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Filed Pursuant to Rule 424(b)(4)
Registration No. 333-257248
PROSPECTUS
2,750,000 Shares

AFC Gamma, Inc. is offering 2,750,000 shares of its common stock, or approximately 17.1% of our common stock upon completion of this offering (or 19.1% if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full). Our common stock is listed on The Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “AFCG.” The last reported sale price of our common stock on June 23, 2021 was $21.01 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 5,506,246 shares of our common stock, or approximately 31.4% of our common stock upon completion of this offering (or 30.6% if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full).
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 ended December 31, 2020. To assist us in qualifying as a REIT, among other purposes, shares of our common stock are subject to restrictions on ownership and transfer including, subject to certain exceptions, a 4.9% 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”), who also serves as our Chief Executive Officer, has been granted an exemption allowing him to own up to 29.9% 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 25 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, our borrowers’ inability to renew or otherwise maintain their licenses or other requisite authorizations for their cannabis operations, and such loans lack of 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.

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)
Proceeds to
Company
Per Share
$20.50
$1.1275
$19.3725
Total
$56,375,000
$3,100,625
$53,274,375
(1)
See “Underwriting” for additional disclosure regarding of the compensation payable to the underwriters.
We have granted the underwriters the right to purchase up to an additional 412,500 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 the purchasers on June 28, 2021.
Joint Book-Running Managers
Jefferies
Cowen
JMP Securities
June 23, 2021

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Page
Through and including July 18, 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,” including distributable earnings and adjusted distributable earnings, 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 and underwrite senior secured loans and other types of loans for established cannabis industry operators 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, 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 are primarily 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 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 typically have up to a five-year maturity and contain amortization and/or cash flow sweeps. As of June 15, 2021, 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, had sourced loans worth approximately $6.3 billion across the cannabis industry in various states while maintaining a robust pipeline of potentially actionable opportunities. We commenced operations on July 31, 2020 and completed our initial public offering (“IPO”) in March 2021.
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 ended 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. We also intend to operate our business in a manner that will permit us to maintain our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act.
As of June 15, 2021, we had originated and funded loans totaling approximately $224.8 million in aggregate original commitment amount to companies operating in the cannabis industry, had approximately $158.6 million of loans outstanding and were committed to approximately $29.5 million in additional loans and commitments from existing loans, with approximately $925.8 million of potential loans actively under review in our pipeline. From June 1, 2021 to June 15, 2021, we experienced a relatively rapid increase in our pipeline with our sourced loans increasing by approximately $0.6 billion and potential loans actively under review increasing by approximately $366.5 million. 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
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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.
The investment personnel provided by our Manager and the Investment Committee members of our Manager have approximately 100 years of combined investment management experience. Collectively, the teams have also directly structured over $10.0 billion in loan transactions and taken three other companies public. From January 1, 2020 through June 15, 2021, the members of our management team, provided by our Manager, and the Investment Committee members of our Manager had reviewed 319 loan opportunities. As of June 15, 2021, we had funded 17 loans, of which three have been repaid, had entered into non-binding term sheets for three loans, had entered into a syndication commitment letter for one loan and were evaluating 55 other 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, 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, as states continue to 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”) with targeted annual gross yields 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 other fees resulting from the investment advisory services and general management services rendered by it to us under the management agreement, by and between us and our Manager (our “Management Agreement”). Pursuant to our Management Agreement, 50% of such other fees (“Outside Fees”), including any agency fees relating to our investments, but excluding the Incentive Compensation (as defined below) and any diligence fees paid to and earned by our Manager and paid by third parties in connection with our Manager’s due diligence of potential loans, 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 are 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 19 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 and our intention to qualify as a REIT. As of June 15, 2021, our portfolio of loans had real
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estate collateral coverage of approximately 1.0 times our aggregate funded principal amount of such loans. Some of our 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 3,342,500 shares of our common stock, or approximately 20.7% of our common stock upon completion of this offering (or approximately 20.2% if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full). Additionally, Gamma Lending Holdco LLC, which is a fund controlled by Jonathan Kalikow, our Head of Real Estate, one of our directors and an affiliate of our Manager, and his father, 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 Mr. Kalikow, has also provided us a $50.0 million secured revolving credit facility (as amended, restated, supplemented or otherwise modified from time to time, the “Revolving Credit Facility”). As of June 15, 2021, 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 our 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 able to 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 and allows us to put in greater controls for loans in which our Manager originates and structures.
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
Potential loans are screened based on four key criteria: company
The Investment Committee must approve each loan before
Emphasis is placed on financial covenants and limitations on actions
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Origination
Underwriting
Investment Committee
Legal Documentation and
Post-Closing
 
selectivity
 
profile, state dynamics, regulatory matters and real estate asset considerations
 
commitment papers are issued
 
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, anti-money laundering compliance, 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 June 15, 2021, we had 59 active loans in our pipeline at various stages in the diligence process, and we had passed on 245 of 319 sourced loan opportunities 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, where our Manager serves as agent for the prospective loan, it conducts extensive due diligence on our behalf 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”) memoranda. It conducts 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.
Where our Manager serves as agent for the prospective loan, it also typically requires 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. Our Manager also conducts 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
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technology/software used; (k) proof of insurance policies; and (l) resumes of key personnel/management. Additionally, our Manager conducts extensive due diligence on properties owned or leased by our borrowers and any related guarantors.
For prospective loans where we are a syndicate partner, we typically focus our own due diligence efforts on the prospective borrower’s financial performance and rely on reputable and experienced external agents to conduct due diligence covering the remaining points described above. In either event, the borrower’s legality under state law is thoroughly diligenced.
Our Portfolio
As of June 15, 2021, our portfolio was comprised of loans to 13 different borrowers, totaling approximately $158.6 million in total principal amount, with approximately $29.5 million in additional unfunded loan commitments to such borrowers. As of June 15, 2021, our loan portfolio had a weighted-average estimated YTM of approximately 21% 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. Estimated YTM includes a variety of fees and features that enhance the total yield, which may include, but is not limited to, OID, exit fees, prepayment fees, and unused fees. We recognize OID as a discount to the funded loan principal and accrete it to income over the term of the loan. In some cases, we may receive the option to assign 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 and recognize as additional OID. During the period from July 31, 2020 (date of commencement of operations) through June 15, 2021, we sold all of our Assigned Rights to either (a) our affiliate, AFC Warehouse Holding, LLC (“AFC Warehouse”), using a sale price based on fair value as determined by the Audit and Valuation Committee of 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 or (b) the third-party administrative agent under the applicable loans. The below summarizes our loan portfolio as of June 15, 2021, unless otherwise specified.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Loan Names
Status
Original
Funding Date(1)
Loan
Maturity
AFCG Loan, net
of Syndication
% of Total
AFCG Portfolio
Principal
Balance as of
6/15/2021
Cash Interest
Rate
Paid In Kind
(“PIK”)
Fixed/
Floating
Amortization
During Term
 
Estimated
YTM(2)(3)
 
Public Co. A - Real Estate Loan
Funded:
7/3/2019
1/26/2023
$2,940,000
1.6%
$2,960,298
12.0%
2.0%
Fixed
No
 
19%
 
Public Co. A - Equipment Loans
Funded:
8/5/2019
3/5/2024
4,000,000
2.1%
3,014,435
12.0%
N/A
Fixed
Yes
 
18%
 
Private Co. A
Funded:
5/8/2020
5/8/2024
34,000,000
18.1%
34,654,069
13.0%
4.0%
Fixed
Yes
 
24%
 
Private Co. B
Funded:
9/10/2020
9/1/2023
10,500,000
5.6%
5,329,559
13.0%
4.0%
Fixed
Yes
 
26%
 
Private Co. C
Funded:
11/5/2020
12/1/2025
22,000,000
11.7%
16,571,443
13.0%
4.0%
Floating
Yes
 
22%
 
Sub. of Public Co. D(4)
Funded:
12/18/2020
12/18/2024
10,000,000
5.3%
10,000,000
12.9%
N/A
Fixed
No
 
14%
 
Private Co. D
Funded:
12/23/2020
1/1/2026
12,000,000
6.4%
12,107,055
13.0%
2.0%
Fixed
Yes
 
20%
 
Private Co. E
Funded:
3/30/2021
4/1/2026
21,000,000
11.2%
10,335,845
13.0%
4.0%
Floating
Yes
 
23%
 
Private Co. F
Funded:
4/27/2021
5/1/2026
13,000,000
6.9%
5,270,425
13.0%
4.0%
Fixed
Yes
 
28%
 
Public Co. E(4)
Funded:
4/29/2021
4/29/2025
15,000,000
8.0%
15,000,000
13.0%
N/A
Fixed
Yes
 
17%
 
Sub. of Private Co. G
Funded:
4/30/2021
5/1/2026
22,000,000
11.7%
22,075,778
13.0%
4.0%
Floating
Yes
 
18%
 
Sub. of Private Co. H(5)
Funded:
5/11/2021
5/11/2023
5,781,250
3.1%
5,781,250
15.0%
N/A
Fixed
No
 
20%
 
Public Co. F
Funded:
5/21/2021
5/30/2023
10,000,000
5.3%
10,000,000
9.8%
N/A
Fixed
No
 
12%
 
Private Co. - Bridge Loan(6)
Funded
6/4/2021
7/9/2021
5,500,000
2.9%
5,500,000
13.0%
N/A
Fixed
No
 
N/A
 
 
 
 
Sub Total
$187,721,250
100.0%
$158,604,016
12.8%
3.7%
 
 
 
21%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Weighted Average
Information as of June 15, 2021 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 which approximated accreted and/or amortized cost plus accrued interest on July 31, 2020.
(2)
Estimated YTM includes a variety of fees and features that affect the total yield, which may include, but is not limited to, OID, exit fees, prepayment fees, unused fees and contingent features. OID is recognized as a discount to the funded loan principal and is accreted to income over the term of the loan. 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. In some cases, additional OID is recognized from additional purchase discounts attributed to the fair value of equity positions that were separated from the loans prior to our acquisition of such loans.
The estimated YTM calculations require management to make estimates and assumptions, including, but not limited to, the timing and amounts of loan draws on delayed draw loans, the timing collectability of exit fees, the probability and timing of prepayments and the probability of contingent features occurring. For example, our credit agreements with Private Company C, Private Company E, Private Company F, and Subsidiary of Private Company G contain provisions pursuant to which certain PIK interest rates and fees earned by us under such credit agreements will decrease upon the satisfaction of certain specified criteria which we believe may improve the risk profile of the applicable borrower. To be conservative, we have not assumed any prepayment penalties or early payoffs in our estimated YTM calculation. Estimated YTM is based on current management estimates and assumptions, which may change. Actual results could differ from those estimates and assumptions.
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(3)
Estimated YTM for the loans with Public Company A, Private Company A, Private Company D, and Private Company E 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 the applicable loans.
(4)
Loans to Subsidiary Of Public Company D and Public Company E do not reflect each borrower’s option to request a maturity extension for an additional 364 days from the respective original loan maturity date, each of which we are not obligated to grant.
(5)
Loan to Subsidiary of Private Company H does not reflect the borrower’s option to request up to two maturity extensions each for an additional six months from the then-existing loan maturity date. The first extension, which is available at the borrower’s sole option, is subject to a payment of a 2.0% fee. The second extension is subject to the approval of all lenders.
(6)
Estimated YTM for bridge loan to Private Company I is not presented due to the loan’s short-term nature, which results in a high estimated YTM that management does not believe is indicative of our expected YTM for the average loans of the types that constitute our portfolio. On or prior to its maturity date, the bridge loan to Private Company I may be refinanced by a larger credit facility that may be funded by us and which we expect would contain economic terms more consistent with the remainder of our portfolio.
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. The real estate collateral of Public Company A consists of a greenhouse and processing facility in Nevada.
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. The real estate collateral of Private Company A consists of three cultivation facilities across Arizona and Michigan and ten dispensaries across Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan.
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. The real estate collateral for Private Company B consists of a cultivation facility in Michigan.
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. The real estate collateral of Private Company C consists of a cultivation facility and dispensary in Pennsylvania.
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 and New Jersey. The real estate collateral for Subsidiary of Public Company D consists of a cultivation facility in Pennsylvania.
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Private Company D
Multi-state operator who operates five dispensaries, the maximum amount of dispensaries allowed by law for any operator, in the State of Ohio and one dispensary in Arkansas. Private Company D historical focus has been dispensary operations and has licenses in other states, where it also operates dispensaries. The real estate collateral for Private Company D consists of three dispensaries across Ohio and Arkansas.
Private Company E
Single-state operator who operates one dispensary and is currently constructing an indoor cultivation facility to wholesale product for medical use in Ohio. Private Company E approaches the medical cannabis market from the healthcare and scientific perspectives of its founders and key executives, differentiating it in the industry. The real estate collateral for Private Company E consists of a cultivation and processing facility and a dispensary in Ohio.
Private Company F
Single-state operator currently constructing a cultivation/manufacturing facility and two dispensaries in Missouri and will lease two additional dispensary locations for a total of four dispensaries in the state. Private Company F’s management team has extensive experience operating retail operations in other states. The real estate collateral for Private Company F consists of a cultivation/manufacturing facility and two dispensaries in Missouri.
Public Company E
Multi-state operator with operations in four states. Public Company E is a vertically integrated cultivator and retailer in both Florida and Texas with cultivation in Michigan and retail operations in Pennsylvania. Public Company E's Florida operations consist of two cultivation and processing locations as well as 23 dispensaries across the state. The real estate collateral for Public Company E consists of a cultivation facility in Michigan.
Subsidiary of Private Company G
Private Company G is a multi-state operator with assets across nine states. Subsidiary of Private Company G operates in New Jersey as an alternative treatment center which allows for one cultivation facility and three dispensary operations, all of which are being constructed using the proceeds of the loan to Subsidiary of Private Company G. The real estate collateral for Subsidiary of Private Company G consists of a cultivation facility and dispensary operation in New Jersey.
Subsidiary of Private Company H
Private Company H is a multi-state operator with assets in Arkansas, Florida, Maryland and Illinois. Subsidiary of Private Company H is a single-state operator that is currently expanding their cultivation facility in Illinois, which is licensed to grow both recreational and medical use cannabis. Subsidiary of Private Company H also operates two additional dispensaries in the state, one licensed to sell medical use cannabis and the other licensed to sell both recreational and medical use cannabis. The real estate collateral for Subsidiary of Private Company H consists of a cultivation facility in Illinois.
Public Company F
Public Company F is an Illinois based multi-state operator with approximately 75 retail locations across 14 states and has expanded via an aggressive M&A strategy. The real estate collateral for Public Company F consists of five cultivation facilities across Illinois, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Massachusetts and eight dispensaries across Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Arkansas, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, and Arizona.
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Private Company I
Private Company I is a Maryland based single-state operator with an existing cultivation and processing operation in the state, as well as one operational dispensary.
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 June 15, 2021. 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
Status
Date
AFCG Loan, net
of Syndication
% of Total
AFCG Portfolio
Total Funded
Debt Issuance
AFCG % of
the Total Loan
Est. Real Estate
Value (1)
Real Estate
Collateral
Coverage
Implied Real
Estate Collateral
for AFCG
AFCG Real
Estate Collateral
Coverage
Public Co. A - Real Estate Loan(2)
Funded
7/3/2019
$2,940,000
1.6%
$30,000,000
9.8%
$72,000,000
2.40x
$7,056,000
2.40x
Public Co. A - Equipment Loan
Funded
8/5/2019
$4,000,000
2.1%
$20,000,000
20.0%
Private Co. A(3)
Funded
5/8/2020
$34,000,000
18.1%
$42,500,000
80.0%
$53,408,035
1.26x
$42,726,428
1.26x
Private Co. B(4)
Funded
9/10/2020
$10,500,000
5.6%
$10,500,000
100.0%
$19,536,098
1.86x
$19,536,098
1.86x
Private Co. C(5)
Funded
11/5/2020
$22,000,000
11.7%
$22,000,000
100.0%
$23,733,050
1.08x
$23,733,050
1.08x
Subsidiary of Public Co. D(6)
Funded
12/18/2020
$10,000,000
5.3%
$120,000,000
8.3%
$26,058,332
0.22x
$2,171,528
0.22x
Private Co. D(7)
Funded
12/23/2020
$12,000,000
6.4%
$12,000,000
100.0%
$7,538,589
0.63x
$7,538,589
0.63x
Private Co. E(8)
Funded
3/30/2021
$21,000,000
11.2%
$21,000,000
100.0%
$16,102,000
0.77x
$16,102,000
0.77x
Private Co. F(9)
Funded
4/27/2021
$13,000,000
6.9%
$13,000,000
100.0%
$8,062,097
0.62x
$8,062,097
0.62x
Public Co. E(10)
Funded
4/29/2021
$15,000,000
8.0%
$71,000,000
21.1%
$2,097,998
0.03x
$443,239
0.03x
Sub of Private Co. G(11)
Funded
4/30/2021
$22,000,000
11.7%
$22,000,000
100.0%
$43,713,935
1.99x
$43,713,935
1.99x
Sub of Private Co. H(12)
Funded
5/11/2021
$5,781,250
3.1%
$37,000,000
15.6%
$35,000,000
0.95x
$5,468,750
0.95x
Public Co. F(13)
Funded
5/21/2021
$10,000,000
5.3%
$130,000,000
7.7%
$127,890,000
0.98x
$9,837,692
0.98x
Private Co. I - Bridge Loan(14)
Funded
6/4/2021
$5,500,000
2.9%
$5,500,000
100.0%
 
 
 
$187,721,250
100.0%
$556,500,000
 
$435,140,134
0.78x
$186,389,406
0.99x
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

(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 total cost basis.
(3)
Private Company A real estate is based on total cost basis
(4)
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.
(5)
Private Company C real estate is based on the cost 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.
(6)
Subsidiary of Public Company D real estate is based on total cost basis.
(7)
Private Company D real estate is based on our internal estimations of property values.
(8)
Private Company E real estate is based on the expected total cost basis, including construction expected to be completed within 12 months of loan closing.
(9)
Private Company F real estate is based on the expected total cost basis, including construction expected to be completed within 12 months of loan closing.
(10)
Public Company E real estate is based on total cost basis.
(11)
Subsidiary of Private Company G real estate is based on the expected total cost basis, including construction expected to be completed within 12 months of loan closing.
(12)
Subsidiary of Private Company H real estate is based on appraised value.
(13)
Public Company F real estate based on appraised value.
(14)
The bridge loan to Private Company I may be refinanced by a larger credit facility that may be funded by us and which we expect would have real estate collateral coverage that is more consistent with the remainder of our portfolio.
Our Loan Origination Pipeline
As of June 15, 2021, our loan origination pipeline consisted of potential new loans representing anticipated total loan commitments of approximately $925.8 million. We are in various stages of our evaluation process with respect to these loans. We identify appropriate loans from our origination pipeline based on investment criteria factors such as, among other things, the prospective borrower’s financial performance, loan size, proposed sources and uses and
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location, at which point we may issue an indication of interest or non-binding term sheet and, if mutually agreeable, enter into a non-binding term sheet or non-binding syndication commitment letter with the prospective borrower.
We are currently completing our underwriting process and negotiating definitive loan documents for each of the potential loan investments related to our existing fully-executed, non-binding term sheets and fully-executed, non-binding syndication commitment letters. The potential loans remain subject to satisfactory completion of our underwriting and due diligence processes, definitive documentation and final approval by the Investment Committee, as applicable. As a result, no assurance can be given that any of these potential loans will close on the currently contemplated 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, a registered investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (“Advisers Act”), and an affiliate of Mr. Tannenbaum, Robyn Tannenbaum, our Managing Director, Head of Origination and Investor Relations, 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 19 investment and other professionals. Members of the Investment Committee of our Manager and the investment personnel provided by our Manager have approximately 100 years of combined investment management experience and are a valuable resource to us. Prior to the consummation of this offering, our Manager and its affiliates managed several externally-managed vehicles totaling over $240.0 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 other 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 400 loans with over $10.0 billion in principal value. Jonathan Kalikow, our Head of Real Estate, has over 20 years of investment management experience, including in 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 has 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 (whether our Manager’s own employees or individuals for which our Manager has contracted with other parties to provide services to its clients), 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.
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 elects not to renew. Our Management Agreement may be terminated by us or our Manager under certain specified circumstances.
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Pursuant to our Management Agreement, 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 annual Base Management Fee (without giving effect to any Base Management Fee Rebate), (ii) the annual Incentive Compensation and (iii) the aggregate amount of Outside Fees less the Base Management Fee Rebate, 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 pay to our Manager under our Management Agreement:
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 quarter. The Base Management Fees are reduced by the Base Management Fee Rebate. 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.
 
 
 
Base Management Fee Rebate
An amount equal to 50% of the aggregate amount of any other fees earned and paid to our Manager during the applicable quarter resulting from the investment advisory services and general management services rendered by our Manager to us under our Management Agreement, including any agency fees relating to our loans, but excluding the Incentive Compensation and any diligence fees paid to and earned by our Manager and paid by third parties in connection with our Manager’s due diligence of potential loans.

For additional information, see “Management Compensation—Base Management Fees.”
Reduces the Base Management Fees on a quarterly basis.
 
 
 
Incentive Compensation
An amount with respect to each fiscal quarter (or portion thereof that our Management Agreement is in effect) based upon our achievement of targeted levels of Core Earnings (as defined below). 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
Quarterly in arrears in cash.
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Type
Description
Payment
 
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.”
 
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 fair and equitable allocable share of the compensation, including annual base salary, bonus, any related withholding taxes and employee benefits, paid to (i) subject to review by the Compensation Committee of our Board, our Manager’s personnel serving as our Chief Executive Officer (except when the Chief Executive Officer serves as a member of the Investment Committee prior to the consummation of an internalization transaction of our Manager by us), General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Managing Director and any of our other officers, based on the percentage of his or her time spent devoted to 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, with the allocable share of the compensation of such personnel described in this clause (ii) being as reasonably determined by our Manager to appropriately reflect the amount of time spent devoted by such personnel to our affairs. The service by any personnel of our Manager and its affiliates as a member of the Investment Committee will not, by itself, be dispositive in the determination as to whether such personnel is deemed “investment personnel” of our Manager and its affiliates for purposes of expense reimbursement. Prior to the consummation of our IPO, we were not obligated to reimburse our Manager or its affiliates, as applicable, for any compensation paid to Mr. Tannenbaum, Mr. Kalikow or Mrs. Tannenbaum. For the 2021 fiscal year, we anticipate that our Manager will not seek reimbursement for our allocable share of Mr. Kalikow’s compensation, but will seek reimbursement for our allocable share of Mrs. Tannenbaum’s compensation.

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 annual Base Management Fee and (ii) the 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 Reimbursement.”
Upon specified termination in cash.
For a summary of compensation paid to our Manager for the three months ended March 31, 2021 and the period from July 31, 2020 (date of commencement of operations) to December 31, 2020, see “Management Compensation—General—Summary Compensation Table.”
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.
From January 1, 2020 to June 15, 2021, our Manager and its affiliates have had access to approximately $6.3 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;
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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.
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 Distributable Earnings, Adjusted Distributable Earnings (as defined below), book value per share and dividends declared per share.
Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings
In addition to using certain financial metrics prepared in accordance with GAAP to evaluate our performance, we also use Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings to evaluate our performance excluding the effects of certain transactions and GAAP adjustments we believe are not necessarily indicative of our current loan activity and operations. Each of Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings is a measure that is not prepared in accordance with GAAP. We use these non-GAAP financial measures 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. The determination of Distributable Earnings is substantially similar to the determination of Core Earnings under our Management Agreement, provided that Core Earnings is a component of the calculation of any Incentive Compensation earned under the Management Agreement for the applicable time period, and thus Core Earnings is calculated without giving effect to Incentive Compensation expense, while the calculation of Distributable Earnings accounts for any Incentive Compensation earned for such time period. We define Distributable Earnings as, for a specified period, the net income (loss) computed in accordance with GAAP, excluding (i) non-cash equity compensation expense, (ii) depreciation and amortization, (iii) 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 Distributable 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, (iv) provision for current expected credit losses 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 Distributable Earnings, for a specified period, as Distributable Earnings excluding certain non-recurring organizational expenses (such as one-time expenses related to our formation and start-up).
We believe providing Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable 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. As a REIT, we are required to distribute at least 90% of our annual REIT taxable income and to pay tax at regular corporate rates to the extent that we annually distribute less than 100% of such taxable income.
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Given these requirements and our belief that dividends are generally one of the principal reasons that stockholders invest in our common stock, we generally intend to attempt to pay dividends to our stockholders in an amount equal to our net taxable income, if and to the extent authorized by our Board. Distributable Earnings is one of many factors considered by our Board in declaring dividends and, while not a direct measure of net taxable income, over time, the measure can be considered a useful indicator of our dividends.
Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings are non-GAAP financial measures and should not be considered as substitutes for GAAP net income. We caution readers that our methodology for calculating Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable 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 Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other REITs.
The following table provides a reconciliation of GAAP net income to Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings:
 
For the three months ended
March 31, 2021 (unaudited)
For the period from July 31, 2020
(date of commencement of
operations) to December 31, 2020
Net Income
$1,400,755
$4,313,632
Adjustments to net income
 
 
Non-cash equity compensation expense
1,599,115
Depreciation and amortization
Unrealized (gain), losses or other non-cash items
144,402
(1,563,340)
Provision for current expected credit losses
66,100
465,397
One-time events pursuant to changes in GAAP and certain non-cash charges
Distributable Earnings
$3,210,372
$3,215,689
Adjustments to Distributable Earnings
 
 
Certain organizational expenses
616,190
Adjusted Distributable Earnings
$3,210,372
$3,831,879
Basic weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares)
7,144,670
5,694,475
Adjusted Distributable Earnings per Weighted Average Share
$0.45
$0.67
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 March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020 was approximately $16.18 and $14.83, respectively, on a post-split basis.
Dividends Declared Per Share
For the period from July 31, 2020 (date of commencement of operations) through December 31, 2020, we declared (i) a regular cash dividend of $0.35 per share of our common stock, 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 approximately $0.26 per share of our common stock 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 was approximately $2.2 million and $1.6 million, respectively.
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In December 2020, we declared a seven-for-one stock split in the form of a stock dividend, pursuant to which six additional shares of our common stock were issued for each outstanding share of our common stock, payable on January 25, 2021 to each stockholder of record as of the close of business on January 21, 2021 out of our authorized but unissued shares of common stock.
In March 2021, we declared a regular cash dividend of $0.36 per share of our common stock, relating to the first quarter of 2021, which was paid on March 31, 2021 to stockholders of record as of March 15, 2021. The aggregate amount of the regular cash dividend payment was approximately $2.2 million.
In May 2021, we declared a regular cash dividend of $0.38 per share of our common stock, relating to the second quarter of 2021 which will be paid on June 30, 2021 to stockholders of record as of June 15, 2021. The aggregate amount of the regular cash dividend payment will be approximately $5.1 million.
The payment of these dividends, including any special cash dividends, is not indicative of our ability to pay such dividends in the future.
Initial Public Offering
On March 23, 2021, we completed our IPO of 6,250,000 shares of our common stock at a price of $19.00 per share, raising $118.8 million in gross proceeds. The underwriters also exercised their over-allotment option to purchase up to an additional 937,500 shares of our common stock at a price of $19.00 per share, which was completed on March 26, 2021, raising $17.8 million in gross proceeds. The net proceeds to us totaled approximately $123.9 million.
Updates to Our Loan Portfolio
In January 2021, Public Company A and its related loan parties entered into modification agreements for each of the Public Company A loans pursuant to which we agreed, subject to certain terms and conditions, to forbear from exercising our rights and remedies regarding defaults by the loan parties resulting from, among other things, the loan parties’ failure to timely pay taxes due, incurrence of mechanic’s liens and tax liens on assets, failure to notify the lenders of such failure to pay and incurrence of liens, failure to make payments due in January 2021 under the Public Company A loans in an aggregate amount of $789,177 owed to all lenders, failure to make payment obligations owed to third party creditors and failure to enter into specified debt restructuring transactions. In exchange for such agreement to forbear, we and the other lenders received certain consideration. Such defaults were unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the modification agreement relating to the Public Company A real estate loan (the “RE Modification Agreement”), we and the other lenders agreed to forbear until the earlier of December 21, 2021 and the existence of any new event of default, and the terms of the real estate loan were modified to, among other things, (i) extend the maturity date from June 27, 2021 to December 21, 2021, (ii) modify the interest rate to 14.0%, with 12.0% paid monthly and 2.0% paid at maturity and (iii) add an exit fee of $1.0 million payable upon payment in full of the real estate loan on the maturity date. The RE Modification Agreement also provided for the establishment of an interest reserve for the payment of the last three months of interest on the real estate loan. Additional consideration for the RE Modification Agreement included (w) a modification fee in an amount equal to 3.0% per annum on the outstanding principal of the real estate loan from May 19, 2020 to the effective date of the RE Modification Agreement less certain fees previously paid, (x) the right to acquire common shares of Public Company A in an aggregate amount equal to $1.2 million, (y) the right to acquire warrants to purchase common shares of Public Company A and (z) reimbursement of certain expenses. We sold our portion of the rights to acquire the common shares and warrants received as considerations for the RE Modification Agreement to the administrative agent under the Public Company A real estate loan documents. Under the modification agreement relating to the Public Company A equipment loan (the “Equipment Modification Agreement” and, together with the RE Modification Agreement, the “Modification Agreements”), we and the other lenders agreed to forbear until the earlier of February 5, 2024 and the existence of any new event of default, and the terms of the equipment loan were modified to, among other things, (i) amend the payment schedule allowing for reduced monthly payments for three months, with the reduced amounts amortized equally over the remaining monthly payments, (ii) add an exit fee of $500,000 due at the end of the term of the agreement governing the equipment loan, (iii) release a certain guarantor, and (iv) add a new parent company guarantee. Additional consideration for the Equipment Modification Agreement included (x) a modification fee in an amount equal to
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6.0% per annum on the outstanding principal of the equipment loan from May 19, 2020 through and including the effective date of the Equipment Modification Agreement less certain fees previously paid, (y) an additional fee of $500,000 payable in equal monthly installments commencing April 5, 2021 and (z) reimbursement of certain expenses. In connection with the Modification Agreements, Public Company A consummated the initial closing of $10.1 million of its non-brokered convertible debenture offering for up to $25.0 million of debenture units. The net proceeds received by Public Company A from the convertible debenture offering are intended to be used for working capital, previous debt obligations and general corporate purposes. The loan parties have since paid the January 2021 payments under the Public Company A loans and there are no delinquent payment obligations owed to us under the agreements governing the Public Company A loans. To the best of our knowledge, Public Company A has repaid in full the other monetary obligations it owed under the Modification Agreement. While Public Company A was able to obtain these modifications and consummate the above-referenced convertible debentures offering, Public Company A and its related loan parties may have difficulty meeting their future obligations. None of our other borrowers are now, or have previously been, in default under their respective loan agreements with us.
In March 2021, we entered into a commitment to Private Company E for a $21.0 million senior term loan and funded $7.0 million at closing, including a $2.0 million interest reserve. The loan has an interest rate of 12.0% plus LIBOR per annum with a LIBOR floor of 1.0% and PIK interest of 4.0%. The loan has a maturity date of April 2026, an unused fee of 3.0% and OID of 8.7%. Private Company E is a single-state medical cannabis operator in Ohio. Its operations consist of a cultivation facility currently in construction and an operational dispensary. The real estate collateral for this senior term loan includes both the dispensary and cultivation facility in Ohio.
Sale of Assigned Rights
In January 2021, we sold our Assigned Rights to acquire and/or assign (i) 578,476 common shares of Public Company A and (ii) warrants to purchase approximately 289,238 common shares of Public Company A, at an exercise price based on a specified formula tied to the volume weighted average trading price of such common shares, to the third-party administrative agent under the Public Company A loans for an aggregate purchase price of $103,302.
In March 2021, we sold to AFC Warehouse an Assigned Right to acquire and/or assign a warrant to purchase 1,382,000 common shares of Private Company E at an exercise price of $0.01 per share for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $1.1 million, representing the fair value of such Assigned Right as of the date of such sale, as determined by management and a majority of independent directors (based on various subjective and objective factors, including input from an independent third-party valuation firm).
Recent Developments
In May 2021, we declared a regular cash dividend of $0.38 per share of our common stock, relating to the second quarter of 2021 which will be paid on June 30, 2021 to stockholders of record as of June 15, 2021. The aggregate amount of the regular cash dividend payment will be approximately $5.1 million. The payment of this dividend is not indicative of our ability to pay such dividends in the future.
Subsequent to March 31, 2021 through June 15, 2021, we closed six loans, committed to $71.3 million, funded $63.6 million, and were repaid approximately $12.1 million, for net fundings of approximately $51.5 million.
In April 2021, one of our prior borrowers (“Subsidiary of Public Company C”) repaid its loan in full. The loan had an original maturity date of February 2025 and the outstanding principal on the date of repayment was approximately $12.1 million. We received an exit fee of $750,000 and a prepayment premium of $750,000 upon repayment of the loan.
In April 2021, we entered into a commitment to fund a $13.0 million senior secured term loan and funded $5.25 million at closing, including a $925,000 interest reserve. The loan has an interest rate of 13.0% and PIK interest rate of 4.0% with a step down to a rate of 2.0% once certain criteria are met as defined in
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the loan agreement. The loan has a maturity date of May 2026, an agent fee of 1.0% per annum, an unused fee of 3.0%, an exit fee of 15.0% and OID of 15.5%. The borrower is a medical cannabis operator in Missouri. The real estate collateral for this senior term loan includes the borrower’s cultivation and two dispensary facilities in Missouri.
In April 2021, we entered into a commitment to fund a $15.0 million senior secured term loan and funded $15.0 million at closing. The loan has an interest rate of 13.0%. The loan has a maturity date of April 2025, which is subject to an optional maturity extension for 364 days, and OID of 7.0%. The borrower is a multi-state medical and recreational cannabis provider with operations in Florida, Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The real estate collateral for this senior term loan includes the borrower’s cultivation facility in Michigan.
In April 2021, we entered into a commitment to fund a $22.0 million senior secured term loan and funded $22.0 million at closing, including a $2.0 million interest reserve. The loan has an interest rate of 12.0% plus LIBOR, with a 1.0% LIBOR floor, and PIK interest rate of 4.0% with step downs to 2.0% and 1.5% once certain criteria are met as defined in the loan agreement. The loan has a maturity date of May 2026, an exit fee of 10.0%, provided that if certain criteria are met as defined in the loan agreement the exit fee is 2.0%, and OID of 4.0%. The borrower’s parent entity has licenses across nine states, and the real estate collateral for this senior term loan includes the borrower’s retail facility in New Jersey and its cultivation facility under construction in New Jersey. This senior term loan was initially contemplated as an approximately $46.2 million commitment and our Manager had syndicated $22.0 million to us and approximately $24.2 million to an affiliate, AFC Investments, LLC, subject to satisfactory diligence and definitive loan documentation. The final negotiated loan commitment was for $22.0 million and AFCG holds the entire amount, with no portion syndicated AFC Investments, LLC.
In May 2021, we entered into a syndicated senior secured term loan facility with a commitment to fund approximately $5.8 million out of a total aggregate principal amount of $37.0 million. We funded our loan commitment at closing. The loan has an interest rate of 15.0% per annum. The loan has an initial maturity date of May 2023, which is subject to two optional maturity extensions of six months each, subject to payment of a 2.0% fee in the case of the first optional extension and approval of all lenders in the case of the second optional extension. The loan has an OID of approximately 2.8%. The loan has an exit fee of 3.0%, an agent fee of $185,000 and a closing fee of $690,000. The borrower is a subsidiary of a multi-state operator with assets in Arkansas, Florida and Illinois. The borrower is a single-state operator that is currently expanding their cultivation facility in Illinois, which is licensed to grow both recreational and medical use cannabis. The borrower also operates two additional dispensaries in the state, one licensed to sell medical use cannabis and the other licensed to sell both recreational and medical use cannabis. The real estate collateral for the borrower consists of a cultivation facility in Illinois.
In May 2021, we entered into a commitment to fund a $10.0 million senior secured term loan and funded $10.0 million at closing. The loan has an interest rate of 9.75% per annum. The loan has a maturity date of May 2023 and OID of 2.0%. The borrower is a multi-state operator with operations across 14 states. The real estate collateral for the borrower includes five cultivation facilities across Illinois, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Massachusetts and eight dispensaries across Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Arkansas, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, and Arizona.
In June 2021, we entered into a commitment to fund a $5.5 million secured bridge loan and funded $5.5 million at closing. The loan has a short term maturity date of July 9, 2021 in anticipation of refinancing under a larger credit facility. The loan has an interest rate of 13.0% per annum, with OID of 4.0%, and an agent fee of 1.0%. The loan also has an exit fee of 10.0% if the loan is not refinanced by us and/or one of our affiliates . The borrower is a single state operator in Maryland, a limited license state, with an existing cultivation and processing operation in the state, as well as one operational dispensary.
In May 2021, we amended our Revolving Credit Agreement with AFC Finance, LLC, an entity owned by our Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tannenbaum, and our Head of Real Estate, Jonathan Kalikow, to increase the loan commitment from $40.0 million to $50.0 million, decrease the interest rate from 8.0% per annum to 6.0% per annum, remove Gamma Lending Holdco LLC as a direct party thereto and extend the maturity date from July 31,
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2021 to the earlier of (i) December 31, 2021 or (ii) the date of the closing of any credit facility where the proceeds are incurred to refund, refinance or replace the Revolving Credit Agreement with an aggregate principal amount equal to or greater than $50.0 million (any such financing, a “Refinancing Credit Facility”) in accordance with the terms in the Revolving Credit Agreement. We did not incur any fees or cost related to the amendment of the Revolving Credit Agreement and the Revolving Credit Agreement does not have any unused fees. As of the date of this prospectus, we have not drawn on the Revolving Credit Agreement or incurred any fees or interest expense related to the Revolving Credit Agreement.
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 almost all states with legalized cannabis and stay-at-home orders. 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 December 31, 2020 and the three months ended March 31, 2021 was somewhat mitigated as all of our borrowers were permitted to continue to operate during this pandemic and we have not experienced any payment defaults by our borrowers nor have we made any concessions on any payments due, in each case, related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 “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
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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, our borrowers’ inability to renew or otherwise maintain their licenses or other requisite authorizations for their cannabis operations, and such loans lack of 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, 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”), 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.
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.
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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 by our Articles of Amendment and Restatement, which became effective on January 27, 2021, our “Charter”) prohibits, with certain exceptions, any person from Beneficially or Constructively Owning (each, as defined in “Description of Capital Stock—Ownership Limitations and Exceptions”) more than 4.9% in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of the aggregate outstanding shares of our capital stock. Our Charter also prohibits (i) with certain exceptions, any Qualified Institutional Investor (as defined in “Description of Capital Stock—Ownership Limitations and Exceptions”) from Beneficially or Constructively Owning more than 9.8% in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of the aggregate outstanding shares of our capital stock and (ii) 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 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
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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 Offering—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” for certain risks related to our status as an emerging growth company.
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The Offering
Common stock offered by us
2,750,000 shares.
Common stock to be outstanding after this offering
16,116,877 shares (or 16,529,377 shares, if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full).
Over-allotment option offered by us
412,500 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 $52.4 million (or approximately $60.4 million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full), based on a public offering price of $20.50 per share.
We intend to use the net proceeds received from this offering (i) to fund loans related to unfunded commitments to existing borrowers, (ii) to originate and participate in commercial loans to companies operating in the cannabis industry that are consistent with our investment strategy and (iii) for working capital and other general corporate purposes.
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.”
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 June 15, 2021. This number excludes:
(i)
483,902 shares of common stock reserved for future grant or issuance under the AFC Gamma, Inc. Stock Incentive Plan (the “2020 Stock Incentive Plan”), which shares will automatically increase as described in “Management—2020 Stock Incentive Plan”; and
(ii)
1,616,098 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options outstanding as of June 15, 2021, having a weighted-average exercise price of approximately $16.59 per share.
Unless the context indicates otherwise, all information in this prospectus assumes:
(i)
13,366,877 shares of common stock outstanding as of June 15, 2021;
(ii)
the underwriters will not exercise their over-allotment option in this offering;
(iii)
no issuance or exercise of stock options on or after June 15, 2021; and
(iv)
the seven-for-one stock split of our common stock, which occurred on January 25, 2021, and the payment of cash in lieu of fractional shares in an aggregate amount of approximately 15 shares resulting from such stock split made to stockholders on the date of consummation of our IPO.
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Summary Financial and Other Data
The following table sets forth our summary financial and other data as of and for the three months ended March 31, 2021 and as of and for the period from July 31, 2020 (the date of commencement of operations) to December 31, 2020. 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 occurred on January 25, 2021, and the payment of cash in lieu of fractional shares in an aggregate amount of approximately 15 shares resulting from such stock split made to stockholders on the date of consummation of the IPO.
 
As of and for the three months ended
March 31, 2021
(unaudited)
From July 31, 2020 (date of
commencement of operations) to
December 31, 2020)
Statement of Operations Data:
 
 
Revenue
 
 
Interest Income
$4,685,005
$5,250,108
Total revenue
4,685,005
5,250,108
 
 
 
Expenses
 
 
Management and incentive fees, net (less rebates of $237,743 for the period ended March 31, 2021 and $259,167 for the period ended December 31, 2020)(1)
876,662
364,194
General and administrative expense
462,518
785,016
Stock-based compensation
1,599,115
Organizational expense
616,190
Professional fees
135,453
614,019
Total expenses
3,073,748
2,379,419
Provision for current expected credit loss
(66,100)
(465,397)
Realized gains on loans at fair value, net
345,000
Change in unrealized gains / (losses) on loans at fair value, net
(144,402)
1,563,340
Net Income before income taxes
1,400,755
4,313,632
Income tax expense
Net Income
$1,400,755
$4,313,632
Earnings per common share:
 
 
Basic earnings per common share (in dollars per share)
$0.20
$0.76
Diluted earnings per common share (in dollars per share)
$0.19
$0.76
Weighted average number of common shares outstanding:
 
 
Basic weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares)
7,144,670
5,694,475
Diluted weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares)
7,485,048
5,694,475
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As of and for the three months ended
March 31, 2021
(unaudited)
From July 31, 2020 (date of
commencement of operations) to
December 31, 2020)
Balance Sheet Data:
 
 
Total assets(2)
$221,505,837
$93,961,692
Total liabilities
$5,173,832
$2,313,980
Total stockholders’ equity(2)
$216,332,005
$91,647,712
 
 
 
Other Financial Data:
 
 
Distributable Earnings(2)(3)
$3,210,372
$3,215,689
Adjusted Distributable Earnings(2)(3)
$3,210,372
$3,831,879
Adjusted Distributable Earnings per weighted average share of common stock(2)(3)
$0.45
$0.67
(1)
Our Manager agreed to waive the Incentive Compensation for the period from July 31, 2020 (date of commencement of operations) through December 31, 2020, which was approximately $479,166 for the period.
(2)
Does not give effect to the changes to our loan portfolio subsequent to March 31, 2021. See “—Recent Developments” for additional information.
(3)
We use Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable 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 Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings is a measure that is not prepared in accordance with GAAP. We define Distributable Earnings as, for a given period, the net income (loss) computed in accordance with GAAP, excluding (i) non-cash equity compensation expense, (ii) depreciation and amortization, (iii) 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 Distributable 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, (iv) provision for current expected credit losses, 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 Distributable Earnings, for a specified period, as Distributable Earnings excluding certain non-recurring organizational expenses (such as one-time expenses related to our formation and start-up). We believe providing Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable 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. As a REIT, we are required to distribute at least 90% of our annual REIT taxable income and to pay tax at regular corporate rates to the extent that we annually distribute less than 100% of such taxable income. Given these requirements and our belief that dividends are generally one of the principal reasons that stockholders invest in our common stock, we generally intend to attempt to pay dividends to our stockholders in an amount equal to our net taxable income, if and to the extent authorized by our Board. Distributable Earnings is one of many factors considered by our Board in declaring dividends and, while not a direct measure of net taxable income, over time, the measure can be considered a useful indicator of our dividends. Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings should not be considered as substitutes for GAAP net income. We caution readers that our methodology for calculating Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable 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 Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other REITs. The following table provides a reconciliation of GAAP net income to Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings (in thousands, except per share data):
 
For the three months ended March
31, 2021 (unaudited)
For the period from July 31, 2020
(date of commencement of
operations) to December 31, 2020
Net Income
$1,400,755
$4,313,632
Adjustments to net income
 
 
Non-cash equity compensation expense
1,599,115
Depreciation and amortization
Unrealized (gain), losses or other non-cash items
144,402
(1,563,340)
Provision for current expected credit losses
66,100
465,397
One-time events pursuant to changes in GAAP and certain non-cash charges
Distributable Earnings
$3,210,372
$3,215,689
Adjustments to Distributable Earnings
 
 
Certain organizational expenses
616,190
Adjusted Distributable Earnings
$3,210,372
$3,831,879
Basic weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares)
7,144,670
5,694,475
Adjusted Distributable Earnings per Weighted Average Share
$0.45
$0.67
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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 June 15, 2021, our portfolio consisted of loans to 13 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. An increasing number of 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 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, 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 three to nine 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 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.
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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. Additionally, the industry is experiencing significant consolidation, which we expect to increase, among cannabis operators and certain of our borrowers may combine, increasing the concentration of our borrower portfolio with those consolidated operators. 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, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, 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, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. 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.
Loans to relatively new and/or small companies and companies operating in the cannabis industry generally 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, some of these companies may be relatively new and/or small companies. Loans to relatively new and/or small companies and companies operating in the cannabis industry generally 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;
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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.
For example, the loan parties to our Public Company A loans previously defaulted on certain covenants under the applicable agreements governing their real estate loan and equipment loan with us. These defaults resulted from, among other things, the loan parties’ failure to timely pay taxes due, incurrence of mechanic’s liens and tax liens on assets, failure to notify the lenders of such failure to pay and incurrence of liens, failure to make payments due in January 2021 under the Public Company A loans in an aggregate amount of $789,177 owed to all lenders, failure to make payment obligations owed to third party creditors and failure to enter into specified debt restructuring transactions. Such defaults were unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2021, the loan parties entered into Modification Agreements for each of the Public Company A loans pursuant to which we agreed to forbear from exercising our rights and remedies regarding such defaults for certain considerations and on certain terms and conditions.
Under the RE Modification Agreement, we and the other lenders agreed to forbear until the earlier of December 21, 2021 and the existence of any new event of default, and the terms of the real estate loan were modified to, among other things, (i) extend the maturity date from June 27, 2021 to December 21, 2021, (ii) modify the interest rate to 14.0%, with 12.0% paid monthly and 2.0% paid at maturity and (iii) add an exit fee of $1.0 million payable upon payment in full of the real estate loan on the maturity date. The RE Modification Agreement also provided for the establishment of an interest reserve for the payment of the last three months of interest on the real estate loan. Additional consideration for the RE Modification Agreement included (w) a modification fee in an amount equal to 3.0% per annum on the outstanding principal of the real estate loan from May 19, 2020 to the effective date of the RE Modification Agreement less certain fees previously paid, (x) the right to acquire common shares of Public Company A in an aggregate amount equal to $1.2 million, (y) the right to acquire warrants to purchase common shares of Public Company A and (z) reimbursement of certain expenses. We sold our portion of the rights to acquire the common shares and warrants received as considerations for the RE Modification Agreement to the administrative agent under the Public Company A real estate loan documents.
Under Equipment Modification Agreement, we and the other lenders agreed to forbear until the earlier of February 5, 2024 and the existence of any new event of default, and the terms of the equipment loan were modified to, among other things, (i) amend the payment schedule allowing for reduced monthly payments for three months, with the reduced amounts amortized equally over the remaining monthly payments, (ii) add an exit fee of $500,000 due at the end of the term of the agreement governing the equipment loan, (iii) release a certain guarantor, and (iv) add a new parent company guarantee. Additional consideration for the Equipment Modification Agreement included (x) a modification fee in an amount equal to 6.0% per annum on the outstanding principal of the equipment loan from May 19, 2020 through and
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including the effective date of the Equipment Modification Agreement less certain fees previously paid, (y) an additional fee of $500,000 payable in equal monthly installments commencing April 5, 2021 and (z) reimbursement of certain expenses.
In connection with the Modification Agreements, Public Company A consummated the initial closing of $10.1 million of its non-brokered convertible debenture offering for up to $25.0 million of debenture units. The net proceeds received by Public Company A from the convertible debenture offering are intended to be used for working capital, previous debt obligations and general corporate purposes.
The loan parties have since paid the January 2021 payments under the Public Company A loans and there are no delinquent payment obligations owed to us under the agreements governing the Public Company A loans. To the best of our knowledge, Public Company A has repaid in full the other monetary obligations it owed under the Modification Agreement. While Public Company A was able to obtain these modifications and consummate the above-referenced convertible debentures offering, Public Company A and its related loan parties may have difficulty meeting their future obligations. None of our other borrowers are now, or have previously been, in default under their respective loan agreements with us.
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.
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
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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.
Our borrowers may be unable to renew or otherwise maintain their licenses or other requisite authorizations for their cannabis operations, which may result in such tenants not being able to operate their businesses and defaulting on their payments to us.
Our borrowers operating in state-regulated cannabis markets are required to maintain the requisite state and local cannabis licenses and other authorizations on a continuous basis. If one or more of these borrowers are unable to renew or otherwise maintain its licenses or other state and local authorizations necessary to continue its cannabis operations, such tenants may default on their payments to us. Any payment defaults by a borrower could adversely affect our cash flows and we may also experience delays in enforcing our rights as a lender and may incur substantial costs in protecting our investment.
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 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.
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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.
Provisions for loan losses are difficult to estimate.
In June 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) No. 2016-13 Financial Instruments — Credit Losses — Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments (Topic 326) (“ASU No. 2016-13”) and in April 2019, the FASB issued ASU No. 2019-04 Codification Improvements to Topic 326, Financial Instruments-Credit Losses, Topic 815, Derivatives and Hedging, and Topic 825, Financial Instruments (collectively, the “CECL Standard”). These updates change how entities will measure credit losses for most financial assets and certain other instruments that are not measured at fair value. The CECL Standard replaces the “incurred loss” approach under existing guidance with an “expected loss” model for instruments measured at amortized cost. The CECL Standard requires entities to record allowances (“CECL Allowances”) for held-to-maturity and available-for-sale debt securities that are deducted from the carrying amount of the assets to present the net carrying value at the amounts expected to be collected on the assets. All assets subject to the CECL Standard, with few exceptions, will be subject to these CECL Allowances rather than only those assets where a loss is deemed probable under the other-than-temporary impairment model. We have adopted the CECL Standard as of July 31, 2020, the date of commencement of our operations. The CECL Standard can create volatility in the level of our CECL Allowances for loan losses. If we are required to materially increase our level of CECL Allowances for loan losses for any reason, such increase could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our CECL Allowances are evaluated on a quarterly basis. The determination of CECL Allowances require us to make certain estimates and judgments, which may be difficult to determine. Our estimates and judgments are based on a number of factors, including (i) whether cash from the borrower’s operations is sufficient to cover the debt service requirements currently and into the future, (ii) the ability of the borrower to refinance the loan and (iii) the liquidation value of collateral, all of which remain uncertain and are subjective.
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
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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.
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 June 15, 2021, all of our borrowers are generally restricted from incurring any debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, our loans, except for certain customary exceptions, and for Private Company F under which such borrower may incur secured debt in connection with a government funded program for limited real estate development. 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 or subsidiaries of our borrowers in addition to the collateral provided by such borrowers and such guarantees may be effectively subordinated to any secured debt of any such entities and/or structurally subordinated to any debt of such subsidiaries. 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
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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.
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, various laws, rules and regulations related to the cannabis industry 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. For example, our approval by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, which required background checks and fingerprinting, took over two months to obtain. 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.
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 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 industry directly or indirectly, including the regulated cannabis industry. Although many of these measures have been lifted or scaled back, a recent resurgence of COVID-19 in certain parts of the world 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;
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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.
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
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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 March 31, 2021, two of our loans, representing approximately 21% of our loan portfolio based on aggregate outstanding principal balances, paid interest at a variable rate tied to LIBOR. As of June 15, 2021, three of our loans, representing approximately 34.6% of our loan portfolio based on aggregate loan commitments, paid 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.
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 six years, however, and despite varying positions by U.S. Attorney Generals, the U.S. government has not enforced those laws against cannabis companies complying with state law, or their vendors. Industry observers anticipate no reversal of that policy of not enforcing against businesses complying with the state regulated cannabis programs under the Biden administration given his campaign’s position on cannabis and recent statements of Attorney General Merrick Garland, discussed below, although prosecutions against state-legal entities cannot be ruled out entirely at this time. 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 were to start strictly enforcing federal law regarding cannabis.
As a result of the conflict between state and federal law regarding cannabis, investments in cannabis businesses in the United States are subject to inconsistent legislation and regulation. On August 29, 2013, the U.S. DOJ attempted to address this inconsistency and to provide guidance to enforcement agencies when former Deputy Attorney General James Cole, under the Obama administration, issued a memorandum on federal cannabis law enforcement. (the “Cole Memo”). 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 so long as they were not violating eight federal priorities such as avoiding youth usage. On January 4, 2018, then acting U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to all U.S. Attorneys (the “Sessions Memo”) rescinding the Cole Memo. 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. While not formally rescinding the Sessions Memo, former
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Attorney General William Barr took a softer position. He 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 would not 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 interests 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.”
While President Biden’s campaign position on cannabis falls short of full legalization, he campaigned on a platform of relaxing enforcement of cannabis proscriptions, including decriminalization generally. According to the Biden campaign website: “A Biden Administration will support the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes and reschedule cannabis as a CSA Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts. This will include allowing the VA to research the use of medical cannabis to treat veteran-specific health needs.” He has pledged to “decriminalize” cannabis, which could prompt his U.S. Attorney General to issue policy guidance to U.S. Attorneys that they should not enforce federal cannabis prohibition against state law compliant entities and others legally transacting business with them. Indeed, the Biden-Sanders Unity Platform, which was released at the time President-elect Biden won the Democratic Party nomination for President, affirmed that his administration would seek to “[d]ecriminalize marijuana use and legalize marijuana for medical purposes at the federal level;” “allow states to make their own decisions about legalizing recreational use;” and “automatically expunge all past marijuana convictions for use and possession.” While President Biden’s promise to decriminalize likely would mean that the federal government would not criminally enforce the Schedule II status against state legal entities, and would expand opportunities for cannabis research in the U.S., the implications of the potential re-scheduling are not entirely clear for state legal commercial cannabis operators.
Although U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland could issue policy guidance to federal prosecutors that they should not interfere with cannabis businesses operating in compliance with states’ laws, any such guidance would not have the force of law, and could not be enforced by the courts. The President and his cabinet alone cannot legalize medical cannabis, and as states have demonstrated, legalizing medical cannabis can take many different forms. While rescheduling cannabis to the CSA’s Schedule II would ease certain research restrictions, it would not make the state medical or adult-use programs federally legal.
At his confirmation hearing, Attorney General Garland stated that he did not see enforcement of federal cannabis law as a high priority use of resources for the DOJ: “This is a question of the prioritization of our resources and prosecutorial discretion. It does not seem to me a useful use of limited resources that we have, to be pursuing prosecutions in states that have legalized and that are regulating the use of marijuana, either medically or otherwise. I don’t think that’s a useful use. I do think we need to be sure there are no end-runs around the state laws that criminal enterprises are doing. So that kind of enforcement should be continued. But I don’t think it’s a good use of our resources, where states have already authorized. That only confuses people, obviously, within the state.” While the statement is not a promise to avoid federal interference with state cannabis laws, it does signal that the enforcement priorities of DOJ lie elsewhere. Notwithstanding the comments made by Attorney General Garland, there is no guarantee that the current presidential administration will not change its stated policy regarding the low-priority enforcement of U.S. federal cannabis laws that conflict with State laws. The Biden administration could reverse course and decide to enforce U.S. federal cannabis laws vigorously.
The basis for the federal government’s lack of recent enforcement with respect to the cannabis industry extends beyond the strong public support for cannabis legalization and ongoing prosecutorial discretion. The U.S. Congress has repeatedly enacted legislation to protect the medical marijuana industry from prosecution. Since 2014, versions of the U.S. omnibus spending bill have included a provision, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment 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. Subsequent to the issuance of the Sessions Memorandum on January 4, 2018, the U.S. Congress continued to include the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment in each subsequent omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal years 2018, 2019,
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2020 and 2021, thus preserving the protections for the medical cannabis industry and its lawful participants from interference by the U.S. DOJ through the 2021 appropriations deadline of September 30, 2021.
Notably, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment has always applied only to medical cannabis programs, and does not expressly protect operators in the adult-use cannabis market. There have been attempts by Congressional supporters of cannabis legalization to extend the protections afforded by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment to recreational cannabis activities, but those efforts have been unsuccessful.
However, 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 state-licensed cultivation of cannabis, including the enforcement postures of individual federal prosecutors in judicial districts where we make our loans, could result in our inability to execute our business plan and 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.
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, 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. Furthermore, any change in the federal government’s enforcement posture with respect to state-licensed cannabis sales, including the enforcement postures of individual federal prosecutors in judicial districts where we operate, would result in our inability to execute our business plan, and we would likely suffer significant losses with respect to our client base, which would adversely affect our operations, cash flow and financial condition.
Industry observers are hopeful that a democratically-controlled Senate, and changes in Congress, along with a Biden presidency, will increase the chances of federal cannabis policy reform. See “Business—Market Overview—Federal Legislative Reform Remains Possible.” While federal legalization is a possibility in the near future, it is also possible that cannabis will remain a controlled substance and the risks pertaining to federal illegality will persist.
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
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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 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.
The FDA 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.
Although we do not grow or sell cannabis products, our connection to the cannabis industry may hamper our efforts to do business or establish collaborative relationships with others that may fear disruption or increased regulatory scrutiny of their own activities.
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. Most federal and federally-insured state banks currently do not serve businesses that grow and sell cannabis products on the stated ground that growing and selling cannabis is illegal under federal law, even though the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, issued guidelines to banks in February 2014 that clarified how financial institutions can provide services to cannabis-related businesses, consistent with financial institutions’ 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.
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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 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.
We currently have no need or plans to seek bankruptcy protection. 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.
There may be difficulty enforcing certain of our commercial agreements and contracts.
Courts will not enforce a contract deemed to involve a violation of law or public policy. Because cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal law, parties to contracts involving the state legal cannabis industry have argued that the agreement was void as federally illegal or against public policy. Some courts have accepted this argument in certain cases, usually against the company trafficking in cannabis. While courts have enforced contracts related to activities by state-legal cannabis companies, and the trend is generally to enforce contracts with state-legal cannabis companies and their vendors, there remains doubt and uncertainty that we will be able to enforce our commercial agreements in court for this reason. We cannot be assured that we will have a remedy for breach of contract, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.
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, and 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,
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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 are, and 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 are, and 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 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 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.
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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.
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. Additionally, concerns regarding a potential increase in inflation would likely cause interest rates and borrowing costs to rise.
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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 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;
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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
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, including as a result of increased concerns of inflation. 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
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affect our financial condition and ability to implement our investment 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 (the “Basel Committee”) 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
Provisions in our Charter and our amended and restated bylaws (our “Bylaws”) may have anti-takeover effects that could discourage an acquisition of us by others, even if an acquisition would be beneficial to our stockholders, and may prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.
Our Charter and our Bylaws contain provisions that may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change in control of us or changes in our management. Our Charter and Bylaws include, among others, provisions that:
authorize our Board, 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;
authorize “blank check” preferred stock, which could be issued by our Board without stockholder approval, subject to certain specified limitations, and may contain voting, liquidation, dividend and other rights senior to our common stock;
establish a classified Board such that not all members of the Board are elected at each annual meeting of stockholders, which may delay the ability of our stockholders to change the membership of a majority of our Board;
specify that only our Board, the chairman of our Board, our chief executive officer or president or, upon the written request of stockholders entitled to cast not less than a majority of the votes entitled to be cast, our secretary can call special meetings of our stockholders;
establish advance notice procedures for stockholder proposals to be brought before an annual meeting of our stockholders, including proposed nominations of individuals for election to our Board;
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provide that a majority of directors then in office, even though less than a quorum, may fill any vacancy on our Board, whether resulting from an increase in the number of directors or otherwise;
specify that no stockholder is permitted to cumulate votes at any election of directors;
provide our Board the exclusive power to adopt, alter or repeal any provision of our Bylaws and to make new Bylaws; and
require supermajority votes of the holders of our common stock to amend specified provisions of our Charter.
These provisions, alone or together, could delay or prevent hostile takeovers and changes in control or changes in our management.
Any provision of our Charter or Bylaws that has the effect of delaying or deterring a change in control could limit your opportunity to receive a premium for your shares of our common stock, and could also affect the price that some investors are willing to pay for our common stock. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our capital stock shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to the provisions of our Charter and Bylaws described above.
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.
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.
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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 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 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
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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, subject to certain exceptions, (i) no person, other than a Qualified Institutional Investor or an Excepted Holder (as defined below), shall Beneficially Own or Constructively Own shares of our capital stock in excess of the Aggregate Stock Ownership Limit (as defined below), (ii) no Qualified Institutional Investor, other than an Excepted Holder, shall Beneficially Own or Constructively Own shares of our capital stock in excess of the Qualified Institutional Investor Aggregate Stock Ownership Limit (as defined below) and (iii) no Excepted Holder shall Beneficially Own or Constructively Own shares of our capital stock in excess of the Excepted Holder Limit (as defined below) for such Excepted Holder. After June 30, 2021, our sponsor, Leonard M. Tannenbaum, may maintain an equity interest up to 29.9% 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. See “Description of Capital Stock—Ownership Limitations and Exceptions” for more information. This waiver and our ownership limitations 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.
We classify our assets for purposes of our 3(c)(5)(C) exemption based upon no-action positions taken by the SEC staff and interpretive guidance provided by the SEC and its staff. These no-action positions are based on specific factual situations that may be substantially different from the factual situations we may face. No assurance can be given that the SEC or its staff will concur with our classification of our assets. In addition, the SEC or its staff may, in the future, issue further guidance that may require us to re-classify our assets for purposes of the Investment Company Act. If we are required to reclassify our assets, we may no longer be in compliance with the exemption from the definition of an investment company provided by Section 3(c)(5)(C) of the Investment Company Act.
A change in the value of any of our assets could negatively affect our ability to maintain our exemption from regulation under the Investment Company Act. To maintain compliance with the applicable exemption under the Investment Company Act, we may be unable to sell assets we would otherwise want to sell and may need to sell assets we would otherwise wish to retain. In addition, we may have to acquire additional assets that we might not otherwise have acquired or may have to forego opportunities to acquire assets that we would otherwise want to acquire and would be important to our investment strategy.
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 officers, subject to certain standards to be met and certain other limitations and conditions as set forth in such indemnification agreements. 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. Alternatively, we may in the future establish a sinking fund to contribute a specified amount of cash on a monthly basis towards insuring such persons against liability. Any such insurance or sinking fund may result in us having to expend significant funds, which will reduce the available cash for distribution to our stockholders. Additionally, while we do not have directors and officers insurance, regardless of whether we have a sinking fund, we may also have to expend significant funds to cover our commitments to indemnify our directors and officers.
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 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 or employees 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,
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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 Manager, or due to other circumstances. Currently, we are managed by our Board and its officers and by our Manager, as provided for under our Management Agreement. 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 mortgage 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
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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 our Manager or affiliates of our Manager. In general, loan opportunities are allocated taking into 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 our Manager or affiliates of our Manager. In addition, there may be conflicts in the allocation of loan opportunities among us and the investment vehicles managed by our Manager or affiliates of our Manager.
Co-investments. Other investment vehicles managed by our Manager or 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 our Manager or 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 our Manager or affiliates of our Manager hold different loans. We may invest in, acquire, sell assets to or provide financing to investment vehicles managed by our Manager or 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 $50.0 million and bears interest at a fixed rate of 6% per annum, payable in cash in arrears. As of June 15, 2021, 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) December 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
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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.
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 or employees 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 pay our Manager substantial Base Management Fees regardless of the performance of our portfolio. Pursuant to the terms of our Management Agreement, our Manager receives 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 the aggregate amount of any Outside Fees, including any agency fees relating to our loans, but excluding the Incentive Compensation and any diligence fees paid to and earned by our Manager and paid by third parties in connection with our Manager’s due diligence of potential loans. 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.
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.”
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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 and the Audit and Valuation Committee of our Board will review our Manager’s performance and the applicable Base Management Fees and Incentive Compensation 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. The Management Agreement provides that upon any termination as described in the foregoing, we will pay our Manager a Termination Fee equal to three times the sum of the annual Base Management Fees and annual Incentive Compensation received from us during the 12-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 Compensation 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 pay Incentive Compensation 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 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 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 Compensation 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
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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.
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. For example, certain of our officers and directors and employees of our Manager also have a relationship with our borrowers or other clients as part of their outside business activities. Additionally, many of our officers and directors are equity holders of AFC Warehouse, which invests in the equity of certain of our borrowers, and certain of our officers and the Chairman of our Board are equity holders of AFC Investments, LLC, which may also lend to our borrowers. 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 a potential or 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 investment adviser under the Advisers Act. Our Manager and its affiliates, as applicable, are 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 the ability of our Manager and any of its applicable affiliates to manage their respective business. Additionally, our Manager and any of its applicable affiliates must continually address conflicts between their respective interests and those of their respective 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 or any of its applicable affiliates fail, or appears to fail, to deal appropriately with conflicts of interest, such entity could face litigation or regulatory proceedings or penalties, any of which could adversely affect such entity’s ability to manage our business.
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While we believe that we benefit from our Manager’s key personnel and investment professionals expertise and experience, (i) we may not replicate the historical performance of our Manager’s key personnel and investment professionals or that of our Manager’s affiliates, (ii) we and our Manager have not previously managed a REIT vehicle or any investment vehicle focused on providing loans for cannabis industry operators and (iii) 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 or any investment 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 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 the members of the Investment Committee of our Manager to indemnify and advance certain fees, costs and expenses to such individuals,
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subject to certain standards to be met and certain other limitations and conditions as 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 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 our 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
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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 our distribution requirements could have an adverse impact on our ability to raise short- and long-term debt or sell equity securities in order to fund distributions required to maintain our 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, 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 or prior offerings 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 us.
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
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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 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 have actually or constructively paid 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 our 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 became upon our IPO. 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 prior to our IPO, 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 prior to the IPO had been structured in such a manner that we will not be treated as inadvertently having paid 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 our 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.
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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 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.
If we are unable to complete this offering, we may be deemed to be Closely Held due to our Sponsor’s percentage ownership of our capital stock. As of June 15, 2021, our Sponsor Beneficially Owns and Constructively Owns approximately 32.3% of our capital stock. Upon the completion of this offering, our Sponsor will Beneficially Own and Constructively Own up to approximately 27.3% of our capital stock (or approximately 26.6% if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full). 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 or other dispositions 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.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock and This Offering
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.
The market price for our common stock may be volatile, which could contribute to the loss of all or part of your investment.
The public offering price for the shares of our common stock may not be indicative of the price that will prevail in the trading market. The trading price of our common stock 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;
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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 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 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.
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 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 intend to attempt to increase our capital resources by making offerings of debt securities or additional offerings of equity securities. As the cannabis industry continues to evolve and to the extent that additional states
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legalize cannabis, the demand for capital continues to increase as operators seek to enter and build out new markets. We expect the principal amount of the loans we originate to increase and that we will need to raise additional equity and/or debt funds to increase our liquidity in the near future. 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 27.3% of our outstanding equity (or 26.6% if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full). Our Sponsor currently owns 3,342,500 shares of our common stock and has been granted options to purchase up to 1,406,958 shares of our common stock, which became vested and exercisable upon consummation of the IPO. 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”). Similarly, Jonathan Kalikow, our Head of Real Estate and one of our directors, and Robyn Tannenbaum, our Managing Director, Head of Origination and Investor Relations, 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.
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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 our IPO, which occurred in March 2021, (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 incur significant costs as a result of being a public company, and such costs may increase when we cease to be an emerging growth company.
As a public company, we 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 these 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 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.
General Risk Factors
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.
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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 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.
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, 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 b