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Filed Pursuant to Rule 424(b)(4)
Registration No. 333-261977
PROSPECTUS
3,000,000 Shares

AFC Gamma, Inc.
Common Stock
AFC Gamma, Inc. is offering 3,000,000 shares of its common stock, or approximately 15.4% of our common stock upon completion of this offering (or 17.3% 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 January 5, 2022 was $20.56 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 5,504,977 shares of our common stock, or approximately 26.4% of our common stock upon completion of this offering (or 25.8% if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full).
We believe that we have qualified, and our organization and current and proposed method of operation will enable us to continue 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 complying with certain U.S. federal income tax requirements applicable to REITs, 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. SeeRisk Factors” beginning on page 31 of this prospectus. The most significant risks relating to your investment in our common stock include the following:
n

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.
n

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

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.
n

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.
n

Our ability to grow or maintain 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.
n

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.
n

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.
n

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

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.
n

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.
n

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.
n

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.
n

Subject to the terms of the indenture governing our senior unsecured notes due 2027, we may incur significant debt, and our governing documents and current credit facility contain no limit on the amount of debt we may incur.
n

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.
n

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
$1.07625
$19.42375
Total
$61,500,000
$3,228,750
$58,271,250
(1)
Excludes the Structuring Fee (as defined herein) that we have agreed to pay Jefferies LLC. 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 450,000 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 January 10, 2022.
Jefferies
Cowen
JMP Securities
A CITIZENS COMPANY
EF Hutton,
division of Benchmark Investments, LLC
Seaport Global Securities
January 5, 2022


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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 consolidated 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 continue as 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, value associated with licenses and/or other assets of the loan parties to the extent permitted by applicable laws and the regulations governing such loan parties. Our targeted borrowers will sometimes be publicly traded 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. From January 1, 2020 to December 24, 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 $10.7 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 have elected 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 we have qualified, and our organization and current and proposed method of operation will enable us to continue 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 our continuing to satisfy numerous asset, income, distribution and other 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.
Our wholly owned subsidiary, AFCG TRS1, LLC (the “TRS”), was formed under the laws of the State of Delaware, and operates as a taxable REIT subsidiary. TRS began operating in July 2021. Our investment in the equipment loans to Public Company A is held by the TRS which, as of September 30, 2021, constituted substantially all of the assets of the TRS. The financial statements of the TRS have been consolidated within our consolidated financial statements beginning with the quarter ended September 30, 2021. On July 31, 2021, the equipment loan to Public Company A was transferred to the TRS.
As of December 24, 2021, we had debt commitments totaling approximately $419.2 million in aggregate original commitment amount to companies operating in the cannabis industry, had approximately $366.0 million of principal outstanding and were committed to approximately $55.5 million in additional loans and commitments
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from existing loans, with approximately $681.5 million of potential loans actively under review in our pipeline. The Audit and Valuation Committee of our Board of Directors (our “Board”) assists our Board in its oversight of the determination of the fair value of assets that are not publicly traded or for which current market values are not readily available by evaluating various subjective and objective factors, including input provided by an independent valuation firm that we currently retain to provide input on the valuation of such assets. See “Management—Audit and Valuation Committee” of this Prospectus.
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 December 24, 2021, the members of our management team, provided by our Manager, and the Investment Committee members of our Manager had reviewed 443 loan opportunities. As of December 24, 2021, we had (i) funded 20 loans, of which two have been repaid and another two were sold, had entered into non-binding term sheets for three loans and were evaluating 81 other loans; and (ii) had invested in a tranche of senior secured notes, which we intend to hold as a short-term investment in accordance with our Investment Guidelines (as defined herein). Our aggregate debt commitments since inception through December 24, 2021 totaled approximately $476.3 million. Our Manager employs stringent underwriting standards that analyze, among other factors, loan collateral, cash flows of the borrower, the financial condition of the borrower, the 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 continue as 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 continue as 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 earned by and paid to 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 more than 20 leading professionals
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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.
Underlying Collateral: Our loans are primarily secured by real property and certain personal property, including by the value associated with 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 December 24, 2021, our portfolio had weighted average real estate collateral coverage of approximately 1.2 times our aggregate committed principal amount of such loans. Our real estate collateral coverage for each of our loans was measured at the time of underwriting and based on various sources of data available at such time. 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 and one of our directors, made an equity investment of approximately $47.8 million in our Company in August 2020. Our 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 in our Sponsor acquiring approximately 3,342,500 shares of our common stock, or approximately 17.2% of our common stock upon completion of this offering (or 16.8% if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full). Our Sponsor also invested in our 2027 Senior Notes (as defined below). 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, has also provided us a $75.0 million secured revolving credit facility (as amended, restated, supplemented or otherwise modified from time to time, the “Revolving Credit Facility”). On December 30, 2021, we drew $75.0 million on our Revolving Credit Facility. All outstanding borrowings were subsequently repaid in full on January 3, 2022. The Revolving Credit Facility is subject to a one-time commitment fee of 0.25% of the total revolving loan commitments and an unused fee of 0.25% per annum on any undrawn amount of the revolving loan commitments. Any borrowings under the Revolving Credit Facility will accrue interest at a rate of 4.75% per annum and all payments of interest, commitment fee and unused fee (in each case, net of applicable taxes) are to be paid, directly or indirectly, to a charitable foundation designated by AFC Finance, LLC in its sole discretion. Our obligations under the Revolving Credit Facility 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, our management team provided by our Manager and our Board strive to be attuned to the macro-environment and political environment as they relate to the lending and cannabis industries.
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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 selectivity
Potential loans are screened based on four key criteria: company profile, state dynamics, regulatory matters and real estate asset considerations
The Investment Committee must approve each loan before commitment papers are issued
Emphasis is placed on financial covenants and limitations on actions that may be adverse to lenders
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Allows for specific portfolio construction and a focus on higher quality companies
Other tools that we frequently use to verify data include, but are not limited to: appraisals, quality of earnings, environmental reports, site visits, 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 December 24, 2021, we had 84 active loans in our pipeline at various stages in the diligence process, and we had passed on 343 of 443 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 past 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
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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 other readily available information sources. 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 interim 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) an accounts receivable aging report; (g) the total gross (retail vs wholesale) sales for the past two years, by location; (h) a balance sheet, within 30 days of closing, the last three months of bank deposits; (i) a capitalization table; (j) a list of information technology/software used; (k) proof of insurance policies; and (l) resumes of key personnel/management. Additionally, 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.
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Our Portfolio
As of December 24, 2021, our portfolio was comprised of loans to 15 different borrowers and an intended short-term investment in senior secured notes of one issuer, totaling approximately $366.0 million in total principal amount, with approximately $55.5 million in additional unfunded loan commitments to our borrowers. As of December 24, 2021, our portfolio had a weighted-average estimated YTM of approximately 19% and was secured by real estate, cash flows, value associated with licenses and with respect to certain of our loans, substantially all assets of 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 December 24, 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 portfolio as of December 24, 2021, unless otherwise specified.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Borrower
Status
Original
Funding Date(1)
Maturity
Date
AFCG Loan, net
of Syndication
% of Total
AFCG
Principal
Balance as of
12/24/2021
Cash Interest
Rate
Paid In Kind
(“PIK”)
Fixed/
Floating
Amortization
During Term
 
YTM(2)(3)
Public Co. A - Real Estate Loan
Funded
7/3/2019
1/26/2023
$2,940,000
0.7%
$2,940,000
12.0%
2.0%
Fixed
No
 
19%
Public Co. A - Equipment Loans
Funded
8/5/2019
3/5/2024
4,000,000
1.0%
2,533,266
12.0%
N/A
Fixed
Yes
 
19%
Private Co. A(7)
Funded
5/8/2020
5/8/2024
62,500,000
14.9%
63,918,855
13.0%
3.4%
Fixed
Yes
 
22%
Private Co. B
Funded
9/10/2020
9/1/2023
10,500,000
2.5%
10,771,887
13.0%
4.0%
Fixed
Yes
 
26%
Private Co. C
Funded
11/5/2020
12/1/2025
24,000,000
5.7%
21,676,513
13.0%
4.0%
Floating
Yes
 
22%
Sub. of Public Co. D(4)
Funded
12/18/2020
12/18/2024
10,000,000
2.4%
10,000,000
12.9%
N/A
Fixed
No
 
14%
Private Co. D
Funded
12/23/2020
1/1/2026
12,000,000
2.9%
12,230,666
13.0%
2.0%
Fixed
Yes
 
20%
Private Co. E
Funded
3/30/2021
4/1/2026
21,000,000
5.0%
19,871,580
13.0%
4.0%
Floating
Yes
 
26%
Private Co. F
Funded
4/27/2021
5/1/2026
13,000,000
3.1%
11,545,235
13.0%
4.0%
Fixed
Yes
 
29%
Sub of Private Co. G(5)
Funded
4/30/2021
5/1/2026
65,400,000
15.6%
46,717,825
12.5%
1.8%
Floating
Yes
 
20%
Sub of Private Co. H(6)
Funded
5/11/2021
5/11/2023
5,781,250
1.4%
5,781,250
15.0%
N/A
Fixed
No
 
20%
Public Co. F
Funded
5/21/2021
5/30/2023
60,000,000
14.3%
60,000,000
8.7%
N/A
Fixed
No
 
11%
Private Co. I
Funded
7/14/2021
8/1/2026
10,326,875
2.5%
10,425,205
13.0%
2.5%
Floating
Yes
 
18%
Private Co. K
Funded
8/20/2021
8/3/2026
19,750,000
4.7%
7,000,000
13.0%
N/A
Floating
Yes
 
18%
Private Co. J
Funded
8/30/2021
9/1/2025
23,000,000
5.5%
23,093,441
13.0%
2.0%
Floating
Yes
 
20%
Public Co. G
Funded
11/12/2021
12/10/2024
15,000,000
3.6%
15,000,000
12.5%
N/A
Fixed
No
 
10%
Sub. of Public Co. H
Funded
12/16/2021
1/1/2026
60,000,000
14.3%
42,500,000
9.8%
N/A
Fixed
No
 
14%
 
 
 
SubTotal
$419,198,125
100.0%
$366,005,723
11.8%
1.8%
 
 
 
19%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wtd Average
Information as of December 24, 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 and collectability of exit fees, the probability and timing of prepayments and the probability of contingent features occurring. For example, certain credit agreements 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.
(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)
Loan to Subsidiary of Public Company D does not reflect the borrower’s option to request a maturity extension for an additional 364 days from the original loan maturity date, which we are not obligated to grant.
(5)
Cash interest and PIK interest rates for the Subsidiary of Private Company G represents a blended rate of differing cash interest and PIK interest rates applicable to each of the three tranches included in the senior secured term loan credit facility with Subsidiary of Private Company G (the “Sub. Of Private Co. G Credit Facility”).
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(6)
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.
(7)
PIK interest rate for Private Co. A represents a blended rate of differing PIK interest rates applicable to each of the two tranches to which we are a lender under the senior secured term loan credit facility with Private Company A (as may be amended, supplemented, amended and restated or otherwise modified from time to time, the “Private Company A Credit Facility”).
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 over 100,000 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 and licenses in seven 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 and twelve dispensaries across Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts and Missouri.
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 three dispensaries in Pennsylvania.
Subsidiary of Public Company D
Public Company D participates in the medical and adult use market across Canada and in several U.S. 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 operations in California, Maryland and New Jersey. The real estate collateral for Subsidiary of Public Company D consists of a cultivation facility in Pennsylvania.
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 and processing 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, which is still under construction, and a dispensary in Ohio. The cultivation and processing facility construction is expected to be completed in second quarter of 2022.
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Private Company F
Single-state operator currently constructing a cultivation and manufacturing facility and one dispensary in Missouri. Private Company F also operates one dispensary and leases two additional dispensary locations for a total of four dispensaries in the state of Missouri (assuming the completion of the single dispensary currently under construction). Private Company F also has three operational dispensary locations (two of which are leased) for a total of four dispensaries in the state of Missouri following the completion of the single dispensary under construction. The real estate collateral for Private Company F consists of a cultivation and manufacturing facility and two dispensaries in Missouri. Construction on the cultivation and manufacturing facility and the final dispensary is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.
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. Subsidiary of Private Company G additionally operates three dispensaries and a cultivation facility in the state of Pennsylvania. The real estate collateral for Subsidiary of Private Company G consists of a cultivation facility and dispensary operation in New Jersey and a cultivation facility in Pennsylvania. Construction on the cultivation facilities is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2022.
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 87 retail locations across 11 states and licenses in three 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.
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.
Private Company J
Private Company J is a single-state vertically integrated cultivator, processor, and retailer of medical cannabis. Private Company J operates in the state of Missouri with the maximum number of allowed cannabis licenses including three cultivation licenses and five retail licenses. Private Company J is currently operating all five dispensaries and two of its cultivation facilities while constructing a third cultivation facility. The real estate collateral for Private Company J consists of a to-be-built cultivation facility. Construction on the cultivation facility is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022.
Private Company K
Private Company K is a single-state operator constructing a facility housing cultivation, manufacturing and retail operations as well as two separate dispensaries, all of which are located in Massachusetts. The cultivation facility will be operating under a Tier 6 cannabis license and all of Private Company K’s facilities, including the two separate dispensaries, are approved for both medical and adult use production and/or retail, as applicable. The real estate collateral for Private Company K includes the to-be-built cultivation, manufacturing and retail facility. Construction on the cultivation, manufacturing and retail facility as well as the two separate dispensaries are expected to be completed across the first and second quarters of 2022.
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Public Company G
Public Company G is a vertically integrated U.S. multi-state cannabis operator with anchor operations in Massachusetts, Nevada, and New Jersey with recent entry into Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona, and Florida. Public Company G is publicly traded on the Canadian Stock Exchange and currently operates over 50 dispensaries in Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Real estate collateral consists of cultivation facilities in Nevada, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.
Subsidiary of Public Company H
Subsidiary of Public Company H is a multi-state operator that holds a portfolio of licenses across eleven different states with vertically integrated operations in seven states, with thirty operational dispensaries and nine cultivation & processing facilities. The real estate collateral consists of six cultivation properties in Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Iowa, and four dispensary properties in Illinois and Michigan. Public Company H is incorporated in British Columbia and publicly traded on the Canadian Stock Exchange.
Collateral Overview
Our loans are secured by various types of assets of our borrowers, including real property and certain personal property, including value associated with licenses, equipment, and other assets to the extent permitted by applicable laws and the regulations governing our borrowers. We do not have liens on cannabis inventory and are generally restricted from taking ownership of state licenses by current statutory prohibitions and exchange listing standards. See “Risk Factors — 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.
The documents governing our loans also include a variety of provisions intended to provide remedies against the value associated with licenses. For example, some loan documents require a grant of a security interest in all property of the entities holding licenses to the extent not prohibited by applicable law or regulations (or requiring regulatory approval), equity pledges of entities holding licenses, receivership remedies and/or other remedies to secure the value associated with the borrowers’ licenses. Upon default of a loan, we may seek to sell the loan to a third party or have an affiliate or a third party work with the borrower to have the borrower sell collateral securing the loan to a third party or institute a foreclosure proceeding to have such collateral sold, in each case, to generate funds towards the payoff of the loan. While we believe that the appraised value of any real estate assets or other collateral securing our loans may impact the amount of the recovery in each such scenario, the amount of any such recovery from the sale of such real estate or other collateral may be less than the appraised value of such collateral and the sale of such collateral may not be sufficient to pay off the remaining balance on the defaulted loan. Additionally, a third party becoming the holder of a license through sale, foreclosure or otherwise or other realization of the value of licenses requires the approval of regulatory authorities.
As of December 24, 2021, our portfolio had a weighted average real estate collateral coverage of approximately 1.2 times our aggregate committed principal amount of such loans. Our real estate collateral coverage for each of our loans was measured at the time of underwriting and based on various sources of data available at such time. We calculate our weighted average real estate collateral coverage by estimating the underlying value of our real estate collateral based on various objective and subjective factors, including, without limitation, third-party appraisals, total cost basis of the subject property and/or our own internal estimates.
We may pursue a sale of a defaulted loan if we believe that a sale would yield higher proceeds or that a sale could be accomplished more quickly than a foreclosure proceeding while yielding proceeds comparable to what would be expected from a foreclosure sale. To the extent that we determine that the proceeds are more likely to be maximized through instituting a foreclosure sale or through taking title to the underlying collateral, we will be subject to the rules and regulations under state law that govern foreclosure sales and Nasdaq listing standards that do not permit us to take title to real estate while it is involved in commercial sales of cannabis. In addition, the sale of the collateral securing our loans may be difficult and may be to a party outside of the cannabis industry. Therefore, any appraisal-based value of our real estate and other collateral may not equal the value of such collateral if it were to be sold to a third party in a foreclosure or similar proceeding. We may seek to sell a defaulted
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loan prior to commencing a foreclosure proceeding or during a foreclosure proceeding to a purchaser that is not required to comply with Nasdaq listing standards. We believe a third-party purchaser that is not subject to Nasdaq listing standards may be able to realize greater value from real estate and other collateral securing our loans. However, we can provide no assurances that a third party would buy such loans or that the sales price of such loans would be sufficient to recover the outstanding principal balance, accrued interest, and fees. See “Risk Factors — We will not own real estate as long as it is used in the commercial sale of cannabis due to current statutory prohibitions and exchange listing standards, which may delay or limit our remedies in the event that any of our borrowers default under the terms of their loans with us.”
Our Loan Origination Pipeline
As of December 24, 2021, our loan origination pipeline consisted of potential new loans representing anticipated total loan commitments of approximately $681.5 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 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 December 24, 2021, our Manager is comprised of more than 20 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 $400.0 million in cannabis-related assets, including our Company and AFC Warehouse, one of our affiliates. Leonard M. Tannenbaum, our Sponsor and Chief Executive Officer, has over 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 in the form of an equity investment in us and is our largest stockholder. Additionally, a fund controlled by Mr. Kalikow and his father has invested approximately $9.6 million in us.
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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.
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 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.

Reduces the Base Management Fees on a quarterly basis.
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Type
Description
Payment
 
For additional information, see “Management Compensation—Base Management Fees.”
 
 
 
 
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 for such quarter, if any, that exceeds the Hurdle Amount, but is less than or equal to 166-2/3% of the Hurdle Amount and (ii) the product of (A) 20% and (B) the amount of our Core Earnings for such quarter, if any, that exceeds 166-2/3% of the Hurdle Amount. Such compensation is subject to Clawback Obligations (as defined below), if any.

For additional information, see “Management Compensation—Incentive Compensation” and “Management Compensation—Incentive Compensation—Incentive Compensation Clawback.”
Quarterly in arrears in cash.
 
 
 
Expense Reimbursement
We pay all of our costs and expenses and reimburse our Manager or its affiliates for expenses of our Manager and its affiliates paid or incurred on our behalf, excepting only those expenses that are specifically the responsibility of our Manager pursuant to our Management Agreement. Pursuant to our Management Agreement, we reimburse our Manager or its affiliates, as applicable, for our 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 Fee.”
Upon specified termination in cash.
For a summary of compensation paid to our Manager for the nine months ended September 30, 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 December 24, 2021, our Manager and its affiliates have had access to approximately $10.7 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 enable our Manager and/or its affiliates to act as a lead agent on larger deals that can be syndicated.
We intend to primarily focus on cannabis industry operators with strong collateral, in the form of real estate, equipment, value associated with licenses and/or other assets owned by the borrower to the extent permitted by applicable laws and the regulations governing such borrowers. 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.
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Key elements of our strategy include:
n
Targeting loans for origination and investment that typically have the following characteristics:

principal balance greater than $10.0 million;

real estate collateral coverage of at least one times the principal balance;

secured by commercial real estate properties, including cannabis cultivation facilities, processing facilities, and dispensaries; and

well-capitalized sponsors with substantial experience in particular real estate sectors and geographic markets.
n
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.
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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, subject to certain adjustments, 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 at least equal to such REIT taxable income, if and to the extent authorized by our Board. Distributable Earnings is one of many factors considered by our Board in authorizing 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.
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The following table provides a reconciliation of GAAP net income to Distributable Earnings and Adjusted Distributable Earnings:
 
For the three
months ended
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31, 2020 to
September 30,
2020
For the nine
months ended
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31, 2020 to
December 31,
2020
Net Income
$7,930,680
$2,106,250
$13,959,222
$4,313,632
Adjustments to net income
 
 
 
 
Non-Cash Equity compensation expense
51,429
1,662,001
Depreciation and amortization
Unrealized (gain), losses or other non-cash items
(1,423,929)
(1,563,800)
(796,368)
(1,563,340)
Provision for current expected credit losses
660,612
1,372,498
465,397
 
 
 
 
 
Other adjustments
(62,320)
(62,320)
One-time events pursuant to changes in GAAP and certain non-cash charges
Distributable Earnings
$7,156,472
$542,450
$16,135,033
$3,215,689
Adjustments to Distributable Earnings
 
 
 
 
Certain organizational expenses
616,190
616,190
Adjusted Distributable Earnings
$7,156,472
$1,158,640
$16,135,033
$3,831,879
Basic weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares)
16,402,984
5,376,411
12,368,977
5,694,475
Adjusted Distributable Earnings per weighted Average Share
$0.44
$0.22
$1.30
$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 September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020 was approximately $16.69 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.
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.
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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 was paid on June 30, 2021 to stockholders of record as of June 15, 2021. The aggregate amount of the regular cash dividend payment was approximately $5.1 million.
In September 2021, we declared a regular cash dividend of $0.43 per share of our common stock, relating to the third quarter of 2021 which was paid on October 15, 2021 to stockholders of record as of September 30, 2021. The aggregate amount of the regular cash dividend payment was approximately $7.1 million.
In December 2021, we declared a regular cash dividend of $0.50 per share of our common stock, relating to the fourth quarter of 2021, which will be paid on January 14, 2022 to stockholders of record as of December 31, 2021. The estimated aggregate amount of the regular cash dividend payment is approximately $8.2 million. After paying this quarterly dividend, our Board believes that we will likely have distributed an amount, in the aggregate, equivalent to the low end of our targeted distribution range of 90% to 100% of Distributable Earnings for the year ending December 31, 2021. Our estimated targeted distribution range based on Distributable Earnings is preliminary and subject to completion of our normal quarterly closing and review procedures for the quarter ended December 31, 2021. Given the timing of our estimate, however, the actual Distributable Earnings for the year ending December 31, 2021 may differ materially, including as a result of our year-end closing procedures, review adjustments and other developments that may arise between now and the time our financial results for the three months ended December 31, 2021 are finalized. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on our estimate. This estimated range has been prepared by, and is the responsibility of, our management and has not been reviewed or audited or subjected to any other procedures by our independent registered public accounting firm. Accordingly, our independent registered public accounting firm does not express an opinion or any other form of assurance with respect to this estimate. See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Growth Strategy—There are material limitations with making estimates of our results for periods prior to the completion of our and our auditors’ normal review procedures for such periods,” “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our financial statements and the related notes thereto included elsewhere in this prospectus. REIT taxable income as computed for purposes of the foregoing tax rules will not necessarily correspond to our net income as determined for financial reporting purposes, or our Distributable Earnings as described under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Financial Measures and Indicators—Distributable Earnings.” See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations—Taxation—Requirements for Qualification—Annual Distribution Requirements” for a summary of our distribution requirements as a REIT.
The payment of these dividends, including any special cash dividend, 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 approximately $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 approximately $17.8 million in gross proceeds. The net proceeds to us totaled approximately $123.9 million.
June 2021 Equity Offering
On June 28, 2021, we completed a public offering of 2,750,000 shares of our common stock at a price of $20.50 per share, raising approximately $56.4 million in gross proceeds. The underwriters also partially exercised their over-allotment option and purchased an additional 269,650 shares of our common stock at a price of
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$20.50 per share, which was completed on July 6, 2021, raising approximately $5.5 million in additional gross proceeds. The net proceeds to us totaled approximately $57.8 million.
2027 Senior Notes Offering
On November 3, 2021, we issued $100.0 million in aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes due 2027 (the “2027 Senior Notes”). The 2027 Senior Notes accrue interest at a rate of 5.750% per annum. Interest on the 2027 Senior Notes is due semi-annually on May 1 and November 1 of each year, beginning on May 1, 2022. The net proceeds from the issuance of the 2027 Senior Notes were approximately $97 million, after deducting the initial purchasers’ discounts and commissions and estimated offering fees and expenses payable by us. We intend to use the net proceeds from the issuance of the 2027 Senior Notes to (i) 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. The terms of the 2027 Senior Notes are governed by an indenture, dated November 3, 2021, among us, as issuer, and TMI Trust Company, as trustee (the “Indenture”). Under the Indenture governing the 2027 Senior Notes, we are required to cause all of our existing and future subsidiaries to guarantee the 2027 Senior Notes, other than certain immaterial subsidiaries as set forth in the Indenture. The 2027 Senior Notes are currently not guaranteed by any of our subsidiaries.
Prior to February 1, 2027, we may redeem the 2027 Senior Notes in whole or in part at a price equal to the greater of 100% of the principal amount of the 2027 Senior Notes being redeemed or a make-whole premium set forth in the Indenture, plus accrued and unpaid interest thereon to, but excluding, the applicable redemption date. On or after February 1, 2027, we may redeem the 2027 Senior Notes in whole or in part at a price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the 2027 Senior Notes being redeemed, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any, to, but excluding, the applicable redemption date. The Indenture also requires us to offer to purchase all of the 2027 Senior Notes at a purchase price equal to 101% of the principal amount of the 2027 Senior Notes, plus accrued and unpaid interest if a “change of control triggering event” (as defined in the Indenture) occurs.
The Indenture governing the 2027 Senior Notes contains customary terms and restrictions, subject to a number of exceptions and qualifications, including restrictions on our ability to (1) incur additional indebtedness unless the Annual Debt Service Charge (as defined in the Indenture) is no less than 1.5 to 1.0, (2) incur or maintain total debt in an aggregate principal amount greater than 60% of our consolidated Total Assets (as defined in the Indenture), (3) incur or maintain secured debt in an aggregate principal amount greater than 25% of our consolidated Total Assets (as defined in the Indenture); and (4) merge, consolidate or sell substantially all of our assets. In addition, the Indenture also provides for customary events of default. If any event of default occurs, any amount then outstanding under the Indenture may immediately become due and payable. These events of default are subject to a number of important exceptions and qualifications set forth in the Indenture.
Updates to Our Portfolio During the Third Quarter of 2021
During the third quarter of 2021, we closed two new loans with aggregate commitments of approximately $42.8 million in principal amount, refinanced a bridge loan with a senior secured term loan with a commitment of approximately $10.1 million in principal amount, amended two borrowers’ senior secured term loans to increase the commitment amounts by approximately $28.5 million and $43.4 million, respectively, for total new loan commitments subsequent to June 30, 2021 of approximately $119.2 million. We funded approximately $89.3 million of new and existing loan commitments and sold one loan commitment of $10.0 million in principal amount for net fundings of approximately $79.3 million.
In July 2021, we entered into a commitment to fund a $19.75 million senior secured term loan to Private Company K contingent on the borrower raising additional equity as required by the loan agreement. Until the borrower met the required criteria for funding under the loan agreement, the commitment had a ticking fee based on the aggregate commitment amount as follows: (a) 6.0% per annum from the date of closing through July 26, 2021 and (b) 6.5% per annum from and after July 27, 2021 through the initial funding date. In August 2021, the borrower met the required criteria and we funded $7.0 million of the loan commitment. The loan has a per annum
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interest rate of 12.0% plus LIBOR with a LIBOR floor of 1.0%. The loan has a maturity date of August 3, 2026, an unused line fee of 3.0%, an exit fee of 3.0%, OID of 4.0%, an annual agent fee of 0.75% of the total loan commitment amount and an interest reserve of $0.75 million.
In July 2021, we entered into a commitment to fund a $3.0 million bridge loan to Private Company J and funded $3.0 million at closing of such bridge loan. The bridge loan had an original interest rate of 13.0% per annum, an original maturity date of August 31, 2021, an agent fee of 1.0% of the principal amount of the bridge loan, an exit fee of 10.0% (which would be reduced to 2.0% upon refinancing with us), and original OID of 4.0%. In August 2021, we refinanced the bridge loan with a senior secured term loan pursuant to which we committed to fund $23.0 million and $18.0 million of which was funded on the closing date. The refinancing senior secured term loan has a per annum interest rate of LIBOR plus 12.0% with a LIBOR floor of 1.0% and PIK interest rate of 2.0% per annum. The PIK interest rate will step down to 0.0% once certain criteria are met in accordance with the loan agreement. The loans under the refinancing senior secured term loan facility have a maturity date of September 1, 2025 and an agent fee of 1.0% of the total loan commitment amount payable on the closing date and 1.0% of the outstanding principal balance of the term loans payable annually thereafter. The loans also have an exit fee of 4.0% (which may be reduced to 2.0% once certain criteria are met as defined in the loan agreement (including the meeting of certain financial metrics), OID of 4.0% and an interest reserve of $1.5 million. As part of the agreement to refinance the bridge loan, the borrower was credited for a portion of the original OID and agent fee paid in connection with the bridge loan.
In July 2021, Private Company I refinanced their bridge loan, which had a maturity date of July 9, 2021, an interest rate of 13.0% and OID of 4.0%. The new senior secured loan of $15.5 million was syndicated by our Manager between us and A BDC Warehouse, LLC (“ABW”), an affiliate of ours that is wholly-owned by Mr. and Mrs. Tannenbaum, with ABW holding approximately one-third of the principal amount. We committed and funded approximately $10.1 million of the new loan which has a per annum interest rate of 12.0% plus LIBOR, with a LIBOR floor of 1.0%, and PIK interest rate of 2.5%. The loan has a maturity date of August 1, 2026, an exit fee of 3.0% and OID of 4.0%. As part of the refinancing agreement, the exit fee on the bridge loan was waived and the borrower was credited for a portion of the original OID on the bridge loan.
In July 2021, Flower Loan Holdco, LLC (“FLH”), an affiliated entity in which Mr. Tannenbaum is the majority ultimate beneficial owner, purchased approximately $8.5 million of the Private Company A Credit Facility from a third-party lender, and we had a 30-day option to purchase such amount from FLH. Our credit agreement with Private Company A (the “Private Company A Credit Agreement” and, together with the related loan documents, the “Private Company A Credit Documents”) was amended and restated (such amendment and restatement, the “A&R Private Company A Credit Agreement”) concurrently to, among other things, add an additional tranche of loans, which increased the aggregate loan commitments thereunder by $30.0 million, $10.0 million of which our Manager syndicated to ABW, and $20.0 million of which are held by us, as designee of the Agent (as defined herein). The A&R Private Company A Credit Agreement has a maturity date of May 8, 2024. The original tranche of term loans has an exit fee of 2.0% of the original tranche term loan amount (excluding any unfunded portions of the original tranche term loan amount) and the additional tranche of term loans has an exit fee of 2.0% of the total amount of such additional tranches (excluding any unfunded portions of the additional tranche term loan amount). The original tranche of term loans has an agent fee of 1.0% of the total loan commitment amount payable annually. The second tranche of term loans has an agent fee of (i) 0.3333% of the total loan commitment amount of the additional tranche of term loans payable on the closing date of the A&R Private Company A Credit Agreement and (ii) 0.6667% of the total loan commitment amount of the additional tranche payable subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions precedent. The Private Company A Credit Facility bears interest at (i) a fixed interest rate of 13.0% per annum, payable in cash, and (ii) a blended PIK interest rate of 3.4% per annum, payable in kind, across the two tranches of loans under the Private Company A Credit Facility. The Private Company A Credit Facility included an upfront fee of 4.0% on the aggregate amount funded of the original tranche of term loans payable on the closing date of the original tranche of term loans and an unused line fee of 2.0% of the amount of any unfunded portion of the term loans payable annually. In connection with certain financing accommodations, a fee of $750,000 was payable to the Agent by the borrower on the closing date thereof. The A&R Private Company A Credit Agreement also included an OID of $200,000 payable on the closing date of the
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A&R Private Company A Credit Agreement and $400,000 payable to lenders, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions precedent. See “Certain Relationships and Related Party Transactions—Transactions With Related Parties—Private Company A Transactions” for more information.
In September 2021, we entered into (i) an Assignment and Acceptance (the “September Loan Assignment”) with FLH, Private Company A, as borrower, and our Manager, as the agent, pursuant to which we acquired FLH’s interest in the $8.5 million portion of the loan to Private Company A under the Private Company A Credit Facility, for a purchase price of approximately $8.5 million (which equaled the outstanding principal amount of the loan plus any accrued and unpaid interest and less any unaccreted original issue discount) and (ii) a letter agreement (the “September Commitment Assignment” and, together with the September Loan Assignment, the “September Assignments”) with our Manager, pursuant to which our Manager assigned to us its commitment to make loans to Private Company A in a principal amount of up to $20.0 million under the Private Company A Credit Facility, which was funded in September 2021. We did not pay any consideration to our Manager for our acquisition of our Manager’s loan commitments under the A&R Private Company A Credit Agreement pursuant to the September Commitment Assignment. As a result of the September Assignments, the total loan commitments to Private Company A under the Private Company A Credit Facility increased to an aggregate commitment amount of $72.5 million, of which our total loan commitments accounted for $62.5 million. See “Certain Relationships and Related Party Transactions—Transactions With Related Parties—Private Company A Transactions” for more information.
In September 2021, we entered into a second amended and restated credit agreement (the “A&R Sub. of Private Co. G Credit Agreement”) related to the Sub. of Private Co. G Credit Facility to, among other things, increase the total loan commitments by $53.4 million across three tranches, with approximately $10.0 million of new loan commitments allocated to ABW and the remaining $43.4 million of new loan commitments allocated to us. The loan has a maturity date of May 1, 2026, an annual agent fee of 1.0% of the total loan commitment amount and an exit fee of 10.0%, which will be reduced to 5.0% upon the satisfaction of certain specified criteria. One of the tranches of loans, representing $10.0 million in total commitments of which we funded approximately $8.1 million, has a per annum interest rate of 9.0%. The other two tranches of loans have a per annum interest rate of 12.0% plus LIBOR, with a 1.0% LIBOR floor, and PIK interest rate of 2.0% per annum. As a result of the increased loan commitments, the total loan commitments under the A&R Sub. of Private Co. G Credit Agreement equal $75.4 million, of which our total loan commitments account for $65.4 million.
In September 2021, we sold $10.0 million of our $15.0 million loan to one of our prior borrowers (“Public Company E”) for 104% of par amount generating a realized gain of $0.4 million.
Recent Developments
Subsequent to September 30, 2021, through December 31, 2021, we (i) closed two loans and purchased one tranche of senior secured loans, consisting of $110.0 million and $15.0 million in aggregate commitments, respectively, and (ii) funded $125.6 million of debt and sold approximately $5.0 million of debt for net fundings of approximately $120.6 million. In total, we closed on total new debt commitments of $127.3 million during the quarter ended December 31, 2021.
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In October 2021, we entered into an additional commitment for a $50.0 million senior term loan with Public Company F, as part of a $120.0 million third tranche under Public Company F’s senior secured credit facility and funded approximately $50.0 million of principal less OID of $1.2 million for net funding of $48.8 million at closing. Following the expansion, our total loan commitments to Public Company F increased to an aggregate principal amount of $60.0 million, including $10.0 million of the second tranche funded in May 2021.
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In October 2021, we sold our remaining investment in the loan to Public Company E to a third party in a private transaction. We received net proceeds from the sale of approximately $5.1 million.
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In November 2021, we purchased $15.0 million in outstanding principal amount of 12.5% senior secured notes issued at a premium by Public Company G, an operator publicly listed in Canada. We estimate 10.3% YTM on such purchased notes. We currently intend to hold the notes as a short-term investment in accordance with our Investment Guidelines.
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In November 2021, we issued $100.0 million in aggregate principal amount of the 2027 Senior Notes. The 2027 Senior Notes accrue interest at a rate of 5.750% per annum. Interest on the 2027 Senior Notes is due semi-annually on May 1 and November 1 of each year, beginning on May 1, 2022. The net proceeds from the issuance of the 2027 Senior Notes were approximately $97 million, after deducting the initial purchasers’ discounts and commissions and estimated offering fees and expenses payable by us. We intend to use the net proceeds from the issuance of the 2027 Senior Notes to fund debt investments and for general corporate purposes. The 2027 Senior Notes are guaranteed by any of our existing and future subsidiaries, other than those Immaterial Subsidiaries (as defined in the Indenture). The terms of the 2027 Senior Notes are governed by an Indenture, dated November 3, 2021, among us, as issuer, and TMI Trust Company, as trustee.
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In November 2021, we entered into the Second Amendment (the “Second Amendment”) to the credit agreement governing the Revolving Credit Facility (as amended, restated, supplemented or otherwise modified from time to time, the “Revolving Credit Agreement”) to, among other things: (i) decrease the interest rate to 4.75% per annum; (ii) extend the maturity date to the earlier of September 30, 2022 and the closing date of any credit facility where the proceeds are incurred to refund, refinance or replace such Revolving Credit Agreement; (iii) add an unused fee of 0.25% per annum on the undrawn amount of the revolving loan commitments; (iv) add a one-time commitment fee of 0.25% of the total revolving loan commitments, payable in three quarterly installments, beginning in the first quarter of 2022; (v) increase the aggregate revolving credit commitments to $75.0 million; (vi) provide holders of the 2027 Senior Notes, on the occurrence of certain events of default and subject to certain terms and conditions, the option to purchase all outstanding obligations under the Revolving Credit Agreement; and (vii) require all payments of interest, the commitment fee and unused fee (in each case, net of applicable taxes) to be paid, directly or indirectly, to a charitable foundation to be designated by AFC Finance, LLC in its sole discretion. In December 2021, we drew $75.0 million on our Revolving Credit Facility. All outstanding borrowings were subsequently repaid in full on January 3, 2022. See “Certain Relationships and Related Party Transactions—Transactions With Related Parties” for more information.
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In December 2021, we entered into a credit agreement with Sub. of Public Company H (the “Sub. of Public Company H Credit Agreement”) to provide it with a $100.0 million senior secured credit facility, of which, we committed $60.0 million, A BDC Warehouse II, LLC (“Warehouse”), a fund affiliated with us and our Manager, committed $10.0 million, and a third-party lender committed $30.0 million of the aggregate principal amount. Upon closing, the lenders funded $75.0 million in aggregate principal amount, of which we funded approximately $42.5 million. The remaining $25.0 million principal amount may be funded by the lenders pro rata in accordance with their commitment at any time on or prior to December 16, 2022 upon request by the Sub. of Public Company H and subject to the terms and condition specified under the Sub. of Public Company H Credit Agreement. The credit facility with Sub. of Public Company H (the “Sub. of Public Company H Credit Facility”) also includes an option for the borrower, upon its request and subject to its achievement of predetermined milestones and the terms and conditions of the Sub. of Public Company H Credit Agreement, to increase the amount of the Sub. of Public Company H Credit Facility by up to $50.0 million on or around December 16, 2022, to be funded by one or more of the lenders. The Sub. of Public Company H Credit Facility is guaranteed by Public Company H, as parent of the borrower, as well as certain of its subsidiaries and affiliated entities. The lenders’ commitment under the Sub. of Public Company H Credit Facility is secured by liens on substantially all assets of the borrower and certain of its subsidiaries and affiliated entities, including, in particular, owned real estate in several states. AFC Agent, LLC (“AFC Agent”), an entity wholly owned by
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Mr. Tannenbaum, our Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of our Board, and Mrs. Tannenbaum, our Managing Director, Head of Origination and Investor Relations, serves as administrative agent to the lenders under the Sub. of Public Company H Credit Facility.
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In December 2021, we declared a regular cash dividend of $0.50 per share of our common stock, relating to the fourth quarter of 2021, which will be paid on January 14, 2022 to stockholders of record as of December 31, 2021. The estimated aggregate amount of the regular cash dividend payment is approximately $8.2 million.
For the year ended December 31, 2021, our gross funding was $302.5 million and our net funding, taking into account loan repayments and amortization, was $275.5 million. In total, we closed on total new debt commitments of $341.3 million during the twelve months ended December 31, 2021.
COVID-19
Over the course of the coronavirus (“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 September 30, 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, and variants of 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 most of these measures have been lifted or scaled back, surges of COVID-19 in certain parts of the world, including the United States, have resulted and may in the future result in the re-imposition of certain restrictions and may lead to more restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The full 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.”
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Risk Factor Summary
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:
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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.
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Competition for the capital that we provide may reduce the return of our loans, which could adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.
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We are externally managed by our Manager and our growth and success depends on our Manager, its key personnel and investment professionals, and our Manager’s ability to make loans on favorable terms that satisfy our investment strategy and otherwise generate attractive risk-adjusted returns; thus, if our Manager overestimates the yields or incorrectly prices the risks of our loans or if there are any adverse changes in our relationship with our Manager, we may experience losses.
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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.
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Our ability to grow or maintain our business depends in part 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.
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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.
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As a debt investor, we are often not in a position to exert influence on borrowers, and the stockholders and management of such companies may make decisions that could decrease the value of loans made to such borrower.
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Our growth depends on external sources of capital, which may not be available on favorable terms or at all.
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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.
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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.
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Maintenance of our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act of 1940 as amended 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.
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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.
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Subject to the terms of the Indenture governing our 2027 Senior Notes, we may incur significant debt, and our governing documents and current credit facility contain no limit on the amount of debt we may incur.
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We may in the future pay distributions from sources other than our cash flow from operations, including borrowings, offering proceeds or the sale of assets, which means we will have less funds available for investments or less income-producing assets and your overall return may be reduced.
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The value of our common stock may be volatile and could decline substantially.
If any of the factors enumerated above or in “Risk Factors” occurs, our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In that case, the trading price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose some or all of your investment.
Corporate Information
Our principal executive offices are located at 525 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 1770, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, and our telephone number at this address is (561) 510-2390. Our website is www.afcgamma.com. Information contained in, or accessible through, our website is not a part of, and is not incorporated into, this prospectus.
Restrictions on Ownership and Transfer of Securities
To assist us in complying with the limitations on the concentration of ownership of a REIT imposed by the Code, among other purposes, our Articles of Incorporation (as amended 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 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 have elected to be taxed as a REIT commencing with our taxable year ended 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 qualified, and our organization and current and proposed method of operation will enable us to continue to qualify, as a REIT under the Code.
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
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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 continue to qualify for taxation as a REIT, we may be subject to certain federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income. See “U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations” for more information.
Distributions
Any future determination to make distributions will be at the discretion of our Board, subject to compliance with applicable law and any contractual provisions, including under agreements for indebtedness that we may incur, that restrict or limit our ability to make distributions, and will depend upon, among other factors, our results of operations, financial condition, earnings, capital requirements and other factors that our Board deems relevant.
We intend to make regular quarterly distributions to holders of our common stock. U.S. federal income tax law generally requires that a REIT distribute annually at least 90% of its REIT taxable income, without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding net capital gains, and that it pay tax at regular corporate rates to the extent that it annually distributes less than 100% of such 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:
n
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”);
n
exemption from say-on-pay, say-on-frequency and say-on-golden parachute voting requirements;
n
reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements; and
n
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 consummation of our IPO, (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
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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.
The Offering
Common stock offered by us
3,000,000 shares.
Common stock to be outstanding after this offering
19,442,812 shares (or 19,892,812 shares, if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full).
Over-allotment option offered by us
450,000 shares.
Use of Proceeds
We estimate that the net proceeds to us from this offering, after deducting the Structuring Fee, underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us, will be approximately $57.3 million (or approximately $66.0 million if the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full), based on the 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 qualification 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.
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The number of shares of common stock to be outstanding after this offering includes the number of shares of common stock outstanding as of December 24, 2021. This number excludes:
(i)
741,444 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)
1,604,236 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options outstanding as of December 24, 2021, having a weighted-average exercise price of approximately $16.60 per share.
Unless the context indicates otherwise, all information in this prospectus assumes:
(i)
16,442,812 shares of common stock outstanding as of December 24, 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 December 24, 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 nine months ended September 30, 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 consolidated 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.
 
For the
three months
ended
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31,
2020 to
September 30,
2020
For the
nine months
ended
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31,
2020 to
December 31,
2020
 
(unaudited)
 
(unaudited)
 
Revenue
 
 
 
 
Interest Income
$10,616,538
$1,594,769
$24,050,062
$5,250,108
Total revenue
10,616,538
1,594,769
24,050,062
5,250,108
Expenses
 
 
 
 
Management and incentive fees, net (less rebate of $256,989, $84,167, $677,439 and $259,167, respectively)(1)
2,542,936
142,067
5,498,469
364,194
General and administrative expenses
858,663
204,262
2,028,046
785,016
Organizational expenses
616,190
616,190
Stock-based compensation
51,429
1,662,001
Professional fees
396,147
89,800
726,194
614,019
Total expenses
3,849,175
1,052,319
9,914,710
2,379,419
Provision for current expected credit losses
(660,612)
(1,372,498)
(465,397)
Realized gains / (losses) on loans at fair value, net
400,000
400,000
345,000
Change in unrealized gains / (losses) on loans at fair value, net
1,423,929
1,563,800
796,368
1,563,340
Net income before income taxes
7,930,680
2,106,250
13,959,222
4,313,632
Income tax expense
Net income
$7,930,680
$2,106,250
$13,959,222
$4,313,632
 
 
 
 
 
Earnings per common share:
 
 
 
 
Basic earnings per common share (in dollars per share)
$0.48
$0.39
$1.13
$0.76
Diluted earnings per common share (in dollars per share)
$0.47
$0.39
$1.10
$0.76
 
 
 
 
 
Weighted average number of common shares outstanding:
 
 
 
 
Basic weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares)
16,402,984
5,376,411
12,368,977
5,694,475
Diluted weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares)
16,776,648
5,376,411
12,742,641
5,694,475
(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.
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As of
September 30,
2021
As of
December 31,
2020
 
(unaudited)
 
Balance Sheet Data:
 
 
Total assets(1)
$303,884,776
$93,961,692
Total liabilities
$29,477,832
$2,313,980
Total stockholders’ equity(1)
$274,406,944
$91,647,712
(1)
Does not give effect to the changes to our portfolio subsequent to September 30, 2021. See “—Recent Developments” for additional information.
 
For the
three months
ended
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31,
2020 to
September 30,
2020
For the
nine months
ended
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31,
2020 to
December 31,
2020
Other Financial Data
 
 
 
 
Distributable Earnings(1)(2)
$7,156,472
$542,450
$16,135,033
$3,215,689
Adjusted Distributable Earnings(1)(2)
$7,156,472
$1,158,640
$16,135,033
$3,831,879
Adjusted Distributable Earnings per weighted Average Share(1)(2)
$0.44
$0.22
$1.30
$0.67
(1)
Does not give effect to the changes to our portfolio subsequent to September 30, 2021. See “—Recent Developments” for additional information.
(2)
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, subject to certain adjustments, 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 at least equal to such REIT taxable income, if and to the extent authorized by our Board. Distributable Earnings is one of many factors considered by our Board in authorizing 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
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31,
2020 to
September 30,
2020
For the
nine months
ended
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31,
2020 to
December 31,
2020
Net Income
$7,930,680
$2,106,250
$13,959,222
$4,313,632
Adjustments to net income
 
 
 
 
Non-Cash Equity compensation expense
51,429
1,662,001
Depreciation and amortization
Unrealized (gain), losses or other non-cash items
(1,423,929)
(1,563,800)
(796,368)
(1,563,340)
Provision for current expected credit losses
660,612
1,372,498
465,397
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For the
three months
ended
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31,
2020 to
September 30,
2020
For the
nine months
ended
September 30,
2021
Period from
July 31,
2020 to
December 31,
2020
Other adjustments
(62,320)
(62,320)
One-time events pursuant to changes in GAAP and certain non-cash charges
Distributable Earnings
$7,156,472
$542,450
$16,135,033
$3,215,689
Adjustments to Distributable Earnings
 
 
 
 
Certain organizational expenses
616,190
616,190
Adjusted Distributable Earnings
$7,156,472
$1,158,640
$16,135,033
$3,831,879
Basic weighted average shares of common stock outstanding (in shares)
16,402,984
5,376,411
12,368,977
5,694,475
Adjusted Distributable Earnings per weighted Average Share
$0.44
$0.22
$1.30
$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 December 24, 2021, our portfolio consisted of loans to 15 different borrowers and an intended short-term investment in senior secured notes of one issuer (such portfolio, 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. We expect over time that the increasing number of competitors will likely result in yields that are lower than our current yields. 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 us. 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 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, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and we will be subject to social, political and economic risks of doing business in those states and any other state in which we in the future have lending exposure.
Our Existing Portfolio contains loans to companies with operations that are geographically concentrated in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Circumstances and developments related to operations in these markets that could negatively affect our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations include, but are not limited to, the following factors:
n
the development and growth of applicable state cannabis markets (for example, the increase in additional dispensaries in certain states have diluted the value of the pre-existing dispensaries);
n
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;
n
unexpected changes in regulatory requirements and other laws, in particular licensing requirements;
n
difficulties and costs of managing operations in certain locations;
n
potentially adverse tax consequences;
n
the impact of national, regional or state specific business cycles and economic instability; and
n
access to capital may be more restricted, or unavailable on favorable terms or at all in certain locations.
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Loans to relatively new and/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:
n
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;
n
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;
n
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;
n
there are a limited number of management teams in the cannabis industry that have U.S. public company experience. As a result, the management team of a borrower may not be familiar with U.S. securities laws and may have to expend time and resources becoming familiar with such laws;
n
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;
n
they generally have less predictable operating results and may require substantial additional capital to support their operations, finance expansion or maintain their competitive position;
n
there is generally less market forecast information about the cannabis industry, making it difficult for our borrowers to forecast demand. If the market does not develop as a borrower expects, it could have a material adverse effect on its business;
n
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;
n
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
n
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 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
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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 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.
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
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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.
We will not own real estate as long as it is used in the commercial sale of cannabis due to current statutory prohibitions and exchange listing standards, which may delay or limit our remedies in the event that any of our borrowers default under the terms of their loans with us.
Although we have the contractual ability to foreclose on, and take title to, the collateral securing our loans upon a default by the borrower, we will not take title to and own such real estate collateral as long as it is used in cannabis-related operations due to current statutory prohibitions, including Section 856 of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970, as amended (21 U.S.C. § 801, et seq.) (the “CSA”), which relates to the management or control of properties that are used for the manufacturing, distributing or using of any controlled substances. Until that law changes, taking title to real estate used in cannabis-related activities or owning equity in cannabis-related businesses would also violate Nasdaq listing requirements. These restrictions related to real property used in cannabis-related operations may cause significant delays or difficulties in deriving value from those properties. In addition, any alternative uses of cannabis-related properties may be limited due to the specialized nature of the facilities or may be less profitable than the cannabis-related operations, which would adversely affect the value of the collateral securing our loans and could result in the sale of such property at a loss. Because the sale of collateral may be forced upon the borrower at such point when time may be of the essence, and the assets may be made available to a limited number of potential purchasers, particularly in those limited-license states in which we focus, the sales prices may be less than the prices obtained with more time in a larger market. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
The properties securing our loans may be subject to contingent or unknown liabilities that could adversely affect the value of these properties, and as a result, our loans.
Properties securing our loans may be subject to contingent, unknown or unquantifiable liabilities that may adversely affect the value of our loans. Such defects or deficiencies may include title defects, title disputes, liens or other encumbrances on properties securing our loans to borrowers. The discovery of such unknown defects, deficiencies and liabilities could affect the ability of our borrowers to make payments to us or could affect our ability to foreclose and sell the properties securing such loans, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. Further, we, our executive officers, directors and our Manager may, in the ordinary course of business, be named as defendants in litigation arising from our loans.
We may in the future foreclose and acquire properties without any recourse, or with only limited recourse, against the prior property owner with respect to contingent or unknown liabilities. As a result, if a claim were asserted against us based on ownership of any of these properties, we may have to pay substantial amounts to defend or settle the claim. If the magnitude of such unknown liabilities is high, individually or in the aggregate, our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations would be materially and adversely affected.
Construction loans involve an increased risk of loss.
Our 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
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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 borrowers 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 borrowers 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. 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
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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 portfolio and could result in losses upon disposition or, in the case of our loans, otherwise imply a potential failure of borrowers to satisfy their debt service obligations to us.
Economic recessions or downturns could impair our borrowers and harm our operating results.
Because the operations of our borrowers are heavily dependent on retail sales, many of our borrowers may be susceptible to economic downturns or recessions and, during such periods, may be unable to satisfy their debt service obligations to us. Therefore, during these periods, our non-performing assets may increase and the value of our portfolio may decrease if we are required to write-down the values of our loans. Adverse economic conditions may also decrease the value of collateral securing some of our loans. Economic slowdowns or recessions could lead to financial losses in our portfolio and a decrease in our revenues, net income and asset values.
A borrower’s failure to satisfy financial or operating covenants imposed by us or other creditors could lead to defaults and, potentially, acceleration of the time when its debt obligations are due and foreclosure on its assets representing collateral for its obligations, which could trigger cross-defaults under other agreements and jeopardize our borrower’s ability to meet its obligations under the loans that we hold. We may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms with a defaulting borrower.
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
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guarantee that we will receive principal and interest payments according to the terms of the loan, or that the value of any collateral will be sufficient to allow us to recover all or a portion of the outstanding amount of such loan should we be forced to enforce our remedies.
We may in the future enter into credit agreements with borrowers that may permit them to incur debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, the loans we extend to such companies under such credit agreements.
As of December 24, 2021, all of our borrowers are generally restricted, under our applicable credit agreements with such borrowers, from incurring any debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, our loans, except for certain customary exceptions, and for (i) Private Company F, which such borrower may incur secured debt in connection with a government funded program for limited real estate development and (ii) Subsidiary of Private Company G, which such borrower may incur bank debt (subject to a specified cap) so long as our loan is repaid in an amount equal to such bank debt. 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 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
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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 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.
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, which vary state-to-state, 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,
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once licenses are issued and authorizations are obtained, we are required to comply with various information reporting and other regulatory requirements to maintain those licenses and authorizations, and there is no assurance that we will be able to satisfy those requirements or other regulatory requirements applicable to our business on an ongoing basis, which may restrict our business and could expose us to penalties or other claims.
Any failure to obtain, maintain or renew required licenses and authorizations or failure to comply with regulatory requirements that are applicable to our business could result in material fines and disruption to our business and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, operating results and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
There are material limitations with making estimates of our results for periods prior to the completion of our and our auditors’ normal review procedures for such periods.
The estimated targeted distribution range based on our Distributable Earnings contained in “Prospectus Summary— Key Financial Measures and Indicators— Dividends Declared Per Share” and “Distribution Policy” are not a comprehensive statement of our financial results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2021, and have not been reviewed or audited by our independent registered public accounting firm. Our financial statements for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2021, will not be available until after this offering is completed and, consequently, will not be available to you prior to investing in this offering. The final financial results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2021, may vary from our expectations and may be materially different from our provided preliminary expectations regarding our dividends as they relate to our estimated targeted distribution range due to completion of quarterly and annual closing procedures, final adjustments and other developments that may arise between now and the time the financial results for the applicable period are finalized. Accordingly, investors should not place undue reliance on such financial information.
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 some of these measures have been lifted or scaled back, a recent resurgence of COVID-19 in certain parts of the world, including the United States, has resulted in the re-imposition of certain restrictions and may lead to more restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 (or a future pandemic) could have material and adverse effects on our borrowers and their operations, as well as on our performance, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows due to, among other factors:
n
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;
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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;
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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;
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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;
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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;
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delays in construction at the properties of our borrowers may adversely impact their ability to commence operations and generate revenues from projects;
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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
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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 and 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 and IBA also announced the cessation of the publication of LIBOR for one-week and two-month U.S.-dollar LIBOR tenors starting after December 31, 2021, and the cessation of the remaining tenors of U.S.-dollar LIBOR settings starting after June 30, 2023. The U.S. Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (the “ARRC”), a steering committee comprised of large U.S. financial institutions, has been 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. On July 29, 2021, the ARRC formally recommended the adoption of CME Group Inc.’s forward-looking SOFR term rates as the replacement for U.S.-dollar LIBOR. Although a transition towards various alternative reference rates, such as SOFR or the Sterling Over Night Index Average, appear to be in progress, it is unknown whether any of these alternative reference rates will attain market acceptance as replacements for LIBOR.
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As of September 30, 2021, six of our loans, representing approximately 46% of our portfolio based on aggregate outstanding principal balances, paid interest at a variable rate tied to LIBOR. As of December 24, 2021, six of our loans, representing approximately 35% of our portfolio based on aggregate loan principal balances, 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.
All but three U.S. states have legalized, to some extent, cannabis for medical purposes. Thirty-seven states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam have legalized some form of whole-plant cannabis cultivation, sales and use for certain medical purposes. Eighteen of those states and the District of Columbia and Northern Mariana have also legalized cannabis for adults for non-medical purposes.
Under U.S. federal law, however, those activities are illegal. Cannabis, other than hemp (defined by the U.S. government as Cannabis sativa L. with a tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis), is a Schedule I controlled substance under 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 seven 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 non-enforcement against businesses complying with the state regulated cannabis programs under the Biden administration given his campaign’s position on cannabis and statements made by 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 three-and-a-half years ago, however,
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U.S. Attorneys have not prosecuted state law compliant entities. While not formally rescinding the Sessions Memo, former 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
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issuance of the Sessions Memorandum on January 4, 2018, the U.S. Congress continued to include the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (now known as the “Joyce Amendment”) in each subsequent omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal years 2018, 2019, 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 December 3, 2021.
Notably, the Joyce 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 Joyce 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 or maintain our business depends in part 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.
Our investment opportunities are limited by the current illegality of cannabis under U.S. federal law; changes in the laws, regulations and guidelines that impact the cannabis industry may cause adverse effects on our ability to make loans.
We make loans to borrowers that we determine based on our due diligence are licensed in, and complying with, state-regulated cannabis programs, regardless of their status under U.S. federal law. Any such loans will be designed to
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be compliant with all applicable laws and regulations to which we are subject, including U.S. federal law, although the law in this area is not fully settled and there can be no assurances that federal authorities will consider such loans to be compliant with applicable law and regulations. In that regard, we have previously received an opinion of counsel that our proposed investment activities do not violate the CSA, the U.S. Money Laundering Control Act (18 U.S.C. § 1956), or the Drug Paraphernalia law contained in the CSA, (21 U.S.C. § 863), subject to certain assumptions, qualifications, and exceptions stated in the opinion. However, there can be no assurances that a court or federal authorities would agree with the conclusions reached in the opinion. Additionally, if federal legislation is enacted that provides protections from liability under U.S. federal law for other types of debt investments in borrowers or other target companies that are compliant with state, but not U.S. federal, laws and is determined to apply to us (or we otherwise determine that the debt investment is not prohibited), and such other types of debt investments are in compliance with Nasdaq’s listing policies and ongoing requirements, we may make other types of debt investments in such companies that do not comply with U.S. federal laws, subject to our investment policies and guidelines. There can be no assurance, however, that such type of legislation will be enacted or that we will otherwise be able to make loans that do not comply with U.S. federal law.
Risks related to the cannabis industry may directly or indirectly affect us or our borrowers engaged in the cannabis industry.
Our borrowers face several challenges unique to the state regulated cannabis industry, which could negatively affect our revenues if it impedes their profitability or operations and their ability to continue to pay us. Some of these challenges include, but are not limited to, the following:
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The manufacturer, distribution, sale, or possession of cannabis that is not in compliance with the CSA is illegal under U.S. federal law. Strict enforcement of U.S. federal laws regarding cannabis would likely result in our borrowers’ inability to execute a business plan in the cannabis industry;
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Laws and regulations affecting the regulated cannabis industry are varied, broad in scope and subject to evolving interpretations, and may restrict the use of the properties our borrowers acquire or require certain additional regulatory approvals, which could materially adversely affect our loans to such borrowers;
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Our borrowers may have difficulty borrowing from or otherwise accessing the service of banks, which may inhibit our ability to open bank accounts or otherwise utilize traditional banking services;
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Our borrowers may have a difficult time obtaining financing in connection with our investment strategy;
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There may be no material aspect of our borrowers’ businesses that is protected by patents, copyrights, trademarks or trade names, and they may face strong competition from larger companies, including those that may offer similar products and services to our borrowers;
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U.S. federal courts may refuse to recognize the enforceability of contracts pertaining to any business operations that are deemed illegal under U.S. federal law, including cannabis companies operating legally under state law;
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Our borrowers may have a difficult time obtaining the various insurance policies that are needed to operate such businesses, which may expose us and our borrowers to additional risks and financial liabilities;
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Our borrowers are subject to unfavorable U.S. tax treatment under Section 280E of the Code;
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Our borrowers may be foreclosed from using bankruptcy courts;
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Assets collateralizing loans to cannabis businesses may be forfeited to the U.S. federal government in connection with government enforcement actions under U.S. federal law;
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U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”)regulation of cannabis and the possible registration of facilities where cannabis is grown could negatively affect the cannabis industry, which could directly affect our financial condition and the financial condition of our borrowers;
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The cannabis industry may face significant opposition from other industries that perceive cannabis products and services as competitive with their own, including but not limited to the pharmaceutical industry, adult beverage industry and tobacco industry, all of which have powerful lobbying and financial resources; and
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Consumer complaints and negative publicity regarding cannabis-related products and services could lead to political pressure on states to implement new laws and regulations that are adverse to the cannabis industry, to not modify existing, restrictive laws and regulations, or to reverse current favorable laws and regulations relating to cannabis.
We and our borrowers may have difficulty accessing the service of banks and other financial institutions, which may make it difficult to sell products and services, 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 commercial sale 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 (“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 (the “FinCEN Memo”). 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.
While the FinCEN Memo is presumptively still in effect, FinCEN could elect to rescind the FinCEN Memo at any time. Banks remain hesitant to offer banking services to cannabis-related businesses. Consequently, those businesses involved in the cannabis industry continue to encounter difficulty in establishing banking relationships, which would negatively affect the business, financial condition and results of operations of borrowers. Our inability or the inability of our borrowers to maintain bank accounts would make it difficult for us to operate our business, would 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.
The medical and adult-use cannabis industry is highly competitive, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The market for businesses in the cannabis industry is highly competitive and evolving. In addition to other state-regulated competitors, our borrowers may face competition from (i) unlicensed and unregulated market participants; (ii) individuals who produce cannabis for their own use under personal cultivation laws; and (iii) entities creating hemp-derived or other synthetic products which emulate the effects of cannabis. These competitors could change the demand, volume and profitability of the cannabis industry. This could adversely affect the ability of a borrower to secure long-term profitability and success through the sustainable and profitable operation of the anticipated businesses and investment targets, and could have a material adverse effect on a borrower’s business, financial condition or results of operations, which in turn, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
There can be no assurance that the cannabis industry will continue to exist or grow as currently anticipated.
There can be no assurance that the cannabis industry and market will continue to exist or grow as currently estimated or anticipated, or function and evolve in a manner consistent with our expectations and assumptions. Any event or circumstance that affects the medical or adult use cannabis industry and market could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, as well as the business, financial condition and results of operations of our borrowers.
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Marketing constraints under regulatory frameworks may limit a borrower’s ability to compete for market share in a manner similar to that of companies in other industries.
The development of a borrower’s business and operating results may be hindered by applicable restrictions on sales and marketing activities imposed by regulations applicable to the cannabis industry. For example, the regulatory environment in Illinois would limit a borrower’s ability to compete for market share in a manner similar to that of companies in other industries. Additionally, Illinois regulations impose further restrictions on sales in the adult-use cannabis market. If a borrower is unable to effectively market its products and compete for market share, or if the costs of compliance with government legislation and regulation cannot be absorbed through increased selling prices for its products, its sales and operating results could be adversely affected, which could impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.
There is uncertainty in pricing and demand for cannabis and cannabis-based products.
Changes in the legal status of cannabis may result in an initial surge in demand. As a result of such initial surge, cannabis companies operating under such changed legal regime may not be able to produce enough cannabis to meet demand of the adult-use and medical markets, as applicable. This may result in lower than expected sales and revenues and increased competition for sales and sources of supply.
However, in the future, cannabis producers may produce more cannabis than is needed to satisfy the collective demand of the adult-use and medical markets, as applicable, and they currently are unable to export that oversupply into other markets where cannabis use is fully legal under all applicable jurisdictional laws. As a result, the available supply of cannabis could exceed demand, resulting in a significant decline in the market price for cannabis. If such supply or price fluctuations were to occur, companies operating in the cannabis industry may see revenue and profitability fluctuate materially and their business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be adversely affected, as could our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Similarly, the anticipated pricing of cannabis products may differ substantially from current levels given changes in the competitive and regulatory landscape. A borrower’s business model may be susceptible to erosion of profitability should cannabis and cannabis-related products experience secular pricing changes. Potential sources of pricing changes include overproduction, regulatory action, increased competition or the emergence of new competitors. Additionally, even if pricing of the broader cannabis and cannabis-related product market is sustained, there is no guarantee that a borrower will be successful in creating and maintaining consumer demand and estimated pricing levels. To do this, the borrower may be dependent upon, among other things, continually producing desirable and effective cannabis and cannabis-related products and the continued growth in the aggregate number of cannabis consumers. Campaigns designed to enhance a borrower’s brand and attract consumers, subject to restrictions imposed by law, can be expensive and may not result in increased sales. If the borrower is unable to attract new consumers, it may not be able to increase its sales.
As a result of changing consumer preferences, many consumer products attain financial success for a limited period of time. Even if a borrower’s products find success at retail, there can be no assurance that such products will continue to be profitable. A borrower’s success will be significantly dependent upon its ability to develop new and improved product lines and adapt to consumer preferences. Even if a borrower is successful in introducing new products or developing its current products, a failure to gain consumer acceptance or to update products could cause a decline in the products’ popularity and impair the brands. In addition, a borrower may be required to invest significant capital in the creation of new product lines, strains, brands, marketing campaigns, packaging and other product features, none of which are guaranteed to be successful. Failure to introduce new features and product lines and to achieve and sustain market acceptance could result in the borrower being unable to satisfy consumer preferences and generate revenue which could have a material adverse effect on the business, financial condition and results of operations of such borrower, and, in turn, on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our reputation and ability to do business, as well as the reputation of our borrowers and their ability to do business, may be negatively impacted by the improper conduct of third parties, including but not limited to business partners, employees or agents.
We cannot provide assurance that the internal controls and compliance systems of our borrowers will always protect us from acts committed by such companies’ employees, agents or business partners in violation of applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which they conduct operations, including those applicable to businesses in the
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cannabis industry. Any improper acts or allegations could damage our reputation, the reputation of our borrowers and subject us and our borrowers to civil or criminal investigations and related stockholder lawsuits, could lead to substantial civil and criminal monetary and non-monetary penalties, and could cause us or our borrowers to incur significant legal and investigatory fees.
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. Violations of applicable laws, or allegations of such violations, could disrupt our borrowers’ businesses and result in a material adverse effect on their operations. We cannot predict the nature of any future laws, regulations, interpretations or applications, and it is possible that regulations may be enacted in the future that will be materially adverse to the business of our borrowers, as well as 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.
Borrowers operating in a highly regulated business require significant resources.
Our borrowers are involved in the production, distribution or sale of cannabis products and operate in a highly regulated business. In such a case, we would expect a significant amount of such borrower’s management’s time and external resources to be used to comply with the laws, regulations and guidelines that impact their business, and changes thereto, and such compliance may place a significant burden on such management and other resources of a borrower.
Additionally, our portfolio companies may be subject to a variety of differing laws, regulations and guidelines in each of the jurisdictions in which they operate. Complying with multiple regulatory regimes will require additional resources and may limit a borrower’s ability to expand into certain jurisdictions. For example, even if cannabis were to become legal under U.S. federal law, companies operating in the cannabis industry would have to comply with all applicable state and local laws, which may vary greatly between jurisdictions, increasing costs for companies that operate in multiple jurisdictions. Any such diversion of resources could have a material adverse effect on the business, results of operation and financial condition of a borrower, which could in turn have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Any failure or significant delay in our borrowers obtaining necessary regulatory approvals could adversely affect the ability of borrowers to conduct their businesses.
The ability of our borrowers to meet their business objectives will be contingent, in part, upon compliance with the regulatory requirements enacted by applicable government authorities and obtaining all regulatory approvals, where necessary, for modifications or expansions of their business or the sale of new products. We cannot predict the time required to secure all appropriate regulatory approvals, additional restrictions that may be placed on our borrower’s business or the extent of testing and documentation that may be required by government authorities. Any delays in obtaining, or failure to obtain, regulatory approvals would significantly delay the development of markets and products and could have a material adverse effect on the business, results of operation and financial condition of any such borrower, or on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
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Borrowers may become involved in regulatory or agency proceedings, investigations and audits.
As previously stated, our borrowers are involved in the production, distribution or sale of cannabis products and operate in a highly regulated business. Failure to comply with relevant federal and state laws and regulations could subject our borrowers to regulatory or agency proceedings or investigations and could also lead to damage awards, fines and penalties. Our borrowers may become involved in a number of government or agency proceedings, investigations and audits. The outcome of any regulatory or agency proceedings, investigations, audits and other contingencies could harm our reputation, the reputations of our borrowers or the reputations of the brands that they may sell, require the borrowers to take, or refrain from taking, actions that could impact their operations, or require them to pay substantial amounts of money, harming their and our financial condition. There can be no assurance that any pending or future regulatory or agency proceedings, investigations and audits will not result in substantial costs or a diversion of borrower management’s attention and resources or have a material adverse impact on their and our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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 involved in commercial cannabis activity. 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, 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.
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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 were 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.
To the extent real estate collateral is still being used in cannabis-related activities, we will not foreclose and take title to such real estate to the extent doing so would violate Nasdaq listing standards. With respect to equipment, receivables and cash accounts, there are no prohibitions under state law regarding our ability to foreclose on such collateral. Foreclosing on pledged equity would trigger a change of control and such an action might also require approval of state regulators. Our loans are often secured by liens on equity, including the equity in the entity that holds the state-issued license to cultivate, process, distribute, and/or retail cannabis, as the case may be, but we will not take title to such equity as doing so would violate Nasdaq listing standards. We also cannot foreclose on liens on state licenses as they are generally not transferable, and we do not have liens on cannabis inventory.
Our ability to force a sale of our real estate collateral differs based on the state in which such real estate collateral is located and the security instruments used to secure such real estate collateral in each state. In Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Arkansas, the ability to force such sales is governed by judicial foreclosure in such states pursuant to each state’s foreclosure laws. Under judicial foreclosure, we can enforce a judgment in foreclosure by (i) in the case of Arkansas, a public sale or (ii) for all other states, a writ of execution. In a judgment in foreclosure by public sale, the judgment directs the circuit clerk of the county in which the real property is located to sell the real property at a properly noticed public auction. A judgment in foreclosure by writ of execution directs a sheriff, clerk, special master, referee or other authorized person, as the case may be, to levy on and sell the real property, commonly at a properly noticed public auction. In Arizona, Maryland, and Massachusetts, a trustee or appointed auctioneer sells the property at a public sale through a non-judicial foreclosure pursuant to each state’s non-judicial foreclosure laws. In Missouri, we may force a sale of our real estate collateral either through judicial foreclosure or through a sale administered by a trustee at our discretion. In New Mexico, we can force a sale of real estate collateral through a judicial foreclosure or a non-judicial foreclosure, depending upon the security instruments used to secure the real estate collateral. Under judicial foreclosure in New Mexico, we can enforce a judgment in foreclosure by a public sale. Under non-judicial foreclosure in New Mexico, a trustee or appointed auctioneer sells the property at a public sale. In Iowa, we can also force a sale of real estate collateral through a judicial foreclosure or a non-judicial foreclosure. Under judicial foreclosure in Iowa, we can enforce a judgment in foreclosure by a writ of
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execution. A judgment in foreclosure by writ of execution directs the sheriff of the county in which the real property is located to sell the real property at a properly noticed public auction. Under non-judicial foreclosure in Iowa, we may enforce our mortgage by either (i) recording an agreement that is entered into between borrower and lender to surrender the property with a 30 day notice served on junior lienholders to either redeem or surrender their lien(s), or (ii) by serving a 30 day notice on mortgagor and junior lienholders, subject to rejection by mortgagor or cure by either mortgagor or junior lienholder.
Equipment, receivables, and cash in deposit accounts may be collected under state Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”). In all states, we are permitted for non-real estate collateral (e.g., equipment) to pursue a judicial action and execute on a judgment via sheriffs’ sale. While we currently cannot foreclose under UCC and take title or sell equity in a licensed cannabis business, a potential purchaser of a delinquent or defaulted loan could. However, the transfer of ownership of equity in a licensed cannabis business requires state regulator approval, which can take significant time. In addition, because the sale of collateral may be forced upon the borrower at such point when time may be of the essence and the assets may be made available to a limited number of potential purchasers, particularly in those limited-license states in which we focus, the sales prices may be less than the prices obtained with more time in a larger market. As a result, the sale of such collateral may not result in sufficient proceeds to repay our loan and could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
Liability relating to environmental matters may impact the value of properties that we may acquire upon foreclosure of the properties securing our loans.
To the extent we foreclose on properties securing our loans, we may be subject to environmental liabilities arising from such foreclosed properties. In particular, cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities may present environmental concerns of which we are not currently aware. Under various federal, state and local laws, an owner or operator of real property may become liable for the costs of removal of certain hazardous substances released on its property. These laws often impose liability without regard to whether the owner or operator knew of, or was responsible for, the release of such hazardous substances. Accordingly, if environmental contamination exists on properties we acquire or develop after acquisition, we could become subject to liability for the contamination.
The presence of hazardous substances may adversely affect an owner’s ability to sell real estate or borrow using real estate as collateral. To the extent that an owner of a property securing one of our loans becomes liable for removal costs, the ability of the owner to make payments to us may be reduced, which in turn may adversely affect the value of the relevant loan held by us and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
If we foreclose on any properties securing our loans, the presence of hazardous substances on a property may adversely affect our ability to sell the property and we may incur substantial remediation costs, thus harming our financial condition. The discovery of material environmental liabilities attached to any properties securing our loans could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
The market value of properties securing our loans acquired by us upon foreclosure may decrease if they cannot be used for cannabis related operations.
Properties used for cannabis operations, particularly cultivation and manufacturing facilities, are generally more valuable than if used for other purposes. If we foreclose on any properties securing our loans, our inability to sell the property to a licensed cannabis company for a similar use may significantly decrease the market value of the foreclosed property thereby having a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
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 FDA would seek to regulate it under the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938. Indeed, after the U.S. government removed hemp and its extracts from the CSA as part of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2008, then FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement reminding the public of the FDA’s continued authority “to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the “FD&C Act”) and section 351 of the Public Health Service Act.” He also reminded the public that “it’s unlawful under the FD&C Act to introduce food containing added cannabidiol (“CBD”) or 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
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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.
Research in the United States, Canada and internationally regarding the medical benefits, viability, safety, efficacy and dosing of cannabis or isolated cannabinoids may cause adverse effects on our or borrowers’ operations.
Historically stringent regulations related to cannabis have made conducting medical and academic studies challenging. Many statements concerning the potential medical benefits of cannabinoids are based on published articles and reports, and as a result, such statements are subject to the experimental parameters, qualifications and limitations in the studies that have been completed. Future research and clinical trials may draw different or negative conclusions regarding the medical benefits, viability, safety, efficacy, dosing or other facts and perceptions related to medical cannabis, which could adversely affect social acceptance of cannabis and the demand for their products.
There can be no assurance that future scientific research, findings, regulatory proceedings, litigation, media attention, or other research findings or publicity will be favorable to the cannabis market or any particular cannabis product or will be consistent with earlier publicity. Adverse future scientific research reports, findings and regulatory proceedings that are, or litigation, media attention or other publicity that is, perceived as less favorable than, or that questions, earlier research reports, findings or publicity (whether or not accurate or with merit) could result in a significant reduction in the demand for the cannabis products of a borrower. Further, adverse publicity reports or other media attention regarding the safety, efficacy and quality of cannabis, or the products of a borrower specifically, or associating the consumption of cannabis with illness or other negative effects or events, could adversely affect such borrower. This adverse publicity could arise even if the adverse effects associated with cannabis products resulted from consumers’ failure to use such products legally, appropriately or as directed.
The cannabis industry is subject to the risks inherent in an agricultural business, including the risk of crop failure.
The growing of cannabis is an agricultural process. As such, a borrower with operations in the cannabis industry is subject to the risks inherent in the agricultural business, including risks of crop failure presented by weather, insects, plant diseases and similar agricultural risks. Although some cannabis production is conducted indoors under climate controlled conditions, cannabis continues to be grown outdoors and there can be no assurance that artificial or natural elements, such as insects and plant diseases, will not entirely interrupt production activities or have an adverse effect on the production of cannabis and, accordingly, the operations of a borrower, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Many cannabis businesses are dependent on key personnel with sufficient experience in the cannabis industry.
The success of businesses in the cannabis industry is largely dependent on the performance of their respective management teams and key employees and their continuing ability to attract, develop, motivate and retain highly qualified and skilled employees. Qualified individuals are in high demand, and significant costs may be incurred to attract and retain them. The loss of the services of any key personnel, or an inability to attract other suitably qualified persons when needed, could prevent a borrower from executing on its business plan and strategy, and the borrower may
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be unable to find adequate replacements on a timely basis, or at all. Such events and circumstances could have a material adverse effect on the operations of a borrower, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our borrowers may be vulnerable to rising energy costs.
Cannabis growing operations consume considerable energy, which makes a borrower vulnerable to rising energy costs and/or the availability of stable energy sources. Accordingly, rising or volatile energy costs or the inability to access stable energy sources may have a material adverse effect on the borrower’s business, financial condition and results of operations, which could also adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Third-parties with whom we do business may perceive themselves as being exposed to reputational risk by virtue of their relationship with us and may ultimately elect not to do business with us.
By lending to borrowers in the cannabis industry, the parties with which we do business may perceive that they are exposed to reputational risk as a result of our loans to cannabis businesses. Failure to establish or maintain business relationships could have a material adverse effect on us.
The cannabis industry faces significant opposition, and any negative trends may cause adverse effects on the operations of our borrowers, which could cause adverse effects on our business.
By lending to borrowers in the cannabis industry, we are substantially dependent on the continued market acceptance, and the proliferation of consumers, of cannabis. We believe that with further legalization, cannabis will become more accepted, resulting in growth in consumer demand. However, we cannot predict the future growth rate or future market potential, and any negative outlook on the cannabis industry may adversely affect our business operations and the operations of our borrowers.
Large, well-funded industries that perceive cannabis products and services as competitive with their own, including but not limited to the pharmaceutical industry, adult beverage industry and tobacco industry, all of which have powerful lobbying and financial resources, may have strong economic reasons to oppose the development of the cannabis industry. For example, should cannabis displace other drugs or products, the medical cannabis industry could face a material threat from the pharmaceutical industry, which is well-funded and possesses a strong and experienced lobby. Any inroads the pharmaceutical, or any other potentially displaced, industry or sector could make in halting or impeding the cannabis industry could have a detrimental impact on our business and the business of our borrowers.
Certain of our directors, officers, employees and investors who are not U.S. citizens may face constraints on cross-border travel into the United States.
Because cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal law, non-U.S. citizens employed at or investing in companies doing business in the state legal cannabis industry could face detention, denial of entry or lifetime bans from the United States for their business associations with cannabis businesses. Entry to the United States happens at the sole discretion of the officers on duty of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), and these officers have wide latitude to ask questions to determine the admissibility of a foreign national. The government of Canada has started warning travelers on its website that previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could mean denial of entry to the United States. Business or financial involvement in the legal cannabis industry in Canada or in the United States could also be grounds for U.S. border guards to deny entry. On September 21, 2018, CBP released a statement outlining its current position with respect to enforcement of the laws of the United States. It stated that Canada’s legalization of cannabis will not change CBP enforcement of U.S. laws regarding controlled substances and because cannabis continues to be a controlled substance under U.S. federal law, working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in U.S. states where it is deemed legal or in Canada may affect admissibility to the United States. CBP updated its stated policy on October 9, 2018 to clarify that a Canadian citizen coming to the United States for reasons unrelated to the cannabis industry will generally be admissible to the United States.
As a result, CBP has affirmed that employees, directors, officers, managers and investors of companies involved in business activities related to cannabis in the United States or Canada (such as us), who are not U.S. citizens, face the risk of being barred from entry into the United States for life. On October 9, 2018, CBP released an additional policy statement indicating that Canadian citizens working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal cannabis industry in Canada, if travelling to the United States for reasons unrelated to the cannabis industry, will generally be admissible. However, if the traveler is found to be entering into the United States for reasons related to the cannabis industry, he or
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she may be deemed inadmissible. Ultimately, travel restrictions imposed on our directors, officers, employees and investors could impair our ability to conduct business and to freely explore new strategic relationships.
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 such 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:
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general economic or market conditions;
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the market’s view of the quality of our assets;
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the market’s perception of our growth potential;
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the current regulatory environment with respect to our business; and
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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 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.
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
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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.
Subject to the terms of the Indenture governing our 2027 Senior Notes, 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, availability and the terms of the Indenture governing our 2027 Senior Notes, 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 portfolio’s cash flow. Our governing documents and our Revolving Credit Agreement contain no limit on the amount of debt we may incur, and, subject to the covenants contained in the Indenture, 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:
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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;
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we may be unable to borrow additional funds as needed or on favorable terms, or at all;
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to the extent we borrow debt that bears interest at variable rates, increases in interest rates could materially increase our interest expense;
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our default under any loan with cross-default provisions could result in a default on other indebtedness;
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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
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we are not able to refinance debt that matures prior to the loan it was used to finance on favorable terms, or at all.
There can be no assurance that a leveraging strategy will be successful. If any one of these events were to occur, our financial condition, results of operations, cash flow, and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders could be materially and adversely affected.
Our indebtedness may affect our ability to operate our business, and may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
As of December 24, 2021, our total consolidated indebtedness, including that of our subsidiaries, was approximately $100.0 million (excluding debt issuance costs and accrued interests) and we had undrawn capacity of $75.0 million available under our Revolving Credit Facility. On December 30, 2021, we drew $75.0 million on our Revolving Credit Facility and all outstanding borrowings were subsequently repaid in full on January 3, 2022. Our indebtedness could have significant adverse consequences to us, such as:
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limiting our ability to satisfy our financial obligations,;
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limiting our ability to obtain additional financing to fund our working capital needs, acquisitions, capital expenditures or other debt service requirements or for other purposes;
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limiting our ability to use operating cash flow in other areas of our business because we must dedicate a substantial portion of these funds to service debt;
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limiting our ability to compete with other companies who are not as highly leveraged, as we may be less capable of responding to adverse economic and industry conditions;
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restricting us from making strategic acquisitions, developing properties or exploiting business opportunities;
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restricting the way in which we conduct our business because of financial and operating covenants;
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covenants in the agreements governing our and our subsidiaries’ existing and future indebtedness;
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exposing us to potential events of default (if not cured or waived) under financial and operating covenants contained in our or our subsidiaries’ debt instruments that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results;
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increasing our vulnerability to a downturn in general economic conditions; and
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limiting our ability to react to changing market conditions in our industry and in our borrowers’ industries.
In addition to our debt service obligations, our operations may require substantial investments. Our ability to make scheduled debt payments, to refinance our obligations with respect to our indebtedness and to fund capital and non-capital expenditures necessary to maintain the condition of our properties, as well as to provide capacity for the growth of our business, depends on our financial and operating performance, which, in turn, is subject to prevailing economic conditions and financial, business, competitive, legal and other factors.
We may not be able to generate sufficient cash flow to meet our debt service obligations.
Our ability to make payments on our outstanding debt, and to fund our operations, working capital and capital expenditures, depends on our ability to generate cash in the future. To a certain extent, our cash flow is subject to general economic, industry, financial, competitive, operating, legislative, regulatory and other factors, many of which are beyond our control.
Holders of the 2027 Senior Notes have the right to require us to repurchase such 2027 Senior Notes for cash upon the occurrence of designated events. We expect that our future debt agreements or securities may contain similar provisions. We may not have sufficient funds to make the required repurchase or settlement, as applicable, of the 2027 Senior Notes in cash at the applicable time and, in such circumstances, may not be able to arrange the necessary financing on
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favorable terms, or at all. Similarly, our future subsidiary guarantors of the 2027 Senior Notes, if any, may not have sufficient funds with which to pay such amounts in respect of their guarantees of the 2027 Senior Notes, if any. In addition, our ability to make the required repurchase or settlement may be limited by law or the terms of other debt agreements or securities, as may be any subsidiary guarantor’s ability to make payments in respect of its guarantee on such 2027 Senior Notes, if any. However, our failure to make the required repurchase or settlement, as applicable, of the 2027 Senior Notes, and any subsidiary guarantor’s failure to pay such amounts pursuant to its guarantee of the 2027 Senior Notes, if any, would constitute an event of default under the applicable indenture which, in turn, could constitute an event of default under other debt agreements, thereby resulting in the acceleration and required prepayment of such other debt agreements and further restricting our ability to make such payments and repurchases.
We cannot assure you that our business will generate sufficient cash flow from operations or that future sources of cash will be available to us in an amount sufficient to enable us to pay amounts due on our indebtedness, including the 2027 Senior Notes, or to fund our other liquidity needs. Additionally, if we incur additional indebtedness in connection with future acquisitions or development projects or for any other purpose, our debt service obligations could increase.
We may need to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness, including the 2027 Senior Notes, on or before maturity. Our ability to refinance our indebtedness or obtain additional financing will depend on, among other things:
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our financial condition and market conditions at the time; and
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restrictions in the agreements governing our indebtedness.
As a result, we may not be able to refinance any of our indebtedness, including the 2027 Senior Notes, on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. If we do not generate sufficient cash flow from operations, and additional borrowings or refinancings or proceeds of asset sales or other sources of cash are not available to us, we may not have sufficient cash to enable us to meet all of our obligations, including payments on the 2027 Senior Notes. Accordingly, if we cannot service our indebtedness, we may have to take actions such as seeking additional equity or delaying capital expenditures, or strategic acquisitions and alliances, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our operations. We cannot assure you that we will be able to effect any of these actions on commercially reasonable terms, or at all.
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.
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Interest rate fluctuations could increase our financing costs, which could lead to a significant decrease in our results of operations, cash flows and the market value of our loans.
Our primary interest rate exposures will relate to the financing cost of our debt. To the extent that our financing costs will be determined by reference to floating rates, the amount of such costs will depend on a variety of factors, including, without limitation, (i) for collateralized debt, the value and liquidity of the collateral, and for non-collateralized debt, our credit, (ii) the level and movement of interest rates, and (iii) general market conditions and liquidity. In a period of rising interest rates, our interest expense on floating-rate debt would increase, while any additional interest income we earn on our floating-rate loans may not compensate for such increase in interest expense. At the same time, the interest income we earn on our fixed-rate loans would not change, the duration and weighted average life of our fixed-rate loans would increase and the market value of our fixed-rate loans would decrease. Similarly, in a period of declining interest rates, our interest income on floating-rate loans would decrease, while any decrease in the interest we are charged on our floating-rate debt may not compensate for such decrease in interest income and interest we are charged on our fixed-rate debt would not change. Any such scenario could materially and adversely affect us.
Any bank credit facilities that we may use in the future to finance our operations may require us to provide collateral or pay down debt.
We may utilize bank credit facilities (including term loans and revolving facilities) to finance our loans if they become available on acceptable terms. We may not have the funds available to repay our debt at that time, which would likely result in defaults unless we are able to raise the funds from alternative sources, which we may not be able to achieve on favorable terms or at all. If we cannot meet these requirements, lenders could accelerate our indebtedness, increase the interest rate on advanced funds and terminate our ability to borrow funds from it, which could materially and adversely affect our financial condition and ability to implement our investment 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.
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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:
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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;
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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;
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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;
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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;
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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;
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specify that no stockholder is permitted to cumulate votes at any election of directors;
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provide our Board the exclusive power to adopt, alter or repeal any provision of our Bylaws and to make new Bylaws; and
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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.
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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:
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80% of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of the then-outstanding shares of voting stock of such corporation; and
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two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of voting stock of such corporation, other than shares held by the interested stockholder with whom or with whose affiliate the business combination is to be effected, or held by an affiliate or associate of the interested stockholder.
These supermajority vote requirements do not apply if the corporation’s common stockholders receive a minimum price, as defined under the MGCL, for their shares in the form of cash or other consideration in the same form as previously paid by the interested stockholder for its shares. The MGCL also permits various exemptions from these provisions, including business combinations that are exempted by the board of directors before the time that the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. Pursuant to the statute, our Board has adopted a resolution exempting any business combination with our Sponsor, Leonard M. Tannenbaum, or any of his affiliates. Consequently, the five-year prohibition and the supermajority vote requirements will not apply to a business combination between us and Leonard M. Tannenbaum or any of his affiliates. As a result, Leonard M. Tannenbaum or any of his affiliates may be able to enter into business combinations with us that may not be in the best interest of our stockholders, without compliance with the supermajority vote requirements and the other provisions of the statute. The business combination statute may discourage others from trying to acquire control of our Company and increase the difficulty of consummating any offer.
In addition, under the MGCL, holders of our “control shares” (defined as voting shares of stock that, if aggregated with all other shares of stock owned or controlled by the acquirer, would entitle the acquirer to exercise one of three increasing ranges of voting power in electing directors) acquired in a “control share acquisition” (defined as the direct or indirect acquisition of issued and outstanding “control shares”) have no voting rights except to the extent approved by our stockholders by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of all of the votes entitled to be cast on the matter, excluding all interested shares. Our 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.
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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