluate the loans we obtain and other assets for impairment indicators. The judgment regarding the existence of impairment indicators is based upon factors such as market conditions, borrower performance and legal structure. If we determine that an impairment has occurred, we would be required to make an adjustment to the net carrying value of the asset which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations in the period in which the impairment charge is recorded.
Such impairment charges reflect non-cash losses at the time of recognition and a subsequent disposition or sale of impaired assets could further affect our future losses or gains as they are based on the difference between the sale price received and the cost of such assets at the time of sale, as may be adjusted for amortization. If we experience a decline in the fair value of our assets, our results of operations, financial condition and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders could be materially and adversely affected.
Any credit ratings assigned to our loans will be subject to ongoing evaluations and revisions, and we cannot assure you that those ratings will not be downgraded.
Some of our loans may be rated by rating agencies such as Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor’s, DBRS, Inc. or Realpoint LLC. Any credit ratings on our loans are subject to ongoing evaluation by credit rating agencies, and we cannot assure you that any such ratings will not be changed or withdrawn by a rating agency in the future if, in its judgment, circumstances warrant. If rating agencies assign a lower-than-expected rating or reduce or withdraw, or indicate that they may reduce or withdraw, their ratings of our loans in the future, the value of our loans could significantly decline, which would adversely affect the value of our loan portfolio and could result in losses upon disposition or, in the case of our loans, the failure of borrowers to satisfy their debt service obligations to us.
Economic recessions or downturns could impair our borrowers and harm our operating results.
Because the operations of our borrowers are heavily dependent on retail sales, many of our borrowers may be susceptible to economic downturns or recessions and, during such periods, may be unable to satisfy their debt service obligations to us. Therefore, during these periods, our non-performing assets may increase and the value of our portfolio may decrease if we are required to write-down the values of our loans. Adverse economic conditions may also decrease the value of collateral securing some of our loans. Economic slowdowns or recessions could lead to financial losses in our portfolio and a decrease in our revenues, net income and asset values.
A borrower’s failure to satisfy financial or operating covenants imposed by us or other creditors could lead to defaults and, potentially, acceleration of the time when its debt obligations are due and foreclosure on its assets representing collateral for its obligations, which could trigger cross-defaults under other agreements and jeopardize our borrower’s ability to meet its obligations under the loans that we hold. We may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms with a defaulting borrower.
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Our loans may be risky, and we could lose all or part of our loan.
The debt that we invest in is typically not initially rated by any rating agency, but we believe that if such loans were rated, they would be below investment grade (rated lower than “Baa3” by Moody’s Investors Service, lower than “BBB-” by Fitch Ratings or lower than “BBB-” by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services), which under the guidelines established by these entities is an indication of having predominantly speculative characteristics with respect to the underlying company’s capacity to pay interest and repay principal. Therefore, certain of our loans may result in an above average amount of risk and volatility or loss of principal. While the loans we invest in are often secured, such security does not guarantee that we will receive principal and interest payments according to the terms of the loan, or that the value of any collateral will be sufficient to allow us to recover all or a portion of the outstanding amount of such loan should we be forced to enforce our remedies.
We may in the future enter into credit agreements with borrowers that may permit them to incur debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, the loans we extend to such companies under such credit agreements.
As of December 26, 2020, all of our borrowers are restricted from incurring any debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, our loans. Although our intended investment strategy is to construct a portfolio of loans secured with first priority liens on certain assets of our borrowers, we may in the future enter into credit agreements that rank equally with, or are subordinated to, other debt of our borrowers or that otherwise permit our borrowers to incur other debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, our loans under such credit agreements. In such case, such instruments may, by their terms, provide that the holders of such other debt are entitled to receive payment of interest or principal on or before the dates on which we are entitled to receive payments in respect of our loans. These instruments may prohibit borrowers from paying interest on or repaying our loans in the event and during the continuance of a default under such instrument or upon the occurrence of other specified events. In certain cases, we may, and may continue to, obtain unsecured guarantees from the parent entities of our borrowers in addition to the collateral provided by such borrowers and such guarantees may be effectively subordinated to any secured debt of such parent entities. Also, in the event of insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of a borrower, holders of securities ranking senior to our loan to that borrower, if any, typically are entitled to receive payment in full before we can receive any distribution in respect of our loan. After repaying such holders, the borrower may not have any remaining assets to use for repaying its obligation to us. In the case of securities or other debt ranking equally with our loans, we would have to share on an equal basis any distributions with other security holders in the event of an insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of the relevant borrower.
Our borrowers may be highly leveraged.
Some of our borrowers may be highly leveraged, which may have adverse consequences to these companies and to us as an investor. These companies may be subject to restrictive financial and operating covenants and the leverage may impair these companies’ ability to finance their future operations and capital needs. As a result, these companies’ flexibility to respond to changing business and economic conditions and to take advantage of business opportunities may be limited. Further, a leveraged company’s income and net assets will tend to increase or decrease at a greater rate than if borrowed money were not used.
There may be circumstances in which our loans could be subordinated to claims of other creditors, or we could be subject to lender liability claims.
If one of our borrowers were to go bankrupt, depending on the facts and circumstances, a bankruptcy court might re-characterize our loan and subordinate all or a portion of our claim to that of other creditors. In addition, we could be subject to lender liability claims if we are deemed to be too involved in a borrower’s business or exercise control over such borrower. For example, we could become subject to a lender’s liability claim, if, among other things, we actually render significant managerial assistance to a borrower to which we have provided a loan.
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As a debt investor, we are often not in a position to exert influence on borrowers, and the stockholders and management of such companies may make decisions that could decrease the value of loans to such borrower.
As a debt investor, we are subject to the risk that a borrower may make business decisions with which we disagree and the stockholders and management of such company may take risks or otherwise act in ways that do not serve our interests. As a result, a borrower may make decisions that could decrease the value of our loan to such borrower.
Due to our borrowers’ involvement in the regulated cannabis industry, we and our borrowers have, and may continue to have, a difficult time obtaining or maintaining the various insurance policies that are desired to operate our business, which may expose us to additional risk and financial liabilities.
Insurance that is otherwise readily available, such as workers’ compensation, general liability, title insurance and directors’ and officers’ insurance, is more difficult for us and our borrowers to find and more expensive, because of our borrowers’ involvement in the regulated cannabis industry. There are no guarantees that we or our borrowers will be able to find such insurance now or in the future, or that such insurance will be available on economically viable terms. If we or our borrowers are forced to go without such insurance, it may prevent us from entering into certain business sectors, may inhibit our growth, may expose us to additional risk and financial liabilities and, in the case of an uninsured loss, may result in the loss of anticipated cash flow or the value of our loan.
Our insurance policies may not cover all losses.
There are certain types of losses, generally of a catastrophic nature, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, terrorism or acts of war, which may be uninsurable or not economically insurable. Inflation, changes in building codes and ordinances, environmental considerations and other factors, including terrorism or acts of war, also might result in insurance proceeds insufficient to repair or replace an asset if it is damaged or destroyed. Under these circumstances, the insurance proceeds received with respect to an asset relating to one of our loans might not be adequate to restore our economic position with respect to our loan. Any uninsured loss could result in the loss of anticipated cash flow from, and the asset value of, the affected asset and the value of our loan related to such asset. We do not currently carry directors’ and officers’ insurance.
Subject to the approval of our Manager, our Board (which must include a majority of our independent directors) may change our investment strategies or guidelines, financing strategies or leverage policies without the consent of our stockholders.
Subject to the approval of our Manager, our Board (which must include a majority of our independent directors) may change our investment strategies or guidelines, financing strategies or leverage policies with respect to loans, originations, acquisitions, growth, operations, indebtedness, capitalization and distributions at any time without the consent of our stockholders, which could result in a loan portfolio with a different risk profile than that of our Existing Portfolio or of a portfolio comprised of our target loans. A change in our investment strategy may increase our exposure to interest rate risk, default risk and real estate market and cannabis industry fluctuations. Furthermore, a change in our asset allocation could result in our making loans in asset categories different from those described in this Prospectus. These changes could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations, the market price of our equity and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Changes in laws or regulations governing our operations, including laws and regulations governing cannabis and REITs, changes in the interpretation thereof or newly enacted laws or regulations and any failure by us to comply with these laws or regulations, could require changes to certain of our business practices, negatively impact our operations, cash flow or financial condition, impose additional costs on us or otherwise adversely affect our business.
We are subject to regulation by laws and regulations at the local, state and federal levels, including laws and regulations governing cannabis and REITs by state and federal governments. These laws and regulations, as well as their interpretation, may change from time to time, and new laws and regulations may be enacted. We cannot predict the nature and timing of future laws, regulations, interpretations or applications, or their potential effect. However, any change in these laws or regulations, changes in their interpretation, or newly enacted laws or regulations and any failure by us to comply with current or new laws or regulations or such changes thereto, could require changes to certain of our business practices, negatively impact our operations, cash flow or financial condition, impose additional costs on us or otherwise adversely affect our business.
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We may not be able to obtain or maintain required licenses and authorizations to conduct our business and may fail to comply with various state and federal laws and regulations applicable to our business.
In general, lending is a highly regulated industry in the United States and we are required to comply with, among other statutes and regulations, certain provisions of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 (the “Equal Credit Opportunity Act”) that are applicable to commercial loans, the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (the “USA Patriot Act”), regulations promulgated by the Office of Foreign Asset Control, and U.S. federal and state securities laws and regulations. In addition, certain states have adopted laws or regulations that may, among other requirements, require licensing of lenders and financiers, prescribe disclosures of certain contractual terms, impose limitations on interest rates and other charges, and limit or prohibit certain collection practices and creditor remedies.
There is no guarantee that we will be able to obtain, maintain or renew any required licenses or authorizations to conduct our business or that we would not experience significant delays in obtaining these licenses and authorizations. As a result, we could be delayed in conducting certain business if we were first required to obtain certain licenses or authorizations or if renewals thereof were delayed. Furthermore, once licenses are issued and authorizations are obtained, we are required to comply with various information reporting and other regulatory requirements to maintain those licenses and authorizations, and there is no assurance that we will be able to satisfy those requirements or other regulatory requirements applicable to our business on an ongoing basis, which may restrict our business and could expose us to penalties or other claims.
Any failure to obtain, maintain or renew required licenses and authorizations or failure to comply with regulatory requirements that are applicable to our business could result in material fines and disruption to our business and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, operating results and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
There are material limitations with making estimates of our results for current period or other periods prior to the completion of our and our auditors’ normal review procedures for such periods.
The estimated results contained in “Prospectus Summary—Recent Developments” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Recent Developments” are not a comprehensive statement of our financial results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2020, and have not been reviewed or audited by our independent registered public accounting firm. Our financial statements for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2020, will not be available until after this offering is completed and, consequently, will not be available to you prior to investing in this offering. The final financial results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2020, may vary from our expectations and may be materially different from the preliminary financial estimates we have provided due to completion of quarterly and annual closing procedures, final adjustments and other developments that may arise between now, the end of such quarterly and annual period and the time the financial results for this period are finalized. Accordingly, investors should not place undue reliance on such financial information.
Ineffective internal controls could impact our business and operating results.
Our internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements because of its inherent limitations, including the possibility of human error, the circumvention or overriding of controls, or fraud. Even effective internal controls can provide only reasonable assurance with respect to the preparation and fair presentation of financial statements. If we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal controls, including any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or if we experience difficulties in their implementation, our business and operating results could be harmed and the reliability of our financial statements could be compromised.
The current outbreak of COVID-19, or the future outbreak of any other highly infectious or contagious diseases, could materially and adversely impact or cause disruption to our borrowers and their operations, and in turn our ability to continue to execute our business plan.
A novel strain of COVID-19 has spread globally in 2020, including to every state in the United States. The outbreak of COVID-19 has severely impacted global economic activity and caused significant volatility and negative pressure in financial markets. The global impact of the outbreak has been rapidly evolving, and many countries, including the United States, have reacted by instituting quarantines, mandating business and school closures and restricting travel. As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic is negatively impacting almost every
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industry directly or indirectly, including the regulated cannabis industry. Although some of these measures have been lifted or scaled back, a recent resurgence of COVID-19 in certain parts of the world, including the United States, has resulted in the re-imposition of certain restrictions and may lead to more restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 (or a future pandemic) could have material and adverse effects on our borrowers and their operations, as well as on our performance, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows due to, among other factors:
a complete or partial closure of, or other operational issues at, one or more of our borrowers’ locations resulting from government or such company’s actions;
the temporary inability of consumers and patients to purchase our borrowers’ cannabis products due to a number of factors, including, but not limited to, illness, dispensary closures or limitations on operations, quarantine, financial hardship, and “stay at home” orders;
difficulty accessing equity and debt capital on attractive terms, or at all, and a severe disruption and instability in the global financial markets or deteriorations in credit and financing conditions may affect our access to capital necessary to fund business operations and our borrowers’ ability to fund their business operations and meet their obligations to us;
workforce disruptions for our borrowers, as a result of infections, quarantines, “stay at home” orders or other factors, could result in a material reduction in our borrowers’ cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and/or sales capacity;
because of the federal regulatory uncertainty relating to the regulated cannabis industry, our borrowers have not been, and in the future likely will not be eligible, for financial relief available to other businesses;
restrictions on public events for the regulated cannabis industry limit the opportunity for our borrowers to market and sell their products and promote their brands;
delays in construction at the properties of our borrowers may adversely impact their ability to commence operations and generate revenues from projects;
a general decline in business activity in the regulated cannabis industry would adversely affect our ability to grow our portfolio of loans to cannabis companies; and
the potential negative impact on the health of our personnel, particularly if a significant number of them are impacted, would result in a deterioration in our ability to ensure business continuity during a disruption.
The extent to which COVID-19 impacts our operations and those of our borrowers will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, including the scope, severity and duration of the outbreak, the actions taken to contain the outbreak or mitigate its impact, and the direct and indirect economic effects of the outbreak and containment measures, among others. COVID-19 presents material uncertainty and risk with respect to our performance, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Changes to, or the elimination of, LIBOR may adversely affect interest expense related to our loans and investments.
Regulators and law-enforcement agencies from a number of governments, including entities in the United States, Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom, have been conducting civil and criminal investigations into whether the banks that contributed to the British Bankers’ Association (the “BBA”) in connection with the calculation of daily LIBOR may have underreported or otherwise manipulated or attempted to manipulate LIBOR. Several financial institutions have reached settlements with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the DOJ Fraud Section and the U.K. Financial Services Authority in connection with investigations by such authorities into submissions made by such financial institutions to the bodies that set LIBOR and other interbank offered rates. In such settlements, such financial institutions admitted to submitting rates to the BBA that were lower than the actual rates at which such financial institutions could borrow funds from other banks. Additional investigations remain ongoing with respect to other major banks, and no assurance can be made that there will not be further admissions or findings of rate setting manipulation or that improper manipulation of LIBOR or other similar inter-bank lending rates will not occur in the future.
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Based on a review conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority of the U.K. (the “FCA”) and a consultation conducted by the European Commission, proposals have been made for governance and institutional reform, regulation, technical changes and contingency planning. In particular: (a) new legislation has been enacted in the United Kingdom pursuant to which LIBOR submissions and administration are now “regulated activities” and manipulation of LIBOR has been brought within the scope of the market abuse regime; (b) legislation has been proposed which if implemented would, among other things, alter the manner in which LIBOR is determined, compel more banks to provide LIBOR submissions, and require these submissions to be based on actual transaction data; and (c) LIBOR rates for certain currencies and maturities are no longer published daily. In addition, pursuant to authorization from the FCA, ICE Benchmark Administration Limited (formerly NYSE Euronext Rate Administration Limited) the (the “IBA”) took over the administration of LIBOR from the BBA on February 1, 2014. Any new administrator of LIBOR may make methodological changes to the way in which LIBOR is calculated or may alter, discontinue or suspend calculation or dissemination of LIBOR.
In a speech on July 27, 2017, Andrew Bailey, the Chief Executive of the FCA, announced the FCA’s intention to cease sustaining LIBOR after 2021. The FCA has statutory powers to require panel banks to contribute to LIBOR where necessary. The FCA has decided not to ask, or to require, that panel banks continue to submit contributions to LIBOR beyond the end of 2021. The FCA has indicated that it expects that the current panel banks will voluntarily sustain LIBOR until the end of 2021. The FCA’s intention is that after 2021, it will no longer be necessary for the FCA to ask, or to require, banks to submit contributions to LIBOR. The FCA does not intend to sustain LIBOR through using its influence or legal powers beyond that date. Recently, the IBA announced that it will be consulting on plans to extend the cessation date for certain tenors of U.S.-dollar LIBOR until 2023. Although it is possible that the IBA and the panel banks could continue to produce LIBOR on the current basis after 2021 (if they are willing and able to do so), but we cannot make assurances that LIBOR will survive in its current form, or at all. The U.S. Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, a steering committee comprised of large U.S. financial institutions, is considering replacing U.S.-dollar LIBOR with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”), a new index calculated by short-term repurchase agreements, backed by Treasury securities. Although there have been a few issuances utilizing SOFR or the Sterling Over Night Index Average, an alternative reference rate that is based on transactions, it is unknown whether these alternative reference rates will attain market acceptance as replacements for LIBOR.
As of September 30, 2020, only one of our loans, representing approximately 6.0% of our loan portfolio based on aggregate outstanding principal balances, pays interest at a variable rate tied to LIBOR. As of December 26, 2020, three of our loans, representing approximately 25.6% of our loan portfolio based on aggregate outstanding principal balances, pays interest at a variable rate tied to LIBOR. If LIBOR is no longer available, our applicable loan documents generally allow us to choose a new index based upon comparable information. However, if LIBOR is no longer available, we may need to renegotiate some of our agreements to determine a replacement index or rate of interest. There is currently no definitive information regarding the future utilization of LIBOR or of any particular replacement rate. As such, the potential effect of any such event on our cost of capital and net investment income cannot yet be determined and any changes to benchmark interest rates could increase our financing costs, which could impact our results of operations, cash flows and the market value of our loans. In addition, the elimination of LIBOR and/or changes to another index could result in mismatches with the interest rate of loans that we are financing.
We rely on information technology in our operations, and security breaches and other disruptions in our systems could compromise our information and expose us to liability, which would cause our business and reputation to suffer.
In the ordinary course of our business, we collect and store sensitive data, including intellectual property, our proprietary business information and that of our borrowers and business partners, including personally identifiable information of our borrowers and employees, if any, on our networks. Despite our security measures, our information technology and infrastructure may be vulnerable to attacks by hackers or breached due to employee error, malfeasance or other disruptions. These incidents may be an intentional attack or an unintentional event and could involve gaining unauthorized access to our information systems or those of our borrowers for purposes of misappropriating assets, stealing confidential information, corrupting data or causing operational disruption. Any such breach could compromise our networks and the information stored there could be accessed, publicly disclosed, lost or stolen. The result of these incidents may include disrupted operations, misstated or unreliable financial data, liability for stolen assets or information, increased cybersecurity protection
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and insurance costs, litigation, damage to business relationships and regulatory fines and penalties. The costs related to cyber or other security threats or disruptions may not be fully insured or indemnified by other means. Although we intend to implement processes, procedures and internal controls to help mitigate cybersecurity risks and cyber intrusions, such measures will not guarantee that a cyber-incident will not occur and/or that our financial results, operations or confidential information will not be negatively impacted by such an incident. In addition, cybersecurity has become a top priority for regulators around the world, and some jurisdictions have enacted laws requiring companies to notify individuals of data security breaches involving certain types of personal data. If we fail to comply with the relevant laws and regulations, we could suffer financial losses, a disruption of our business, liability to investors, regulatory intervention or reputational damage.
Risks Related to the Cannabis Industry and Related Regulations
Cannabis remains illegal under federal law, and therefore, strict enforcement of federal laws regarding cannabis would likely result in our inability to execute our business plan.
Cannabis, other than hemp, is a Schedule I controlled substance under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970, as amended (the “CSA”). Even in states or territories that have legalized cannabis to some extent, the cultivation, possession and sale of cannabis all remain violations of federal law that are punishable by imprisonment, substantial fines and forfeiture. Moreover, individuals and entities may violate federal law if they aid and abet another in violating these federal controlled substance laws, or conspire with another to violate them, and violating the federal cannabis laws is a predicate for certain other crimes under the anti-money laundering laws or The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Monitoring our compliance with these laws is a critical component of our business. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has the authority to regulate and criminalize the sale, possession and use of cannabis, even for individual medical purposes, regardless of whether it is legal under state law.
For over five years, the U.S. government has not enforced those laws against cannabis companies complying with state law and their vendors. We would likely be unable to execute our business plan if the federal government were to reverse its long-standing hands-off approach to the state legal cannabis markets, described below, and start strictly enforcing federal law regarding cannabis.
On January 4, 2018, then acting U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum for all U.S. Attorneys (the “Sessions Memo”) rescinding certain past the DOJ memoranda on cannabis law enforcement, including the Memorandum by former Deputy Attorney General James Michael Cole (the “Cole Memo”) issued on August 29, 2013, under the Obama administration. Describing the criminal enforcement of federal cannabis prohibitions against those complying with state cannabis regulatory systems as an inefficient use of federal investigative and prosecutorial resources, the Cole Memo gave federal prosecutors discretion not to prosecute against state law compliant cannabis companies in states that were regulating cannabis to avoid violating eight federal priorities such as avoiding youth usage. The Sessions Memo, which remains in effect, states that each U.S. Attorney’s Office should follow established principles that govern all federal prosecutions when deciding which cannabis activities to prosecute. As a result, federal prosecutors could and still can use their prosecutorial discretion to decide to prosecute even state-legal cannabis activities. Since the Sessions Memo was issued over two-and-a-half years ago, however, U.S. Attorneys have not prosecuted state law compliant entities.
Former Attorney General William Barr testified in his confirmation hearing on January 15, 2019, that he would not upset “settled expectations,” “investments,” or other “reliance interest[s]” arising as a result of the Cole Memo, and that he does not intend to use federal resources to enforce federal cannabis laws in states that have legalized cannabis “to the extent people are complying with the state laws.” He stated: “My approach to this would be not to upset settled expectations and the reliance interest that have arisen as a result of the Cole Memorandum and investments have been made and so there has been reliance on it, so I don’t think it’s appropriate to upset those interests.” He also implied that the CSA’s prohibitions of cannabis may be null in states that have legalized cannabis: “[T]he current situation … is almost like a back door nullification of federal law.” Industry observers generally have not interpreted Attorney General Barr’s comments to suggest that the DOJ would proceed with cases against participants who entered the state-legal industry after the Cole Memo had been rescinded.
Federal prosecutors have significant discretion, and no assurance can be given that the federal prosecutor in each judicial district where we make a loan will not choose to strictly enforce the federal laws governing cannabis manufacturing or distribution. Any change in the federal government’s enforcement posture with respect to
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state-licensed cultivation of cannabis, including the enforcement postures of individual federal prosecutors in judicial districts where we make our loans, would result in our inability to execute our business plan, and we would likely suffer significant losses with respect to our loans to cannabis industry participants in the United States, which would adversely affect our operations, cash flow and financial condition.
We believe that the basis for the federal government’s perceived détente with the cannabis industry extends beyond the strong public sentiment and ongoing prosecutorial discretion. Since 2014, versions of the U.S. omnibus spending bill have included a provision prohibiting the DOJ, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using appropriated funds to prevent states from implementing their medical-use cannabis laws. In USA vs. McIntosh, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the provision prohibits the DOJ from spending funds to prosecute individuals who engage in conduct permitted by state medical-use cannabis laws and who strictly comply with such laws. The court noted that, if the provision were not continued, prosecutors could enforce against conduct occurring during the statute of limitations even while the provision were previously in force. Other courts that have considered the issue have ruled similarly, although courts disagree about which party bears the burden of proof of showing compliance or noncompliance with state law.
Our loans do not prohibit our borrowers from engaging in the cannabis business for adult-use that is permissible under state and local laws. Consequently, certain of our borrowers currently (and may in the future) cultivate adult-use cannabis with the proceeds of our loans, if permitted by such state and local laws now or in the future. This could subject our borrowers to greater and/or different federal legal and other risks as compared to businesses where cannabis is cultivated exclusively for medical use, which could materially adversely affect our business.
Our ability to grow our business depends on state laws pertaining to the cannabis industry. New laws that are adverse to our borrowers may be enacted, and current favorable state or national laws or enforcement guidelines relating to cultivation, production and distribution of cannabis may be modified or eliminated in the future, which would impede our ability to grow our business under our current business plan and could materially adversely affect our business.
Continued development of the cannabis industry depends upon continued legislative authorization of cannabis at the state level. The status quo of, or progress in, the regulated cannabis industry, while encouraging, is not assured and any number of factors could slow or halt further progress in this area. While there may be ample public support for legislative action permitting the manufacture and use of cannabis, numerous factors impact and can delay the legislative and regulatory processes. For example, many states that legalized medical-use and/or adult-use cannabis have seen significant delays in the drafting and implementation of industry regulations and issuance of licenses. In addition, burdensome regulations at the state level could slow or stop further development of the medical-use and/or adult-use cannabis industry, such as limiting the medical conditions for which medical-use cannabis can be recommended , restricting the form in which medical-use or adult-use cannabis can be consumed, or imposing significant taxes on the growth, processing and/or retail sales of cannabis, each of which could have the impact of dampening growth of the cannabis industry and making it difficult for cannabis businesses, including our borrowers, to operate profitably in those states. Any one of these factors could slow or halt additional legislative authorization of cannabis, which could harm our business prospects.
FDA regulation of cannabis could negatively affect the cannabis industry, which would directly affect our financial condition.
Should the federal government legalize cannabis for adult-use and/or medical-use, it is possible that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”), would seek to regulate it under the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938. Indeed, after the U.S. government removed hemp and its extracts from the CSA as part of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2008, then FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement reminding the public of the FDA’s continued authority “to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the “FD&C Act”) and section 351 of the Public Health Service Act.” He also reminded the public that “it’s unlawful under the FD&C Act to introduce food containing added cannabidiol (“CBD”) or tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products, as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived,” and regardless of whether health claims are made, because CBD and THC entered the FDA testing pipeline as the subject of public substantial clinical investigations for GW Pharmaceuticals’ Sativex (THC and CBD) and
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Epidiolex (CBD). The memo added that, prior to introduction into interstate commerce, any cannabis product, whether derived from hemp or otherwise, marketed with a disease claim (e.g., therapeutic benefit, disease prevention, etc.) must first be approved by the FDA for its intended use through one of the drug approval pathways. Notably, the FDA can look beyond the product’s express claims to find that a product is a “drug.” The definition of “drug” under the FDCA includes, in relevant part, “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals” as well as “articles intended for use as a component of [a drug as defined in the other sections of the definition].” 21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1). In determining “intended use,” the FDA has traditionally looked beyond a product’s label to statements made on websites, on social media, or orally by the company’s representatives.
While the FDA has not yet enforced against the cannabis industry, it has sent numerous warning letters to sellers of CBD products making health claims. The FDA could turn its attention to the cannabis industry. In addition to requiring FDA approval of cannabis products marketed as drugs, the FDA could issue rules and regulations including certified good manufacturing practices related to the growth, cultivation, harvesting and processing of cannabis. It is also possible that the FDA would require that facilities where cannabis is grown register with the FDA and comply with certain federally prescribed regulations. Cannabis facilities are currently regulated by state and local governments. In the event that some or all of these federal enforcement and regulations are imposed, we do not know what the impact would be on the cannabis industry, including what costs, requirements and possible prohibitions may be enforced. If we or our borrowers are unable to comply with the regulations or registration as prescribed by the FDA, we and/or our borrowers may be unable to continue to operate our and their business in its current form or at all.
We and our borrowers may have difficulty accessing the service of banks and other financial institutions, and we may be limited in our ability to provide debt to participants in the cannabis industry, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
Certain financial transactions involving proceeds from the trafficking of cannabis can form a basis for prosecution under the federal money laundering statutes, unlicensed money transmitter statute and the Bank Secrecy Act. Previous guidance issued by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, clarified how financial institutions can provide services to cannabis-related businesses consistent with their obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act. While the federal government has not initiated financial crimes prosecutions against state-law compliant cannabis companies or their vendors, the government theoretically could, at least against companies in the adult-use markets. The continued uncertainty surrounding financial transactions related to cannabis activities may result in financial institutions discontinuing services to the cannabis industry or limit our ability to provide loans to the cannabis industry.
Consequently, those businesses involved in the regulated cannabis industry continue to encounter difficulty establishing banking relationships, which could increase over time. Our inability to maintain our current bank accounts or service our lending relationships would make it difficult for us to operate our business, increase our operating costs, and pose additional operational, logistical and security challenges and could result in our inability to implement our business plan.
The terms of our loans require that our borrowers make payments on such loans via check or wire transfer. Only a small percentage of financial institutions in the United States currently provide banking services to licensed companies operating in the cannabis industry. The inability of our current and potential borrowers to open accounts and continue using the services of banks will limit their ability to enter into debt arrangements with us or may result in their default under our debt agreements, either of which could materially harm our business, operations, cash flow and financial condition.
Laws and regulations affecting the regulated cannabis industry are continually changing, which could materially adversely affect our proposed operations, and we cannot predict the impact that future regulations may have on us.
Local, state and federal cannabis laws and regulations have been evolving rapidly and are subject to varied interpretations, which could require us to incur substantial costs associated with compliance or alter our business plan and could negatively impact our borrowers or prospective borrowers, which in turn could negatively impact our business. It is also possible that regulations may be enacted in the future that will be directly applicable to our proposed business. We can know neither the nature of any future laws, regulations, interpretations or applications nor the effect additional governmental regulations or administrative policies and procedures, when
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and if promulgated, could have on our business. For example, if cannabis is no longer illegal under federal law, we may experience a significant increase in competition. Accordingly, any change in these laws or regulations, changes in their interpretation, or newly enacted laws or regulations and any failure by us to comply with these laws or regulations, could require changes to certain of our business practices, negatively impact our operations, cash flow or financial condition, impose additional costs on us or otherwise adversely affect our business.
Applicable state laws may prevent us from maximizing our potential income.
Depending on the state, and the laws of that particular state, we may not be able to fully realize our potential to generate profit. For example, some states have residency requirements for those directly involved in the cannabis industry, which may impede our ability to contract with cannabis businesses in those states. Furthermore, cities and counties are being given broad discretion to ban certain cannabis activities. Even if these activities are legal under state law, specific cities and counties may ban them.
Loans to cannabis businesses may be forfeited to the federal government.
Any assets used in conjunction with the violation of federal law are potentially subject to federal forfeiture, even in states that have legalized cannabis. In July 2017, the DOJ issued a new policy directive regarding asset forfeiture, referred to as the “equitable sharing program.” This policy directive represents a reversal of DOJ’s policy under the Obama administration, and allows for forfeitures to proceed that are not in accord with the limitations imposed by state-specific forfeiture laws. This new policy directive could lead to increased use of asset forfeitures by local, state and federal enforcement agencies. If the federal government decides to initiate forfeiture proceedings against cannabis businesses, such as the cannabis facilities that are owned or utilized by our borrowers, our loans to our borrowers would likely be materially and adversely affected.
We may have difficulty accessing bankruptcy courts.
Because cannabis is illegal under federal law, federal bankruptcy protection is currently not available to parties who engage in the cannabis industry or cannabis-related businesses. Recent bankruptcy rulings have denied bankruptcies for dispensaries upon the justification that businesses cannot violate federal law and then claim the benefits of federal bankruptcy for the same activity and upon the justification that courts cannot ask a bankruptcy trustee to take possession of, and distribute cannabis assets as such action would violate the CSA. Therefore, we may not be able to seek the protection of the bankruptcy courts, and this could materially affect our business or our ability to obtain credit.
The loans that are in our Existing Portfolio and that we expect to make in the future may include Canadian entities within their corporate structure that have the ability to seek insolvency protections in Canada, which could materially and adversely affect our business.
The loans that are in our Existing Portfolio or that we expect to make in the future may include U.S.-based companies operating in the cannabis industry with at least one Canadian entity within their corporate structure for the purpose of listing on the CSE. In May 2020, a U.S.-based cannabis company that is listed on the CSE filed for, and was granted, insolvency protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act pursuant to Canadian law. If the applicable borrower obtains bankruptcy protections in Canada, it could restrict our ability, or create additional costs or delays involved in our efforts, to foreclose on the collateral, which will reduce the net proceeds realized and, thus, increase the potential for loss.
The loans that are in our Existing Portfolio or that we expect to make in the future may be secured by properties, that are, and will be, subject to extensive regulations, such that if such collateral was foreclosed upon those regulations may result in significant costs and materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
The loans that are in our Existing Portfolio or that we expect to make in the future may be secured by properties that are, and will be, subject to various local laws and regulatory requirements, and we would be subject to such requirements if such collateral was foreclosed upon. Local property regulations may restrict the use of collateral or our ability to foreclose on the collateral. Among other things, these restrictions may relate to cultivation of cannabis, the use of water and the discharge of waste water, fire and safety, seismic conditions, asbestos-cleanup or hazardous material abatement requirements. Due to current statutory prohibitions, we will not own any real estate used in cannabis-related operations. While our loan agreements and related mortgages provide for foreclosure remedies, receivership remedies and/or other remedies that would allow us to cause the sale or other
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realization of real property collateral, the regulatory requirements and statutory prohibitions related to real property used in cannabis-related operations may cause significant delays or difficulties in realizing upon the expected value of such real property collateral. We make no assurance that existing regulatory policies will not materially and adversely affect the value of such collateral, or that additional regulations will not be adopted that would increase such potential material adverse effect. The negative affect on such collateral could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
Certain assets of our borrowers may not be used as collateral or transferred to us due to applicable state laws and regulations governing the cannabis industry, and such restrictions could negatively impact our profitability.
Each state that has legalized cannabis in some form has adopted its own set of laws and regulations that differ from one another. In particular, laws and regulations differ among states regarding the collateralization or transferability of cannabis-related assets, such as cannabis licenses, cannabis inventory, and ownership interests in licensed cannabis companies. Some state laws and regulations where our borrowers operate may prohibit the collateralization or transferability of certain cannabis-related assets. Other states may allow the collateralization or transferability of cannabis-related assets, but with restrictions, such as meeting certain eligibility requirements, utilization of state receiverships, and/or upon approval by the applicable regulatory authority. Prohibitions or restrictions on our or others ability to acquire certain cannabis-related assets securing the loans of our borrowers could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations. In addition, because the sales of such assets may be forced upon the borrower when time may be of the essence and available to a limited number of potential purchasers, the sales prices may be less than the prices obtained with more time in a larger market.
Liability relating to environmental matters may impact the value of properties that we may acquire upon foreclosure of the properties securing our loans.
To the extent we foreclose on properties securing our loans, we may be subject to environmental liabilities arising from such foreclosed properties. In particular, cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities may present environmental concerns of which we are not currently aware. Under various federal, state and local laws, an owner or operator of real property may become liable for the costs of removal of certain hazardous substances released on its property. These laws often impose liability without regard to whether the owner or operator knew of, or was responsible for, the release of such hazardous substances. Accordingly, if environmental contamination exists on properties we acquire or develop after acquisition, we could become subject to liability for the contamination.
The presence of hazardous substances may adversely affect an owner’s ability to sell real estate or borrow using real estate as collateral. To the extent that an owner of a property securing one of our loans becomes liable for removal costs, the ability of the owner to make payments to us may be reduced, which in turn may adversely affect the value of the relevant loan held by us and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
If we foreclose on any properties securing our loans, the presence of hazardous substances on a property may adversely affect our ability to sell the property and we may incur substantial remediation costs, thus harming our financial condition. The discovery of material environmental liabilities attached to any properties securing our loans could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
The market value of properties securing our loans acquired by us upon foreclosure may decrease if they cannot be used for cannabis related operations.
Properties used for cannabis operations, particularly cultivation and manufacturing facilities, are generally more valuable than if used for other purposes. If we foreclose on any properties securing our loans, our inability to sell the property to a licensed cannabis company for a similar use may significantly decrease the market value of the foreclosed property thereby having a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
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Risks Related to Sources of Financing Our Business
Our growth depends on external sources of capital, which may not be available on favorable terms or at all.
We intend to grow by expanding our portfolio of loans, which we intend to finance primarily through newly issued equity or debt. We may not be in a position to take advantage of attractive lending opportunities for growth if we are unable, due to global or regional economic uncertainty, changes in the state or federal regulatory environment relating to our business, our own operating or financial performance or otherwise, to access capital markets on a timely basis and on favorable terms or at all. In addition, U.S. federal income tax law generally requires that a REIT distribute annually at least 90% of its REIT taxable income, without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding net capital gain and certain non-cash income, and that it pay U.S. federal income tax at regular corporate rates to the extent that it annually distributes less than 100% of its taxable income. Because we intend to grow our business, this limitation may require us to raise additional equity or incur debt at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.
Our access to capital will depend upon a number of factors over which we have little or no control, including, but not limited to:
general economic or market conditions;
the market’s view of the quality of our assets;
the market’s perception of our growth potential;
the current regulatory environment with respect to our business; and
our current and potential future earnings and cash distributions.
If general economic instability or downturn leads to an inability to borrow at attractive rates or at all, our ability to obtain capital to finance our loans to borrowers could be negatively impacted. In addition, while we do not consider our Company to be engaged in the cannabis industry, banks and other financial institutions may be reluctant to enter into lending transactions with us, particularly secured lending, because we intend to invest in companies involved in the cultivation, manufacturing and sale of cannabis. To date, we have been unable to obtain outside debt financing on terms and conditions better or equivalent to our current, affiliated debt financing. If debt financing with competitive rates continues to be unavailable to us on acceptable terms, our growth may be limited and our levered return on the loans we make may be lower.
If we are unable to obtain capital on terms and conditions that we find acceptable, we likely will have to reduce the loans we make. In addition, our ability to refinance all or any debt we may incur in the future, on acceptable terms or at all, is subject to all of the above factors, and will also be affected by our future financial position, results of operations and cash flows, which additional factors are also subject to significant uncertainties, and therefore we may be unable to refinance any debt we may incur in the future, as it matures, on acceptable terms or at all. All of these events would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
Global economic, political and market conditions could have a significant adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations, including a negative impact on our ability to access the debt markets on favorable terms.
Downgrades by rating agencies to the U.S. government’s credit rating or concerns about its credit and deficit levels in general could cause interest rates and borrowing costs to rise, which may negatively impact both the perception of credit risk associated with our loan portfolio and our ability to access the debt markets on favorable terms. In addition, a decreased U.S. government credit rating could create broader financial turmoil and uncertainty, which may weigh heavily on our financial performance and the value of our equity.
Deterioration in the economic conditions in the Eurozone and globally, including instability in financial markets, may pose a risk to our business. In recent years, financial markets have been affected at times by a number of global macroeconomic and political events, including the following: large sovereign debts and fiscal deficits of several countries in Europe and in emerging markets jurisdictions, levels of non-performing loans on the balance sheets of European banks, the potential effect of any European country leaving the Eurozone, the potential effect of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, and market volatility and loss of investor confidence driven by political events. Market and economic disruptions have affected, and may in the future affect, consumer
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confidence levels and spending, personal bankruptcy rates, levels of incurrence and default on consumer debt and home prices, among other factors. We cannot assure you that market disruptions in Europe, including the increased cost of funding for certain governments and financial institutions, will not impact the global economy, and we cannot assure you that assistance packages will be available, or if available, be sufficient to stabilize countries and markets in Europe or elsewhere affected by a financial crisis. To the extent uncertainty regarding any economic recovery in Europe negatively impacts consumer confidence and consumer credit factors, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be significantly and adversely affected.
The Chinese capital markets have also experienced periods of instability over the past several years. The current political climate has also intensified concerns about a potential trade war between the U.S. and China in connection with each country’s recent or proposed tariffs on the other country’s products. These market and economic disruptions and the potential trade war with China have affected, and may in the future affect, the U.S. capital markets, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The current global financial market situation, as well as various social and political circumstances in the U.S. and around the world (including wars and other forms of conflict, terrorist acts, security operations and catastrophic events such as fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and global health epidemics), may contribute to increased market volatility and economic uncertainties or deterioration in the U.S. and worldwide. Additionally, the U.S. government’s credit and deficit concerns, the European sovereign debt crisis, and the potential trade war with China could cause interest rates to be volatile, which may negatively impact our ability to access the debt markets on favorable terms.
We may incur significant debt, which may subject us to restrictive covenants and increased risk of loss and may reduce cash available for distributions to our stockholders, and our governing documents and current credit facility contain no limit on the amount of debt we may incur.
Subject to market conditions and availability, we may incur significant debt through bank credit facilities (including term loans and revolving facilities), public and private debt issuances and derivative instruments, in addition to transaction or asset specific funding arrangements. The percentage of leverage we employ will vary depending on our available capital, our ability to obtain and access financing arrangements with lenders, debt restrictions contained in those financing arrangements and the lenders’ and rating agencies’ estimate of the stability of our loan portfolio’s cash flow. Our governing documents and our current credit facility contain no limit on the amount of debt we may incur, and we may significantly increase the amount of leverage we utilize at any time without approval of our stockholders. Leverage can enhance our potential returns but can also exacerbate our losses. Incurring substantial debt could subject us to many risks that, if realized, would materially and adversely affect us, including, but not limited to, the risks that:
our cash flow from operations may be insufficient to make required payments of principal of and interest on the debt we incur or we may fail to comply with all of the other covenants contained in such debt, which is likely to result in (i) acceleration of such debt (and any other debt containing a cross-default or cross-acceleration provision) that we may be unable to repay from internal funds or to refinance on favorable terms, or at all, (ii) our inability to borrow unused amounts under our financing arrangements, even if we are current in payments on borrowings under those arrangements, and/or (iii) the loss of some or all of our assets to foreclosure or sale;
we may be unable to borrow additional funds as needed or on favorable terms, or at all;
to the extent we borrow debt that bears interest at variable rates, increases in interest rates could materially increase our interest expense;
our default under any loan with cross-default provisions could result in a default on other indebtedness;
incurring debt may increase our vulnerability to adverse economic and industry conditions with no assurance that loan yields will increase with higher financing costs;
we may be required to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on the debt we may incur, thereby reducing funds available for operations, future business opportunities, stockholder distributions, including distributions currently contemplated or necessary to satisfy the requirements for REIT qualification, or other purposes; and
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we are not able to refinance debt that matures prior to the loan it was used to finance on favorable terms, or at all.
There can be no assurance that a leveraging strategy will be successful. If any one of these events were to occur, our financial condition, results of operations, cash flow, and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders could be materially and adversely affected.
Monetary policy actions by the United States Federal Reserve could adversely impact our financial condition.
We are affected by the fiscal and monetary policies of the United States Government and its agencies, including the policies of the Federal Reserve, which regulates the supply of money and credit in the United States. The Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate nine times during the period between December 2015 and December 2018, and has announced its intention to determine what future adjustments are appropriate to the federal funds rate over time. Changes in the federal funds rate as well as the other policies of the Federal Reserve affect interest rates, which have a significant impact on the demand for debt capital. Changes in fiscal and monetary policies are beyond our control, are difficult to predict and could materially adversely affect us.
Any lending facilities will impose restrictive covenants.
Any lending facilities which we enter would be expected to contain, customary negative covenants and other financial and operating covenants, that among other things, may affect our ability to incur additional debt, make certain loans or acquisitions, reduce liquidity below certain levels, make distributions to our stockholders, redeem debt or equity securities and impact our flexibility to determine our operating policies and loan and investment strategies. For example, such loan documents typically contain negative covenants that limit, among other things, our ability to repurchase our equity, distribute more than a certain amount of our net income or funds from operations to our stockholders, employ leverage beyond certain amounts, sell assets, engage in mergers or consolidations, grant liens, and enter into transactions with affiliates. If we fail to meet or satisfy any such covenants, we would likely be in default under these agreements, and the lenders could elect to declare outstanding amounts due and payable, terminate their commitments, require the posting of additional collateral and enforce their interests against existing collateral. We could also become subject to cross-default and acceleration rights and, with respect to collateralized debt, the posting of additional collateral and foreclosure rights upon default. Further, such restrictions could also make it difficult for us to satisfy the qualification requirements necessary to maintain our status as a REIT.
Interest rate fluctuations could increase our financing costs, which could lead to a significant decrease in our results of operations, cash flows and the market value of our loans.
Our primary interest rate exposures will relate to the financing cost of our debt. To the extent that our financing costs will be determined by reference to floating rates, the amount of such costs will depend on a variety of factors, including, without limitation, (i) for collateralized debt, the value and liquidity of the collateral, and for non-collateralized debt, our credit, (ii) the level and movement of interest rates, and (iii) general market conditions and liquidity. In a period of rising interest rates, our interest expense on floating-rate debt would increase, while any additional interest income we earn on our floating-rate loans may not compensate for such increase in interest expense. At the same time, the interest income we earn on our fixed-rate loans would not change, the duration and weighted average life of our fixed-rate loans would increase and the market value of our fixed-rate loans would decrease. Similarly, in a period of declining interest rates, our interest income on floating-rate loans would decrease, while any decrease in the interest we are charged on our floating-rate debt may not compensate for such decrease in interest income and interest we are charged on our fixed-rate debt would not change. Any such scenario could materially and adversely affect us.
Any bank credit facilities that we may use in the future to finance our operations may require us to provide collateral or pay down debt.
We may utilize bank credit facilities (including term loans and revolving facilities) to finance our loans if they become available on acceptable terms. We may not have the funds available to repay our debt at that time, which would likely result in defaults unless we are able to raise the funds from alternative sources, which we may not be able to achieve on favorable terms or at all. If we cannot meet these requirements, lenders could accelerate our indebtedness, increase the interest rate on advanced funds and terminate our ability to borrow funds from it, which could materially and adversely affect our financial condition and ability to implement our investment
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strategy. In addition, if a lender files for bankruptcy or becomes insolvent, our loans may become subject to bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings, thus depriving us, at least temporarily, of the benefit of such loans. Such an event could restrict our access to bank credit facilities and increase our cost of capital. The providers of bank credit facilities may also require us to maintain a certain amount of cash or set aside assets sufficient to maintain a specified liquidity position that would allow us to satisfy our collateral obligations. As a result, we may not be able to obtain leverage as fully as we would choose, which could reduce the return on our loans. If we are unable to meet these collateral obligations, our financial condition and prospects could deteriorate rapidly.
In addition, there can be no assurance that we will be able to obtain bank credit facilities on favorable terms, or at all. Banks and other financial institutions may be reluctant to enter into lending transactions with us.
Adoption of the Basel III standards and other proposed supplementary regulatory standards may negatively impact our access to financing or affect the terms of our future financing arrangements.
In response to various financial crises and the volatility of financial markets, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision adopted the Basel III standards several years ago to reform, among other things, bank capital adequacy, stress testing, and market liquidity risk. United States regulators have elected to implement substantially all of the Basel III standards and have even implemented rules requiring enhanced supplementary leverage ratio standards, which impose capital requirements more stringent than those of the Basel III standards for the most systematically significant banking organizations in the United States. Adoption and implementation of the Basel III standards and the supplemental regulatory standards adopted by United States regulators may negatively impact our access to financing or affect the terms of our future financing arrangements due to an increase in capital requirements for, and constraints on, the financial institutions from which we may borrow.
Moreover, in January 2019, the Basel Committee published its revised capital requirements for market risk, known as Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (“FRTB”), which are expected to generally result in higher global capital requirements for banks that could, in turn, reduce liquidity and increase financing and hedging costs. The impact of FRTB will not be known until after any resulting rules are finalized and implemented by the United States federal bank regulatory agencies.
Risks Related to Our Organization and Structure
Our authorized but unissued shares of common stock and preferred stock may prevent a change in control of our Company.
The Charter authorizes us to issue shares of our common stock and preferred stock without stockholder approval, subject to certain specified limitations. In addition, subject to certain voting rights specifically provided in our Charter or by state statute, our Board may, without stockholder approval, amend the Charter from time to time to increase or decrease the aggregate number of shares of our stock or the number of shares of stock of any class or series that we have authority to issue and classify or reclassify any unissued shares of our common stock and preferred stock and set the preferences, rights and other terms of the classified or reclassified shares. As a result, our Board may, subject to certain specified limitations, establish a class or series of shares of our common stock and preferred stock that could delay or prevent a merger, third-party tender offer, change of control or similar transaction or a change in incumbent management that might involve a premium price for shares of our common stock or otherwise be in the best interests of our stockholders.
The Maryland General Corporation Law prohibits certain business combinations, which may make it more difficult for us to be acquired.
We are a Maryland corporation and subject to the Maryland General Corporation Law (“MGCL”). Under the MGCL, “business combinations” between a Maryland corporation and an “interested stockholder” or an affiliate of an interested stockholder are prohibited for five years after the most recent date on which the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. These business combinations include a merger, consolidation, share exchange or, in circumstances specified in the statute, an asset transfer or issuance or reclassification of equity securities. An interested stockholder is defined as: (a) any person who beneficially owns, directly or indirectly, 10% or more of the voting power of the then-outstanding voting stock of a corporation; or (b) an affiliate or associate of a corporation who, at any time within the two-year period prior to the date in question, was the beneficial owner, directly or indirectly, of 10% or more of the voting power of the then-outstanding stock of such corporation.
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A person is not an interested stockholder under the statute if the board of directors approved in advance the transaction by which the person otherwise would have become an interested stockholder. However, in approving a transaction, the board of directors may provide that its approval is subject to compliance, at or after the time of approval, with any terms and conditions determined by the board of directors.
After the expiration of the five-year period described above, any business combination between a Maryland corporation and an interested stockholder must generally be recommended by the board of directors of such corporation and approved by the affirmative vote of at least:
80% of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of the then-outstanding shares of voting stock of such corporation; and
two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of voting stock of such corporation, other than shares held by the interested stockholder with whom or with whose affiliate the business combination is to be effected, or held by an affiliate or associate of the interested stockholder.
These supermajority vote requirements do not apply if the corporation’s common stockholders receive a minimum price, as defined under the MGCL, for their shares in the form of cash or other consideration in the same form as previously paid by the interested stockholder for its shares. The MGCL also permits various exemptions from these provisions, including business combinations that are exempted by the board of directors before the time that the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. Pursuant to the statute, our Board has adopted a resolution exempting any business combination with our Sponsor, Leonard M. Tannenbaum, or any of his affiliates. Consequently, the five-year prohibition and the supermajority vote requirements will not apply to a business combination between us and Leonard M. Tannenbaum or any of his affiliates. As a result, Leonard M. Tannenbaum or any of his affiliates may be able to enter into business combinations with us that may not be in the best interest of our stockholders, without compliance with the supermajority vote requirements and the other provisions of the statute. The business combination statute may discourage others from trying to acquire control of our Company and increase the difficulty of consummating any offer.
In addition, under the MGCL, holders of our “control shares” (defined as voting shares of stock that, if aggregated with all other shares of stock owned or controlled by the acquirer, would entitle the acquirer to exercise one of three increasing ranges of voting power in electing directors) acquired in a “control share acquisition” (defined as the direct or indirect acquisition of issued and outstanding “control shares”) have no voting rights except to the extent approved by our stockholders by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of all of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter, excluding all interested shares. Our amended and restated bylaws (our “ Bylaws”) contain a provision exempting from the Maryland Control Share Acquisition Act any and all acquisitions by any person of shares of our capital stock. There can be no assurance that this exemption will not be amended or eliminated at any time in the future.
The Charter contains provisions that make removal of our directors difficult, which could make it difficult for our stockholders to effect changes to management.
The Charter provides that a director may only be removed for cause upon the affirmative vote of holders of a majority of the votes entitled to be cast generally in the election of directors. This requirement makes it more difficult to change our management by removing and replacing directors and may prevent a change of control that is in the best interests of our stockholders.
Our Bylaws designate the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders and provide that claims relating to causes of action under the Securities Act may only be brought in federal district courts, which could limit stockholders' ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees, if any, and could discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and employees, if any.
Our Bylaws provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland, or, if that court does not have jurisdiction, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, will be the sole and exclusive forum for (a) any Internal Corporate Claim, as such term is defined in the MGCL, (b) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf (other than actions arising under federal securities laws), (c) any action asserting a claim of breach of any duty owed by any of our directors, officers or other employees to us or to our stockholders, (d) any action asserting a
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claim against us or any of our directors, officers or other employees arising pursuant to any provision of the MGCL or our Charter or Bylaws or (e) any other action asserting a claim against us or any of our directors, officers or other employees that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. These choice of forum provisions will not apply to suits brought to enforce a duty or liability created by the Securities Act, the Exchange Act, or any other claim for which federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. Furthermore, our Bylaws provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the federal district courts of the United States of America shall, to the fullest extent permitted by law, be the sole and exclusive forum for the resolution of any claim arising under the Securities Act.
These exclusive forum provisions may limit the ability of our stockholders to bring a claim in a judicial forum that such stockholders find favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees, if any, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers, and employees, if any. Alternatively, if a court were to find the choice of forum provisions contained in our Bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, and operating results. For example, under the Securities Act, federal courts have concurrent jurisdiction over all suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Securities Act, and investors cannot waive compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder. In addition, the exclusive forum provisions described above do not apply to any actions brought under the Exchange Act.
Ownership limitations contained in the Charter may restrict change of control or business combination opportunities in which our stockholders might receive a premium for their shares.
In order for us to qualify as a REIT, for each taxable year after our first REIT taxable year, no more than 50% in value of our outstanding capital stock may be owned, directly or indirectly, by five or fewer individuals during the last half of any taxable year. “Individuals” for this purpose include natural persons, private foundations, some employee benefit plans and trusts, and some charitable trusts. To preserve our REIT qualification, the Charter includes ownership limits based on the value and number of outstanding shares of our capital stock beginning after June 30, 2021. After June 30, 2021, our sponsor, Leonard M. Tannenbaum, may maintain an equity interest up to 24.9% in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of our Company and has received a waiver with respect to such prohibitions in the Charter. This ownership limitation could have the effect of discouraging a takeover or other transaction in which our stockholders might receive a premium for their shares over the then prevailing market price or which holders might believe to be otherwise in their best interests.
Maintenance of our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act may impose significant limits on our operations. Your investment return in our common stock may be reduced if we are required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act.
We intend to conduct our operations so that we will be exempt from the provisions of the Investment Company Act pursuant to an exemption contained in 3(c)(5) thereunder. The Investment Company Act provides certain protection to investors and imposes certain restrictions on registered investment companies (including, for example, limitations on the ability of registered investment companies to incur leverage), none of which will be applicable to us.
A failure by us to maintain this exemption would require us to significantly restructure our investment strategy. For example, because affiliate transactions are generally prohibited under the Investment Company Act, we would not be able to enter into transactions with any of our affiliates if we are required to register as an investment company, which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to operate the business and pay distributions. If we were required to register as an investment company but failed to do so, we would be prohibited from engaging in our business, and criminal and civil actions could be brought against us. In addition, our contracts would be unenforceable unless a court required enforcement, and a court could appoint a receiver to take control of such entity and liquidate its business.
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Rapid and steep declines in the values of our real estate-related investments may make it more difficult for us to maintain its qualification as a REIT or exemption from the Investment Company Act.
If the market value or income potential of real estate-related investments declines as a result of increased interest rates or other factors, we may need to increase our real estate loans and income and/or liquidate our non-qualifying assets in order to maintain our REIT qualification or exemption from the Investment Company Act. If the decline in real estate asset values and/or income occurs quickly, this may be especially difficult to accomplish. This difficulty may be exacerbated by the illiquid nature of any non-qualifying assets that we may own. We may have to make investment decisions that we otherwise would not make absent REIT and Investment Company Act considerations.
Our rights and the rights of our stockholders to recover on claims against our directors and officers are limited, which could reduce our and our stockholders’ recovery against them if they negligently cause us to incur losses.
The MGCL provides that a director has no liability in such capacity if he performs his duties in good faith, in a manner he reasonably believes to be in our best interests and with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances. A director who performs his or her duties in accordance with the foregoing standards should not be liable to us or any other person for failure to discharge his or her obligations as a director.
The Charter and Bylaws permit and require us, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law, to indemnify and, without requiring a preliminary determination of the ultimate entitlement to indemnification, pay or reimburse reasonable costs, fees and expenses in advance of final disposition of a proceeding to any individual who is a present or former director or officer and who is made or threatened to be made a party to, or witness in, the proceeding by reason of his or her service in that capacity or any individual who, while a director or officer and at our request, serves or has served as a director, officer, partner, trustee, member or manager of another corporation, REIT, limited liability company, partnership, joint venture, trust, employee benefit plan or other enterprise and who is made or threatened to be made a party to, or witness in, the proceeding by reason of his or her service in that capacity. With the approval of our Board, we may provide such indemnification and advance for expenses to any individual who served a predecessor of our Company in any of the capacities described above and any employee or agent of our Company or a predecessor of our Company, including our Manager and its affiliates. In addition to the indemnification provided by the Charter and Bylaws, we have entered into indemnification agreements to indemnify, and advance certain fees, costs and expenses to, our directors and certain executive officers, subject to certain standards to be met and certain other limitations and conditions. See “Certain Provisions of Maryland Law and Our Charter and Bylaws—Indemnification and Limitation of Directors’ and Officers’ Liability” for additional information.
While we do not currently do so, we are permitted, to the fullest extent permitted by law, to purchase and maintain insurance on behalf of any of our directors, officers, employees and agents, including our Manager and its affiliates, against any liability asserted against such person. This may result in us having to expend significant funds, which will reduce the available cash for distribution to our stockholders.
The Charter contains a provision requiring the process of dissolution and winding up if we are Closely Held on July 1, 2021.
As of December 26, 2020, we were Closely Held and our Sponsor currently owns 477,500 shares of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 3,342,500 shares, on a post-split basis) and has been granted options to purchase up to 200,994 shares of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 1,406,958 shares, on a post-split basis), which will become vested and exercisable upon consummation of this offering. If, on July 1, 2021, we are Closely Held then, we shall, subject to any required approvals by our Board and our stockholders, immediately take all necessary action to undertake an orderly liquidation and sale of our assets and will distribute any net sale proceeds therefrom, after the payment of or adequate provision for all known debts and liabilities and any preferential rights of the holders of any then-outstanding shares of our preferred stock, pro rata to the holders of our common stock, and following such distribution, we shall terminate and dissolve. This provision may cause us to make investment and other corporate decisions that we otherwise would not make absent such provision. If we are unable to prevent ourselves from being Closely Held and we begin the process of dissolution and winding up, we may not be able to achieve our investment objectives and the value of your investment in our common stock could decline substantially.
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Investors should not expect us to redeem the Sponsor Capital Stock (as defined below) on the date it first becomes redeemable or on any particular date after it becomes redeemable.
The shares of our capital stock Beneficially Owned (as defined in “Description of Capital Stock—Ownership Limitations and Exceptions”) or Constructively Owned (as defined in “Description of Capital Stock—Ownership Limitations and Exceptions”) by our Sponsor (the “Sponsor Capital Stock”) are perpetual equity securities. Our common stock, including the Sponsor Capital Stock, has no maturity or mandatory redemption date and is not redeemable at the option of investors. By the terms of the Charter, the Sponsor Capital Stock may be redeemed by us at our option on any date during the Redemption Period (as defined below) in which we are Closely Held if tested on such date. However, any decision we may make at any time to propose a redemption of the Sponsor Capital Stock will depend, among other things, upon our financial position, liquidity, expected capital requirements, our growth strategy and other means to comply with rules to enable us to qualify as a REIT, as well as general market conditions at such time. Our right to redeem the Sponsor Capital Stock is subject to the limitations described below under “Certain Provisions of Maryland Law and Our Charter and Bylaws—Optional Redemption of Sponsor Capital Stock.” Even if our Board determines, in its discretion, that it is in the best interest of our stockholders to exercise our right to redeem Sponsor Capital Stock, we may not have sufficient funds and assets to consummate the redemption. Accordingly, investors should not expect us to redeem the Sponsor Capital Stock on the date it first becomes redeemable or on any particular date thereafter. Investors should expect that the Sponsor Capital Stock may remain outstanding indefinitely.
We may exercise our right to redeem Sponsor Capital Stock in order to prevent us from being Closely Held, which may cause us to liquidate or transfer otherwise attractive loans and/or redirect the application of our available cash.
If our Board determines, in its discretion, that it is in the best interest of our stockholders to exercise our right to redeem Sponsor Capital Stock in order for us to not be Closely Held, we may be required to liquidate or transfer loans we might otherwise continue to hold and/or use our available cash or other sources of liquidity in order to fund the consideration of such redemptions. This may result in, among other things, us foregoing loans that we might otherwise make, a reduction in the cash available for distributions to our stockholders and a lower rate of return to our stockholders than what could have been achieved but for such redemptions.
Risks Related to Our Relationship with Our Manager and its Affiliates
Our future success depends on our Manager and its key personnel and investment professionals. We may not find a suitable replacement for our Manager if our Management Agreement (as defined below) is terminated or if such key personnel or investment professionals leave the employment of our Manager or otherwise become unavailable to us.
We rely on the resources of our Manager to manage our day-to-day operations, as we do not separately employ any personnel. We rely completely on our Manager to provide us with investment advisory services and general management services. Each of our executive officers also serve as officers of our Manager. Our Manager has significant discretion as to the implementation of our investment and operating policies and strategies. Accordingly, we believe that our success depends to a significant extent upon the efforts, experience, diligence, skill and network of business contacts of the officers, key personnel and investment professionals of our Manager as well as the information and deal flow generated by such individuals. The officers, key personnel and investment professionals of our Manager source, evaluate, negotiate, close and monitor our loans; therefore, our success depends on their continued service. The departure of any of the officers, key personnel and investment professionals of our Manager could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Our Manager is not obligated to dedicate any specific personnel exclusively to us. None of our officers are obligated to dedicate any specific portion of their time to our business. Each of them may have significant responsibilities for other investment vehicles managed by affiliates of our Manager. As a result, these individuals may not always be able to devote sufficient time to the management of our business. Further, when there are turbulent conditions in the real estate markets or distress in the credit markets, the attention of our Manager’s personnel and our executive officers and the resources of our Manager may also be required by other investment vehicles managed by affiliates of our Manager.
In addition, we offer no assurance that our Manager will remain our manager or that we will continue to have access to our Manager’s officers, key personnel and investment professionals due to the termination of the Management Agreement, our Manager being acquired, our Manager being internalized by another client of our
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Manager, or due to other circumstances. Currently, we are managed by our Board and its officers and by our Manager, as provided for under the management agreement, by and between us and our Manager (the “Management Agreement”). Upon consummation of this offering, the current term of the Management Agreement will expire on July 31, 2023, and will be automatically renewed for one-year terms thereafter unless otherwise terminated. Furthermore, our Manager may decline to renew the Management Agreement with 180 days’ written notice prior to the expiration of the renewal term. If the Management Agreement is terminated and we are unable to find a suitable replacement for our Manager, we may not be able to execute its investment strategy.
Our growth depends on the ability of our Manager to make loans on favorable terms that satisfy our investment strategy and otherwise generate attractive risk-adjusted returns initially and consistently from time to time.
Our ability to achieve our investment objectives depends on our ability to grow, which depends, in turn, on the management and investment teams of our Manager and their ability to identify and to make loans on favorable terms in accordance with our investment strategy as well as on our access to financing on acceptable terms. The demands on the time of the professional staff of our Manager will increase as our portfolio grows and the management of our existing portfolio may divert our Manager’s attention from future potential loans or otherwise slow our rate of investment. Our Manager may be unable to successfully and efficiently integrate new loans into our existing portfolio or otherwise effectively manage our assets or our future growth effectively. We cannot assure you that our Manager will be able to hire, train, supervise, manage and retain new officers and employees to manage future growth effectively, and any such failure could have a material adverse effect on our business. The failure to consummate loans on advantageous terms without substantial expense or delay would impede our growth, would negatively affect our results of operations and our ability to generate cash flow and make distributions to our stockholders, and could cause the value of our common stock to decline.
There are various conflicts of interest in our relationship with our Manager that could result in decisions that are not in the best interests of our stockholders.
We are subject to conflicts of interest arising out of our relationship with our Manager and its affiliates. We are managed by our Manager and our executive officers are employees of our Manager or one or more of its affiliates. There is no guarantee that the policies and procedures adopted by us, the terms and conditions of the Management Agreement or the policies and procedures adopted by our Manager and its affiliates, will enable us to identify, adequately address or mitigate these conflicts of interest.
Some examples of conflicts of interest that may arise by virtue of our relationship with our Manager include:
Manager’s advisory activities. While our Manager and its affiliates have agreed that for so long as our Manager is managing us, neither it nor any of its affiliates will sponsor or manage any other REIT that invests primarily in loans of the same kind as our Company, our Manager and its affiliates may otherwise manage other investment vehicles that have investment objectives that compete or overlap with, and may from time to time invest in, our target asset classes. This may apply to existing investment vehicles or investment vehicles that may be organized in the future. For example, our Manager and/or its affiliates intend to provide investment advisory and other management services to a to-be-formed investment vehicle whose investment objective will be to acquire equity securities of our borrowers in conjunction with our lending transactions, such as the Assigned Rights, a to-be-formed investment vehicle focused on investing in small- and medium-sized operators in the cannabis industry by providing debt and equity capital to such operators and a to-be-formed real property REIT focused on funding loans in smaller principal amounts, in each case, to be founded by our Sponsor or an affiliate of our Manager and in which our Sponsor intends to maintain significant equity interests. Consequently, we, on the one hand, and these other investment vehicles, on the other hand, may from time to time pursue the same or similar loan opportunities. To the extent such other investment vehicles seek to acquire the same target assets as us, the scope of opportunities otherwise available to us may be adversely affected and/or reduced. Our Manager or its affiliates may also give advice to such other investment vehicles that may differ from the advice given to us even though their investment objectives may be the same or similar to ours.
Allocation of loans. Our Manager and its affiliates endeavor to allocate loan opportunities in a fair and equitable manner, subject to their internal policies. The internal policies of our Manager and its affiliates, which may be amended without our consent, are intended to enable us to share equitably with any other investment vehicles that are managed by affiliates of our Manager. In general, loan opportunities are allocated taking into
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consideration various factors, including, among others, the relevant investment vehicles’ available capital, their investment objectives or strategies, their risk profiles and their existing or prior positions in a borrower or particular loan, their potential conflicts of interest, the nature of the opportunity and market conditions, as well as the rotation of loan opportunities. Nevertheless, it is possible that we may not be given the opportunity to participate in certain loans made by investment vehicles managed by affiliates of our Manager. In addition, there may be conflicts in the allocation of loan opportunities among us and the investment vehicles managed by affiliates of our Manager.
Co-investments. Other investment vehicles managed by affiliates of our Manager may co-invest with us or hold positions in a loan where we have also invested, including by means of splitting commitments, participating in loans or other means of syndicating loans. Such loans may raise potential conflicts of interest between us and such other investment vehicles. To the extent such investment vehicles seek to acquire the same target assets as us, subject to the internal policies of our Manager and its affiliates described above, the scope of opportunities otherwise available to us may be adversely affected and/or reduced. In such circumstances, the size of the investment opportunity in loans otherwise available to us may be less than it would otherwise have been, and we may participate in such opportunities on different and potentially less favorable economic terms than such other parties if our Manager deems such participation as being otherwise in our best interests. Furthermore, when such other investment vehicles have interests or requirements that do not align with our interests, including differing liquidity needs or desired investment horizons, conflicts may arise in the manner in which any voting or control rights are exercised with respect to the relevant borrower, potentially resulting in an adverse impact on us. If we participate in a co-investment with an investment vehicle managed by an affiliate of our Manager and such vehicle fails to fund a future advance on a loan, we may be required to, or we may elect to, cover such advance and invest additional funds. In addition, if we and such other investment vehicles invest in different classes or types of debt, equity or other investments relating to the same borrower, actions may be taken by such other investment vehicles that are adverse to our interests, including, but not limited to, during a work-out, restructuring or insolvency proceeding or similar matter occurring with respect to such loan.
Loans in which other investment vehicles managed by affiliates of our Manager hold different loans. We may invest in, acquire, sell assets to or provide financing to investment vehicles managed by affiliates of our Manager and their borrowers or purchase assets from, sell assets to, or arrange financing from any such investment vehicles and their borrowers. Any such transactions will require approval by a majority of our independent directors. There can be no assurance that any procedural protections will be sufficient to ensure that these transactions will be made on terms that will be at least as favorable to us as those that would have been obtained in an arm’s-length transaction.
Revolving Credit Facility. Certain affiliates of our Manager act as agent to and/or lenders under our Revolving Credit Facility, which provides revolving loan commitments of up to $40.0 million and bears interest at a fixed rate of 8% per annum, payable in cash in arrears. As of December 26, 2020, we did not have any borrowings outstanding under our Revolving Credit Facility. Future proceeds under the Revolving Credit Facility are available to fund investments and bridge capital contributions and for general corporate purposes. Our obligations under the Revolving Credit Agreement and the other loan documents delivered in connection therewith are secured by a first priority security interest in substantially all of our existing and future assets. The maturity date of the Revolving Credit Facility is the earlier of (i) July 31, 2021 and (ii) the closing date of any Refinancing Credit Facility (as defined below). The Revolving Credit Facility is intended to serve as a backstop until we are able to secure outside debt financing. It is possible that the interests of our Manager and its applicable affiliates could be in conflict with ours and the interests of our stockholders. Any such financing agreements will require approval by a majority of our independent directors. There can be no assurance that any procedural protections will be sufficient to ensure that these agreements will be made on terms that will be at least as favorable to us as those that would have been obtained in an arm’s-length transaction. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Revolving Credit Facility.
Fees and expenses. We will be responsible for certain fees and expenses as determined by our Manager, including due diligence costs, legal, accounting and financial advisor fees and related costs, incurred in connection with evaluating and consummating loan opportunities, regardless of whether such loans are ultimately consummated by the parties thereto.
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The ability of our Manager and its officers and employees to engage in other business activities may reduce the time our Manager spends managing our business and may result in certain conflicts of interest.
Certain of our officers and directors and the officers and other personnel of our Manager also serve or may serve as officers, directors or partners of certain affiliates of our Manager, as well as investment vehicles sponsored by such affiliates, including investment vehicles or managed accounts not yet established, whether managed or sponsored by affiliates or our Manager. Accordingly, the ability of our Manager and its officers and employees to engage in other business activities may reduce the time our Manager spends managing our business. These activities could be viewed as creating a conflict of interest insofar as the time and effort of the professional staff of our Manager and its officers and employees will not be devoted exclusively to our business; instead it will be allocated between our business and the management of these other investment vehicles.
In the course of our investing activities, we will pay Base Management Fees to our Manager and will reimburse our Manager for certain expenses it incurs. As a result, investors in our common stock will invest on a “gross” basis and receive any distributions on a “net” basis after expenses, resulting in, among other things, a lower rate of return than one might achieve through direct loans. As a result of this arrangement, our Manager’s interests may be less aligned with our interests.
Our Management Agreement with our Manager was not negotiated on an arm’s-length basis and may not be as favorable to us as if they had been negotiated with an unaffiliated third party, and the manner of determining the Base Management Fees may not provide sufficient incentive to our Manager to maximize risk-adjusted returns for our portfolio since it is based on the book value of our equity per annum and not on our performance.
We rely completely on our Manager to provide us with investment advisory services and general management services. Our executive officers also serve as officers of our Manager. Our Management Agreement was negotiated between related parties and their terms, including fees payable, may not be as favorable to us as if they had been negotiated with an unaffiliated third party.
We will pay our Manager substantial Base Management Fees regardless of the performance of our portfolio. Pursuant to the terms of our Management Agreement as will be amended upon consummation of this offering, our Manager will receive Base Management Fees that are calculated and payable quarterly in arrears in cash, in an amount equal to 0.375% of our Equity (as defined below), subject to certain adjustments, less 50% of any other fees, if any, earned and paid to our Manager during such quarter resulting from the investment advisory services and general management services rendered by our Manager under our Management Agreement. Such Base Management Fees will be calculated and payable quarterly in arrears in cash, subject to certain adjustments. Our Manager’s entitlement to the Base Management Fees, which are not based upon performance metrics or goals, might reduce its incentive to devote its time and effort to seeking loans that provide attractive risk-adjusted returns for our portfolio. Further, the Base Management Fee structure gives our Manager the incentive to maximize the book value of our equity raised by the issuance of new equity securities or the retention of existing equity value, regardless of the effect of these actions on existing stockholders. In other words, the Base Management Fee structure will reward our Manager primarily based on the size of our equity raised and not necessarily on our financial returns to stockholders. This in turn could hurt both our ability to make distributions to our stockholders and the market price of our common stock.
Upon consummation of this offering, the current term of our Management Agreement will expire on July 31, 2023, and will be automatically renewed for one-year terms thereafter unless otherwise terminated. Furthermore, our Manager may decline to renew either Management Agreement with 180 days’ written notice prior to the expiration of the renewal term. If our Management Agreement is terminated and we are unable to find a suitable replacement for our Manager, we may not be able to continue to execute our investment strategy.”
Terminating our Management Agreement for unsatisfactory performance of our Manager or electing not to renew the Management Agreement may be difficult and terminating our Management Agreement in certain circumstances requires payment of a substantial termination fee.
Terminating our Management Agreement without cause is difficult and costly. Our independent directors will review our Manager’s performance and the applicable Base Management Fees and incentive fees at least annually. Upon 180 days’ written notice prior to the expiration of any renewal term, our Management Agreement may be terminated upon the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of our independent directors, based upon unsatisfactory performance by our Manager that is materially detrimental to us. Upon consummation of this
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offering, the Management Agreement will provide that upon any termination as described in the foregoing, we will pay our Manager a Termination Fee equal to five times the sum of the average annual Base Management Fees and incentive fees received from us during the 24-month period immediately preceding the most recently completed fiscal quarter prior to such termination. This provision increases the cost to us of terminating the Management Agreement and adversely affects our ability to terminate our Manager without cause.
Even if we terminate our Management Agreement for cause, we may be required to continue to retain our Manager for 30 days following the occurrence of events giving rise to a for-cause termination.
While we have the right to terminate our Management Agreement for cause without paying a Termination Fee, we must provide 30 days’ notice to our Manager in advance of any such termination, including in the event of our Manager's fraud, misappropriation of funds, embezzlement or bad faith, willful misconduct, gross negligence or reckless disregard in the performance of its duties. As a result, we would be forced to continue to pay our Manager during such 30-day period and we may not be able to find a suitable replacement for our Manager during this period or, if we were able to find a suitable replacement, we may be required to compensate the new manager while continuing to pay our terminated Manager during this 30-day period, unless our Manager waives the notice requirement. This could have an adverse effect on our business and operations, which could adversely affect our operating results and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders. See “Our Manager and our Management Agreement—Management—Termination for Cause” for additional information regarding a for-cause termination of our Management Agreement.
The incentive fees payable to our Manager under the Management Agreement may cause our Manager to select riskier loans to increase its incentive compensation.
In addition to the Base Management Fees, our Manager is entitled to receive incentive compensation under our Management Agreement. Under our Management Agreement, we will pay incentive fees to our Manager based upon our achievement of targeted levels of Core Earnings. “Core Earnings” is generally defined in our Management Agreement as, for a given period, the net income (loss) computed in accordance with GAAP, excluding (i) non-cash equity compensation expense, (ii) the incentive fee, (iii) depreciation and amortization, (iv) any unrealized gains, losses or other non-cash items recorded in net income (loss) for the period, regardless of whether such items are included in other comprehensive income or loss, or in net income (loss); provided that Core Earnings does not exclude, in the case of loans with a deferred interest feature (such as OID, debt instruments with PIK interest and zero coupon securities), accrued income that we have not yet received in cash, and (v) one-time events pursuant to changes in GAAP and certain non-cash charges after discussions between our Manager and our independent directors and after approval by a majority of such independent directors.
In evaluating loans and other management strategies, the opportunity to earn incentive fees based on Core Earnings and realized profits, as applicable, may lead our Manager to place undue emphasis on the maximization of Core Earnings and realized profits at the expense of other criteria, such as preservation of capital, in order to achieve higher incentive compensation. Loans with higher yield potential are generally riskier or more speculative. This could result in increased risk to the value of our loan portfolio.
Our Manager manages our portfolio in accordance with very broad investment guidelines and our Board does not approve each loan and financing decision made by our Manager, which may result in us making riskier loans than those currently comprising our Existing Portfolio.
While our Board periodically reviews our loan portfolios, it does not review all proposed loans. In addition, in conducting periodic reviews, such directors may rely primarily on information provided to them by our Manager. Our Investment Guidelines (as defined below) may be changed from time to time upon recommendation by our Manager and approval by a majority of our Board (which must include a majority of the independent directors of our Board) and our Manager. Furthermore, our Manager may use complex strategies and loans entered into by our Manager that may be difficult or impossible to unwind by the time they are reviewed by our Board. Our Manager has great latitude in determining the types of loans that are proper for us, which could result in loan returns that are substantially below expectations or that result in losses, which would materially and adversely affect our business operations and results. In addition, our Manager is not subject to any limits or proportions with respect to the mix of target investments that we make or that we may in the future acquire other than as necessary to maintain our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act and our qualification as a REIT. Decisions made and loans entered into by our Manager may not fully reflect your best interests.
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Our Manager may change its investment process, or elect not to follow it, without the consent of our stockholders and at any time, which may adversely affect our loans.
Our Manager may change its investment process without the consent of our stockholders and at any time. In addition, there can be no assurance that our Manager will follow its investment process in relation to the identification and underwriting of prospective loans. Changes in our Manager’s investment process may result in inferior, among other things, due diligence and underwriting standards, which may adversely affect the performance of our portfolio.
We do not have a policy that expressly prohibits our directors, managers, officers, stockholders or affiliates, as applicable, from engaging for their own account in business activities of the types conducted by us.
We do not have a policy that expressly prohibits our directors, officers, stockholders or affiliates from engaging for their own account in business activities of the types conducted by us. However, our conflicts of interest policies prohibit our directors and officers as well as employees of our Manager from engaging in any transaction that involves an actual conflict of interest with us without the approval of the Audit and Valuation Committee of our Board. In addition, our Management Agreement has limited restrictions on our Manager’s and its affiliates’ respective ability to engage in additional management or loan opportunities, which could result in our Manager or its affiliates engaging in management and investment activities that compete with us, and our conflict of interest policies acknowledge that such activities shall not be deemed a conflict of interest.
Our Manager is subject to extensive regulation as an investment adviser, which could adversely affect its ability to manage our business.
Our Manager is currently an Exempt Reporting Adviser and intends to register as an investment adviser under the Advisers Act. Our Manager may be subject to regulation as an investment adviser by various regulatory authorities that are charged with protecting the interests of its clients. Instances of criminal activity and fraud by participants in the investment management industry and disclosures of trading and other abuses by participants in the financial services industry have led the United States Government and regulators to increase the rules and regulations governing, and oversight of, the United States financial system. This activity resulted in changes to the laws and regulations governing the investment management industry and more aggressive enforcement of the existing laws and regulations. Our Manager could be subject to civil liability, criminal liability, or sanction, including revocation of its registration as an investment adviser (if relevant), revocation of the licenses of its employees, censures, fines, or temporary suspension or permanent bar from conducting business, if it is found to have violated any of these laws or regulations. Any such liability or sanction could adversely affect our Manager’s ability to manage its business. Additionally, our Manager must continually address conflicts between its interests and those of its clients, including us. In addition, the SEC and other regulators have increased their scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest. Our Manager has procedures and controls that we believe are reasonably designed to address these issues. However, appropriately dealing with conflicts of interest is complex and difficult and if our Manager fails, or appears to fail, to deal appropriately with conflicts of interest, it could face litigation or regulatory proceedings or penalties, any of which could adversely affect its ability to manage our business.
While we believe that we benefit from our Manager’s key personnel and investment professionals expertise and experience, we may not replicate the historical performance of our Manager’s key personnel and investment professionals or that of our Manager’s affiliates and we can provide no assurance that, in certain circumstances, their prior experience will not cause reputational harm for us.
We believe that we will benefit from the extensive and diverse expertise and significant financing industry experience of the key personnel and investment professionals of our Manager and its affiliates. However, investors should understand that we and our Manager are recently formed entities that have limited prior operating history upon which to evaluate our and our Manager’s likely performance and we and our Manager have not previously managed a REIT vehicle focused on providing loans for cannabis industry operators.
Additionally, in connection with their prior experience, certain of our Manager’s key personnel and its affiliates and our officers and directors have been named defendants in litigation or other legal proceedings involving their managed entities. For example, in 2015, Fifth Street Finance Corporation (“FSC”) and Fifth Street Asset Management (“Fifth Street”) and certain officers and directors of FSC and Fifth Street, including Mr. Tannenbaum and Alexander C. Frank, one of our directors, were named as defendants in actions alleging
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violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act regarding statements about the value of FSC’s assets and Fifth Street and certain officers and directors, including Mr. Tannenbaum and Mr. Frank, were named as defendants in actions alleging that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties by causing FSC to enter into an unfair Investment Advisory Agreement with Fifth Street and engaging in a scheme designed to artificially inflate FSC’s assets. In addition, in 2018, Fifth Street Management, LLC (“FSM”), during a time in which Mr. Tannenbaum was an affiliate, was subject to a cease and desist order from the SEC (the “Order”) relating to allegations of improper allocation of expenses to clients and failures relating to its review of a client’s valuation model. The Order was limited to FSM and no individual or FSM affiliated entity was subject to the Order at any time. Additionally, each of these matters have been resolved with no admission of wrongdoing by any party and the dismissals of all claims against each of the named individuals but we cannot provide assurance that these prior legal proceedings or future legal proceedings involving us, our Manager, our Manager’s key personnel or investment professionals or its affiliates or our officers or directors will not cause reputational harm for us.
In addition to other analytical tools, our Manager may utilize financial models to evaluate loan opportunities, the accuracy and effectiveness of which cannot be guaranteed.
In addition to other analytical tools, our Manager may utilize financial models to evaluate loan opportunities, the accuracy and effectiveness of which cannot be guaranteed. In all cases, financial models are only estimates of future results which are based upon assumptions made at the time that the projections are developed. There can be no assurance that our Manager’s projected results will be attained and actual results may vary significantly from the projections. General economic and industry-specific conditions, which are not predictable, can have an adverse impact on the reliability of projections.
Our Manager’s and its affiliates’ liability is limited under the Management Agreement, and we have agreed to indemnify our Manager against certain liabilities. As a result, we could experience poor performance or losses for which our Manager and its affiliates would not be liable.
Pursuant to the Management Agreement, our Manager does not assume any responsibility other than to render the services called for thereunder in good faith and will not be responsible for any action of our Board in following or declining to follow its advice or recommendations. Under the terms of the Management Agreement, our Manager, its affiliates, and any of their respective members, stockholders, managers, partners, trustees, personnel, officers, directors, employees, consultants and any person providing sub-advisory services to our Manager (collectively, the “Manager Parties”) will not be liable to us for acts or omissions performed in accordance with and pursuant to the Management Agreement, except by reason of acts constituting bad faith, willful misconduct, gross negligence, or reckless disregard of their duties under the relevant Management Agreement. In addition, we have agreed to indemnify the Manager Parties with respect to all losses, damages, liabilities, demands, charges and claims of any nature whatsoever, and any and all expenses, costs and fees related thereto, arising from acts or omissions of the Manager Parties not constituting bad faith, willful misconduct, gross negligence, or reckless disregard of duties, performed in good faith in accordance with and pursuant to the Management Agreement. We have also entered into indemnification agreements with our Manager to indemnify and advance certain fees, costs and expenses to the members of the Investment Committee of our Manager, subject to certain limitations to be set forth in such indemnification agreements. These protections may lead our Manager to act in a riskier manner when acting on our behalf than it would when acting for its own account.
Risks Related to Our Taxation as a REIT
Failure to qualify as a REIT would cause us to be taxed as a regular corporation, which would substantially reduce funds available for distributions to our stockholders.
We intend to operate in a manner so as to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. We believe that our organization and proposed method of operation will enable us to meet the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT. However, we cannot assure you that we will qualify as such. This is because qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex provisions of the Code, and regulations promulgated by the U.S. Treasury Department thereunder (“Treasury Regulations”) as to which there are only limited judicial and administrative interpretations and involves the determination of facts and circumstances not entirely within our control. In addition, while we intend to take the position that we and certain of our affiliates are treated as separate entities for purposes of determining whether we qualify as a REIT, there can be no guarantee that the IRS will agree with our position. If we and certain of our affiliates are treated
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as the same entity for this purpose, we may not qualify as a REIT. Furthermore, future legislation, new regulations, administrative interpretations or court decisions may significantly change the U.S. tax laws or the application of the U.S. tax laws with respect to qualification as a REIT for federal income tax purposes or the federal income tax consequences of such qualification.
If we fail to qualify as a REIT in any taxable year, we will face serious tax consequences that will substantially reduce the funds available for distributions to our stockholders because:
we would not be allowed a deduction for distributions paid to stockholders in computing our taxable income and would be subject to U.S. federal income tax at regular corporate rates;
we could be subject to increased state and local taxes; and
unless we are entitled to relief under statutory provisions, we would not be able to re-elect to be taxed as a REIT for four taxable years following the year in which we were disqualified.
In addition, if we fail to qualify as a REIT, we will no longer be required to make distributions to remain qualified as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. As a result of all these factors, our failure to qualify as a REIT could impair our ability to expand its business and raise capital, and it would adversely affect the value of our common stock.
Even if we qualify as a REIT, we may face other tax liabilities that reduce our cash flows.
Even if we qualify for taxation as a REIT, we may be subject to certain federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income, tax on income from some activities conducted as a result of a foreclosure, and state or local income, property and transfer taxes. In addition, in order to meet the REIT qualification requirements or to avert the imposition of a 100% tax that applies to certain gains derived by a REIT from dealer property or inventory, we may hold certain assets through one or more to-be-formed taxable REIT subsidiaries that will be subject to corporate-level income tax at regular rates. In addition, if we lend money to a taxable REIT subsidiary (including loans to partnerships or limited liability companies in which a taxable REIT subsidiary owns an interest), the taxable REIT subsidiary may be unable to deduct all or a portion of the interest paid to us, which could result in an increased corporate-level tax liability. Any of these taxes would decrease cash available for distribution to our stockholders.
REIT distribution requirements could adversely affect our ability to exercise our business plan and liquidity and may force us to borrow funds during unfavorable market conditions.
In order to maintain our REIT status and to meet the REIT distribution requirements, we may need to borrow funds on a short-term basis or sell assets, even if the then-prevailing market conditions are not favorable for these borrowings or sales. In addition, we may need to reserve cash (including proceeds from this offering) to satisfy our REIT distribution requirements, even though there are attractive lending opportunities that may be available. To qualify as a REIT, we must distribute to our stockholders at least 90% of our net taxable income each year, without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding capital gains and certain non-cash income. In addition, we will be subject to corporate income tax to the extent we distribute less than 100% of our taxable income, including any net capital gain. We intend to make distributions to our stockholders to comply with the requirements of the Code for REITs and to minimize or eliminate our corporate income tax obligation to the extent consistent with our business objectives. Our cash flows from operations may be insufficient to fund required distributions as a result of differences in timing between the actual receipt of income and the recognition of income for U.S. federal income tax purposes, or the effect of non-deductible capital expenditures, the creation of reserves or required debt service or amortization payments. In addition, if the IRS were to disallow certain of our deductions, such as management fees, depreciation or interest expense, by alleging that we, through our business operations and/or loan agreements with state-licensed cannabis borrowers, are subject to Section 280E of the Code or otherwise, we could be unable to meet the distribution requirements and would fail to qualify as a REIT. Likewise, any governmental fine on us would not be deductible, and the inability to deduct such fines could cause us to be unable to satisfy the distribution requirement.
The insufficiency of our cash flows to cover its distribution requirements could have an adverse impact on its ability to raise short- and long-term debt or sell equity securities in order to fund distributions required to maintain its REIT status. In addition, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax on the amount, if any, by which distributions paid by us in any calendar year are less than the sum of 85% of our ordinary income,
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95% of our capital gain net income and 100% of our undistributed income from prior years. To address and/or mitigate some of these issues, we may make taxable distributions that are in part paid in cash and in part paid in our equity. In such cases, our stockholders may have tax liabilities from such distributions in excess of the cash they receive. The treatment of such taxable stock distributions is not entirely clear, and it is possible the taxable stock distribution will not count towards our distribution requirement, in which case adverse consequences could apply.
Complying with REIT requirements may cause us to forego otherwise attractive opportunities or to liquidate otherwise attractive loans.
To qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we must continually satisfy tests concerning, among other things, the sources of our income, the nature and diversification of our assets and the amounts we distribute to our stockholders. In order to meet these tests, we may be required to forego loans that we might otherwise make or liquidate loans we might otherwise continue to hold. Thus, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our performance by limiting our ability to make and/or maintain ownership of certain otherwise attractive loans.
Temporary investment of the net offering proceeds of the offering in short-term securities and income from such investment generally will allow us to satisfy various REIT income and asset qualifications, but only during the one-year period beginning on the date we receive such net offering proceeds. If we are unable to invest a sufficient amount of the net proceeds of this offering in qualifying real estate assets within such one-year period, we could fail to satisfy the gross income tests and/or we could be limited to investing all or a portion of any remaining funds in cash or cash equivalents. If we fail to satisfy such income test, unless we are entitled to relief under certain provisions of the Code, we could fail to qualify as a REIT.
The tax on prohibited transactions will limit our ability to engage in certain loans involving the sale or other disposition of property or that would otherwise subject us to a 100% penalty tax.
A REIT’s net income from prohibited transactions is subject to a 100% tax. In general, prohibited transactions are sales or other dispositions of property, other than foreclosure property, held as inventory or primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business. Although we do not intend to hold a significant amount of assets as inventory or primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of our business, the characterization of an asset sale as a prohibited transaction depends on the particular facts and circumstances. The Code provides a safe harbor that, if met, allows a REIT to avoid being treated as engaged in a prohibited transaction. We may sell certain assets in transactions that do not meet all of the requirements of such safe harbor if we believe the transaction would nevertheless not be a prohibited transaction based on an analysis of all of the relevant facts and circumstances. If the IRS were to successfully argue that such a sale was in fact a prohibited transaction, we would be subject to a 100% penalty tax with respect to such sale. In addition, in order to avoid the prohibited transactions tax, we may choose not to engage in certain sales, even though the sales might otherwise be beneficial to it.
Legislative, regulatory or administrative tax changes related to REITs could materially and adversely affect our business.
At any time, the U.S. federal income tax laws or Treasury Regulations governing REITs, or the administrative interpretations of those laws or regulations, may be changed, possibly with retroactive effect. We cannot predict if or when any new U.S. federal income tax law, regulation or administrative interpretation, or any amendment to any existing U.S. federal income tax law, regulation or administrative interpretation, will be adopted, promulgated or become effective or whether any such law, regulation or interpretation may take effect retroactively. We and our stockholders could be adversely affected by any such change in, or any new, U.S. federal income tax law, regulation or administrative interpretation.
Dividends payable by REITs generally do not qualify for reduced tax rates applicable to qualified dividend income.
The maximum U.S. federal income tax rate for certain qualified dividends payable to individual U.S. stockholders is 20%. Dividends payable by REITs, however, are generally not qualified dividends and therefore are not eligible for taxation at the reduced rates. However, to the extent such dividends are attributable to certain dividends that we receive from a taxable REIT subsidiary or to income from a prior year that was retained by us
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and subject to corporate tax, such dividends generally will be eligible for the reduced rates that apply to qualified dividend income. The more favorable rates applicable to regular corporate dividends could cause investors who are individuals to perceive investments in REITs to be relatively less attractive than investments in the stocks of non-REIT corporations that pay dividends, which could adversely affect the value of the stock of REITs, including our equity. However, through the 2025 tax year, individual U.S. stockholders may be entitled to claim a deduction in determining their taxable income of 20% of ordinary REIT dividends (dividends other than capital gain dividends and dividends attributable to qualified dividend income received by us, if any), which temporarily reduces the effective tax rate on these dividends to a maximum federal income tax rate of 29.6% for those years. If we fail to qualify as a REIT, such stockholders may not claim this deduction with respect to dividends paid by us. Stockholders are urged to consult tax advisers regarding the effect of this change on the effective tax rate with respect to REIT dividends.
If we were considered to actually or constructively pay a “preferential dividend” to certain of our stockholders, our status as a REIT could be adversely affected.
In order to qualify as a REIT, we must annually distribute to our stockholders at least 90% of its REIT taxable income, determined without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding net capital gain and certain non-cash income. In order for distributions to be counted as satisfying the annual distribution requirements for REITs, and to provide us with a REIT-level tax deduction, the distributions must not be “preferential dividends,” unless we are a “publicly offered REIT,” which we currently are not, but expect to be following this offering. A dividend is not a preferential dividend if the distribution is pro rata among all outstanding shares of stock within a particular class, and in accordance with the preferences among different classes of stock as set forth in our organizational documents. Currently, there is uncertainty as to the IRS’s position regarding whether certain arrangements that REITs have with their stockholders could give rise to the inadvertent payment of a preferential dividend (e.g., the pricing methodology for stock purchased under a distribution reinvestment program inadvertently causing a greater than 5% discount on the price of such stock purchased). There is no de minimis exception with respect to preferential dividends; therefore, if the IRS were to take the position that we inadvertently paid a preferential dividend, we may be deemed to have failed the 90% distribution test, and our status as a REIT could be terminated for the year in which such determination is made if we were unable to cure such failure. While we believe that our operations will be structured in such a manner that we will not be treated as inadvertently paying preferential dividends, we can provide no assurance to this effect.
The ability of our Board to revoke our REIT election without stockholder approval may cause adverse consequences to our stockholders.
The Charter provides that our Board may revoke or otherwise terminate our REIT election, without the approval of our stockholders, if our Board determines that it is no longer in our best interest to attempt to, or continue to, qualify as a REIT. If we cease to qualify as a REIT, we would become subject to U.S. federal income tax on our net taxable income and we generally would no longer be required to distribute any of our net taxable income to our stockholders, which may have adverse consequences on the total return to our stockholders.
Complying with REIT requirements may limit our ability to hedge our operational risks effectively and may cause us to incur tax liabilities.
The REIT provisions of the Code may limit our ability to hedge risks relating to its operations. Any income from a hedging transaction that we enter into to manage risk of interest rate changes, price changes or currency fluctuations with respect to borrowings made or to be made, if properly identified under applicable Treasury Regulations, does not constitute “gross income” for purposes of the 75% or 95% gross income tests. To the extent that we enter into other types of hedging transactions, the income from those transactions will likely be treated as non-qualifying income for purposes of both of the gross income tests.
To the extent the business interest deductions of our subsidiaries, if any, are deferred or disallowed, our taxable income may exceed our cash available for distributions to stockholders.
Code Section 163(j) limits the deductibility of “business interest” for both individuals and corporations. Certain real property trades or businesses are permitted to elect out of this limitation, but we do not expect it to be available to us. To the extent our interest deductions or those of our subsidiaries, if any, are deferred or disallowed under Code Section 163(j) or any other provision of law, our taxable income may exceed our cash
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available for distribution to our stockholders. As a result, there is a risk that we may have taxable income in excess of cash available for distribution. In that event, we may need to borrow funds or take other action to satisfy the REIT distribution requirements for the taxable year in which this “phantom income” is recognized.
We may be deemed to be Closely Held, which, subject to our ability to redeem certain shares of our capital stock, would result in us failing to qualify as a REIT and, subject to any required approvals by our Board and our stockholders, would trigger our dissolution and windup process.
We may be deemed to be Closely Held due to our Sponsor’s percentage ownership of our capital stock. As of the date of this prospectus, our Sponsor Beneficially Owns   % and Constructively Owns   % of our capital stock. Although our Board has the right to redeem any and all of the Sponsor Capital Stock in order to comply with the applicable holding requirements to prevent us from being deemed to be Closely Held on June 30, 2021, our Board may choose to not exercise its right or any amount of redemptions of the Sponsor Capital Stock may be insufficient to prevent us from being deemed to be Closely Held. If we are deemed to be Closely Held after June 30, 2021, we would fail to qualify as a REIT and we would be taxed as a regular corporation, which would substantially reduce funds available for distribution to our stockholders. Accordingly, we would not be allowed a deduction for distributions paid to stockholders in computing our taxable income and would be subject to U.S. federal income tax at the regular corporate rate for the entire 2021 taxable year and in subsequent years. Additionally, we could be subject to increased state and local taxes, and, unless we are entitled to relief under statutory provisions, we would not be able to re-elect to be taxed as a REIT until our 2026 taxable year. See “—Risks Related to Our Taxation as a REIT—Failure to qualify as a REIT would cause us to be taxed as a regular corporation, which would substantially reduce funds available for distributions to our stockholders” for additional information. Further, if, on July 1, 2021, we are Closely Held, then, we will, subject to any required approvals by our Board and our stockholders, immediately take all necessary action to undertake an orderly liquidation and sale of our assets and will distribute any net sale proceeds therefrom, after the payment of, or adequate provision for, all known debts and liabilities and any preferential rights of the holders of any then-outstanding shares of our preferred stock, pro rata to the holders of our common stock, and following such distribution, we shall terminate and dissolve. See “Risks Related to Our Organization and Structure—The Charter contains a provision requiring the process of dissolution and winding up if we are Closely Held on July 1, 2021” for additional information.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock and This Offering
There has been no public market for our common stock prior to this offering, and you may not be able to resell our shares at or above the price you paid, or at all.
We have applied to list our common stock on Nasdaq, but an active trading market for our common stock may never develop following this offering. If an active trading market for our common stock does not develop after this offering, the market price and liquidity of our common stock will be materially and adversely affected. You may not be able to sell your shares quickly or at the market price if trading in our common shares is not active. Negotiations between us and the underwriters will determine the offering price for our common stock and the offering price may bear no relationship to the market price for our common stock after this offering. In addition, the market price of our common stock may decline below the offering price. Furthermore, an inactive market may also impair our ability to raise capital by selling shares of our common stock and may impair our ability to enter into strategic partnerships or acquire companies or products by using our shares of common stock as consideration.
Certain of our existing principal stockholders and entities affiliated with our directors have indicated an interest in purchasing a substantial percentage of the shares of our common stock in this offering at the initial public offering price per share. To the extent that such entities purchase shares in this offering, it would reduce the available public float for our shares because these entities may be restricted under the volume limitations of Rule 144 from selling the shares. As a result, any purchase of shares by such entities in this offering may reduce the liquidity of our common shares compared to what it would have been had these shares been purchased by investors that were not affiliated with us.
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If you purchase shares of our common stock in this offering, you will experience immediate dilution.
The offering price of the share of our common stock is higher than the projected net tangible book value per share of our common stock outstanding upon the completion of the offering. Accordingly, if you purchase shares of our common stock in this offering, you will experience immediate dilution in the net tangible book value per share of our common stock. This means that investors that purchase shares of our common stock in this offering will pay a price per share of our common stock that exceeds the per common share net tangible book value of our assets. See “Dilution.”
The market price for our common stock may be volatile, which could contribute to the loss of all or part of your investment.
Prior to this offering, there has not been a public market for our common stock. Accordingly, the initial public offering price for the shares of our common stock may not be indicative of the price that will prevail in the trading market, if any, that develops following this offering. If an active market for our common stock develops and continues, the trading price of our common stock following this offering is likely to be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control.
Some of the factors that could negatively affect or result in fluctuations in the market price of our common stock include:
our actual or projected operating results, financial condition, cash flows and liquidity or changes in business strategy or prospects;
changes in governmental policies, regulations or laws;
loss of a major funding source or inability to obtain new favorable funding sources in the future;
equity issuances by us, or share resales by our stockholders, or the perception that such issuances or resales may occur;
actual, anticipated or perceived accounting or internal control problems;
publication of research reports about us, the real estate industry or the cannabis industry;
our value of the properties securing our loans;
changes in market valuations of similar companies;
adverse market reaction to any increased indebtedness we may incur in the future;
additions to or departures of the executive officers or key personnel supporting or assisting us from our Manager or its affiliates, including our Manager’s investment professionals;
speculation in the press or investment community about us or other similar companies;
our failure to meet, or the lowering of, our earnings estimates or those of any securities analysts;
increases in market interest rates, which may lead investors to demand a higher distribution yield for our common stock (if we have begun to make distributions to our stockholders) and which could cause the cost of our interest expenses on our debt to increase;
failure to qualify or maintain our qualification as a REIT or exclusion from the Investment Company Act;
price and volume fluctuations in the stock market generally; and
general market and economic conditions, including the state of the credit and capital markets.
Any of the factors listed above could materially adversely affect your investment in our common stock, and our common stock may trade at prices significantly below the initial public offering price, which could contribute to a loss of all or part of your investment. In such circumstances the trading price of our common stock may not recover and may experience a further decline.
In addition, broad market and industry factors could materially adversely affect the market price of our common stock, irrespective of our operating performance. The stock market in general, and Nasdaq and the market for
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cannabis-related companies and REITs have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of the particular companies affected. The trading prices and valuations of these stocks, and of ours, may not be predictable. For example, the COVID-19 outbreak continues to rapidly evolve and the extent to which the outbreak may impact our business and the business of our borrowers will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence. A loss of investor confidence in the market for finance companies or for those companies in the cannabis industry or the stocks of other companies which investors perceive to be similar to us, the opportunities in the finance or cannabis market or the stock market in general, could depress our stock price regardless of our business, financial condition, results of operations or growth prospects.
We could be subject to securities class action litigation.
In the past, securities class action litigation has often been brought against a company following a period of volatility or decline in the market price of its securities. If we face such litigation, it could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operation and growth prospects.
If securities analysts do not publish research or reports about our business or if they publish negative reports or downgrade our stock, the price of our common stock could decline.
The trading market for our common stock will rely in part on the research and reports that industry or financial analysts publish about us, our business, our markets and our competitors. We do not control these analysts. If securities analysts do not cover our common stock after the completion of this offering, the lack of research coverage may materially adversely affect the market price of our common stock. Furthermore, if one or more of the analysts who do cover us downgrade our stock or if those analysts issue other unfavorable commentary about us or our business, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fails to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the market and interest in our stock could decrease, which in turn could cause our stock price or trading volume to decline and may also impair our ability to expand our business with existing customers and attract new customers.
The value of our equity securities could be materially and adversely affected by our level of cash distributions.
The value of the equity securities of a company whose principal business is similar to ours is based primarily upon investors’ perception of its growth potential and its current and potential future cash distributions, whether from operations, sales or refinancings, and is secondarily based upon the market value of its underlying assets. For that reason, our equity may be valued at prices that are higher or lower than our net asset value per share. To the extent we retain operating cash flow for investment purposes, working capital reserves or other purposes, these retained funds, while increasing the value of our underlying assets, may not correspondingly increase the price at which our equity could trade. Our failure to meet investors’ expectations with regard to future earnings and cash distributions likely would materially and adversely affect the valuation of our equity.
Future sales of our capital stock or other securities convertible into our capital stock could cause the value of our common stock to decline and could result in dilution of your shares of our common stock.
Our Board is authorized, without your approval, to cause us to issue additional shares of our common stock or to raise capital through the creation and issuance of our preferred stock, debt securities convertible into common stock, options, warrants and other rights, on terms and for consideration as our Board in its sole discretion may determine.
Sales of substantial amounts of our capital stock or other securities convertible into our capital stock could cause the valuation of our capital stock to decrease significantly. We cannot predict the effect, if any, of future sales of our equity, or the availability of our equity for future sales, on the value of our equity. Sales of substantial amounts of our equity by any large stockholder, or the perception that such sales could occur, may adversely affect the valuation of our equity.
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Future offerings of debt securities, which would rank senior to our common stock upon a bankruptcy liquidation, and future offerings of equity securities that may be senior to our common stock for the purposes of dividend and liquidating distributions, may adversely affect the value of our capital stock.
In the future, we may attempt to increase our capital resources by making offerings of debt securities or additional offerings of equity securities. For example, we are planning a preferred stock issuance, to be completed by January 15, 2021 in order for us to qualify as a REIT. See “Description of Capital Stock—Preferred Stock—Planned Preferred Issuance” for more information. Upon bankruptcy or liquidation, holders of our debt securities, lenders with respect to any of our borrowings and holders of our preferred stock, if any, will receive a distribution of our available assets prior to the holders of our common stock. Additional equity offerings by us may dilute the holdings of our existing stockholders or reduce the valuation of our common stock. Our decision to issue securities in any future offering will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control. As a result, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing or nature of our future offerings, and purchasers of our common stock in this offering bear the risk of our future offerings reducing the valuation of our common stock and diluting their ownership interest.
We may in the future pay distributions from sources other than our cash flow from operations, including borrowings, offering proceeds or the sale of assets, which means we will have less funds available for investments or less income-producing assets and your overall return may be reduced.
We may in the future pay distributions from sources other than from our cash flow from operations. We intend to fund the payment of regular distributions to our stockholders entirely from cash flow from our operations. However, we may from time to time not generate sufficient cash flow from operations to fully fund distributions to stockholders. Therefore, if we choose to pay a distribution, we may choose to use cash flows from financing activities, including borrowings (including borrowings secured by our assets) and net proceeds of this or a prior offering, from the sale of assets or from other sources to fund distributions to our stockholders.
To the extent that we fund distributions from sources other than cash flows from operations, including borrowings, offering proceeds or proceeds from asset sales, the value of your investment will decline, and such distributions may constitute a return of capital and we may have fewer funds available for the funding of loans or less income-producing assets and your overall return may be reduced. Further, to the extent distributions exceed our earnings and profits, a stockholder’s basis in our stock will be reduced and, to the extent distributions exceed a stockholder’s basis, the stockholder will be required to recognize capital gain.
There is a risk that you may not receive distributions as holders of our common stock or that such dividends may not grow over time.
We intend to make to make regular quarterly distributions to our stockholders, consistent with our intention to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. However, any future determination to actually pay dividends will be at the discretion of our Board, subject to compliance with applicable law and any contractual provisions, including under agreements for indebtedness, that restrict or limit our ability to pay dividends, and will depend upon, among other factors, our results of operations, financial condition, earnings, capital requirements and other factors that our Board deems relevant. We therefore cannot assure you that we will achieve investment results and other circumstances that will allow us to make a specified level of cash distributions or year-to-year increases in cash distributions.
As one of our significant stockholders and a significant beneficial owner of our Manager, our Sponsor, Leonard M. Tannenbaum, can exert significant influence over our corporate actions and important corporate matters.
Upon the completion of this offering, our Sponsor, Leonard M. Tannenbaum, will beneficially own approximately    % of our outstanding equity (or    % if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full). Our Sponsor currently owns 477,500 shares of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 3,342,500 shares, on a post-split basis) and has been granted options to purchase up to 200,994 shares of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or 1,406,958 shares, on a post-split basis), which will become vested and exercisable upon consummation of this offering. Our Sponsor also owns over 70% of the outstanding equity of Advanced Flower Capital Management, LLC, the parent company of our Manager (the “Parent Manager”).
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Similarly, Jonathan Kalikow, our Head of Real Estate and one of our directors, and Robyn Tannenbaum, our Managing Director, Origination, Investor Relations and Marketing, currently own 5% and 10% of the Parent Manager, respectively. Our Sponsor also serves as our Chief Executive Officer, and Robyn Tannenbaum is his wife.
Our Sponsor and, to a lesser extent, Mrs. Tannenbaum and Mr. Kalikow could therefore exert substantial influence over our corporate matters, such as electing directors and approving material mergers, acquisitions, strategic partnerships or other business combination transactions, as applicable. This concentration of ownership may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control which could have the dual effect of depriving our stockholders from an opportunity to receive a premium for their equity as part of a sale of our Company and otherwise reducing the price of such equity.
We are an “emerging growth company,” and we cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make shares of our common stock less attractive to investors.
We are an “emerging growth company” as defined in the JOBS Act, and we have elected to take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not emerging growth companies, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements, an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards and exemptions from the requirements of holding a non-binding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we will rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile. We may take advantage of these reporting exemptions until we are no longer an emerging growth company. We will remain an emerging growth company until the earliest to occur of (i) the last day of the fiscal year during which our total annual revenue equals or exceeds $1.07 billion (subject to adjustment for inflation), (ii) the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of this offering, (iii) the date on which we have, during the previous three year period, issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt or (iv) the date on which we are deemed to be a “large accelerated filer” under the Exchange Act.
We will incur significant new costs as a result of becoming a public company, and such costs may increase when we cease to be an emerging growth company.
As a public company, we will incur significant legal, accounting, insurance and other expenses that we have not incurred as a private company, including costs associated with public company reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, as amended (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), the listing requirements of Nasdaq and other applicable securities rules and regulations. Compliance with these rules and regulations may significantly increase our legal and financial compliance costs, make some activities more difficult, time-consuming or costly and increase demand on our systems and resources. As a result, our executive officers’ attention may be diverted from other business concerns, which could adversely affect our business and results of operations. Furthermore, the expenses incurred by public companies generally for reporting and corporate governance purposes have been increasing. We expect compliance with these public reporting requirements and associated rules and regulations to increase expenses, particularly after we are no longer an emerging growth company, although we are currently unable to estimate theses costs with any degree of certainty. We could be an emerging growth company for up to five full fiscal years, although circumstances could cause us to lose that status earlier as discussed above, which could result in our incurring additional costs applicable to public companies that are not emerging growth companies.
In addition, changing laws, regulations and standards relating to corporate governance and public disclosure are creating uncertainty for public companies, increasing legal and financial compliance costs and making some activities more time consuming. These laws, regulations and standards are subject to varying interpretations, in many cases due to their lack of specificity, and, as a result, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance is provided by regulatory and governing bodies. This could result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and higher costs necessitated by ongoing revisions to disclosure and governance
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practices. If our efforts to comply with new laws, regulations and standards differ from the activities intended by regulatory or governing bodies due to ambiguities related to their application and practice, regulatory authorities may initiate legal proceedings against us and our business may be adversely affected.
If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, stockholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which would materially adversely affect our business and the trading price of our common stock.
Effective internal controls over financial reporting are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and are designed to prevent fraud. Any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in their implementation could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. Pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, our management will be required to report upon the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting beginning with the annual report for our fiscal year ending December 31, 2021. When we lose our status both as an emerging growth company and a smaller reporting company, our independent registered public accounting firm will be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. The rules governing the standards that must be met for management to assess our internal control over financial reporting are complex and require significant documentation, testing and possible remediation. Any testing by us conducted in connection with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or any subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm, may reveal deficiencies in our internal controls over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses or that may require prospective or retroactive changes to our financial statements or identify other areas for further attention or improvement. Inadequate internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could materially adversely affect the trading price of our common stock.
Our disclosure controls and procedures may not prevent or detect all errors or acts of fraud.
Upon the completion of this offering, we will become subject to the periodic reporting requirements of the Exchange Act. We designed our disclosure controls and procedures to reasonably assure that information we must disclose in reports we file or submit under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to management, and recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the rules and forms of the SEC. We believe that any disclosure controls and procedures or internal controls and procedures, no matter how well-conceived and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met.
These inherent limitations include the realities that judgments in decision-making can be faulty, and that breakdowns can occur because of simple error or mistake. For example, our directors or executive officers could inadvertently fail to disclose a new relationship or arrangement causing us to fail to make any related party transaction disclosures. Additionally, controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons, by collusion of two or more people or by an unauthorized override of the controls. Accordingly, because of the inherent limitations in our control system, misstatements due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected.
Changes to, or interpretations of, financial accounting standards may affect our results of operations and could cause us to change our business practices.
We prepare our financial statements in accordance with GAAP. These accounting principles are subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the SEC and various bodies formed to interpret and create accounting rules and regulations. Changes in accounting rules can have a significant effect on our reported financial results and may affect our reporting of transactions completed before a change is announced. Changes to those rules or the questioning of current practices may materially adversely affect our financial results, including those contained in this filing, or the way we conduct our business.
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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
All statements in this prospectus other than statements of current or historical facts are “forward-looking statements.” These forward-looking statements are based on our current intent, belief, expectations and views of future events. You can identify these forward-looking statements often, but not always, by words or phrases such as “can,” “could,” “continuing,” “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “ongoing,” “plan,” “predict,” “potential,” “project,” “should,” “seeks,” “believe,” “likely to” and similar words, phrases or expressions.
These statements are only predictions and involve estimates, known and unknown risks, assumptions, uncertainties and other factors that could cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements as a result of the factors discussed in “Risk Factors” beginning on page 23 of this prospectus and elsewhere in this prospectus. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
use of proceeds of this offering;
our business and investment strategy;
the impact of COVID-19 on our business and the global economy;
the ability of our Manager to locate suitable loan opportunities for us, monitor and actively manage our loan portfolio and implement our investment strategy;
allocation of loan opportunities to us by our Manager;
our projected operating results;
actions and initiatives of the U.S. or state governments and changes to government policies and the execution and impact of these actions, initiatives and policies, including the fact that cannabis remains illegal under federal law;
the estimated growth in and evolving market dynamics of the cannabis market;
the demand for cannabis cultivation and processing facilities;
shifts in public opinion regarding cannabis;
the state of the U.S. economy generally or in specific geographic regions;
economic trends and economic recoveries;
the amount and timing of our cash flows, if any, from our loans;
our ability to obtain and maintain financing arrangements;
our expected leverage;
changes in the value of our loans;
our expected portfolio of loans;
our expected investment and underwriting process;
rates of default or decreased recovery rates on our loans;
the degree to which any interest rate or other hedging strategies may or may not protect us from interest rate volatility;
changes in interest rates and impacts of such changes on our results of operations, cash flows and the market value of our loans;
interest rate mismatches between our loans and our borrowings used to fund such loans;
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the departure of any of the executive officers or key personnel supporting and assisting us from our Manager or its affiliates;
impact of and changes in governmental regulations, tax law and rates, accounting guidance and similar matters;
our ability to maintain our exclusion or exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act;
our ability to qualify and maintain our qualification as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes;
estimates relating to our ability to make distributions to our stockholders in the future;
our understanding of our competition; and
market trends in our industry, interest rates, real estate values, the securities markets or the general economy.
You should read this prospectus and the documents that we refer to in this prospectus completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and worse than what we expect. Moreover, we operate in a rapidly evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time and it is not possible for our management to predict all the risk factors and uncertainties, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.
You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The forward-looking statements made in this prospectus relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this prospectus. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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USE OF PROCEEDS
We estimate that our net proceeds from this offering, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other estimated offering expenses payable by us, will be approximately $    million, based on an assumed initial public offering price of $    per share, which is the mid-point of the estimated offering price range set forth on the front cover of this prospectus (or approximately $    million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full).
A $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of $    per share would increase or decrease, as applicable, the net proceeds to us from this offering by approximately $    million, assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the front cover of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. Similarly, each increase or decrease of one million shares of common stock offered by us would increase or decrease, as applicable, the net proceeds to us from this offering by approximately $    million, assuming the assumed initial public offering price remains the same and after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
We intend to use the net proceeds received from this offering (i) to repay any borrowings that are outstanding under our Revolving Credit Facility at consummation of this offering, if any, (ii) to fund loans related to unfunded commitments to existing borrowers, Public Company C, Private Company A, Private Company B and Private Company C, in an aggregate principal amount of approximately $19.8 million, (iii) to originate and participate in commercial loans to companies operating in the cannabis industry that are consistent with our investment strategy and (iv) for working capital and other general corporate purposes. We expect that more than 75% of our net proceeds received from this offering will be used as specified in clauses (ii) and (iii) of the foregoing sentence to complete funding of loans with the following anticipated characteristics:
Loans Expected to Be Funded with Net Proceeds(1)
No. of Loans
7
Expected Aggregate Principal Amount
$80.0 - $90.0 million
Wtd. Average OID Range
2.0% - 6.0%
Wtd. Average Cash Interest Rate Range
12.0% - 14.0%
Wtd. Average PIK Interest Range
2.0% - 4.0%
Percentage of Loans with Floating Rate Interest Range
75.0% - 100.0%
Percentage of Loans with Amortization During Term Range
90.0% - 100.0%
Percentage of Loans with Prepayment Penalty Range
75.0% - 100.0%
Wtd. Average Unused Loan Fee Range
1.0% - 5.0%
Wtd. Average YTM IRR Range
17.0% - 25.0%
Real Estate Collateral Coverage Range
1.00x - 2.08x
(1)
The above table provides a summary of various unfunded commitments and non-binding term sheets relating to current financing arrangements we intend to fund utilizing proceeds from this offering, subject to the closing of the loans subject to term sheets. Other than the unfunded commitments to existing borrowers, Public Company C, Private Company A, Private Company B and Private Company C, representing an aggregate principal amount of approximately $19.8 million, we have not entered into binding definitive commitments relating to these loans. As of December 26, 2020, we have executed non-binding term sheets in connection with three loans representing approximately $62.7 million of anticipated loan commitments and have each entered into a period of exclusivity (ranging from 45 to 60 days) with respect to such proposed loans with two of the three prospective borrowers paying us expense deposits to cover the direct costs of our due diligence and underwriting process. We are currently completing our underwriting process and negotiating definitive loan documents for each of these three potential loan investments. However, these three potential loans remain subject to satisfactory completion of our underwriting and due diligence processes, definitive documentation and final approval by the Investment Committee. As a result, no assurance can be given that any of these potential loans will close on the anticipated terms or at all. If these potential loans do not close, we intend to use the proceeds from this offering to originate and participate in other commercial loans to companies operating in the cannabis industry that are consistent with our investment strategy, which we would expect to have similar characteristics as the terms reflected in this table.
Certain of our affiliates are Lenders under the Revolving Credit Agreement governing our Revolving Credit Facility and, in such capacity, such affiliates will receive the net proceeds from this offering to the extent any borrowings are outstanding under the Revolving Credit Agreement at consummation of this offering and such net proceeds are used to repay such borrowings. As of December 26, 2020, we did not have any borrowings outstanding under our Revolving Credit Facility.
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The Revolving Credit Facility bears interest at a fixed rate of 8% per annum, payable in cash in arrears. The use of proceeds from borrowings under the Revolving Credit Facility were to fund loans and bridge capital contributions, and general corporate purposes. The maturity date of the Revolving Credit Facility is the earlier of (i) July 31, 2021 and (ii) the closing date of any Refinancing Credit Facility. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Revolving Credit Facility” and “Certain Relationships and Related Party Transactions—Transactions With Related Parties” for more information.
Our general goal is to invest the net proceeds from this offering within three to nine months following completion of this offering which will depend on the amount of time necessary to evaluate a loan’s suitability based on our investment criteria. However, we cannot predict if or when we will identify and fund loans that meet our investment criteria so as to permit us to invest the net proceeds of this offering. Pending application of the net proceeds, we may invest the net proceeds from this offering in interest-bearing, short-term investments, including money market accounts or funds, commercial mortgage-backed securities and corporate bonds, which are consistent with our intention to qualify as a REIT and to maintain our exclusion from registration under the Investment Company Act.
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DISTRIBUTION POLICY
Following the completion of this offering, we intend to make regular quarterly distributions to our stockholders, consistent with our intention to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. U.S. federal income tax law generally requires that a REIT distribute annually at least 90% of its REIT taxable income, without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding net capital gains and certain non-cash income, and that it pay tax at regular corporate rates to the extent that it annually distributes less than 100% of its REIT taxable income. As a result, in order to satisfy the requirements for us to qualify as a REIT and generally not be subject to U.S. federal income and excise tax, we intend to make regular quarterly distributions of all or substantially all of our REIT taxable income to our stockholders out of assets legally available therefor. REIT taxable income as computed for purposes of the foregoing tax rules will not necessarily correspond to our net income as determined for financial reporting purposes, or our Core Earnings as described under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Financial Measures and Indicators—Core Earnings.” See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations—Taxation—Requirements for Qualification—Annual Distribution Requirements” for a summary of our distribution requirements as a REIT.
Any future determination to actually pay dividends or other distributions will be at the discretion of our Board, subject to compliance with applicable law and any contractual provisions, including under agreements for indebtedness we may incur, that restrict or limit our ability to pay dividends, and will depend upon, among other factors, our results of operations, financial condition, earnings, capital requirements, the annual distribution requirements under the REIT provisions of the Code, our REIT taxable income and other factors that our Board deems relevant. Under the MGCL, we generally may only pay a dividend or other distribution if, after giving effect to the distribution, we would be able to pay our indebtedness as it becomes due in the usual course of business and our total assets exceed our total liabilities.
To the extent that our cash available for distribution is less than the amount required to be distributed under the REIT provisions of the Code, we may be required to fund distributions from working capital or through equity, equity-related or debt financings or, in certain circumstances, asset sales, as to which our ability to consummate loans in a timely manner on favorable terms, or at all, cannot be assured, or we may make a portion of the Required Distribution in the form of a taxable stock distribution or distribution of debt securities.
In December 2020, we declared (i) a regular cash dividend of $2.45 per share of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or $0.35 per share, on a post-split basis), relating to the period since our inception through the fourth quarter of 2020, to be paid on December 30, 2020 to stockholders of record as of December 23, 2020 and (ii) a special cash dividend of $1.85 per share of our common stock (on a pre-split basis, or approximately $0.26 per share, on a post-split basis) to be paid on December 30, 2020 to stockholders of record as of December 23, 2020. The total amount of the regular cash dividend payment and the special cash dividend payment will be $2.2 million and $1.6 million, respectively. The payment of these dividends, including the special cash dividend, is not indicative of our ability to pay such dividends in the future.
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CAPITALIZATION
The following table sets forth our cash and cash equivalents and capitalization as of September 30, 2020 as follows:
on an actual basis;
on a pro forma basis, giving effect to (i) the sale and issuance by us of shares of our common stock in connection with the Additional Closing for consideration of approximately $15.19 per share (on a post-split basis), after giving effect to the reallocation of organizational costs, (ii) the sale and issuance by us of shares of our Series A Preferred Stock in connection with the Series A Offering for consideration of $1,000 per share and (iii) the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering;
on a pro forma as adjusted basis, giving effect to (i) the sale and issuance by us of shares of our common stock in connection with the Additional Closing for consideration of approximately $15.19 per share (on a post-split basis), after giving effect to the reallocation of organizational costs, (ii) the sale and issuance by us of shares of our Series A Preferred Stock in connection with the Series A Offering for consideration of $1,000 per share, (iii) the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering, and (iv) the sale and issuance by us of shares of our common stock in this offering, based upon the assumed initial public offering price of $  per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us and giving effect to the use of proceeds described herein.
Unless the context indicates otherwise, all information in this section assumes the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering. The pro forma as adjusted information set forth in the table below is illustrative only and will be adjusted based on the actual initial public offering price and other terms of this offering determined at pricing. The pro forma as adjusted information assumes the underwriters will not exercise their over-allotment option in this offering. You should read this table together with “Selected Financial Data,” “Use of Proceeds,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” “Description of Capital Stock” and our financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.
 
As of September 30, 2020
 
Actual
Pro Forma
Pro Forma as
Adjusted(1)
 
(in dollars except share data)
Cash and cash equivalents
$31,247,004
$43,652,004
 
Debt:
 
 
 
Revolving Credit Facility
 
Stockholders’ equity:
 
 
 
Preferred stock, $0.01 par value per share: 10,000 shares authorized and no shares issued and outstanding (actual); 10,000 shares authorized and 125 shares of Series A Preferred Stock issued and outstanding (pro forma and pro forma as adjusted)
1
 
Common stock: $0.01 par value per share: 15,000,000 shares authorized, 768,059 shares (on a pre-split basis) issued and outstanding (actual); 15,000,000 shares authorized, 6,179,392 shares issued and outstanding (pro forma); 15,000,000 shares authorized,    shares issued and outstanding (pro forma as adjusted)
7,681
61,794
 
Additional paid-in capital
78,741,251
91,092,136
 
Accumulated earnings
2,106,250
2,106,250
 
Total stockholders’ equity
80,855,182
93,260,182
 
Total Capitalization
80,855,182
93,260,182
 
(1)
Each $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of $    per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, the amount of our pro forma as adjusted cash and cash equivalents and total stockholders’ equity by $    million, assuming that the number of
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shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. An increase or decrease of one million shares in the number of shares offered by us would increase or decrease, as applicable, the amount of our pro forma as adjusted cash and cash equivalents and total stockholders’ equity by $    million, assuming an initial public offering price of $    per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
If the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares of our common stock from us were exercised in full, pro forma as adjusted cash and cash equivalents, additional paid-in capital, total stockholders’ equity, total capitalization and shares of common stock outstanding as of September 30, 2020 would be $   , $   , $   , $   and    , respectively.
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DILUTION
If you invest in our common stock in this offering, your ownership interest will be diluted to the extent of the difference between the initial public offering price per share of our common stock and the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of our common stock immediately after this offering. Unless the context indicates otherwise, all information in this section assumes the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering.
Net tangible book value per share of our common stock is determined by dividing our total tangible assets less our total liabilities by the number of shares of common stock outstanding. Pro forma net tangible book value per share of our common stock is calculated as net tangible book value per share of our common stock after giving effect to (i) the sale and issuance by us of shares of our common stock in connection with the Additional Closing for consideration of approximately $15.19 per share (on a post-split basis), after giving effect to the reallocation of organizational costs, (ii) the sale and issuance by us of shares of our Series A Preferred Stock in connection with the Series A Offering for consideration of $1,000 per share and (iii) the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which will occur immediately prior to consummation of this offering. Pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of our common stock is calculated as pro forma net tangible book value per share of our common stock (i) after giving effect to the sale of     shares of common stock in this offering at the assumed initial public offering price of $   , which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses and giving effect to the use of proceeds described herein and (ii) assuming the underwriters will not exercise their over-allotment option in this offering.
Our historical net tangible book value as of September 30, 2020 was $80.9 million, or approximately $15.04 per share of common stock (on a post-split basis). Without taking into account any other changes in such net tangible book value after September 30, 2020 other than to give effect to such events as required to calculate pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value as of September 30, 2020 would have been $    million, or $    per share of common stock (on a post-split basis). This represents an immediate increase in pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value of $    per share to our existing common stockholders and an immediate dilution in pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value of $    per share to investors (on a post-split basis) purchasing shares of common stock in this offering at the assumed initial public offering price.
The following table illustrates this dilution on a per share basis to new investors.
Assumed initial public offering price per share of our common stock
 
$   
Historical net tangible book value per share of our common stock as of September 30, 2020 (on a post-split basis)
$15.04
 
Increase in net tangible book value per share of our common stock attributable to the pro forma transactions
$0.05
 
Increase in net tangible book value per share of our common stock attributable to this offering
$
 
Pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of our common stock, as adjusted to give effect to the pro forma transactions and this offering
   
 
Dilution per share to new investors participating in this offering (1)
 
$   
(1)
Dilution is determined by subtracting the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share from the assumed initial public offering price paid by a new investor for a share of our common stock.
Each $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $    per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, would increase or decrease, as applicable, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value per share of our common stock to new investors by approximately $   , and would increase or decrease, as applicable, dilution per share to investors purchasing shares of our common stock in this offering by approximately $   , assuming that the number of shares of common stock offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses
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payable by us and giving effect to the use of proceeds described herein. Similarly, each one million increase or decrease in the number of shares of common stock offered by us would increase or decrease, as applicable, our pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value by approximately $    per share of our common stock and increase or decrease, as applicable, the dilution to investors purchasing shares of our common stock in this offering by approximately $    per share, assuming the assumed initial public offering price of $    per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.
To the extent that any outstanding options to purchase shares of our common stock are exercised, new options are issued under our compensatory stock plans or we issue additional shares of common stock in the future, there will be further dilution to investors participating in this offering.
The following table presents, as of September 30, 2020, the differences between the existing common stockholders and the new investors purchasing shares of our common stock in this offering with respect to the number of shares purchased from us, the total consideration paid or to be paid to us, which includes net proceeds received from the issuance of common stock and cash received from the exercise of stock options, and the average price per share paid or to be paid to us at an assumed initial public offering price of $   per share, which is the midpoint of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses:
 
Shares Purchased
Total Consideration
Average
Price Per
Share
 
Number
Percent
Amount
Percent
Existing common stockholders
5,376,411(1)
 
$76,805,875
 
$14.29
New investors