Fortress Investment Group 10-K 2010
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number: 001-33294
Fortress Investment Group LLC
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
1345 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10105
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
Registrants telephone number, including area code: (212) 798-6100
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12 (b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12 (g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. ¨ Yes x No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ¨ Yes x No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. x Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulations S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). ¨ Yes ¨ No
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrants knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this form 10-K ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of large accelerated filer, accelerated filer and smaller reporting company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check One):
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). (Check One): ¨ Yes x No
The aggregate market value of the Class A Shares held by non-affiliates as of June 30, 2009 (computed based on the closing price on such date as reported on the NYSE) was $471 million.
Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the registrants classes of common stock, as of the last practicable date.
Class A shares: 145,834,435 outstanding as of February 24, 2010.
Class B shares: 307,773,852 outstanding as of February 24, 2010.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrants definitive proxy statement for the registrants 2010 annual meeting, to be filed within 120 days after the close of the registrants fiscal year, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
As used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, unless the context otherwise requires:
Management Fee Paying Assets Under Management, or AUM, refers to the management fee paying assets we manage, including, as applicable, capital we have the right to call from our investors pursuant to their capital commitments to various funds. Our AUM equals the sum of:
For each of the above, the amounts exclude assets under management for which we charge either no or nominal fees, generally related to our principal investments in funds as well as investments in funds by our principals, directors and employees.
Our calculation of AUM may differ from the calculations of other asset managers and, as a result, this measure may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other asset managers. Our definition of AUM is not based on any definition of assets under management contained in our operating agreement or in any of our Fortress Fund management agreements.
Fortress, we, us, our, and the company refer, (i) following the consummation of the reorganization and the Nomura transaction on January 17, 2007, collectively, to Fortress Investment Group LLC and its subsidiaries, including the Fortress Operating Group and all of its subsidiaries, and, (ii) prior to the consummation of the reorganization and the Nomura transaction on January 17, 2007, to the Fortress Operating Group and all of its subsidiaries, in each case not including funds that, prior to March 31, 2007, were consolidated funds, except with respect to our historical financial statements and discussion thereof unless otherwise specified. Effective March 31, 2007, all of our previously consolidated funds were deconsolidated. The financial statements contained herein represent consolidated financial statements of Fortress Investment Group LLC subsequent to the reorganization and combined financial statements of Fortress Operating Group, considered the predecessor, prior to the reorganization. See Part II, Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.
Fortress Funds and our funds refers to the private investment funds and alternative asset companies that are managed by the Fortress Operating Group.
Fortress Operating Group refers to the combined entities, which were wholly-owned by the principals prior to the Nomura transaction and in each of which Fortress Investment Group LLC acquired an indirect controlling interest upon completion of the Nomura transaction.
principals or Principals refers to Peter Briger, Wesley Edens, Robert Kauffman, Randal Nardone and Michael Novogratz, collectively, who prior to the completion of our initial public offering and the Nomura transaction directly owned 100% of the Fortress Operating Group units and following completion of our initial public offering and the Nomura transaction own a majority of the Fortress Operating Group units and of the Class B shares, representing a majority of the total combined voting power of all of our outstanding Class A and Class B shares. The principals ownership percentage is subject to change based on, among other things, equity offerings and grants by Fortress and dispositions by the principals.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Some of the statements under Part I, Item 1, Business, Part I, Item 1A, Risk Factors, Part II, Item 7, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, Part II, Item 7A, Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may contain forward-looking statements which reflect our current views with respect to, among other things, future events and financial performance. Readers can identify these forward-looking statements by the use of forward-looking words such as outlook, believes, expects, potential, continues, may, will, should, seeks, approximately, predicts, intends, plans, estimates, anticipates or the negative version of those words or other comparable words. Any forward-looking statements contained in this report are based upon the historical performance of us and our subsidiaries and on our current plans, estimates and expectations. The inclusion of this forward-looking information should not be regarded as a representation by us or any other person that the future plans, estimates or expectations contemplated by us will be achieved. Such forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties and assumptions relating to our operations, financial results, financial condition, business prospects, growth strategy and liquidity. If one or more of these or other risks or uncertainties materialize, or if our underlying assumptions prove to be incorrect, our actual results may vary materially from those indicated in these statements. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. These factors should not be construed as
exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with the other cautionary statements that are included in this report. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update or review any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING EXHIBITS
In reviewing the agreements included as exhibits to this Annual Report on Form 10-K, please remember they are included to provide you with information regarding their terms and are not intended to provide any other factual or disclosure information about the Company or the other parties to the agreements. The agreements contain representations and warranties by each of the parties to the applicable agreement. These representations and warranties have been made solely for the benefit of the other parties to the applicable agreement and:
Accordingly, these representations and warranties may not describe the actual state of affairs as of the date they were made or at any other time. Additional information about the Company may be found elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the Companys other public filings, which are available without charge through the SECs website at http://www.sec.gov. See Where You Can Find More Information.
Fortress Investment Group LLC (NYSE listed under the symbol FIG) is a leading global alternative asset manager with approximately $31.8 billion in AUM as of December 31, 2009. We raise, invest and manage private equity funds, liquid hedge funds and hybrid funds. Fund investors provide the capital for these funds, which we invest and manage on their behalf. Accordingly, because fund investors own the various funds, we do not consolidate them at the Fortress level. We earn management fees based on the size of our funds, incentive income based on the performance of our funds, and investment income (loss) from our principal investments in those funds.
Fortress was founded in 1998 as an asset-based investment management firm with a fundamental philosophy premised on alignment of interests with the investors in our funds. Our managed funds primarily employ absolute return strategies; we strive to have positive returns regardless of the performance of the markets. Investment performance is our cornerstone as an investment manager, we earn more if our investors earn more. In keeping with our fundamental philosophy, Fortress invests capital in each of its businesses. As of December 31, 2009, Fortresss investments in and commitments to our funds were $1.0 billion, consisting of the net asset value of Fortresss principal investments of $0.9 billion, and unfunded commitments to private equity funds and hybrid PE funds of $0.1 billion.
We currently have more than 819 employees, including approximately 168 investment professionals, at our headquarters in New York and our affiliate offices in Atlanta, Berlin, Charlotte, Cologne, Dallas, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Munich, New Canaan, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto.
We plan to grow our fee paying assets under management and will continue to seek to generate superior risk-adjusted investment returns in our funds over the long term. We are guided by the following key objectives and values:
As a result of the current challenging credit and liquidity market conditions, Fortress faces a number of challenges, as further described in Part I, Item 1A, Risk Factors and Part II, Item 7, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations Market Considerations.
Our Current Businesses
Our current offering of alternative investment products includes private equity funds, liquid hedge funds and hybrid funds. Private equity funds generally require fund investors to commit capital over a period of time, do not allow redemptions of capital and make long term, relatively illiquid investments. Hedge funds allow periodic contributions and redemptions of capital by investors and make relatively shorter-term, more liquid investments. Hybrid funds share certain of the characteristics of both private equity and hedge funds. We refer to these investment products, collectively, as the Fortress Funds. As of December 31, 2009, we managed alternative assets in three core businesses:
Private Equity a business that manages approximately $14.6 billion of AUM comprised of two business segments: (i) private equity funds that primarily make significant, control-oriented investments in debt and equity securities of public or privately held entities in North America and Western Europe, with a focus on acquiring and building asset-based businesses with significant cash flows; and (ii) publicly traded alternative investment vehicles, which we refer to as Castles, that invest primarily in real estate and real estate related debt investments.
Liquid Hedge Funds a business that manages approximately $4.3 billion of AUM. These funds invest globally in fixed income, currency, equity and commodity markets and related derivatives to capitalize on imbalances in the financial markets.
Hybrid Funds a business that manages approximately $12.9 billion of AUM comprised of two business segments: (i) hybrid hedge funds which make highly diversified investments in assets, opportunistic lending situations and securities, on a global basis and throughout the capital structure, with a value orientation, as well as in investment funds managed by external managers, which include non-Fortress originated funds for which Fortress has been retained as manager as part of an advisory business; and (ii) hybrid private equity (PE) funds which are comprised of a family of credit opportunities funds focused on investing in distressed and undervalued assets, a family of long dated value funds focused on investing in undervalued assets with limited current cash flows and long investment horizons, a family of real assets funds focused on investing in tangible and intangible assets in four principal categories (real estate, capital assets, natural resources and intellectual property), and an Asian fund.
In addition, we treat our principal investments in these funds as a distinct business segment.
Principal Sources of Revenue
Our principal sources of revenues from the Fortress Funds consist of (i) management fees, which are typically earned as a percentage of AUM, (ii) incentive income, which is typically earned as a percentage of profits, in some cases in excess of, or subject to achieving, specified thresholds, and (iii) investment income (loss), which represents the returns on our principal investments in the Fortress Funds.
The following table provides the management fees and incentive income from Fortress Funds, on a segment reporting basis, of each of our core businesses for the previous three fiscal years (in thousands):
Certain of our segments are comprised of, and dependent on the performance of, a limited number of Fortress Funds. Each of these funds is material to the results of operations of its segment and the loss of any of these funds would have a material adverse impact on the segment. Moreover, the revenues we earned from certain funds individually exceeded 10% of our total revenues on an unconsolidated basis for each of the periods presented. For additional information regarding our segments, the information presented above, our total assets and our distributable earnings (as defined below), please see Part II, Item 7, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsSegment Analysis and Part II, Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.
Private Equity Funds
Fortress Investment Funds
Our private equity business is made up primarily of a series of funds named the Fortress Investment Funds and organized to make control-oriented investments in cash flow generating, asset-based businesses in North America and Western Europe. Investors in our private equity funds contractually commit capital at the outset of a fund, which is then drawn down as investment opportunities become available, generally over a one to three year investment period. Proceeds are returned to investors as investments are realized, generally over eight to ten years. Management fees of 1% to 1.5% are generally charged on committed capital during the investment period of a new fund, and then on invested capital (or NAV, if lower), and may decrease in later periods. We also generally earn a 20% share of the profits on each realized investment in a fund our incentive income subject to the funds achieving a minimum return as a whole, that is, taking into account all gains and losses on all investments in the fund.
We manage two publicly traded companies: Newcastle Investment Corp. (NYSE: NCT) and Eurocastle Investment Limited (Euronext Amsterdam: ECT), which we call our Castles. The Castles were raised with broad investment mandates to make investments in a wide variety of real estate related assets, including securities, loans and real estate properties. The
companies have no employees; we provide each company with a management team pursuant to management agreements entered into with each company. Pursuant to our management agreements, we earn management fees from each Castle equal to 1.5% of the companys equity (as defined in such agreements). In addition, we earn incentive income equal to 25% of the companys funds from operations (or FFO, which is the real estate industrys supplemental measure of operating performance) in excess of specified returns to the companys shareholders. In addition to these fees, we also receive from the Castles, for services provided, options to purchase shares of their common stock in connection with each of their common stock offerings. These options are vested immediately, become exercisable over thirty months, and have an exercise price equal to the applicable offering price.
Liquid Hedge Funds
The liquid hedge funds, which invest daily in markets around the globe, seek to exploit opportunities in global currency, interest rate, equity and commodity markets and their related derivatives. Risk management is the cornerstone of the investment process, and the funds invest with a focus on preservation of capital. Investment opportunities are evaluated and rated on a thematic and an individual basis to determine appropriate risk-reward and capital allocations.
Fortress Macro Funds
The Fortress Macro Funds, and Fortresss prior macro-strategy funds, the Drawbridge Global Macro Funds, apply an investment process based on macroeconomic fundamental, market momentum and technical analyses to identify strategies offering a favorable risk-return profile. The funds investment strategies are premised on the belief that imbalances in various financial markets are created from time to time by the influence of economic, political and capital flow factors. Directional and relative value strategies are applied to exploit these conditions. The funds have the flexibility to allocate capital dynamically across a wide range of global strategies, markets and instruments as opportunities change, and are designed to take advantage of a wide variety of sources of market, economic and pricing data to generate trading ideas.
The funds invest primarily in major developed markets; they also invest in emerging markets if market conditions present opportunities for attractive returns. Overall, the funds pursue global macro directional and relative value strategies, although capital is allocated within the funds to particular strategies to provide incremental returns and diversity.
Management fees are charged based on the AUM of the Fortress Macro Funds at a rate between 1.5% and 2% annually, depending on the investment and liquidity terms elected by investors. We generally earn incentive income of either 15% or 20% of the funds profits, generally payable annually, depending on the investment and liquidity terms elected by investors, and subject to achieving cumulative positive returns since the prior incentive income payment. In other words, an incentive income payment establishes a high water mark such that the fund must earn a cumulative positive return from that point forward in order for Fortress to earn additional incentive income. Investors in the Fortress Macro Funds may invest with the right to redeem without paying any redemption fee either quarterly, or annually after three years. Some investors with three-year liquidity may redeem annually before three years, subject to an early redemption fee payable to the funds.
This funds principal investment objective is to seek a superior total return on its assets by executing a directional investment strategy in the global commodity and equity markets. This fund seeks to identify optimal risk-adjusted strategies by assessing opportunities along various points of the relevant commodity and equity supply chains. This fund expects to invest across multiple sectors within the commodity asset class ranging from energy to metals to agriculture and within the cyclical, industrial, and commodity equity universe.
Hybrid Hedge Funds
Our hybrid hedge funds are designed to exploit pricing anomalies that exist between the public and private finance markets. These investment opportunities are often found outside the traditional broker-dealer mediated channels in which investments
that are efficiently priced and intermediated by large financial institutions are typically presented to the private investment fund community. We have developed a proprietary network comprised of internal and external resources to exclusively source transactions for the funds.
The funds are able to invest in a wide array of financial instruments, ranging from assets, opportunistic lending situations and securities throughout the capital structure with a value orientation. All of these investments are based on fundamental bottom up analysis and are typically event driven. The funds diverse and situation-specific investments require significant infrastructure and asset management experience to fully realize value. We have developed a substantial asset management infrastructure with expertise in managing the funds investments in order to be able to maximize the net present value of investments on a monthly basis.
Drawbridge Special Opportunities Funds
The Drawbridge Special Opportunities Funds form the core of our hybrid hedge fund investing strategy. The funds opportunistically acquire a diversified portfolio of investments primarily throughout the United States, Western Europe and the Pacific region. The funds investment program incorporates three complementary investment strategies, focusing on asset-based transactions, loans and corporate securities. The majority of the funds investments are relatively illiquid, and the funds generally make investments that are expected to liquidate or be realized within a five year period.
Management fees are charged based on the AUM of the Drawbridge Special Opportunities Funds at a rate equal to 2% annually, payable quarterly in advance. We generally earn incentive income of 20% of the funds profits, payable annually, and subject to achieving cumulative positive returns since the prior incentive income payment. Investors in the Drawbridge Special Opportunities Funds may redeem annually on December 31. Because of the illiquid nature of the funds investments, rather than paying out redemption requests immediately, the fund may elect to pay out redeeming investors as and when the particular investments held by the fund at the time of redemption are realized.
Fortress Partners Funds
The Fortress Partners Funds invest with a broad mandate, similar to endowment portfolios of large universities. Investments are made both in Fortress Funds and in funds managed by other managers, and in direct investments that are sourced either by Fortress personnel or by third parties with whom we have relationships. Our endowment strategy funds are designed to blend our direct bottom up investing style with third party managers to create excellent risk adjusted returns with an emphasis on capital preservation.
Hybrid PE Funds
Our hybrid PE funds are comprised of families of funds as described below. They generally have fee structures similar to the Fortress Investment Funds.
Credit Opportunities Funds
Fortress established the Fortress Credit Opportunities Funds in 2008 to make opportunistic credit-related investments. Their investment objective is to generate significant current income and long-term capital appreciation through investments in a range of distressed and undervalued credit investments, including but not limited to residential loans and securities, commercial mortgage loans and securities, opportunistic corporate loans and securities, and other consumer or commercial assets and asset-backed securities.
Long Dated Value Funds
In addition to our Fortress Investment Fund family of funds, we introduced a pioneering private equity fund product the Long Dated Value family of funds which focuses on making investments with long dated cash flows that may be undervalued because of the lack of current cash flows or because the investment is encumbered by a long term lease or financing. We believe that these investments provide the potential for significant capital appreciation over the long term.
The Long Dated Value Funds are generally similar in structure to the Fortress Investment Funds, including in terms of fees payable to us, except that the funds have an investment life of 25 years, reflecting the funds longer-term investment profiles. In addition, incentive income is distributed to us after all of a funds invested capital has been returned, rather than as each investment is realized.
Real Assets Funds
Fortress established the Real Assets Funds in 2007 seeking to generate superior risk adjusted returns by opportunistically investing in tangible and intangible assets with the potential to achieve significant value generally within a three-to-ten year time horizon. The investment program of these funds focuses on direct investments in four principal investment categoriesreal estate, capital assets, natural resources and intellectual propertybut also may include indirect investments in the form of interests in real estate investment trusts (REITs), master limited partnerships, corporate securities, debt securities and debt obligationsincluding those that provide equity upsideas well as options, royalties, residuals and other call rights that provide these funds with the potential for significant capital appreciation. The investments are located primarily in North America and Western Europe, but may also include opportunities in Australia, Asia and elsewhere on an opportunistic basis.
Fortress believes that we are in the beginning of a cycle in Japan which will be characterized by low prices for real estate-related investments. We launched the Fortress Japan Opportunity Funds in mid-2009 to take advantage of the significant
distressed opportunities that have emerged in Japan similar to those witnessed after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The Funds will primarily invest in certain Japanese real estate-related performing, sub-performing and non-performing loans, securities and similar instruments.
The investment management industry is intensely competitive, and we expect the competition to intensify in the future. We face competition in the pursuit of outside investors for our investment funds, acquiring investments in attractive portfolio companies, divesting our investments and making other investments. Depending on the investment, we expect to face competition primarily from other investment management firms, private equity funds, hedge funds, other financial institutions, sovereign wealth funds, corporate buyers and other parties. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and may have greater financial and technical resources than we possess. Several of these competitors have recently raised, or are expected to raise, significant amounts of capital and many of them have similar investment objectives to us, which may create additional competition for investment opportunities. Some of these competitors may also have a lower cost of capital and access to funding sources that are not available to us, which may create competitive disadvantages for us with respect to investment opportunities. Some of these competitors may have higher risk tolerances, make different risk assessments or have lower return thresholds, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments or bid more aggressively than we bid for investments that we want to make. Corporate buyers may be able to achieve synergistic cost savings with regard to an investment that may provide them with a competitive advantage relative to us when bidding for an investment. Moreover, an increase in the allocation of capital to alternative investment strategies by institutional and individual investors could lead to a reduction in the size and duration of pricing inefficiencies that many of our investment funds seek to exploit. Alternatively, a decrease in the allocation of capital to alternative investments strategies could intensify competition for that capital and lead to fee reductions and redemptions, as well as difficulty in raising new capital, as we are currently experiencing. Lastly, the market for qualified investment professionals is intensely competitive. Our ability to continue to compete effectively will depend upon our ability to attract, retain and motivate our employees.
Where Readers Can Find Additional Information
Fortress files annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information required by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the Exchange Act), with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Readers may read and copy any document that Fortress files at the SECs Public Reference Room located at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549, U.S.A. Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for further information on the Public Reference Room. Our SEC filings are also available to the public from the SECs internet site at http://www.sec.gov. Copies of these reports, proxy statements and other information can also be inspected at the offices of the New York Stock Exchange, Inc., 20 Broad Street, New York, New York 10005, U.S.A.
Our internet site is http://www.fortress.com. We will make available free of charge through our internet site our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and Forms 3, 4 and 5 filed on behalf of directors and executive officers and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Also posted on our website in the Investor RelationsGovernance Documents section are charters for the companys Audit Committee, Compensation Committee and Nominating, Corporate Governance and Conflicts Committee as well as our Corporate Governance Guidelines and our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics governing our directors, officers and employees. Information on, or accessible through, our website is not a part of, and is not incorporated into, this report.
We face a variety of significant and diverse risks, many of which are inherent in our business. Described below are certain risks that we currently believe could materially affect us. Other risks and uncertainties that we do not presently consider to be material or of which we are not presently aware may become important factors that affect us in the future. The occurrence of any of the risks discussed below could materially and adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, results of operations or cash flow.
Risks Related to the Financial Services Industry and Financial Markets
We do not know what impact the U.S. governments various plans to attempt to stabilize the economy and the financial markets will have on our business.
Over the past two years, the U.S. government has taken a number of steps to attempt to stabilize the global financial markets and U.S. economy, including direct government investments in, and guarantees of, troubled financial institutions as well as government-sponsored programs such as the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility program (TALF) and the Public Private Investment Partnership Program (PPIP). Members of Congress are also currently evaluating an array of other measures and programs that purport to help improve U.S. financial and market conditions. While conditions appear to have improved relative to the depths of the global financial crisis, it is not clear whether this improvement is real or will last for a significant period of time. Moreover, it is not clear what impact the governments future plans to improve the global economy and financial markets will have on our business. To date, we have not benefited in a direct, material way from any government programs, and we may not derive any meaningful benefit from these programs in the future. If any of our competitors are able to benefit from these programs, they may gain a competitive advantage over us. In addition, the government may decide to implement these programs in unanticipated ways that have a more direct impact on our funds or our businesses. For example, the government may decide that it will not purchase or finance certain types of loans or securities, which may adversely affect the price of those securities. If we own such securities in our funds, such price impacts may have an adverse impact on the liquidity and/or performance of such funds.
Risks Related To Our Business
The terms of our credit agreement may restrict our current and future operations, particularly our ability to respond to certain changes or to take future actions.
Our current credit agreement contains a number of restrictive covenants and requires significant amortization payments over the next several years, which collectively impose significant operating and financial restrictions on us, including restrictions that may limit our ability to engage in acts that may be in our long-term best interests. The terms of our credit agreement impose significant operating and financial restrictions on us. Our current credit agreement includes financial covenants that we:
The leverage ratio covenant is tested as of the end of each fiscal quarter while the AUM and investment asset covenants are applicable at all times. Our ability to comply with these and other covenants is dependent upon a number of factors, some of which are beyond our control but could nonetheless result in noncompliance. For example, our leverage ratio fluctuates depending upon the amount of cash flow that we generate, and the value of our AUM and investment assets fluctuates due to a variety of factors, including mark-to-market valuations of certain assets and other market factors. The ongoing global economic recession has negatively impacted the cash flow that we have generated and expect to generate in the future as well as the current and expected value of our investment assets and current and expected AUM. These negative conditions, in turn, negatively affect our ability to comply with these covenants. For example, the investment assets on our balance sheet include a limited number of concentrated positions in portfolio companies or other ventures whose liquidity, operating results and financial condition have been adversely affected by the ongoing recession. The failure of a portfolio company to successfully refinance its debt (or a material default by any portfolio company in which we have a material direct or indirect investment) could cause us to lose all, or a significant portion, of the value of our investment attributable to such portfolio company, or any amounts due from the applicable fund, which would, in turn, decrease the amount of our investment assets and could result in our failure to comply with the investment asset covenant in our credit agreement or make compliance more difficult. Our credit agreement also contains other covenants that restrict our operations as well as a number of events that, if they occurred, would constitute an event of default under the agreement.
In addition, our credit agreement requires that we make the following amortization payments during the following time periods: $56 million during 2010, an additional $42 million by January 2011, and the remaining balance at the maturity of the facilities in May 2012. Making these payments will require a significant amount of our available cash flow that could otherwise be applied to other purposes such as making investments or paying dividends.
A failure by us to comply with the covenants or amortization requirements or upon the occurrence of other defaults or events of defaultspecified in our credit agreement could result in an event of default under the agreement, which would give the lenders under the agreement the right to terminate their commitments to provide additional loans under our revolving credit facility, to declare all borrowings outstanding, together with accrued and unpaid interest and fees, to be immediately due and payable. In addition, the lenders would have the right to proceed against the collateral we granted to them, which consists of substantially all our assets. If the debt under our credit agreement were to be accelerated, we may not have sufficient cash on hand or be able to sell sufficient collateral to repay this debt, which would have an immediate material adverse affect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. For more detail regarding our credit agreement, its terms and the current status of our compliance with the agreement, please see Part I, Item 2 Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations Liquidity and Capital Resources and Debt Obligations, and Covenants.
We depend on Messrs. Briger, Edens, Kauffman, Nardone and Novogratz, and the loss of any of their services could have a material adverse effect on us.
The success of our business depends on the efforts, judgment and personal reputations of our principals, Peter Briger, Wesley Edens, Robert Kauffman, Randal Nardone and Michael Novogratz. Our principals reputations, expertise in investing, relationships with our investors and relationships with members of the business community on whom our funds depend for investment opportunities and financing, are each critical elements in operating and expanding our businesses. We believe our performance is strongly correlated to the performance of these individuals. Accordingly, the retention of our principals is crucial to our success. In addition, if any of our principals were to join or form a competitor, some of our investors could choose to invest with that competitor rather than in our funds. The loss of the services of any of our principals could have a material adverse effect on us, including our ability to retain and attract investors and raise new funds, and the performance of our funds. Two or more of our principals occasionally fly together, which concentrates the potential impact of an accident on our company. We do not carry any key man insurance that would provide us with proceeds in the event of the death or disability of any of our principals.
Each of our principals has entered into an employment agreement with us. The initial term of these agreements ends in February 2012, with automatic one-year renewals until a non-renewal notice is given by us or the principal. If a principal terminates his employment voluntarily or we terminate his employment for cause (as defined in the agreement), the principal will be subject to eighteen-month post-employment covenants requiring him not to compete with us. However, if we terminate a principals employment without cause, the principal will not be subject to the non-competition provisions.
The principals have also entered into an agreement among themselves, which provides that, in the event a principal voluntarily terminates his employment with us for any reason prior to February 2012, the principal may be required to forfeit a portion of his equity interests in Fortress to the other principals who continue to be employed by Fortress. However, this agreement may be amended by the principals who are then employed by Fortress. We and our shareholders have no ability to enforce any provision of this agreement or to prevent the principals from amending the agreement or waiving any of its obligations.
There is no guarantee that our principals will not resign, join our competitors or form a competing company, or that the non-competition provisions in the employment agreements would be upheld by a court. If any of these events were to occur, our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operation could be materially adversely affected.
Several of our funds have key person provisions pursuant to which the failure of one or more of our senior employees to be actively involved in the business provides investors with the right to redeem from the funds or otherwise limits our rights to manage the funds. The loss of the services of any one of such senior employees could have a material adverse effect on certain of our funds to which such key person provisions relate and in some circumstances on us.
Investors in most of our hedge funds may generally redeem their investment without paying redemption fees if the relevant key person ceases to perform his functions with respect to the fund for 90 consecutive days. In addition, the terms of certain of our hedge funds financing arrangements contain key person provisions, which may result, under certain circumstances, in the acceleration of such funds debt or the inability to continue funding certain investments if the relevant employee ceases to perform his functions with respect to the fund and a replacement has not been approved.
The loss or inability of Mr. Novogratz to perform his services for 90 days could result in substantial withdrawal requests from investors in our Global Macro funds and, in the event that a replacement is not approved, the termination of a substantial portion of the funds financing arrangements. Such withdrawals and terminations would have a material adverse effect on the Global Macro funds by reducing our management fees from those funds. Further, such withdrawals and terminations could lead possibly to the liquidation of the funds and a corresponding elimination of our management fees and potential to earn incentive income from those funds. The loss of Mr. Novogratz could, therefore, ultimately result in a loss of a material portion of our earnings attributable to our liquid hedge fund business segment.
The loss or inability of Mr. Briger to perform his services for 90 days could result in substantial withdrawal requests from investors in our Drawbridge Special Opportunities funds and, in the event that a replacement for him is not approved, the termination of a substantial portion of the funds financing arrangements. Such withdrawals and terminations would have a material adverse effect on the Drawbridge Special Opportunities funds by reducing our management fees from those funds. Further, such withdrawals and terminations could lead possibly to the eventual liquidation of the funds and a corresponding
elimination of our management fees and potential to earn incentive income from those funds. The loss or inability of Mr. Briger to perform his services or devote an appropriate portion of his business time to the long dated value funds for 90 days would (unless approved by a majority of fund investors) prevent some of the Drawbridge long dated value funds from making additional investments. This could have a material adverse effect on such long dated value funds, resulting in us receiving reduced management fees. The loss of Mr. Briger could, therefore, ultimately result in a loss of a material portion of our earnings attributable to our hybrid hedge fund business segment and to the Long Dated Value Funds.
If either Mr. Edens or both of Mr. Kauffman and Mr. Nardone cease to devote certain minimum portions of their business time to the affairs of certain of our private equity funds, the funds will not be permitted to make further investments, and then-existing investments may be liquidated if investors vote to do so. Our ability to earn management fees and realize incentive income from our private equity funds therefore would be adversely affected if we cannot make further investments or if we are required to liquidate fund investments at a time when market conditions result in our obtaining less for investments than could be obtained at later times. In addition, we may be unable to raise additional private equity funds if existing private equity fund key-man provisions are triggered. The loss of either Mr. Edens or both of Mr. Kauffman and Mr. Nardone could, therefore, ultimately result in a loss of substantially all of our earnings attributable to our private equity funds.
Certain of our existing funds have key person provisions relating to senior employees other than the named principals of Fortress, and the resignation or termination of any such senior employee could result in a material adverse effect on the applicable fund or funds. In addition, the terms of certain of our existing funds may be amended over time to add additional key persons, and senior employees (including but not limited to Fortress principals) may also be deemed as key persons for funds that are formed in the future.
Any such events would potentially have a direct material adverse effect on our revenues and earnings (depending on the size of the particular fund to which a key person event relates), and would likely harm our ability to maintain or grow management fee paying assets under management in existing funds or raise additional funds in the future.
Our ability to retain our managing directors is critical to our success and our ability to grow depends on our ability to attract additional key personnel.
Our success depends on our ability to retain our managing directors and the other members of our investment management team and recruit additional qualified personnel. We collectively refer to these key employees (other than our principals) as our investment professionals. Our investment professionals possess substantial experience and expertise in investing, are responsible for locating and executing our funds investments, have significant relationships with the institutions which are the source of many of our funds investment opportunities, and in certain cases have strong relationships with our investors. Therefore, if our investment professionals join competitors or form competing companies it could result in the loss of significant investment opportunities and certain existing investors. As a result, the loss of even a small number of our investment professionals could jeopardize the performance of our funds, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations as well as our ability to retain and attract investors and raise new funds. Also, while we have non-competition and non-solicitation agreements with certain investment professionals, there is no guarantee that the agreements to which our investment professionals are subject, together with our other arrangements with them, will prevent them from leaving us, joining our competitors or otherwise competing with us or that these agreements will be enforceable in all cases. In addition, these agreements will expire after a certain period of time, at which point each of our investment professionals would be free to compete against us and solicit investors in our funds, clients and employees.
Efforts to retain or attract investment professionals may result in significant additional expenses, which could adversely affect our profitability, and changes in law could hamper our recruitment and retention efforts. For example, we might not be able, or may elect not, to provide future investment professionals with equity interests in our business to the same extent or with the same tax consequences as our existing investment professionals. Therefore, in order to recruit and retain existing and future investment professionals, we may need to increase the level of cash compensation that we pay to them. Accordingly, as we promote or hire new investment professionals over time, we may increase the level of cash compensation we pay to our investment professionals, which would cause our total employee compensation and benefits expense as a percentage of our total revenue to increase and adversely affect our profitability. In addition, we may deem it necessary to maintain compensation levels to retain employees even during periods when we generate less revenues than in previous periods, which would reduce our profit margins. Also, if proposed legislation were to be enacted by the U.S. Congress to treat carried interest as ordinary income rather than as capital gain for U.S. federal income tax purposes, such legislation would materially increase the amount of taxes that we and our investment professionals that are compensated in part with carried interest would be required to pay on such compensation, thereby adversely affecting our ability to recruit, retain and motivate our current and future professionals. See Our structure involves complex provisions of U.S. federal income tax law for which no clear precedent or authority may be available. Our structure also is subject to potential legislative, judicial or administrative change and differing interpretations, possibly on a retroactive basis. Lastly, issuance of certain equity interests in our business to current or future investment professionals would dilute Class A shareholders.
Certain of our funds face particular retention issues with respect to investment professionals whose compensation is tied, often in large part, to performance thresholds or high water marks. For example, several investment professionals receive performance-based compensation at the end of each year based upon their annual investment performance, and this performance-based compensation has historically represented substantially all of the compensation those professionals are
entitled to receive during the year. If the investment professionals annual performance is negative, or insufficient to overcome prior negative results, the professional will not be entitled to receive any performance-based compensation for the year. If the investment professional or fund, as the case may be, does not produce investment results sufficient to merit performance-based compensation, any affected investment professional may be incentivized to join a competitor because doing so would allow the professional to eliminate the burden of having to satisfy the high water mark before earning performance-based compensation. Similarly, many of our investment professionals in our private equity and hybrid PE fund businesses are compensated with grants of carried interest in our funds. During periods of economic volatility, realization events in our private equity and hybrid PE fund businesses may be delayed, and it may therefore take significantly longer for investments to result in payments to such professionals. In addition, in the event that overall returns for any of our private equity funds or hybrid PE funds result in the generation of less incentive income than might have otherwise been anticipated, such professionals grants of carried interest in such fund will have similarly decreased value. To retain such professionals, the funds manager may elect to compensate the professional using a portion of the management fees earned by the manager, which would, in turn, reduce the amount of cash available to the public company, thereby reducing the amount available for distribution to our Class A shareholders or other liquidity needs. This retention risk is heightened during periods where market conditions make it more difficult to generate positive investment returns.
We have experienced rapid growth, which may be difficult to sustain and which may place significant demands on our administrative, operational and financial resources.
Our rapid growth in recent years has created significant demands on our legal, accounting and operational infrastructure, and increased expenses. The complexity of these demands, and the expense required to address them, is a function not simply of the amount by which our fee paying assets under management have grown, but of significant differences in the investing strategies of our different funds. In addition, we are required to continuously develop our systems and infrastructure in response to the increasing sophistication of the investment management market and legal, accounting and regulatory developments. Moreover, the strains upon our resources caused by our growth are compounded by the additional demands imposed upon us as a public company with shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange and, thus, subject to an extensive body of regulations.
Our future growth will depend, among other things, on our ability to maintain an operating platform and management system sufficient to address our growth and will require us to incur significant additional expenses and to commit additional senior management and operational resources. As a result, we face significant challenges:
Daniel Mudd was appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer, effective August 11, 2009. Mr. Mudd is responsible for Fortresss day-to-day operations, while the Fortress principals each continue to lead their respective investment businesses and serve on the Board of Directors. Since our founding, the CEO role has been filled by one of the founding principals. With our recent realignment of responsibilities, the integration of a new individual into that role presents various managerial, logistical and administrative risks to our daily operations, and there can be no assurance that we will manage this transition successfully.
Operational risks may disrupt our businesses, result in losses or limit our growth.
We face operational risk from errors made in the negotiation, execution, confirmation or settlement of transactions. We also face operational risk from transactions not being properly recorded, evaluated or accounted for in our funds. In particular, our liquid hedge and hybrid fund businesses are highly dependent on our ability to process and evaluate, on a daily basis, transactions across markets and geographies in a time-sensitive, efficient and accurate manner. Consequently, we rely heavily on our financial, accounting and other data processing systems. In addition, new investment products we introduce create (and recently introduced products created) a significant risk that our existing systems may not be adequate to identify or control the relevant risks in the investment strategies employed by such new investment products. If any of these systems do not operate properly, are inadequately designed or are disabled, we could suffer financial loss, a disruption of our businesses, liability to our funds, regulatory intervention and reputational damage.
In addition, we operate in an industry that is highly dependent on its information systems and technology. We believe that we have designed, purchased and installed high-quality information systems to support our business. There can be no assurance, however, that our information systems and technology will continue to be able to accommodate our operations, or that the cost of maintaining such systems will not increase from its current level. Such a failure to accommodate our operations, or a material increase in costs related to such information systems, could have a material adverse effect on us.
Furthermore, we depend on our headquarters, which is located in New York City, for the operation of our business. A disaster or a disruption in the infrastructure that supports our businesses, including a disruption involving electronic communications or other services used by us or third parties with whom we conduct business, or directly affecting our headquarters, may have an adverse impact on our ability to continue to operate our business without interruption, which could have a material adverse
effect on us. Although we have disaster recovery programs in place, there can be no assurance that these will be sufficient to mitigate the harm that may result from such a disaster or disruption. In addition, insurance and other safeguards might only partially reimburse us for our losses.
Finally, we rely on third party service providers for certain aspects of our business, including certain financial operations of our hedge funds. In particular, we rely heavily on the services of third party administrators in our hedge fund businesses and on the general ledger software provider for a number of our funds. Any interruption or deterioration in the performance of these third parties could impair the quality of the funds operations and could impact our reputation and adversely affect our business and limit our ability to grow.
Our removal as the investment manager, or the liquidation, of one or more of our funds could have a material negative effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We derive a substantial portion of our revenues from funds managed pursuant to management agreements that may be terminated or fund partnership agreements that permit investors to request liquidation of investments in our funds on short notice. The termination of certain management agreements or commencement of the dissolution of certain funds would constitute an event of default under our current credit agreement.
The terms of our funds generally give either the general partner of the fund or the funds board of directors the right to terminate our investment management agreement with the fund. However, insofar as we control the general partner of our funds which are limited partnerships, the risk of termination of investment management agreement for such funds is limited, subject to our fiduciary or contractual duties as general partner. This risk is more significant for our offshore hedge funds where we do not serve as the general partner, which represent a significant portion of our hedge fund AUM.
With respect to our private equity funds formed as registered investment companies, each funds investment management agreement must be approved annually by the independent members of such funds board of directors and, in certain cases, by its members, as required by law. Termination of these agreements would reduce the fees we earn from the relevant funds.
In addition, investors in any private equity fund or hybrid PE fund and certain hedge funds have the ability to act, without cause, to accelerate the date on which the fund must be wound down. We will cease earning management fees on the assets of any such fund that is wound down. In addition, the winding down of a material fund or group of funds within a short period of time could trigger an event of default under certain debt covenants in our current credit facility. Our ability to realize incentive income from such funds therefore would be adversely affected if we are required to liquidate fund investments at a time when market conditions result in our obtaining less for investments than could be obtained at later times.
In addition, management agreements of our funds that are registered investment companies under the Investment Company Act of 1940 would terminate if we were to experience a change of control without obtaining investor consent. Such a change of control could be deemed to occur in the event our principals exchange enough of their interests in the Fortress Operating Group into our Class A shares such that our principals no longer own a controlling interest in us. We cannot be certain that consents required for the assignment of our investment management agreements will be obtained if such a deemed change of control occurs. In addition, the boards of directors of certain hedge funds have the right under certain circumstances to terminate the investment management agreements with the applicable fund. Termination of these agreements would affect the fees we earn from the relevant funds, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
Under the terms of our current credit agreement, if, subject to certain exceptions, we cease to serve as the investment manager of any fund that generates management and incentive fees during the previous twelve months or which we expect to generate such fees within the next twelve months in an aggregate amount of at least $25 million, such termination would constitute an event of default. In addition, if any such fund commenced a process to dissolve, liquidate or otherwise wind-up the fund outside the ordinary course of business, such commencement would also constitute an event of default under our current credit agreement. If either event of default occurred, it would give our lenders the right to terminate their commitments to lend us funds under our revolving credit facility and to require us to repay all outstanding term loans immediately (in addition to other remedies available under the credit agreement). If our lenders exercised their rights upon the occurrence of an event of default, doing so would likely have an immediate material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We are subject to third-party litigation risk that could result in significant liabilities and reputational harm, which could materially adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity.
In general, we will be exposed to risk of litigation by our fund investors if our management of any fund is alleged to constitute gross negligence or willful misconduct. Investors could sue us to recover amounts lost by our funds due to our alleged misconduct, up to the entire amount of loss. Further, we may be subject to litigation arising from investor dissatisfaction with the performance of our funds or from allegations that we improperly exercised control or influence over companies in which our funds have large investments. By way of example, we, our funds and certain of our employees, are each exposed to the risks of litigation relating to investment activities in our funds and actions taken by the officers and directors (some of whom may be Fortress employees) of portfolio companies, such as risks relating to a portfolio companys mortgage servicing
activities and the risk of shareholder litigation by other shareholders of public companies in which our funds have large investments. The stock prices of several of our publicly traded portfolio companies and Castles have decreased significantly relative to their historical high prices (resulting in the delisting of one of our portfolio companies from the NYSE), which decreases may lead to securities class action claims or other suits against us. In our liquid hedge funds, we are exposed to the risk of litigation if the funds suffer catastrophic losses due to the failure of a particular investment strategy or due to the trading activity of an employee who has violated our policies, market rules and regulations. Any litigation arising in such circumstances is likely to be protracted, expensive and surrounded by circumstances which are materially damaging to our reputation and our business.
We are exposed to risks of litigation or investigation relating to transactions that presented conflicts of interest that were not properly addressed. In such actions we could be obligated to bear legal, settlement and other costs (which may be in excess of available insurance coverage). Moreover, although we are typically indemnified by the funds we manage, our rights to indemnification may be challenged. If we are required to incur all or a portion of the costs arising out of litigation or investigations as a result of inadequate insurance proceeds or failure to obtain indemnification from our funds, our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity could be materially adversely affected. In addition, certain of our consolidated subsidiaries act as the general partner of various Fortress Funds and accordingly have potentially unlimited liability for the obligations of the funds under applicable partnership law principles. In the event that any such fund was to fall into a negative net equity position, the full amount of the negative net equity would be recorded as a liability on the balance sheet of the general partner entity. Such liability would be recorded on the Fortress balance sheet in consolidation until the time such liability is legally resolved. While these entities generally have no material assets other than their general partner interests, these entities and Fortress may be subject to litigation in connection with such liabilities if creditors choose to sue to seek repayment of such liabilities. We also face the risk of litigation from investors in our funds, if we do not comply with, or if an investor claims that we have not complied with, restrictions in such funds organizational documents (for example, restrictions on entering into related party transactions). As a general matter, the litigation environment in the investment management business tends to become worse as a result of extreme market volatility such as the 2008-2009 period. We have experienced negative performance during various periods over the past two years (primarily in the second half of 2008) in several of our investment funds, which increases the likelihood that we will be sued by one or more of our investors.
Our liquid hedge funds, our offshore hybrid hedge funds and many of our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds are incorporated or formed under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Cayman Islands laws, particularly with respect to shareholder rights, partner rights and bankruptcy, may differ from the laws of the United States. Cayman Islands laws could change, possibly to the detriment of our funds and investment management subsidiaries. In November 2008, our then flagship liquid hedge funds, the Drawbridge Global Macro Funds, temporarily suspended redemptions from the funds due to the heavy volume of redemption requests received during the fourth quarter of 2008. The suspensions were based, in large part, on the need to renegotiate the terms of various financing arrangements to which one or more of the funds were party. In addition, the Drawbridge Global Macro Funds engaged in a significant restructuring of their business, including the bifurcation of the funds assets into liquid and illiquid pools, revisions to certain of the fees charged to the funds investors, payment of redemption proceeds in a combination of cash and in-kind distributions in the form of interests in an entity that holds interests in the illiquid pool and allowing non-redeeming investors to exchange their interests in the liquid pool of assets into a newly-formed fund. Since the time of such transactions, the Drawbridge Global Macro Funds have successfully renegotiated the terms of their financing arrangements, lifted the suspension of redemptions and paid cash redemptions for the liquid portion of the redeemed investments (in the amount of $2.1 billion), and have also launched the new fund (Fortress Macro Fund) as of May 1, 2009.
Also, as a public company, we are subject to the risk of investigation or litigation by regulators or our public shareholders arising from an array of possible claims, including investor dissatisfaction with the performance of our businesses or our share price, allegations of misconduct by our officers and directors or claims that we have inappropriately dealt with conflicts of interest or investment allocations. It is also likely that the public company would be brought into any lawsuit that is filed involving any of the fund-related litigation and regulatory risks described above. As with the funds, while the public company maintains insurance, there can be no assurance that its insurance will prove to be adequate. If the public company is required to incur all or a portion of the costs arising out of litigation or investigations, our results of operations could be materially adversely affected. Furthermore, any such litigation or investigation could be protracted, expensive and highly damaging to the public companys reputation, even if the underlying claims are without merit. In addition, we may participate in transactions that involve litigation (including the enforcement of property rights) from time to time, and such transactions may expose us to reputational risk and increased risk from countersuits.
In addition, with a workforce consisting of many very highly paid investment professionals, we face the risk of lawsuits relating to claims for compensation, which may individually or in the aggregate be significant in amount. Such claims are more likely to occur in the current environment where individual employees may experience significant volatility in their year-to-year compensation due to trading performance or other issues and in situations where previously highly compensated employees were terminated for performance or efficiency reasons, as has occurred over the past year in a number of instances. The cost of settling such claims could adversely affect our results of operations.
Our reputation, business and operations could be adversely affected by regulatory compliance failures, the potential adverse effect of changes in laws and regulations applicable to our business and effects of negative publicity surrounding the alternative asset management industry in general.
Potential regulatory action poses a significant risk to our reputation and thereby to our business. Our business is subject to extensive regulation in the United States and in the other countries in which our investment activities occur. The Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, oversees our activities as a registered investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. In addition, we are subject to regulation under the Investment Company Act of 1940, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and various other statutes. We are subject to regulation by the Department of Labor under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 or ERISA. We and our Castles, as public companies, are subject to applicable stock exchange regulations, and both we and Newcastle are subject to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. A number of portfolio companies in our private equity funds are also publicly traded and/or are subject to significant regulatory oversight from non-financial bodies (such as our senior living and railroad investments). A number of our investing activities, such as our lending business, are subject to regulation by various U.S. state regulators. In the United Kingdom, we are subject to regulation by the U.K. Financial Services Authority. Our other European operations, and our investment activities around the globe, are subject to a variety of regulatory regimes that vary country by country.
Each of the regulatory bodies with jurisdiction over us has regulatory powers dealing with many aspects of financial services, including the authority to grant, and in specific circumstances to cancel, permissions to carry on particular businesses. A failure to comply with the obligations imposed by the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 on investment advisers, including record-keeping, advertising and operating requirements, disclosure obligations and prohibitions on fraudulent activities, or by the Investment Company Act of 1940, could result in investigations, sanctions and reputational damage. Our liquid hedge fund business, and, to a lesser degree, our hybrid fund business, are involved regularly in trading activities which implicate a broad number of U.S. and foreign securities law regimes, including laws governing trading on inside information, market manipulation and a broad number of technical trading requirements that implicate fundamental market regulation policies. Violation of such laws could result in severe restrictions on our activities and in damage to our reputation.
Some of our private equity funds currently qualify as venture capital operating companies, or VCOC, and therefore are not subject to the fiduciary requirements of ERISA with respect to their assets. However, it is possible that the U.S. Department of Labor may amend the relevant regulations or the characteristics of our funds may change. If these funds fail to qualify as VCOCs or otherwise satisfy the requirements of ERISA, including the requirement of investment prudence and diversification or the prohibited transaction rules, it could materially interfere with our activities in relation to these funds or expose us to risks related to our failure to comply with such requirements.
Our failure to comply with applicable laws or regulations could result in fines, censure, suspensions of personnel or investing activities or other sanctions, including revocation of our registration as an investment adviser. The regulations to which our businesses are subject are designed primarily to protect investors in our funds and to ensure the integrity of the financial markets. They are not designed to protect holders of our publicly traded Class A shares. Even if a sanction imposed against us or our personnel by a regulator is for a small monetary amount, the adverse publicity related to such sanction against us by regulators could harm our reputation, result in redemptions by investors from our funds and impede our ability to raise additional capital or new funds.
As a result of recent highly-publicized financial scandals as well as the ongoing financial turmoil and government bailout measures, investors, regulators and the general public have exhibited concerns over the integrity of both the U.S. financial markets and the regulatory oversight of these markets. As a result, the regulatory environment in which we operate is subject to heightened scrutiny. With respect to alternative asset management funds, in recent years, there has been debate in both the U.S. and foreign governments about new rules or regulations to be applicable to hedge funds or other alternative investment products. Moreover, as calls for additional regulation have increased, there may be a related increase in regulatory investigations of the trading and other investment activities of alternative asset management funds, including our funds. Such investigations may impose additional expenses on us, may require the attention of senior management and may result in fines if any of our funds are deemed to have violated any regulations.
We believe that the financial industry will likely become more highly regulated in the near future in response to such recent events. On June 17, 2009, the Obama Administration issued a white paper containing a series of proposals to reform the financial industry, which, if enacted, would significantly alter both how financial services and asset management firms are regulated and how they conduct their business. For example, the proposals would require advisors of most hedge funds, private equity funds and other pools of capital to register with the SEC as investment advisors under the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 and would impose new record-keeping and reporting requirements on these funds (which may be similar to those requirements proposed in the Hedge Fund Transparency Act, which is discussed below). The proposals would also require all OTC derivatives markets, including credit default swap markets, to be subject to increased regulation. We do not know whether some or all of these proposals will be enacted or, if enacted, what impact the final regulations will have on us.
We may be adversely affected if new or revised legislation or regulations are enacted, or by changes in the interpretation or enforcement of existing rules and regulations imposed by the SEC, other U.S. or foreign governmental regulatory authorities or self-regulatory organizations that supervise the financial markets. Such changes could place limitations on the type of investor that can invest in alternative asset funds or on the conditions under which such investors may invest. Further, such changes may limit the scope of investing activities that may be undertaken by alternative asset managers as well as their funds and portfolio companies. For example, the SEC recently instituted a permanent ban on naked short sales. In addition, Congress is currently considering imposing new requirements on entities that securitize assets, which could include our Castles or some of our private equity funds. It is impossible to determine the extent of the impact of any new laws, regulations or initiatives that
may be proposed, or whether any of the proposals will become law. Compliance with any new laws or regulations could make compliance more difficult and expensive and affect the manner in which we conduct business.
Our results of operations may also be negatively impacted if certain proposed tax legislation is enacted. If legislation were to be enacted by the U.S. Congress to treat carried interest as ordinary income rather than as capital gain for U.S. federal income tax purposes, such legislation would materially increase the amount of taxes that we and possibly our equityholders are required to pay, thereby reducing the value of our Class A shares and adversely affecting our ability to recruit, retain and motivate our current and future professionals. President Obama has publicly stated that he supports similar changes to the tax code. See Our structure involves complex provisions of U.S. federal income tax law for which no clear precedent or authority may be available. Our structure also is subject to potential legislative, judicial or administrative change and differing interpretations, possibly on a retroactive basis and Legislation has been introduced that would, if enacted, preclude us from qualifying for treatment as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes under the publicly traded partnership rules. Our structure also is subject to potential judicial or administrative change and differing interpretations, possibly on a retroactive basis. Any such changes could increase our costs of doing business or materially adversely affect our profitability.
Congress and foreign regulators have proposed legislation that would require essentially all of our funds to register with the SEC and become subject to full SEC oversight and additional requirements (or, in the case of foreign jurisdictions, would impose a number of other new regulatory requirements), which would increase our costs.
Members of the Senate recently proposed the Hedge Fund Transparency Act, which would apply to private equity funds, venture capital funds, real estate funds and other private investment vehicles with at least $50 million in assets under management. If enacted, the bill would require that such funds in order to remain exempt from the substantive provisions of the Investment Company Act to register with the SEC, maintain books and records in accordance with SEC requirements, and become subject to SEC examinations and information requests. In addition, the Act would require each fund to file annual disclosures, which would be made public, containing detailed information about the fund, most notably including the names of all beneficial owners of the fund, an explanation of the funds ownership structure and the current value of the funds assets under management. Also, the Act would require each fund to establish anti-money laundering programs. We cannot predict whether this Act will be enacted or, if enacted, what the final terms of the Act would require or the impact of such new regulations on our funds. If enacted, this Act would likely negatively impact our funds in a number of ways, including increasing the funds regulatory costs, imposing additional burdens on the funds staff, and potentially requiring the disclosure of sensitive information.
In July 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would empower federal regulators to prescribe regulations to prohibit any incentive-based payment arrangements that the regulators determine encourage financial institutions to take risks that could threaten the soundness of the financial institutions or adversely affect economic conditions and financial stability. At this time, we cannot predict whether this legislation will be enacted and, if enacted, what form it would take, what affect, if any, that it may have on our business or the markets in which we operate.
On April 30, 2009, the European Commission published the draft of a proposed EU Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers. The Directive, if adopted in the form proposed, would impose significant new regulatory requirements on investment managers operating within the EU, including with respect to conduct of business, regulatory capital, valuations, disclosures and marketing. Such rules could potentially impose significant additional costs on the operation of our business in the EU and could limit our operating flexibility within that jurisdiction.
Our failure to deal appropriately with conflicts of interest could damage our reputation and adversely affect our business.
As we have expanded the number and scope of our businesses, we increasingly confront potential conflicts of interest relating to our funds investment activities. Certain of our funds have overlapping investment objectives, including funds which have different fee structures, and potential conflicts may arise with respect to our decisions regarding how to allocate investment opportunities among those funds. For example, a decision to acquire material non-public information about a company while pursuing an investment opportunity for a particular fund gives rise to a potential conflict of interest when it results in our having to restrict the ability of other funds to take any action. In addition, holders of Class A shares may perceive conflicts of interest regarding investment decisions for funds in which our principals, who have and may continue to make significant personal investments in a variety of Fortress Funds, are personally invested. Similarly, conflicts of interest may exist or develop regarding decisions about the allocation of specific investment opportunities between Fortress and the Fortress Funds or in situations where multiple funds are making investments in one portfolio company at the same or different levels of the investees capital structure. In addition, because certain of our operating entities are held, in part, by FIG Corp., which is subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax, conflicts of interest may exist regarding decisions about which of Fortresss holdings should be held by these taxable entities and which by entities not subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax. We have historically, from time, to time made advances or loans to, or acquired preferred equity interests in, various of our investment funds. In addition, our principals have sometimes extended similar capital to our funds in their individual capacities. The existence and the repayment of such obligations by the funds to us and our principals creates the potential for claims of conflicts of interest by our fund investors.
Pursuant to the terms of our operating agreement, whenever a potential conflict of interest exists or arises between any of the principals, one or more directors or their respective affiliates, on the one hand, and the company, any subsidiary of the
company or any member other than a principal, on the other, any resolution or course of action by our board of directors shall be permitted and deemed approved by all shareholders if the resolution or course of action (i) has been specifically approved by a majority of the members of a committee composed entirely of two or more independent directors, or it is deemed approved because it complies with rules or guidelines established by such committee, (ii) has been approved by a majority of the total votes that may be cast in the election of directors that are held by disinterested parties, (iii) is on terms no less favorable to the company or shareholders (other than a principal) than those generally being provided to or available from unrelated third parties or (iv) is fair and reasonable to the company taking into account the totality of the relationships between the parties involved. Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is possible that potential or perceived conflicts could give rise to investor dissatisfaction or litigation or regulatory enforcement actions. Appropriately dealing with conflicts of interest is complex and difficult and our reputation could be damaged if we fail, or appear to fail, to deal appropriately with one or more potential or actual conflicts of interest. Regulatory scrutiny of, or litigation in connection with, conflicts of interest would have a material adverse effect on our reputation, which would materially adversely affect our business in a number of ways, including as a result of redemptions by our investors from our hedge funds, an inability to raise additional funds and a reluctance of counterparties to do business with us.
Employee misconduct could harm us by impairing our ability to attract and retain investors and by subjecting us to significant legal liability, regulatory scrutiny and reputational harm.
Our reputation is critical to maintaining and developing relationships with the investors in our funds, potential investors and third-parties with whom we do business. In recent years, there have been a number of highly-publicized cases involving fraud, conflicts of interest or other misconduct by individuals in the financial services industry in general and the hedge fund industry in particular. There is a risk that our employees could engage in misconduct that adversely affects our business. For example, if an employee were to engage or be accused of engaging in illegal or suspicious activities (such as improper trading, disclosure of confidential information or breach of fiduciary duties), we could be subject to regulatory sanctions and suffer serious harm to our reputation, financial position, investor relationships and ability to attract future investors. It is not always possible to deter employee misconduct, and the precautions we take to detect and prevent this activity may not be effective in all cases. Misconduct by our employees, or even unsubstantiated allegations, could result in a material adverse effect on our reputation and our business.
The alternate investment management business is intensely competitive, and the industry is in a state of flux.
Due to the global economic recession, the general state of distress in the financial markets and the generally weaker returns in the alternative asset management business over the last two years, the alternative asset management industry is generally perceived to be in a state of transition. The industry has been marked over this period by increasing anxiety on the part of institutional fund investors as those investors have suffered from decreasing returns, liquidity pressure, significant volatility and difficulty maintaining targeted asset allocations, and a significant number of investors have materially decreased or temporarily stopped making new fund investments during this period. Market commentators and analysts have expressed the belief that as the economy begins to recover and such investors begin to increase the pace of new investments, those investors are likely to concentrate their holdings in a smaller overall group of managers that have relatively long-term track records, and that such factors are likely to result in a period of significant industry consolidation, especially in the hedge fund sector. In addition, it is possible that such investors may elect to reduce their overall portfolio allocations to alternative investments such as private equity and hedge funds, resulting in a smaller overall pool of available capital in our sector.
In the event all or part of this analysis proves true, when trying to raise new capital the Company will be competing for fewer total available assets in an increasingly competitive environment, and there can be no assurance that we will be successful in continuing to raise capital at our historical growth rates. Depending on industry dynamics, we and our competitors may be compelled to offer investors improved terms (such as lower fees, improved liquidity or increased principal investments in funds) in order to continue to attract significant amounts of fresh investment capital. Such changes would adversely affect our revenues and profitability. As has historically been the case, competition in our industry is based on a number of factors, including:
We compete in all aspects of our business with a large number of investment management firms, private equity fund sponsors, hedge fund sponsors and other financial institutions. A number of factors serve to increase our competitive risks:
These and other factors could reduce our earnings and revenues and materially adversely affect our business. In addition, if we are forced to compete with other alternative asset managers on the basis of price, we may not be able to maintain our current management and performance fee structures. We have historically competed primarily on the performance of our funds, and not on the level of our fees relative to those of our competitors.
The due diligence process that we undertake in connection with investments by our investment funds or the public company may not reveal all facts that may be relevant in connection with an investment.
Before making investments, we conduct due diligence that we deem reasonable and appropriate based on the facts and circumstances applicable to each investment. When conducting due diligence, we may be required to evaluate important and complex business, financial, tax, accounting, environmental and legal issues. Outside consultants, legal advisors, accountants and investment banks may be involved in the due diligence process in varying degrees depending on the type of investment. Nevertheless, when conducting due diligence and making an assessment regarding an investment, we rely on the resources available to us, including information provided by the target of the investment and, in some circumstances, third-party investigations. In addition, if investment opportunities are scarce or the process for selecting bidders is competitive, our ability to conduct a due diligence investigation may be limited, and we would be required to make investment decisions based upon imperfect information. The due diligence investigation that we will carry out with respect to any investment opportunity may not reveal or highlight all relevant facts that may be necessary or helpful in evaluating such investment opportunity, including, among other things, the existence of fraud or other illegal or improper behavior. Moreover, such an investigation will not necessarily result in the investment being successful.
Failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could have a material adverse effect on our business and stock price.
As a public company, we are required to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. While management has certified that our internal controls over financial reporting were effective as of December 31, 2009 and 2008, because internal control over financial reporting is complex and may be revised over time to adapt to changes in our business, or changes in applicable accounting rules, we cannot assure you that our internal control over financial reporting will be effective in the future. For example, the FASB recently proposed changes to the rules for consolidating entities in financial statements, which, if enacted with respect to our funds, would require us to consolidate entities that we do not currently consolidate, and, therefore, to document and test effective internal controls over the financial reporting of these entities in accordance with Section 404, which we may be unable to do. If we are not able to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to certify as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of the required dates. Matters impacting our internal controls may cause us to be unable to report our financial information on a timely basis and thereby subject us to adverse regulatory consequences, including sanctions or investigations by the SEC, or violations of applicable stock exchange listing rules, and result in a breach of the covenants under our credit agreement. There could also be a negative reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of investor confidence in us and the reliability of our financial statements. Confidence in the reliability of our financial statements is also likely to suffer if we or our independent registered public accounting firm reports a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. This could materially adversely affect us and lead to a decline in our share price and impair our ability to raise capital.
Our organizational documents do not limit our ability to enter into new lines of businesses, and we may enter into new businesses, make future strategic investments or acquisitions or enter into joint ventures, each of which may result in additional risks and uncertainties in our business.
We intend, to the extent that market conditions warrant, to grow our business by increasing management fee paying assets under management in existing businesses and creating new investment products. Our organizational documents, however, do not limit us to the investment management business. Accordingly, we may pursue growth through strategic investments, acquisitions or joint ventures, which may include entering into new lines of business, such as the banking, insurance, broker-dealer or financial advisory industries, and which may involve assuming responsibility for the actual operation of assets or entire companies. In addition, we expect opportunities will arise to acquire other alternative or traditional asset managers. To the extent we make strategic investments or acquisitions, enter into joint ventures, or enter into a new line of business, we will face numerous risks and uncertainties, including risks associated with (i) the required investment of capital and other resources, (ii) the possibility that we have insufficient expertise to engage in such activities profitably or without incurring inappropriate amounts of risk, and (iii) combining or integrating operational and management systems and controls. Entry into certain lines of business may subject us to new laws and regulations with which we are not familiar, or from which we are currently exempt, and may lead to increased litigation and regulatory risk and negative publicity. If a new business generates insufficient revenues or if we are unable to efficiently manage our expanded operations, our results of operations will be adversely affected. In the case of joint ventures, we are subject to additional risks and uncertainties in that we may be dependent upon, and subject to liability, losses or reputational damage relating to, systems, controls and personnel that are not under our control.
Our revenue and profitability fluctuate, particularly inasmuch as we cannot predict the timing of realization events in our private equity and hybrid PE businesses, which may make it difficult for us to achieve steady earnings growth on a quarterly basis and may cause volatility in the price of our Class A shares.
We experience significant variations in revenues and profitability during the year and among years because, among other reasons, we are paid incentive income from certain funds only when investments are realized, rather than periodically on the basis of increases in the funds net asset values. The timing and receipt of incentive income generated by our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds is event driven and thus highly variable, which contributes to the volatility of our segment revenue, and our ability to realize incentive income from our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds may be limited. It takes a substantial period of time to identify attractive investment opportunities, to raise all the funds needed to make an investment and then to realize the cash value (or other proceeds) of an investment through a sale, public offering, recapitalization or other exit. Even if an investment proves to be profitable, it may be several years before any profits can be realized. We cannot predict when, or if, any realization of investments will occur, and the current challenging conditions in the financing markets have made it more difficult for potential buyers to finance purchases with third-party funds on favorable terms, thereby reducing the likelihood of investment realizations at favorable prices in the near term. If we were to have a realization event in a particular quarter, it may have a significant impact on our segment revenues and profits for that particular quarter which may not be replicated in subsequent quarters. In addition, our private equity fund and hybrid PE fund investments are adjusted for accounting purposes to their net asset value at the end of each quarter, resulting in revenue (loss) attributable to our principal investments, even though we receive no cash distributions from our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds, which could increase the volatility of our quarterly earnings. The terms of the operating documents of our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds generally require that if any investment in a particular fund has been marked down below its initial cost basis, the aggregate amount of any such markdowns (plus the amount of the accrued preferred return on the capital used to make such investments) be factored into the computation of the amount of any incentive income we would otherwise collect on the realization of other investments within the same fund. This provision generally will result in an overall lower level of incentive income being collected by the Company in the near term for any private equity fund or hybrid PE fund that has investments that are carried both above and below their cost basis. To the extent that our principal investments in our private equity funds or hybrid PE funds (or direct investments in private equity transactions) are marked down, such mark downs will flow through our statements of operations as a GAAP loss, even in circumstances where we have a long investment horizon and have no present intention of selling the investment.
With respect to our hedge funds, our incentive income is paid annually if the net asset value of a fund has increased for the period. The amount (if any) of the incentive income we earn from our hedge funds depends on the increase in the net asset value of the funds, which is subject to market volatility. Our liquid hedge funds have historically experienced significant fluctuations in net asset value from month to month. Certain of our hedge funds also have high water marks whereby we do not earn incentive income for a particular period even though the fund had positive returns in such period if the fund had greater losses in prior periods. Therefore, if a hedge fund experiences losses in a period, we will likely not be able to earn incentive income from that fund until it surpasses the previous high water mark.
The investment performance of our former flagship liquid hedge fund and our flagship hybrid hedge fund, excluding redeeming class investors, are down approximately 3.0% and 8.0%, respectively, as of December 31, 2009, from the date on which such funds last earned incentive income. The related percentage for investors in Drawbridge Global Macro who elected to transfer their investments to the Fortress Macro Funds would be slightly different, based on the relative performance of the funds subsequent to transfer. Each fund must generate earnings, on an investor by investor basis, equal to the amount lost as a result of negative performance before it will generate additional incentive income for Fortress from existing fund investors.
In addition, no private equity fund or hybrid PE fund will earn incentive income on any particular investment in the event that the aggregate carrying value of the other investments contained in the same fund is lower than the invested and unreturned capital in such fund plus any preferred return relating to such fund. The net asset values of some of these funds, as of December 31, 2009, were below these amounts as they apply to the respective funds and, thus, these funds will not be able to earn incentive income until their respective net asset values exceed these amounts. The aggregate amount by which these amounts for all such private equity funds exceeded the funds respective net asset values as of December 31, 2009 was approximately $9.3 billion.
These quarterly fluctuations in our revenues and profits in any of our businesses could lead to significant volatility in the price of our Class A shares.
An increase in our borrowing costs may adversely affect our earnings and liquidity.
Under our current credit agreement, we have a $75 million revolving credit facility and a $397.8 million term loan facility. As of December 31, 2009, we had a $397.8 million term loan outstanding and nothing outstanding under our revolving credit facility ($8.8 million of letters of credit were outstanding under a letter of credit subfacility). One of the lenders under this facility, representing approximately $7.2 million of outstanding commitments, has filed for bankruptcy protection and thus is unlikely to fulfill any borrowing requests. Borrowings under the credit agreement mature on May 10, 2012. As our facilities mature, we will be required to either refinance them by entering into new facilities or issuing new debt, which could result in higher borrowing costs, or issuing equity, which would dilute existing shareholders. We could also repay them by using cash on hand (if available) or cash from the sale of our assets. No assurance can be given that we will be able to enter into new facilities, issue new debt or issue equity in the future on attractive terms, or at all.
Our credit facility loans are typically LIBOR-based floating-rate obligations and the interest expense we incur will vary with changes in the applicable LIBOR reference rate. As a result, an increase in short-term interest rates will increase our interest costs and will reduce the spread between the returns on our investments and the cost of our borrowings. An increase in interest rates would adversely affect the market value of any fixed-rate debt investments and/or subject them to prepayment or extension risk, which may adversely affect our earnings and liquidity.
We have previously participated in large-sized investments, which involve certain complexities and risks that are not encountered in small- and medium-sized investments.
Our private equity funds have previously participated in several large transactions. The increased size of these investments involves certain complexities and risks that may not be encountered in small- and medium-sized investments. For example, larger transactions may be more difficult to finance and complete, and exiting larger deals may present challenges in many cases. In addition, larger transactions may entail greater scrutiny by regulators, labor unions, political bodies and other third parties and greater risk of litigation. Recently, labor unions and members of Congress have been more active in opposing and investigating certain larger investments by private equity firms generally.
Larger transactions may be structured as consortium transactions due to the size of the investment and the amount of capital required to be invested. A consortium transaction involves an equity investment in which two or more private equity firms serve together or collectively as equity sponsors. We may participate in a meaningful number of consortium transactions in the future. Consortium transactions generally entail a reduced level of control by Fortress over the investment because governance rights must be shared with the other private equity investors. Accordingly, we may not be able to control decisions relating to the investment, including decisions relating to the management and operation of the company and the timing and nature of any exit, which could result in the risks described in Our investment funds make investments in companies that we do not control.
Any of these factors could increase the risk that our larger investments could be unsuccessful. The consequences to our investment funds of an unsuccessful larger investment could be more severe than a small investment given the size of the investment.
Our investment funds often make investments in companies that we do not control.
Investments by most of our investment funds will include debt instruments and equity securities of companies that we do not control. Such instruments and securities may be acquired by our investment funds through trading activities or through purchases of securities from the issuer. In addition, our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds may acquire debt investments or minority equity interests (particularly in consortium transactions, as described in We have recently participated in large-sized investments, which involve certain complexities and risks that are not encountered in small- and medium-sized investments) and may also dispose of a portion of their majority equity investments in portfolio companies over time in a manner that results in the investment funds retaining a minority investment. Those investments will be subject to the risk that the company in which the investment is made may make business, financial or management decisions with which we do not agree or that the majority stakeholders or the management of the company may take risks or otherwise act in a manner that does not serve our interests. If any of the foregoing were to occur, the values of investments by our investment funds could decrease and our financial condition, results of operations and cash flow could suffer as a result.
Risks Related to Our Funds
Our results of operations are dependent on the performance of our funds. Poor fund performance will result in reduced revenues, reduced returns on our principal investments in the funds and reduced earnings. Poor performance of our funds will also make it difficult for us to retain or attract investors to our funds and to grow our business. The performance of each fund we manage is subject to some or all of the following risks.
The historical performance of our funds should not be considered as indicative of the future results of our funds or of our future results or of any returns expected on our Class A shares.
The historical and potential future returns of the funds we manage are not directly linked to returns on our Class A shares. Therefore, readers should not conclude that positive performance of the funds we manage will necessarily result in positive returns on our Class A shares. However, poor performance of the funds we manage will cause a decline in our revenue from such funds, and will therefore have a negative effect on our performance and the returns on our Class A shares.
Moreover, with respect to the historical performance of our funds:
Poor performance of our funds will cause a decline in our revenue and results of operations, may obligate us to repay incentive income previously paid to us, and could adversely affect our ability to raise capital for future funds.
Our revenue from the Fortress Funds is derived principally from three sources: (1) management fees, based on the size of our funds; (2) incentive income, based on the performance of our funds; and (3) investment income (loss) from our investments in the funds, which we refer to as our principal investments. Our investors and potential investors continually assess our funds performance and our ability to raise capital. In the event that any of our funds perform poorly or suffer from liquidity constraints due to operational or market forces, our funds may be unable to pay all or part of the management fees that we are owed for an indeterminate period of time or may require advances to cover expenses which would negatively impact our revenues, liquidity and results of operations and potentially make it more difficult for us to raise new capital. In situations where we have deferred the receipt of management or other fees in order to provide liquidity to one or more of our managed funds, amounts that we have advanced to those funds may be difficult to collect in the future (or may take longer than anticipated to collect) if such funds have continued liquidity problems or if fund investors raise objections to such collections. As of December 31, 2009, the aggregate amount of management fees that various of our managed funds currently owe but have not yet paid was approximately $28.0 million, of which $11.0 million has been subordinated to other liabilities of the related fund and has been fully reserved by us, and the aggregate amount of advances made by the public company to various of our managed funds to cover expenses was approximately $3.4 million. In addition, hedge fund investors may redeem their investments in our funds, while investors in private equity funds and hybrid PE funds may decline to invest in future funds we raise, as a result of poor performance of our funds or otherwise. Our liquid hedge funds received redemption requests for a total of $2.2 billion and $5.5 billion during 2009 and 2008, respectively, and our hybrid hedge funds received redemption requests for $1.5 billion and $1.5 billion during 2009 and 2008, respectively. Losses in our funds also directly impact our operating performance by decreasing the size of our assets under management, which results in lower management fee revenues. Furthermore, if, as a result of poor performance of investments in a private equity funds or hybrid PE funds life, the fund does not achieve total investment returns that exceed a specified investment return threshold for the life of the fund, we will be obligated to repay the amount by which incentive income that was previously distributed to us exceeds the amounts to which we are ultimately entitled. We have contractually agreed to guarantee the payment in certain circumstances of such clawback obligations for our managed investment funds that are structured as private equity funds and hybrid PE funds. If all of our existing private equity funds and hybrid PE funds were liquidated at their NAV as of December 31, 2009, the cumulative clawback obligation to investors in these funds would be approximately $61.2 million (net of amounts that would be due back from employees pursuant to profit sharing arrangements, and without regard to potential tax adjustments).
In addition, we may be unable as a result of poor performance of previous funds or other issues to raise enough new capital and new funds to seize investment opportunities in the future. If our competitors are more successful than we are in raising new fund capital and seizing investment opportunities, we may face challenges in competing for future investor capital and investment opportunities.
Difficult market conditions can adversely affect our funds in many ways, including by reducing the value or performance of the investments made by our funds and reducing the ability of our funds to raise or deploy capital, which could materially reduce our revenue and adversely affect results of operations.
If economic and market conditions continue to be challenging, our funds may not perform well, and we may not be able to raise money in existing or new funds. Our funds are materially affected by conditions in the global financial markets and economic conditions throughout the world. The global market and economic climate have deteriorated and in the future may further deteriorate because of many factors beyond our control, including rising interest rates or accelerating asset deflation or inflation, further deterioration in the credit and finance markets, terrorism or political uncertainty. In the event of a continued market downturn, each of our businesses could be affected in different ways. Our private equity funds have faced reduced opportunities to sell and realize value from their existing investments, a frequent scarcity of attractive financing, the need to invest additional capital into existing investments or to satisfy the terms of financing agreements and a lack of suitable investments for the funds to make. In addition, adverse market or economic conditions as well as the slowdown of activities in particular sectors in which portfolio companies of these funds operate (including travel, leisure, real estate, gaming and senior living) have had an adverse effect on the earnings and liquidity of such portfolio companies, which in some cases has negatively impacted the valuations of our funds investments and, therefore, our actual and potential earnings from management and incentive fees. A significant number of our portfolio companies in our private equity funds have material indebtedness which needs to be periodically paid down or refinanced (including some which have maturity dates within the next 12 months) and some of which contains financial covenants. If the credit markets continue to experience material stress for a prolonged period, such companies may have difficulty refinancing such indebtedness or may breach financial or operating covenants in their credit agreements, which could result in an event of default or bankruptcy at the portfolio company level. Such events would result in a material diminution in value of our funds investment in such company and would likely have a reputational impact on us as an investment manager. In some cases our private equity funds have guaranteed debt of their portfolio companies, and if such guarantees are called upon in the event that the applicable portfolio company defaults on its debt, payment of amounts due under the guarantee could have a material negative impact on the funds financial condition.
The challenging market conditions that we have been experiencing has adversely affected our operating performance in a number of ways, and if the downturn continues, it may cause our revenue, results of operations and financial condition to further decline by causing:
Furthermore, while difficult market conditions may increase opportunities to make certain distressed asset investments, such conditions also increase the risk of default with respect to investments held by our funds with debt investments, in particular the hybrid funds and the Castles. Our liquid hedge funds may also be adversely affected by difficult market conditions if they fail to predict the adverse effect of such conditions on particular investments, resulting in a significant reduction in the value of those investments.
Changes in the debt financing markets may negatively impact the ability of our investment funds and their portfolio companies to obtain attractive financing or refinancing for their investments, and may increase the cost of such financing if it is obtained, leading to lower-yielding investments and potentially decreasing our incentive income.
Over the past two years, the markets for debt financing have contracted significantly, particularly in the area of acquisition financings for private equity and leveraged buyout transactions as well as real estaterelated financings. Large commercial banks, which have traditionally provided such financing, have demanded higher rates, more restrictive covenants and generally
more onerous terms (including posting additional margin) in order to provide such financing, and in some cases will not provide any financing for acquisitions which would have been readily financed under credit conditions present for the past several years.
In the event that Fortress private equity funds or hybrid PE funds are unable to obtain committed debt financing for potential acquisitions (including as a result of a default by our lenders on financing commitments they have provided to us) or can only obtain debt at an increased rate, this may prevent those funds from completing otherwise profitable acquisitions or may lower the profit that the funds would otherwise have achieved from such transactions, either of which could lead to a decrease in the incentive income earned by us. Similarly, the portfolio companies owned by the Fortress private equity funds regularly utilize the debt markets in order to obtain efficient financing for their operations. To the extent that the current credit markets have rendered such financing difficult or more expensive to obtain, this may negatively impact the operating performance of those portfolio companies and therefore the investment returns on our funds. In addition, to the extent that the current markets make it difficult or impossible to refinance debt that is maturing in the near term, the relevant portfolio company may face substantial doubt as to its status as a going concern (which may result in an event of default under various agreements) or be unable to repay such debt at maturity and may be forced to sell assets, undergo a recapitalization or seek bankruptcy protection.
Our Castles have historically relied on the structured finance and mortgage markets in order to obtain leverage and thereby increase the yield on substantially all of their investments. To the extent that volatility in those credit markets leads to a situation where financing of that type is unavailable or limited (as has been the case for Newcastle since mid 2007 and is currently the case for both Castles), our Castles may be unable to make new investments on a basis that is as profitable as during periods when such financing was available. Furthermore, it could significantly reduce the yield available for reinvesting capital received from prior investments, thereby reducing profits. As a result of impairments recorded in connection with this market disruption, we do not expect to earn incentive income from the Castles for an indeterminate period of time.
Our hedge funds have historically relied on the structured finance markets in order to obtain leverage and thereby increase the yield on certain of their investments. To the extent that financing of that type continues to be unavailable or limited, our hedge funds may be unable to make certain types of investments as the yield on those investments will be outside of the funds target range without leverage. This could reduce the overall rate of return such funds obtain in their investments and could lead to those hedge funds making fewer overall investments and slowing the rate of growth of the fee paying assets under management in those funds, and a commensurate decrease in the rate of growth of our management fees.
We and our funds are subject to counterparty default and concentration risks
Our funds enter into numerous types of financing arrangements with a wide array of counterparties around the world, including loans, hedge contracts, swaps, repurchase agreements and other derivative and non-derivative contracts. The terms of these contracts are often customized and complex, and many of these arrangements occur in markets or relate to products that are not subject to regulatory oversight. In particular, some of our funds utilize prime brokerage arrangements with a relatively limited number of counterparties, which has the effect of concentrating the transaction volume (and related counterparty default risk) of these funds with these counterparties.
Our funds are subject to the risk that the counterparty to one or more of these contracts defaults, either voluntarily or involuntarily, on its performance under the contract. Any such default may occur rapidly and without notice to us. Moreover, if a counterparty defaults, we may be unable to take action to cover our exposure, either because we lack the contractual ability or because market conditions make it difficult to take effective action. This inability could occur in times of market stress consistent with the conditions we are currently experiencing, which are precisely the times when defaults may be most likely to occur.
In addition, our risk-management models may not accurately anticipate the impact of market stress or counterparty financial condition, and as a result, we may not take sufficient action to reduce our risks effectively. Although each of our funds monitors its credit exposures, default risk may arise from events or circumstances that are difficult to detect, foresee or evaluate. In addition, concerns about, or a default by, one large participant could lead to significant liquidity problems for other participants, which may in turn expose us to significant losses.
In the event of a counterparty default, particularly a default by a major investment bank, one or more of our funds could incur material losses, and the resulting market impact of a major counterparty default could harm our business, results of operation and financial condition. In the event that one of our counterparties becomes insolvent or files for bankruptcy, our ability to eventually recover any losses suffered as a result of that counterpartys default may be limited by the liquidity of the counterparty or the applicable legal regime governing the bankruptcy proceeding.
The counterparty risks that we face have increased in complexity and magnitude as a result of the significant deterioration of conditions in the financial markets and weakening or insolvency of a number of major financial institutions (such as Lehman Brothers and AIG) who serve as counterparties for derivative contracts, insurance policies and other financial instruments with us, our funds and our portfolio companies. For example, the consolidation and elimination of counterparties has increased our concentration of counterparty risk and decreased the universe of potential counterparties, and our funds are generally not
restricted from dealing with any particular counterparty or from concentrating any or all of their transactions with one counterparty. In addition, counterparties have generally reacted to the ongoing market volatility by tightening their underwriting standards and increasing their margin requirements for all categories of financing, which has the result of decreasing the overall amount of leverage available to our funds and increasing the costs of borrowing. For additional detail on counterparty risks, please see We are subject to risks in using prime brokers and custodians.
Because the public company is dependent on receiving cash from our funds, any loss suffered by a fund as a result of a counterparty default would also affect the results of the public company. In addition, the board of directors of the public company has no ability to influence any funds choice of, or the amount of a funds exposure to, any given counterparty. As a result, our funds may have concentrated exposure to one or more counterparties and thus be exposed to a heightened risk of loss if that counterparty defaults. This may mean that the Company has a significant concentration of risk with one or more particular counterparties at any particular time when aggregate counterparty risk is measured across all of the various Fortress Funds.
Investors in our hedge funds may redeem their investments, and investors in our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds may elect to dissolve the funds, at any time without cause. These events would lead to a decrease in our assets under management (and, therefore, our revenues), which could be substantial and could lead to a material adverse effect on our business.
Investors in our hedge funds may generally redeem their investments on an annual or quarterly basis, subject to the applicable funds specific redemption provisions. Investors may decide to move their capital away from us to other investments for any number of reasons in addition to poor investment performance. Factors that could result in investors leaving our funds include the need to increase available cash reserves or to fund other capital commitments, changes in interest rates that make other investments more attractive, the publicly traded nature of the indirect parent of their manager, changes in investor perception regarding our focus or alignment of interest, unhappiness with changes in or broadening of a funds investment strategy, changes in our reputation, and departures or changes in responsibilities of key investment professionals. In a declining financial market, the pace of redemptions and consequent reduction in our fee paying assets under management could accelerate. The decrease in our revenues that would result from significant redemptions in our hedge fund business would have a material adverse effect on our business.
The decline in the financial markets during 2008, together with reduced liquidity in the credit markets and negative performance of many hedge funds, led to an increase in redemption requests from investors throughout the hedge fund industry, and a number of our funds have been affected by this trend during 2008 and, to a lesser extent, 2009. Our liquid hedge funds received a total of $2.2 billion and $5.5 billion in redemption requests, including affiliates, for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008, respectively. Investors in our hybrid hedge funds are permitted to request that their capital be returned on an annual basis, and such returns of capital are generally paid over time as the underlying investments are liquidated, in accordance with the governing documents of the applicable funds. Return of capital requests, including affiliates, for those hybrid hedge funds totaled approximately $1.5 billion and $1.5 billion for the 2009 and 2008 notice dates, respectively.
In addition, the investors in our private equity, hybrid PE and certain hedge funds may, subject to certain conditions, act at any time to accelerate the liquidation date of the fund without cause, resulting in a reduction in management fees we earn from such funds, and a significant reduction in the amounts of total incentive income we could earn from those funds. See Our removal as the investment manager, or the liquidation, of one or more of our funds could have a material negative effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Incentive income could be significantly reduced as a result of our inability to maximize the value of a funds investments in a liquidation. The occurrence of such an event with respect to any of our funds would, in addition to the significant negative impact on our revenue and earnings, likely result in significant reputational damage as well.
The hedge fund industry was especially volatile during 2008, and our and other hedge funds may face significant volatility, redemptions and liquidity issues in the future.
During 2008, market conditions negatively affected the hedge fund industry. Challenging market conditions made it difficult to produce positive returns, and a significant number of hedge funds posted negative results during that period. Poor investment performance, together with investors increased need for liquidity given the state of the credit markets, prompted relatively high levels of investor redemptions at a time when many funds may not have had sufficient liquidity to satisfy some or all of their investor redemption requests. While conditions generally improved during 2009, conditions could deteriorate in the future to levels similar to or worse than the conditions experienced during 2008.
Our funds have various agreements that create debt or debt-like obligations (such as repurchase arrangements, ISDAs, credit default swaps and total return swaps, among others) with a material number of counterparties. Such agreements in many instances contain covenants or triggers that require our funds to maintain specified amounts of assets under management. Decreases in such funds AUM (whether due to performance, redemption, or both) that breach such covenants may result in defaults under such agreements, and such defaults could permit the counterparties to take various actions that would be adverse
to the funds, including terminating the financing arrangements, increasing the amount of margin or collateral that the funds are required to post (so-called supercollateralization requirements) or decreasing the aggregate amount of leverage that such counterparty is willing to provide to our funds. In particular, many such covenants to which our hedge funds are party are designed to protect against sudden and pronounced drops in AUM over specified periods, so if our funds were to receive larger-than-anticipated redemption requests during a period of poor performance, such covenants may be breached. Defaults under any such covenants would be likely to result in the affected funds being forced to sell financed assets (which sales would presumably occur in suboptimal or distressed market conditions) or otherwise raise cash by reducing other leverage, which would reduce the funds returns and our opportunities to produce incentive income from the affected funds.
If conditions deteriorate, many funds may face additional redemption requests, which would exacerbate the liquidity pressures on the affected funds. If they cannot satisfy their current and future redemption requests, they may be forced to sell assets at distressed prices or cease operations. Various measures taken by funds to improve their liquidity profile (such as the implementation of gates or the suspension of redemptions) that reduce the amounts that would otherwise be paid out in response to redemption requests may have the affect of incentivizing investors to gross up or increase the size of the future redemption request they make, thereby exacerbating the cycle of redemptions. The liquidity issues for such funds are often further exacerbated by their fee structures, as a decrease in AUM decreases their management fees. We cannot predict the effect that any conditions affecting the hedge fund industry may have on our funds. For additional information on the impact of market conditions on our hedge funds, see Risks Related to Our Funds.
Many of our funds invest in relatively high-risk, illiquid assets that often have significantly leveraged capital structures, and we may fail to realize any profits from these activities for a considerable period of time or lose some or all of the principal amount we invest in these activities.
Many of our funds invest in securities that are not publicly traded. In many cases, our funds may be prohibited by contract or by applicable securities laws from selling such securities for a period of time. Our funds will generally not be able to sell these securities publicly unless their sale is registered under applicable securities laws, or unless an exemption from such registration requirements is available. Accordingly, our funds may be forced to sell securities at a loss under certain conditions. The ability of many of our funds, particularly our private equity funds, to dispose of investments is heavily dependent on the public equity markets, inasmuch as our ability to realize any value from an investment may depend upon our ability to sell equity of the portfolio company in the public equity markets through an initial public offering or secondary public offering of shares of the portfolio company in which such investment is held.
Furthermore, large holdings even of publicly traded equity securities can often be disposed of only over a substantial period of time, exposing the investment returns to risks of downward movement in market prices during the disposition period. The illiquid nature of many of our funds assets may negatively affect a funds ability to retain sufficient liquidity to satisfy its obligations as they become due. As a result, a fund with illiquid assets may be unable, for example, to generate sufficient liquidity to pay the management fees or other amounts due to the manager, which would, in turn, reduce the amounts we receive from our funds, thereby reducing the amount of funds available to us to satisfy our obligations, including our obligations under our credit agreement.
In addition, many of our funds invest in businesses with capital structures that have significant leverage. The large amount of borrowing in the leveraged capital structure of such businesses increases the risk of losses due to factors such as rising interest rates, downturns in the economy or deteriorations in the condition of the investment or its industry. In the event of defaults under borrowings, the assets being financed would be at risk of foreclosure, and the fund could lose its entire investment.
Our funds are subject to risks due to potential illiquidity of assets.
Our funds may make investments or hold trading positions in markets that are volatile and which may become illiquid. Timely divestiture or sale of trading positions can be impaired by decreased trading volume, increased price volatility, concentrated trading positions, limitations on the ability to transfer positions in highly specialized or structured transactions to which we may be a party, and changes in industry and government regulations. When a fund holds a security or position it is vulnerable to price and value fluctuations and may experience losses to the extent the value of the position decreases and it is unable to timely sell, hedge or transfer the position. Therefore, it may be impossible or costly for our funds to liquidate positions rapidly, particularly if the relevant market is moving against a position or in the event of trading halts or daily price movement limits on the market or otherwise. Alternatively, it may not be possible in certain circumstances for a position to be purchased or sold promptly, particularly if there is insufficient trading activity in the relevant market or otherwise.
The funds we manage may operate with a substantial degree of leverage. They may borrow, invest in derivative instruments and purchase securities using borrowed money, so that the positions held by the funds may in aggregate value exceed the net asset value of the funds. This leverage creates the potential for higher returns, but also increases the volatility of a fund, including the risk of a total loss of the amount invested. In addition, our private equity funds have historically leveraged some of their investments in order to return capital to investors earlier than would have otherwise been possible without a sale of the asset. In many such cases, such debt was secured by publicly-traded stock of portfolio companies. To the extent that the value of such collateral decreases due to decreases in the share price of such portfolio companies, our funds may be subject to margin
calls that require them to call additional capital from investors, sell assets or otherwise take actions that decrease the overall return of the impacted funds. Such actions would result in overall decreased revenues for us and a lower likelihood of generating incentive income from the affected investments.
The risks identified above will be increased if a fund is required to rapidly liquidate positions to meet redemption requests, margin requests, margin calls or other funding requirements on that position or otherwise. The inability to rapidly sell positions due to a lack of liquidity has historically been the cause of substantial losses in the hedge fund industry. The ability of counterparties to force liquidations following losses or a failure to meet a margin call can result in the rapid sale of highly leveraged positions in declining markets, which would likely subject our hedge funds to substantial losses. We may fail to adequately predict the liquidity that our funds require to address counterparty requirements due to falling values of fund investments being financed by such counterparties, which could result not only in losses related to such investments, but in losses related to the need to liquidate unrelated investments in order to meet the funds obligations. Our funds may incur substantial losses in the event significant capital is invested in highly leveraged investments or investment strategies. Such losses would result in a decline in AUM, lead to investor requests to redeem remaining AUM (in the case of our hedge funds), and damage our reputation, each of which would materially and adversely impact our earnings.
Valuation methodologies for certain assets in our funds can be subject to significant subjectivity and the values of assets established pursuant to such methodologies may never be realized, which could result in significant losses for our funds.
There are no readily-ascertainable market prices for a very large number of illiquid investments in our private equity and, to a lesser extent, hybrid funds as well as a small number of so-called sidepocket investments in our liquid hedge funds. The fair value of such investments of our funds is determined periodically by us based on the methodologies described in the funds valuation policies. These policies are based on a number of factors, including the nature of the investment, the expected cash flows from the investment, bid or ask prices provided by third parties for the investment, the length of time the investment has been held, the trading price of securities (in the case of publicly traded securities), restrictions on transfer and other recognized valuation methodologies. The methodologies we use in valuing individual investments are based on a variety of estimates and assumptions specific to the particular investments, and actual results related to the investment therefore often vary materially as a result of the inaccuracy of such assumptions or estimates. In addition, because many of the illiquid investments held by our funds are in industries or sectors which are unstable, in distress, or undergoing some uncertainty, such investments are subject to rapid changes in value caused by sudden company-specific or industry-wide developments. In addition, in many markets, transaction flow is limited due to uncertainty about accurate asset valuations which may cause hedge fund investors to become concerned about valuations of funds that have illiquid or hard-to-value assets. This concern may lead to increased redemptions by investors irrespective of the performance of the funds. In addition, uncertainty about asset values on redemptions from our investments in our hedge funds may lead to an increased risk of litigation by investors over net asset values.
Because there is significant uncertainty in the valuation of, or in the stability of the value of, illiquid investments, the fair values of such investments as reflected in a funds net asset value do not necessarily reflect the prices that would actually be obtained by us on behalf of the fund when such investments are sold. Realizations at values significantly lower than the values at which investments have been reflected in fund net asset values would result in losses for the applicable fund, a decline in asset management fees and the loss of potential incentive income. Also, a situation where asset values turn out to be materially different than values reflected in fund net asset values could cause investors to lose confidence in us which would, in turn, result in redemptions from our hedge funds or difficulties in raising additional private equity funds and hybrid PE funds.
In some cases, the Fortress Funds realize value from an illiquid portfolio company when the portfolio company is able to sell equity in the public markets through an IPO. An IPO of a portfolio company increases the liquidity of the funds investment in the company and can create significant value when the dividend yield on the companys shares after the IPO is lower than the return being generated by the companys net assets, thereby increasing the value of its equity.
Certain of our funds utilize special situation, distressed debt and mortgage-backed investment strategies that involve significant risks.
Our private equity and hybrid funds invest in obligors and issuers with weak financial conditions, poor operating results, substantial financial needs, negative net worth, and/or special competitive problems. These funds also invest in obligors and issuers that are involved in bankruptcy or reorganization proceedings. With such investments, it may be difficult to obtain full information as to the exact financial and operating conditions of these obligors and issuers. Additionally, the fair values of such investments are subject to abrupt and erratic market movements and significant price volatility if they are widely traded securities, and are subject to significant uncertainty in general if they are not widely traded securities or may have no recognized market. A funds exposure to such investments may be substantial in relation to the market for those investments, and the assets are likely to be illiquid and difficult to sell or transfer. As a result, it may take a number of years for the fair value of such investments to ultimately reflect their intrinsic value as perceived by us. For example, several of our funds have significant investments in mortgage backed securities and other investments that are directly or indirectly related to the value of real estate in various locations around the world, particularly in the United States. Several funds have increased their investments in this sector to take advantage of perceived investment opportunities over the past few quarters, and we have recently raised and invested a number of funds targeted specifically toward residential mortgage backed securities and similar
investments. As a result, the results of a number of our funds have been and may continue to be affected, in some cases materially, by fluctuations in the value of real estate and real estate related investments. Such fluctuations could have a meaningful impact on the performance of the applicable fund and potentially on the operating results of the public company.
A central feature of our distressed investment strategy is our ability to successfully predict the occurrence of events such as mortgage default rates, mortgage prepayment rates, the amounts of any prepayments, maturity extensions, interest rates for mortgage-backed securities and similar instruments as well as corporate events such as capital raises, restructurings, reorganizations, mergers and other transactions. Predicting any of these data points is difficult, and if our analyses are inaccurate, the actual results of such investments could be materially lower than expected and the applicable funds investment results could decline sharply.
The U.S. government has enacted legislation that enables government agencies to modify the terms of a significant number of residential and other loans to provide relief to borrowers without the applicable investors consent. These modifications allow for outstanding principal to be deferred, interest rates to be reduced, the length of the loan to be extended or other terms to be changed in ways that can permanently eliminate the cash flow (principal and interest) associated with a portion of the loan. These modifications are currently reducing, or in the future may reduce, the value of a tremendous number of mortgage-backed securities and other investments, including investments held by a number of our funds. As a result, such loan modifications are negatively affecting the business, results of operations and financial condition of some of our funds. In addition, certain market participants propose reducing the amount of paperwork required by a borrower to modify their loan, which could increase the likelihood of fraudulent modifications and materially harm the U.S. mortgage market and funds that have exposure to this market.
In addition, these investments could subject our private equity, hybrid and hedge funds to certain potential additional liabilities that may exceed the value of their original investment. Under certain circumstances, payments or distributions on certain investments may be reclaimed if any such payment or distribution is later determined to have been a fraudulent conveyance, a preferential payment or similar transaction under applicable bankruptcy and insolvency laws. In addition, under certain circumstances, a lender that has inappropriately exercised control of the management and policies of a debtor may have its claims subordinated or disallowed, or may be found liable for damages suffered by parties as a result of such actions. In the case where the investment in securities of troubled companies is made in connection with an attempt to influence a restructuring proposal or plan of reorganization in bankruptcy, our funds may become involved in substantial litigation
If our risk management systems for our hedge fund business are ineffective, we may be exposed to material unanticipated losses.
In our hedge fund business, we continue to refine our risk management techniques, strategies and assessment methods. However, our risk management techniques and strategies do not fully mitigate the risk exposure of our funds in all economic or market environments, or against all types of risk, including risks that we might fail to identify or anticipate. Some of our strategies for managing risk in our funds are based upon our use of historical market behavior statistics. We apply statistical and other tools to these observations to measure and analyze the risks to which our funds are exposed. Any failures in our risk management techniques and strategies to accurately quantify such risk exposure could limit our ability to manage risks in the funds or to seek adequate risk-adjusted returns. In addition, any risk management failures could cause fund losses to be significantly greater than the historical measures predict. Further, our mathematical modeling does not take all risks into account. Our more qualitative approach to managing those risks could prove insufficient, exposing us to material unanticipated losses.
Some of our funds invest in foreign countries and securities of issuers located outside of the United States, which may involve foreign exchange, political, social and economic uncertainties and risks.
Some of our funds invest a portion of their assets in the equity, debt, loans or other securities of issuers located outside the United States. In addition to business uncertainties, such investments may be affected by changes in exchange values as well as political, social and economic uncertainty affecting a country or region. Many financial markets are not as developed or as efficient as those in the U.S., and as a result, liquidity may be reduced and price volatility may be higher in those markets than in more developed markets. The legal and regulatory environment may also be different, particularly with respect to bankruptcy and reorganization, and may afford us less protection as a creditor than we may be entitled to under U.S. law. Financial accounting standards and practices may differ, and there may be less publicly available information in respect of such companies.
Restrictions imposed or actions taken by foreign governments may adversely impact the value of our fund investments. Such restrictions or actions could include exchange controls, seizure or nationalization of foreign deposits and adoption of other governmental restrictions which adversely affect the prices of securities or the ability to repatriate profits on investments or the capital invested itself. Income received by our funds from sources in some countries may be reduced by withholding and other taxes. Any such taxes paid by a fund will reduce the net income or return from such investments. While our funds will take these factors into consideration in making investment decisions, including when hedging positions, no assurance can be given that the funds will be able to fully avoid these risks or generate sufficient risk-adjusted returns.
Investments by our hedge funds will frequently rank junior to investments made by others in the same company.
In most cases, the companies in which our investment funds invest will have indebtedness or equity securities, or may be permitted to incur indebtedness or to issue equity securities, that rank senior to our investment. By their terms, such instruments may provide that their holders are entitled to receive payments of dividends, interest or principal on or before the dates on which payments are to be made in respect of our investment. Also, in the event of insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of a company in which an investment is made, holders of securities ranking senior to our investment would typically be entitled to receive payment in full before distributions could be made in respect of our investment. After repaying senior security holders, the company may not have any remaining assets to use for repaying amounts owed in respect of our funds investment. To the extent that any assets remain, holders of claims that rank equally with our investment would be entitled to share on an equal and ratable basis in distributions that are made out of those assets. Also, during periods of financial distress or following an insolvency, the ability of our investment funds to influence a companys affairs and to take actions to protect their investments may be substantially less than that of the senior creditors.
Our fund investments are subject to numerous additional risks.
Our fund investments, including investments by our funds of hedge funds in other hedge funds, are subject to numerous additional risks, including the following:
We have been engaged as the investment manager of a third-party investment fund, and we may be engaged as the investment manager of third-party investment funds or managed accounts in the future, and each such engagement exposes us to a number of potential risks.
Changes within the alternative asset management industry may cause investors of some funds to replace their existing fund or managed account managers or may cause certain such managers to resign. In such instances, we may seek to be engaged as investment manager of these funds or accounts. For example, in May 2009, we became the investment manager of certain investment funds and accounts previously managed by D.B. Zwirn & Co., L.P.
While being engaged as investment manager of existing third-party funds or accounts potentially enables us to grow our business, it also entails a number of risks that could harm our reputation, results of operations and financial condition. For example, we may choose not to, or be unable to, conduct significant due diligence of the fund and its investments, and any diligence we undertake may not reveal all relevant facts that may be necessary or helpful in evaluating such investment opportunity. We may be unable to complete such transactions, which could harm our reputation and subject us to costly litigation. We may willingly or unknowingly assume actual or contingent liability for significant expenses, we may become subject to new laws and regulations with which we are not familiar, and we may become subject to increased risk of litigation, regulatory investigation or negative publicity. Being engaged as investment manager may require us to invest significant capital and other resources, which could detract from our existing funds or our ability to capitalize on future opportunities. In addition, being engaged as investment manager may require us to integrate complex technological, accounting and management systems, which may be difficult, expensive and time-consuming and which we may not be successful in integrating into our current systems. If we include the financial performance of funds for which we have been engaged as the investment manager in our public filings, we are subject to the risk that, particularly during the period immediately after the engagement, this information may prove to be inaccurate or incomplete. The occurrence of any of these problems could negatively affect our reputation, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to risks in using prime brokers and custodians.
The funds in our hedge fund business depend on the services of prime brokers and custodians to carry out certain securities transactions. In the event of the insolvency of a prime broker and/or custodian, the funds might not be able to recover equivalent assets in full as they will rank among the prime broker and custodians unsecured creditors in relation to assets which the prime broker or custodian borrows, lends or otherwise uses. In addition, the funds cash held with a prime broker or custodian will not be segregated from the prime brokers or custodians own cash, and the funds will therefore rank as unsecured creditors in relation to the cash they have deposited.
Some of our funds had prime brokerage accounts with Lehman Brothers at the time it declared insolvency. These funds are currently working to obtain any assets or funds that are owed by Lehman Brothers to the fund. However, due to the sudden nature of Lehmans insolvency, the complexity and ambiguity of both the contractual arrangements and applicable regulations, this process will take time, may be expensive and may result in one or more funds receiving only a portion of the amount they are owed (or potentially receiving nothing at all). Moreover, the suddenness of Lehmans failure and resulting lack of complete information about the status of certain trades made by our funds created uncertainty as to whether certain trades were appropriately hedged. As our funds were forced to make investment decisions with imperfect information, investment decisions may have resulted in certain positions being imperfectly hedged or otherwise hedged in a manner that is inconsistent with the funds general investment guidelines.
Risks Related to Our Organization and Structure
Control by our principals of the combined voting power of our shares and holding their economic interest through Fortress Operating Group may give rise to conflicts of interests.
Our principals control a majority of the combined voting power of our Class A and Class B shares. Accordingly, our principals have the ability to elect all of the members of our board of directors, subject to Nomuras right to nominate one designee, and thereby to control our management and affairs. In addition, they are able to determine the outcome of all matters requiring shareholder approval and are able to cause or prevent a change of control of our company or a change in the composition of our board of directors, and could preclude any unsolicited acquisition of our company. The control of voting power by our principals could deprive Class A shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their Class A shares as part of a sale of our company, and might ultimately affect the market price of the Class A shares.
In addition, the shareholders agreement among us and the principals provides the principals, who are then employed by the Fortress Operating Group and who hold shares representing greater than 50% of the total combined voting power of all shares held by such principals, so long as the principals and their permitted transferees continue to hold more than 40% of the total combined voting power of our outstanding Class A and Class B shares, with approval rights over a variety of significant corporate actions, including:
Furthermore, the principals have certain consent rights with respect to structural changes involving our company.
In addition, our principals are entitled to a majority of our economic returns through their holdings of Fortress Operating Group units. Because they hold their economic interest in our business directly through Fortress Operating Group, rather than through the public company, our principals may have conflicting interests with holders of Class A shares. For example, our principals may have different tax positions from us which could influence their decisions regarding whether and when to dispose of assets, and whether and when to incur new or refinance existing indebtedness, especially in light of the existence of the tax receivable agreement. In addition, the structuring of future transactions may take into consideration the principals tax considerations even where no similar benefit would accrue to us. Moreover, any distribution by the Fortress Operating Group to us to satisfy our tax obligations will result in a corresponding pro rata distribution to our principals.
Our ability to pay regular dividends may be limited by our holding company structure; we are dependent on distributions from the Fortress Operating Group to pay dividends, taxes and other expenses. Our ability to pay dividends is significantly restricted by, and is also subject to not defaulting on, our credit agreement.
As a holding company, our ability to pay dividends is subject to the ability of our subsidiaries to provide cash to us. When we declare a dividend on our Class A shares, we expect to cause the Fortress Operating Group to make distributions to its unitholders, including our wholly-owned subsidiaries, pro rata in an amount sufficient to enable us to pay such dividends to our Class A shareholders. However, no assurance can be given that such distributions will or can be made. Our board can reduce or eliminate our dividend at any time, in its discretion, and our board determined not to pay any dividend to our Class A shareholders from the third quarter of 2008 through the fourth quarter of 2009. In addition, Fortress Operating Group is required to make minimum tax distributions to its unitholders. See also Risks Related to TaxationThere can be no assurance that amounts paid as dividends on Class A shares will be sufficient to cover the tax liability arising from ownership of Class A shares. If Fortress Operating Group has insufficient funds, we may have to borrow additional funds or sell assets, which could materially adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition. In addition, Fortress Operating Groups earnings may be insufficient to enable it to make required minimum tax distributions to unitholders.
We are also subject to certain contingent repayment obligations that may affect our ability to pay dividends. We earn incentive income generally 20% of the profits from each of our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds based on a percentage of the profits earned by the fund as a whole, provided that the fund achieves specified performance criteria. We generally receive, however, our percentage share of the profits on each investment in the fund as it is realized, before it is known with certainty that the fund as a whole will meet the specified criteria. As a result, the incentive income paid to us as a particular investment made by the funds is realized is subject to contingent repayment (or clawback) if, upon liquidation of the fund, the aggregate amount paid to us as incentive income exceeds the amount actually due to us based upon the aggregate performance of the fund. If we are required to repay amounts to a fund in order to satisfy a clawback obligation, any such repayment will reduce the amount of cash available to distribute as a dividend to our Class A shareholders. While the principals have personally guaranteed, subject to certain limitations, this clawback obligation, our shareholders agreement with them contains our agreement to indemnify the principals for all amounts which the principals pay pursuant to any of these personal guarantees in favor of our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds. Consequently, any requirement to satisfy a clawback obligation could impair our ability to pay dividends on our Class A shares.
There may also be circumstances under which we are restricted from paying dividends under applicable law or regulation (for example due to Delaware limited partnership or limited liability company act limitations on making distributions if liabilities of the entity after the distribution would exceed the value of the entitys assets). In addition, under our current credit agreement, our ability to pay dividends is restricted by the amortization requirements in our credit agreement and the requirement that we use 75%, or, in certain circumstances, 50%, of our free cash flow (as defined in the agreement) to make amortization payments. Under our current credit agreement, we are permitted to make cash distributions subject to the following additional restrictions: (a) no event of default exists immediately prior to or subsequent to the distribution and (b) after giving effect to the distribution, we have cash on hand of not less than accrued but unpaid taxes (based on estimated entity level taxes due and
payable by the Fortress Operating Group entities, primarily New York City unincorporated business tax) and amortization obligations (including scheduled principal payments) under the credit agreement which are required in the next 90 days. The events of default under the credit agreement are typical of such agreements and include payment defaults, failure to comply with credit agreement covenants (including a leverage covenant that is negatively affected by realized losses), cross-defaults to material indebtedness, bankruptcy and insolvency, change of control, and adverse events with respect to our material funds. Our lenders may also attempt to exercise their security interests over substantially all of the assets of the Fortress Operating Group upon the occurrence of an event of default.
Tax consequences to the principals may give rise to conflicts of interests.
As a result of unrealized built-in gain attributable to the value of our assets held by the Fortress Operating Group entities at the time of our initial public offering, upon the sale or, refinancing or disposition of the assets owned by the Fortress Operating Group entities, our principals will incur different and significantly greater tax liabilities as a result of the disproportionately greater allocations of items of taxable income and gain to the principals upon a realization event. As the principals will not receive a corresponding greater distribution of cash proceeds, they may, subject to applicable fiduciary or contractual duties, have different objectives regarding the appropriate pricing, timing and other material terms of any sale, refinancing, or disposition, or whether to sell such assets at all. Decisions made with respect to an acceleration or deferral of income or deductions or the sale or disposition of assets may also influence the timing and amount of payments that are received by an exchanging or selling principal under the tax receivable agreement. All other factors being equal, earlier disposition of assets following a transaction will tend to accelerate such payments and increase the present value of the tax receivable agreement, and disposition of assets before a transaction will increase a principals tax liability without giving rise to any rights to receive payments under the tax receivable agreement. Decisions made regarding a change of control also could have a material influence on the timing and amount of payments received by the principals pursuant to the tax receivable agreement.
We are required to pay our principals for most of the tax benefits we realize as a result of the tax basis step-up we receive in connection with taxable exchanges by our principals of units held in the Fortress Operating Group entities or our acquisitions of units from our principals.
At any time and from time to time, each principal has the right to exchange his Fortress Operating Group units for our Class A shares in a taxable transaction. These taxable exchanges, as well as our acquisitions of units from our principals, may result in increases in the tax depreciation and amortization deductions, as well as an increase in the tax basis of other assets, of the Fortress Operating Group that otherwise would not have been available. These increases in tax depreciation and amortization deductions, as well as the tax basis of other assets, may reduce the amount of tax that FIG Corp. or FIG Asset Co. LLC and any other corporate taxpayers would otherwise be required to pay in the future, although the IRS may challenge all or part of increased deductions and tax basis increase, and a court could sustain such a challenge.
We have entered into a tax receivable agreement with our principals that provides for the payment by the corporate taxpayers to our principals of 85% of the amount of tax savings, if any, that the corporate taxpayers actually realize (or are deemed to realize in the case of an early termination payment by the corporate taxpayers or a change of control, as discussed below) as a result of these increases in tax deductions and tax basis of the Fortress Operating Group. The payments that the corporate taxpayers may make to our principals could be material in amount.
Although we are not aware of any issue that would cause the IRS to challenge a tax basis increase, our principals will not reimburse the corporate taxpayers for any payments that have been previously made under the tax receivable agreement. As a result, in certain circumstances, payments could be made to our principals under the tax receivable agreement in excess of the corporate taxpayers cash tax savings. The corporate taxpayers ability to achieve benefits from any tax basis increase, and the payments to be made under this agreement, will depend upon a number of factors, including the timing and amount of our future income.
In addition, the tax receivable agreement provides that, upon a merger, asset sale or other form of business combination or certain other changes of control, the corporate taxpayers (or their successors) obligations with respect to exchanged or acquired units (whether exchanged or acquired before or after such change of control) would be based on certain assumptions, including that the corporate taxpayers would have sufficient taxable income to fully utilize the deductions arising from the increased tax deductions and tax basis and other benefits related to entering into the tax receivable agreement.
If we were deemed an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940, applicable restrictions could make it impractical for us to continue our business as contemplated and could have a material adverse effect on our business and the price of our Class A shares.
We do not believe that we are an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940 because the nature of our assets and the sources of our income exclude us from the definition of an investment company pursuant to Rule 3a-1 under the Investment Company Act of 1940. In addition, we believe the company is not an investment company under Section 3(b)(1) of the Investment Company Act because it is primarily engaged in a non-investment company business. If one or more of the Fortress Operating Group entities ceased to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of ours, our interests in those subsidiaries could be deemed an investment security for purposes of the Investment Company Act of 1940. Generally, a person is an investment company if it owns investment securities having a value exceeding 40% of the value of its total assets (exclusive of U.S. government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis. We intend to conduct our operations so that we will not be
deemed an investment company. However, if we were to be deemed an investment company, restrictions imposed by the Investment Company Act of 1940, including limitations on our capital structure and our ability to transact with affiliates, could make it impractical for us to continue our business as contemplated and would have a material adverse effect on our business and the price of our Class A shares.
Risks Related To Our Class A Shares
The market price and trading volume of our Class A shares may be volatile, which could result in rapid and substantial losses for our shareholders.
The market price of our Class A shares recently has been, and in the future, may be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations. In addition, the trading volume in our Class A shares may fluctuate and cause significant price variations to occur, which may limit or prevent investors from readily selling their Class A shares and may otherwise negatively affect the liquidity of our Class A shares. If the market price of our Class A shares declines significantly, holders may be unable to resell their Class A shares at or above their purchase price, if at all. We cannot provide any assurance that the market price of our Class A shares will not fluctuate or decline significantly in the future. Some of the factors that could negatively affect the price of our Class A shares or result in fluctuations in the price or trading volume of our Class A shares include:
In addition, when the market price of a stock has been volatile in the past, holders of that stock have, at times, instituted securities class action litigation against the issuer of the stock. If any of our shareholders brought a lawsuit against us, we may be required to incur substantial costs defending any such suit, even those without merit. Such a lawsuit could also divert the time and attention of our management from our business and lower our Class A share price.
Our Class A share price may decline due to the large number of shares eligible for future sale and for exchange into Class A shares.
The market price of our Class A shares could decline as a result of sales of a large number of our Class A shares or the perception that such sales could occur. These sales, or the possibility that these sales may occur, also might make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and price that we deem appropriate. As of December 31, 2009, we had 453,259,107 outstanding Class A shares on a fully diluted basis, 51,630,865 restricted Class A share units granted to employees and affiliates (net of forfeitures), 216,367 restricted Class A shares granted to directors pursuant to our equity incentive plan, and 63,152,768 Class A shares and Fortress Operating Group units that remain available for future grant under our equity incentive plan. Approximately 22% of the 51,630,865 restricted Class A share units granted to Fortress employees and affiliates will vest on January 1, 2010, and become eligible for resale by the holders, with a similar percentage vesting on each of the three succeeding anniversaries of that date. We anticipate that approximately 45% of such shares will be sold into the market during the six month period ending June 30, 2010 in order to fund tax withholding obligations. The Class A shares reserved under our equity incentive plan is increased on the first day of each fiscal year during the plans term by the lesser of
(x) the excess of (i) 15% of the number of outstanding Class A and Class B shares of the company on the last day of the immediately preceding fiscal year over (ii) the number of shares reserved and available for issuance under our equity incentive plan as of such date or (y) 60,000,000 shares. In January 2010, the number of shares reserved for issuance pursuant to this calculation increased by 4,868,553 shares. We may issue and sell in the future additional Class A shares or any securities issuable upon conversion of or exchange or exercise for, Class A shares (including Fortress Operating Group units) at any time.
In addition, in April 2008, Fortress granted 31,000,000 Fortress Operating Group restricted partnership units (RPUs) to a senior employee. The RPUs will vest into full capital interests in Fortress Operating Group units in three equal portions on the first business day of 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively, subject to continued employment with Fortress. If and when vested, these 31,000,000 Fortress Operating Group units will be exchangeable into Class A shares on a one-for-one basis. In addition, such units will have the same resale terms and restrictions as those applicable to the principals Fortress Operating Group units.
Our principals directly own an aggregate of 307,773,852 Fortress Operating Group units and also own an aggregate of 5,486,895 Class A shares. Each principal has the right to exchange each of his directly owned Fortress Operating Group units for one of our Class A shares at any time, subject to the Principals Agreement. These Class A shares and Fortress Operating Group units are eligible for resale from time to time, subject to certain contractual restrictions and Securities Act limitations.
Our principals and Nomura are parties to shareholders agreements with us. The principals have the ability to cause us to register the Class A shares they acquire upon exchange for their Fortress Operating Group units. Nomura has the ability to cause us to register any of the 55,071,450 Class A shares it purchased prior to our initial public offering. Nomura also purchased 5,400,000 Class A shares in our May 2009 offering.
Our principals beneficial ownership of Class B shares and anti-takeover provisions in our charter documents and Delaware law could delay or prevent a change in control.
Our principals beneficially own all of our Class B shares. The principals Class B shares represent a majority of the total combined voting power of our outstanding Class A and Class B shares. As a result, if they vote all of their shares in the same manner, they will be able to exercise control over all matters requiring the approval of shareholders and will be able to prevent a change in control of our company. In addition, provisions in our operating agreement may make it more difficult and expensive for a third party to acquire control of us even if a change of control would be beneficial to the interests of our shareholders. For example, our operating agreement provides for a staggered board, requires advance notice for proposals by shareholders and nominations, places limitations on convening shareholder meetings, and authorizes the issuance of preferred shares that could be issued by our board of directors to thwart a takeover attempt. In addition, certain provisions of Delaware law may delay or prevent a transaction that could cause a change in our control. The market price of our Class A shares could be adversely affected to the extent that our principals control over us, as well as provisions of our operating agreement, discourage potential takeover attempts that our shareholders may favor.
There are certain provisions in our operating agreement regarding exculpation and indemnification of our officers and directors that differ from the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL) in a manner that may be less protective of the interests of our Class A shareholders.
Our operating agreement provides that to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law our directors or officers will not be liable to us. However, under the DGCL, a director or officer would be liable to us for (i) breach of duty of loyalty to us or our shareholders, (ii) intentional misconduct or knowing violations of the law that are not done in good faith, (iii) improper redemption of shares or declaration of dividend, or (iv) a transaction from which the director or officer derived an improper personal benefit. In addition, our operating agreement provides that we indemnify our directors and officers for acts or omissions to the fullest extent provided by law. However, under the DGCL, a corporation can only indemnify directors and officers for acts or omissions if the director or officer acted in good faith, in a manner he reasonably believed to be in the best interests of the corporation, and, in a criminal action, if the officer or director had no reasonable cause to believe his conduct was unlawful. Accordingly, our operating agreement may be less protective of the interests of our Class A shareholders, when compared to the DGCL, insofar as it relates to the exculpation and indemnification of our officers and directors.
We have elected to become a controlled company within the meaning of the New York Stock Exchange rules and, as a result, will qualify for, and may rely on, exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements.
A company of which more than 50% of the voting power is held by an individual, a group or another company is a controlled company within the meaning of the New York Stock Exchange rules and may elect not to comply with certain corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange, including:
We have elected to become a controlled company within the meaning of the New York Stock Exchange rules, and we intend to rely on one or more of the exemptions listed above. For example, our board is not currently, and likely in the future will not be, comprised of a majority of independent directors. Accordingly, you will not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange.
Risks Related to Taxation
Class A shareholders may be subject to U.S. federal income tax on their share of our taxable income, regardless of whether they receive any cash dividends from us.
So long as we are not required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940 and 90% of our gross income for each taxable year constitutes qualifying income within the meaning of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the Code), on a continuing basis, we will be treated, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, as a partnership and not as an association or a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation. Class A shareholders may be subject to U.S. federal, state, local and possibly, in some cases, foreign income taxation on their allocable share of our items of income, gain, loss, deduction and credit (including our allocable share of those items of any entity in which we invest that is treated as a partnership or is otherwise subject to tax on a flow through basis) for each of our taxable years ending with or within their taxable year, regardless of whether or not they receive cash dividends from us. They may not receive cash dividends equal to their allocable share of our net taxable income or even the tax liability that results from that income. In addition, certain of our holdings, including holdings, if any, in a Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC) and a Passive Foreign Investment Company (PFIC), may produce taxable income prior to the receipt of cash relating to such income, and holders of our Class A shares will be required to take such income into account in determining their taxable income. Under our operating agreement, in the event of an inadvertent partnership termination in which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has granted us limited relief, each holder of our Class A shares also is obligated to make such adjustments as are required by the IRS to maintain our status as a partnership. Such adjustments may require persons who hold our Class A shares to recognize additional amounts in income during the years in which they hold such shares. We may also be required to make payments to the IRS.
Our intermediate holding company, FIG Corp., is subject to corporate income taxation in the United States, and we may be subject to additional taxation in the future.
A significant portion of our investments and activities may be made or conducted through FIG Corp. Dividends paid by FIG Corp. from time to time will, as is usual in the case of a U.S. corporation, then be included in our income. Income received as a result of investments made or activities conducted through FIG Asset Co. LLC (but excluding through its taxable corporate affiliates) is not subject to corporate income taxation in our structure, but we cannot provide any assurance that it will not become subject to additional taxation in the future, which would negatively impact our results of operations.
There can be no assurance that amounts paid as dividends on Class A shares will be sufficient to cover the tax liability arising from ownership of Class A shares.
Any dividends paid on Class A shares will not take into account a shareholders particular tax situation (including the possible application of the alternative minimum tax) and, therefore, because of the foregoing as well as other possible reasons, may not be sufficient to pay their full amount of tax based upon their share of our net taxable income. In addition, the actual amount and timing of dividends will always be subject to the discretion of our board of directors. In particular, the amount and timing of dividends will depend upon a number of factors, including, among others:
Even if we do not distribute cash in an amount that is sufficient to fund a shareholders tax liabilities, they will still be required to pay income taxes on their share of our taxable income.
Tax gain or loss on disposition of our common units could be more or less than expected.
If a Class A shareholder sells common units, such shareholder will recognize a gain or loss equal to the difference between the amount realized and the adjusted tax basis in those common units. Prior distributions to such common shareholder in excess of the total net taxable income allocated to such shareholder, which decreased the tax basis in its common units, will increase the gain recognized upon a sale when the common units are sold at a price greater than such shareholders tax basis in those common units, even if the price is less than the original cost. A portion of the amount realized, whether or not representing gain, may be ordinary income to such shareholder.
We currently do not intend to make an election under Section 754 of the Internal Revenue Code to adjust our asset basis, so a holder of common units could be allocated more taxable income in respect of those common units prior to disposition than if such an election were made.
We currently do not intend to make an election under Section 754 of the Internal Revenue Code to adjust our asset basis. If no Section 754 election is made, there will generally be no adjustment to the basis of our assets in connection with our initial public offering, or upon a subsequent transferees acquisition of common units from a prior holder of such common units, even if the purchase price for those interests or units, as applicable, is greater than the share of the aggregate tax basis of our assets attributable to those interests or units immediately prior to the acquisition. Consequently, upon our sale of an asset, gain allocable to a holder of common units could include built-in gain in the asset existing at the time such holder acquired such units, which built-in gain would otherwise generally be eliminated if a Section 754 election had been made.
If we are treated as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the value of the Class A shares would be adversely affected.
We have not requested, and do not plan to request, a ruling from the IRS on our treatment as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, or on any other matter affecting us. As of the date of the consummation of our initial public offering, under then current law and assuming full compliance with the terms of our operating agreement (and other relevant documents) and based upon factual statements and representations made by us, our outside counsel opined, as of that date, that we would be treated as a partnership, and not as an association or a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. However, opinions of counsel are not binding upon the IRS or any court, and the IRS may challenge this conclusion and a court may sustain such a challenge. The factual representations made by us upon which our outside counsel relied related to our organization, operation, assets, activities, income, and present and future conduct of our operations. In general, if an entity that would otherwise be classified as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes is a publicly traded partnership (as defined in the Code) it will be nonetheless treated as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, unless the exception described below, and upon which we intend to rely, applies. A publicly traded partnership will, however, be treated as a partnership, and not as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, so long as 90% or more of its gross income for each taxable year constitutes qualifying income within the meaning of the Code and it is not required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940. We refer to this exception as the qualifying income exception.
Qualifying income generally includes dividends, interest, capital gains from the sale or other disposition of stocks and securities and certain other forms of investment income. We expect that our income generally will consist of interest, dividends, capital gains and other types of qualifying income, including dividends from FIG Corp. and interest on indebtedness from FIG Corp. No assurance can be given as to the types of income that will be earned in any given year. If we fail to satisfy the qualifying income exception described above, items of income and deduction would not pass through to holders of the Class A shares and holders of the Class A shares would be treated for U.S. federal (and certain state and local) income tax purposes as shareholders in a corporation. In such a case, we would be required to pay income tax at regular corporate rates on all of our income. In addition, we would likely be liable for state and local income and/or franchise taxes on all of such income. Dividends to holders of the Class A shares would constitute ordinary dividend income taxable to such holders to the extent of our earnings and profits, and the payment of these dividends would not be deductible by us. Taxation of us as a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation could result in a material adverse effect on our cash flow and the after-tax returns for holders of Class A shares and thus could result in a substantial reduction in the value of the Class A shares.
Our structure involves complex provisions of U.S. federal income tax law for which no clear precedent or authority may be available. Our structure also is subject to potential legislative, judicial or administrative change and differing interpretations, possibly on a retroactive basis.
The U.S. federal income tax treatment of holders of the Class A shares depends in some instances on determinations of fact and interpretations of complex provisions of U.S. federal income tax law for which no clear precedent or authority may be available. Readers should be aware that the U.S. federal income tax rules are constantly under review by persons involved in the legislative process, the IRS, and the U.S. Treasury Department, frequently resulting in revised interpretations of established concepts, statutory changes, revisions to regulations and other modifications and interpretations. The IRS pays close attention to the proper application of tax laws to partnerships. The present U.S. federal income tax treatment of an investment in the Class A shares may be modified by administrative, legislative or judicial interpretation at any time, possibly on a retroactive basis, and any such action may affect investments and commitments previously made. For example, changes to the U.S. federal tax laws and interpretations thereof could make it more difficult or impossible to meet the qualifying income exception for us to be treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes that is not taxable as a corporation, affect or cause us to change our investments and commitments, change the character or treatment of portions of our income (including, for instance, treating carried interest as ordinary fee income rather than capital gain) affect the tax considerations of an investment in us and adversely affect an investment in our Class A shares.
Our organizational documents and agreements permit the board of directors to modify our operating agreement from time to time, without the consent of the holders of Class A shares, in order to address certain changes in U.S. federal income tax regulations, legislation or interpretation. In some circumstances, such revisions could have a material adverse impact on some or all of the holders of our Class A shares. Moreover, we will apply certain assumptions and conventions in an attempt to comply with applicable rules and to report income, gain, deduction, loss and credit to holders in a manner that reflects such holders beneficial ownership of partnership items, taking into account variation in ownership interests during each taxable year because of trading activity. However, these assumptions and conventions may not be in compliance with all aspects of applicable tax requirements. It is possible that the IRS will assert successfully that the conventions and assumptions used by us do not satisfy the technical requirements of the Code and/or Treasury regulations and could require that items of income, gain, deductions, loss or credit, including interest deductions, be adjusted, reallocated, or disallowed, in a manner that adversely affects holders of the Class A shares.
We cannot match transferors and transferees of common units, and we have therefore adopted certain income tax accounting positions that may not conform with all aspects of applicable tax requirements. The IRS may challenge this treatment, which could adversely affect the value of our common units.
Because we cannot match transferors and transferees of common units, we have adopted depreciation, amortization and other tax accounting positions that may not conform with all aspects of existing Treasury regulations. A successful IRS challenge to those positions could adversely affect the amount of tax benefits available to our common unitholders. It also could affect the timing of these tax benefits or the amount of gain on the sale of common units and could have a negative impact on the value of our common units or result in audits of and adjustments to our common unitholders tax returns.
The sale or exchange of 50% or more of our capital and profit interests will result in the termination of our partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes. We will be considered to have been terminated for U.S. federal income tax purposes if there is a sale or exchange of 50% or more of the total interests in our capital and profits within a 12-month period. Our termination would, among other things, result in the closing of our taxable year for all common unitholders and could result in a deferral of depreciation deductions allowable in computing our taxable income.
FIG Asset Co. LLC may not be able to invest in certain assets, other than through a taxable corporation.
In certain circumstances, FIG Asset Co. LLC or one of its subsidiaries may have an opportunity to invest in certain assets through an entity that is characterized as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, where the income of such entity may not be qualifying income for purposes of the publicly traded partnership rules. In order to manage our affairs so that we will meet the qualifying income exception, we may either refrain from investing in such entities or, alternatively, we may structure our investment through an entity classified as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. If the entity were a U.S. corporation, it would be subject to U.S. federal income tax on its operating income, including any gain recognized on its disposal of its interest in the entity in which the opportunistic investment has been made, as the case may be, and such income taxes would reduce the return on that investment.
Complying with certain tax-related requirements may cause us to forego otherwise attractive business or investment opportunities or enter into acquisitions, borrowings, financings or arrangements we may not have otherwise entered into.
In order for us to be treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and not as an association or publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation, we must meet the qualifying income exception discussed above on a continuing basis and we must not be required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940. In order to effect such treatment we (or our subsidiaries) may be required to invest through foreign or domestic corporations, forego attractive business or investment opportunities or enter into borrowings or financings we may not have otherwise entered into. This may adversely affect our ability to operate solely to maximize our cash flow. Our structure also may impede our ability to engage in certain corporate acquisitive transactions because we generally intend to hold all of our assets through the Fortress Operating Group. In addition, we may be unable to participate in certain corporate reorganization transactions that would be tax free to our holders if we were a corporation. To the extent we hold assets other than through the Fortress Operating Group, we will make appropriate adjustments to the Fortress Operating Group agreements so that distributions to principals and us would be the same as if such assets were held at that level.
The IRS could assert that we are engaged in a U.S. trade or business, with the result that some portion of our income is properly treated as effectively connected income with respect to non-U.S. holders. Moreover, certain REIT dividends and other stock gains may be treated as effectively connected income with respect to non-U.S. holders.
While we expect that our method of operation will not result in a determination that we are engaged in a U.S. trade or business, there can be no assurance that the IRS will not assert successfully that we are engaged in a U.S. trade or business, with the result that some portion of our income is properly treated as effectively connected income with respect to non-U.S. holders.
Moreover, dividends paid by an investment that we make in a REIT that is attributable to gains from the sale of U.S. real property interests will, and sales of certain investments in the stock of U.S. corporations owning significant U.S. real property may, be treated as effectively connected income with respect to non-U.S. holders. To the extent our income is treated as effectively connected income, non-U.S. holders generally would be subject to withholding tax on their allocable shares of such
income, would be required to file a U.S. federal income tax return for such year reporting their allocable shares of income effectively connected with such trade or business, and would be subject to U.S. federal income tax at regular U.S. tax rates on any such income. Non-U.S. holders may also be subject to a 30% branch profits tax on such income in the hands of non-U.S. holders that are corporations.
An investment in Class A shares will give rise to UBTI to certain tax-exempt holders.
We will not make investments through taxable U.S. corporations solely for the purpose of limiting unrelated business taxable income, or UBTI, from debt-financed property and, thus, an investment in Class A shares will give rise to UBTI to certain tax-exempt holders. For example, FIG Asset Co. LLC will invest in or hold interests in entities that are treated as partnerships, or are otherwise subject to tax on a flow-through basis, that will incur indebtedness. FIG Asset Co. LLC may borrow funds from FIG Corp. or third parties from time to time to make investments. These investments will give rise to UBTI from debt-financed property. However, we expect to manage our activities to avoid a determination that we are engaged in a trade or business, thereby limiting the amount of UBTI that is realized by tax-exempt holders of our Class A shares.
We may hold or acquire certain investments through an entity classified as a PFIC or CFC for U.S. federal income tax purposes.
Certain of our investments may be in foreign corporations or may be acquired through a foreign subsidiary that would be classified as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Such an entity may be a PFIC or a CFC for U.S. federal income tax purposes. U.S. holders of Class A shares indirectly owning an interest in a PFIC or a CFC may experience adverse U.S. tax consequences.
Several items of tax legislation are currently being considered which, if enacted, could materially affect us, including by preventing us from continuing to qualify as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Our structure also is subject to potential judicial or administrative change and differing interpretations, possibly on a retroactive basis.
In December 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4213, the Tax Extenders Act of 2009. That proposed legislation contains a provision that, if enacted, would have the effect of treating income recognized from carried interests as ordinary income. While the proposed legislation, if enacted in its current form, would explicitly treat such income as nonqualifying income under the publicly traded partnership rules, thereby precluding us from qualifying for treatment as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the proposed legislation provides for a 10-year transition period before such income would become nonqualifying income. In addition, the proposed legislation could, upon its enactment, prevent us from completing certain types of internal reorganization transactions on a tax free basis and acquiring other asset management companies on a tax free basis. The proposed legislation may also increase the ordinary income portion of any gain realized from the sale or other disposition of a Class A Share.
On March 2, 2009, Senator Carl Levin introduced the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act in the United States Senate, similar to a prior legislative proposal from 2007. Among other effects, this proposal would, if enacted in its current form, subject our offshore funds to significant U.S. federal income taxes and potentially state and local taxes, which would adversely affect our ability to raise capital from foreign investors and certain tax-exempt investors.
As a result of widespread budget deficits, several states are evaluating proposals to subject partnerships to U.S federal or state entity level taxation through the imposition of state income, franchise or other forms of taxation. If any version of any of these legislative proposals were to be enacted into law in the form in which it was introduced, or if other similar legislation were enacted or any other change in the tax laws, rules, regulations or interpretations were to preclude us from qualifying for treatment as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes under the publicly-traded partnership rules or otherwise impose additional taxes, Class A shareholders would be negatively impacted because we would incur a material increase in our tax liability as a public company from the date any such changes became applicable to us, which could result in a reduction in the value of our Class A Shares.
We have no unresolved staff comments.
We and our affiliates have the following leases in place with respect to our headquarters in New York City and global offices of our affiliates:
We believe our current facilities are adequate for our current needs and that suitable additional space will be available as and when needed.
We may from time to time be involved in litigation and claims incidental to the conduct of our business. Our industry is generally subject to scrutiny by government regulators, which could result in litigation related to regulatory compliance matters. As a result, we maintain insurance policies in amounts and with the coverage and deductibles we believe are adequate, based on the nature and risks of our business, historical experience and industry standards. We believe that the cost of defending any pending or future litigation or challenging any pending or future regulatory compliance matter will not have a material adverse effect on our business. However, increased regulatory scrutiny of hedge fund trading activities combined with extensive trading in our liquid hedge funds may cause us to re-examine our beliefs regarding the likelihood that potential investigation and defense-related costs could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Our Class A shares have been listed and are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol FIG since our initial public offering in February 2007. The following table sets forth, for the periods indicated, the high, low and last sale prices in dollars on the NYSE for our Class A shares and the dividends per share we declared with respect to the periods indicated.
No assurance can be given that any dividends, whether quarterly or otherwise, will or can be paid. The amount of dividends we are able to pay is limited by the debt covenants and amortization payments required under our credit agreement, as described under Part II, Item 7, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations Covenants. Furthermore, as described in such section under Market Considerations, we have not paid quarterly dividends on our Class A shares since the middle of 2008.
On February 24, 2010, the closing price for our Class A shares, as reported on the NYSE, was $4.19. As of February 24, 2010, there were approximately 30 record holders of our Class A shares. This figure does not reflect the beneficial ownership of shares held in nominee name, nor does it include holders of our Class B shares, restricted Class A shares, restricted Class A share units or restricted partnership units.
The selected historical financial information set forth below as of, and for the years ended, December 31, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005 has been derived from our audited historical consolidated and combined financial statements.
The information below should be read in conjunction with Part II, Item 7, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and the consolidated and combined financial statements and notes thereto included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In particular, Note 1 to the financial statements describes the deconsolidation of the Fortress Funds on March 31, 2007, which materially impacts the comparability between years.
(tables in thousands except as otherwise indicated and per share data)
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with Fortress Investment Groups consolidated and combined financial statements and the related notes (referred to as consolidated financial statements or historical consolidated financial statements) included within the Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results and the timing of events may differ significantly from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those included in Part I, Item 1A, Risk Factors and elsewhere in the Annual Report on Form 10-K.
During the first quarter of 2007, we consummated a number of significant transactions, including the Nomura transaction, the formation transactions, our initial public offering, and the deconsolidation of a number of Fortress Funds. The deconsolidation of the Fortress Funds has had significant effects on many of the items within our financial statements but had no net effect on net income attributable to Fortresss Class A shareholders or on the equity of such shareholders. Since the deconsolidation did not occur until March 31, 2007, the statement of operations and the statement of cash flows for the year ended December 31, 2007 are presented including these funds on a consolidated basis for the period prior to deconsolidation. The pro forma effects of the deconsolidation on these financial statements are described in Note 13 to Part II, Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data Pro Forma Financial Information (Unaudited).
Fortress is a leading global alternative asset manager with approximately $31.8 billion in AUM as of December 31, 2009. We raise, invest and manage private equity funds, liquid hedge funds and hybrid funds. We earn management fees based on the size of our funds, incentive income based on the performance of our funds, and investment income (loss) from our principal investments in those funds. We invest capital in each of our businesses.
As of December 31, 2009, we managed alternative assets in three core businesses:
Private Equity a business that manages approximately $14.6 billion of AUM comprised of two business segments: (i) private equity funds that primarily make significant, control-oriented investments in debt and equity securities of public or privately held entities in North America and Western Europe, with a focus on acquiring and building asset-based businesses with significant cash flows; and (ii) publicly traded alternative investment vehicles, which we refer to as Castles, that invest primarily in real estate and real estate related debt investments.
Liquid Hedge Funds a business that manages approximately $4.3 billion of AUM. These funds invest globally in fixed income, currency, equity and commodity markets and related derivatives to capitalize on imbalances in the financial markets.
Hybrid Funds a business that manages approximately $12.9 billion of AUM comprised of two business segments: (i) hybrid hedge funds which make highly diversified investments in assets, opportunistic lending situations and securities on a global basis and throughout the capital structure, with a value orientation, as well as in investment funds managed by external managers, which include non-Fortress originated funds for which Fortress has been retained as manager as part of an advisory business; and (ii) hybrid private equity (PE) funds which are comprised of a family of credit opportunities funds focused on investing in distressed and undervalued assets, a family of long dated value funds focused on investing in undervalued assets with limited current cash flows and long investment horizons, a family of real assets funds focused on investing in tangible and intangible assets in four principal categories (real estate, capital assets, natural resources and intellectual property), and an Asian fund.
In addition, we treat our principal investments in these funds as a distinct business segment.
Our assets consist primarily of the following:
Our liabilities consist primarily of the following:
Management, in considering the liquidity and health of the company, mainly focuses on the following aspects of the balance sheet:
Our revenues consist primarily of the following:
Our expenses consist primarily of the following:
The primary measure of operating performance used by management is Distributable Earnings, which is further discussed in the Segment Analysis section herein.
Essentially, the key components of our income are the fees we are earning from our funds in comparison to the compensation and other corporate expenses we are paying in cash, and the resulting operating margin. Other significant components include (i) the unrealized changes in value of our funds, reported as unrealized gains (losses) and earnings (losses) from equity method investees, as this is indicative of changes in potential future cash flows, (ii) taxes, and (iii) equity-based compensation (not including principals agreement compensation), because it will eventually have a dilutive effect when the related shares are issued to employees.
Managing Business Performance
We conduct our management and investment business through the following primary segments: (i) private equity funds, (ii) Castles, (iii) liquid hedge funds, (iv) hybrid hedge funds, (v) hybrid private equity (PE) funds, and (vi) principal investments in those funds, as well as cash that is available to be invested. These segments are differentiated based on the varying strategies of the funds we manage in each segment.
The amounts not allocated to a segment consist primarily of certain general and administrative expenses. Where applicable, portions of the general and administrative expenses have been allocated between the segments.
Management assesses our segments on a Fortress Operating Group and pre-tax basis, and therefore adds back the interests in consolidated subsidiaries related to Fortress Operating Group units (held by the principals) and income tax expense.
Management assesses the net performance of each segment based on its distributable earnings. Distributable earnings is not a measure of cash generated by operations that is available for distribution. Rather distributable earnings is a supplemental measure of operating performance used by management in analyzing its segment and overall results.
Distributable earnings should not be considered as an alternative to cash flow in accordance with GAAP or as a measure of our liquidity, and is not necessarily indicative of cash available to fund cash needs (including dividends and distributions).
We believe that the presentation of distributable earnings enhances a readers understanding of the economic operating performance of our segments. For a more detailed discussion of distributable earnings and how it reconciles to our GAAP net income (loss), see Results of Operations Segments Analysis below.
Our revenues consist primarily of (i) management fees based generally on the size of our funds, (ii) incentive income based on the performance of our funds and (iii) investment income from our investments in those funds. Our ability to maintain and grow our revenues both at Fortress and within our funds depends on our ability to retain existing investors, attract new capital and investors, secure investment opportunities, obtain financing for transactions, consummate investments and deliver attractive risk-adjusted returns. Our ability to execute this investment strategy depends upon a number of market conditions, including:
The strength and liquidity of U.S. and global financial institutions and the financial system.
While market conditions in the United States and abroad have generally improved over the last several months, it is not clear whether any recovery will occur or for how long it will last. Concerning developments in the global capital markets during the first two months of 2010 have renewed concerns among many market participations about the health of the financial markets and the financial institutions that participate in these markets. We and other market participants face uncertain conditions, a reduced universe of counterparties (and attendant increased counterparty risk) and continued challenges in addressing the issues created by the recent challenging credit and liquidity conditions and financial institution failures. If market conditions remain challenging or deteriorate in the future particularly if there is another failure of one or more major financial institutions or another severe contraction of available debt or equity capital, this development would negatively impact Fortress or one or more of our funds.
The strength and liquidity of the U.S. and global equity and debt markets.
Strong equity market conditions enable our private equity funds to increase the value, and effect realizations, of their portfolio company investments. In addition, strong equity markets make it generally easier for our funds that invest in equities to generate positive investment returns. The condition of debt markets also has a meaningful impact on our business. Several of our funds make investments in debt instruments, which are assisted by a strong and liquid debt market. In addition, our funds borrow money to make investments. Our funds utilize leverage in order to increase investment returns, which ultimately drive the performance of our funds. Furthermore, we utilize debt to finance our investments in our funds and for working capital purposes.
Although equity and debt market conditions had been favorable for a number of years, the debt market conditions began to deteriorate in mid-2007, as the United States experienced considerable turbulence in the housing and sub-prime mortgage markets, which negatively affected other fixed income markets. The difficult conditions in the fixed income markets prompted lenders to cease committing to new senior loans and other debt, which, in turn, made it extremely difficult to finance new and pending private equity acquisitions or to refinance existing debt. In particular, the securitization markets, which in years prior to 2007 had represented an important outlet for the placing of acquisition debt, have been essentially shut down or severely impaired since that time. Private equity-led acquisitions announced since mid-2007 have generally been smaller, less levered, and subject to more restrictive debt covenants than acquisitions done prior to the disruption.
As the turbulence continued and its intensity increased, equity market conditions also began to deteriorate in the latter part of 2007 as concerns of an economic slowdown began to affect equity valuations. The resulting reduction in liquidity and increase in volatility caused several commercial and investment banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions to reduce the carrying value of a significant amount of their fixed income holdings, which further reduced the liquidity of debt and, to a lesser extent, equity instruments. Equity market conditions have shown initial signs of stabilizing during most of 2009, and we were able to successfully access the equity markets in the United States and abroad during 2009 (including, for example, our IPO of Rail America in late 2009). That said, the U.S. and global equity markets remain constricted, and we cannot predict the future conditions of these markets or the impact of such conditions on our business.
The current market conditions have negatively impacted our business in several ways:
substantial amount of incentive income in 2009. The investment performance of our former flagship liquid hedge fund and our flagship hybrid hedge fund, excluding redeeming class investors, are down approximately 3.0% and 8.0%, respectively, as of December 31, 2009, from the date on which such funds last earned incentive income. Management expects that, if recent fund performance continues, there is a potential to earn incentive income from our liquid hedge funds and, to a lesser extent, from our hybrid hedge funds in 2010.
The strength of, and competitive dynamics within, the alternative asset management industry, including the amount of capital invested in, and withdrawn from, alternative investments.
The strength of the alternative asset management industry, and our competitive strength relative to our peers, are dependent upon several factors, including, among other things, (1) the investment returns alternative asset managers can provide relative to other investment options, (2) the amount of capital investors allocate to alternative asset managers and (3) our performance relative to our competitors and the related impact on our ability to attract new capital.
First, the strength of the alternative asset management industry is dependent upon the investment returns alternative asset managers can provide relative to other investment options. This factor depends, in part, on the interest rate and credit spreads (which represent the yield demanded on financial instruments by the market in comparison to a benchmark rate, such as the relevant U.S. treasury rate or LIBOR) available on other investment products because as interest rates rise and/or spreads widen, returns available on such investments would tend to increase and, therefore, become more attractive relative to the returns offered by investment products offered by alternative asset managers. We have benefited in the past years from relatively tight spreads, which have allowed us and the funds we manage to obtain financing for investments at attractive rates and made our investment products attractive relative to many other products. Although spreads over the past two years have been volatile, they have widened significantly from levels prior to the challenging market conditions. In addition to potentially reducing the relative attractiveness of our investment products, this widening will typically increase our costs when financing our investments using debt, which, in turn, reduces the net return we can earn on those investments. Furthermore, wider spreads reduce the value of investments currently owned by our funds. A reduction in the value of our funds investments directly impacts our management fees and incentive income from such funds. As a result, this dynamic could slow capital flow to the alternative investment sector.
A second and related factor is the amount of capital invested with such managers. Over the past several years prior to 2009, institutions, high net worth individuals and other investors (including sovereign wealth funds) have increased their allocations of capital to the alternative investment sector. That said, university endowments, pension funds and other traditionally significant investors in the alternative investment sector have recently reduced the amount of capital they are investing in this sector. This decrease appears to be due to a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the generally negative investment performance in the sector during 2008 as well as their own liquidity constraints resulting from the negative performance of their investment portfolios and near-term capital requirements. The improved performance in 2009 relative to 2008 appears to have modestly improved the trend of capital invested in the alternative asset investment sector. The amount of capital being invested into the alternative investment sector appears to have stabilized or even slightly increased and redemption requests appear to have decreased relative to the conditions experienced during 2008, but they are still weaker than the conditions experienced prior to the onset of the global credit and liquidity crisis that began in 2007. Rather than focusing on reducing the amount invested in the alternative investment sector, investors in alternative investment vehicles that primarily invest in liquid investments appear to have become increasingly focused on the liquidity and redemption terms of alternative investment funds and have expressed a desire to have the ability to redeem or otherwise liquidate their investments in a more rapid timeframe than what is permitted under the terms of many funds created prior to the onset of the crisis.
The third factor, which most directly impacts our results, is our investment performance relative to other investment alternatives, including products offered by other alternative asset managers. As a historical leader in the alternative asset management sector based on the size, diversity and historical performance of our funds, we have been able to attract a significant amount of new capital both at the public company and within our funds, even during the recent challenging market conditions. For example, in April 2009, the public company successfully raised approximately $220 million in net proceeds from an offering of its Class A shares. Moreover, during 2009, we have been able to raise additional capital in various funds.
Market Considerations Summary
While short-term disruptions in the markets, with respect to equity prices, interest rates, credit spreads or other market factors, including market liquidity, may adversely affect our existing positions, we believe such disruptions generally present significant new opportunities for investment, particularly in distressed asset classes. Our ability to take advantage of these opportunities will depend on our ability to access debt and equity capital, both at Fortress and within the funds. No assurance can be given that future trends will not be disadvantageous to us, particularly if current challenging conditions persist or intensify, or if generally improving conditions in our market reverse.
We do not currently know the full extent to which this continued uncertainty will affect us or the markets in which we operate. If the challenging conditions continue, or result in a permanent, fundamental change in the credit markets, we and the funds we manage may experience further tightening of liquidity, reduced earnings and cash flow, impairment charges, increased margin requirements, as well as challenges in maintaining our reputation, raising additional capital, maintaining compliance with debt covenants and obtaining investment financing and making investments on attractive terms. However, to date we have been able to continue raising capital, both through new and existing funds, which helps to increase our AUM and to give us a significant amount of capital available to be invested at a time when we believe attractive returns in distressed and other asset classes are available.
Results of Operations
The following is a discussion of our results of operations as reported under GAAP. For a detailed discussion of distributable earnings and revenues from each of our segments, see Segment Analysis below.
Effective March 31, 2007, we deconsolidated our Fortress Funds and, subsequent to this transaction, our results of operations are presented on a deconsolidated basis. To provide better insight and understanding of our results of operations based on our current structure, and a better comparative basis, the following tables compare our results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008 and our pro forma results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2007 on a deconsolidated basis. The pro forma results will be the basis of the discussion summarizing the changes in our results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2007. On a GAAP basis, excluding pro forma adjustments, we had broad decreases across all of our financial statement line items from 2007 to 2008 as a result of the deconsolidation.
Factors Affecting Our Business
During the periods discussed herein, the following are significant factors which have affected our business and materially impacted our results of operations:
Fee Paying Assets Under Management
We measure AUM by reference to the fee paying assets we manage, including the capital we have the right to call from our investors due to their capital commitments. As a result of raising new private equity funds and hybrid PE funds with sizeable capital commitments, raising capital for our Castles, capital acquisitions, and increases in the NAVs of our hedge funds from new investor capital and their retained profits, our AUM has increased over the periods discussed. Recently, lower performance in our funds coupled with redemptions in our liquid hedge funds have caused offsetting reductions in our AUM.
Our AUM has changed over these periods as follows (in millions):
Average Fee Paying AUM
Average fee paying AUM represents the reference amounts upon which our management fees are based. The reference amounts for management fee purposes are: (i) capital commitments or invested capital (or NAV, on an investment by investment basis, if lower) for the private equity funds and hybrid PE funds, which in connection with funds raised after March 2006 includes the mark-to-market value on public securities held within the fund, (ii) contributed capital for the Castles, or (iii) the NAV for hedge funds.
Changes in average AUM have an effect on our management fee revenues. Depending on the timing of capital contributions in a given period, the full economic benefits of an increase in AUM may not be recognized until the following period.
Performance of Our Funds
The performance of our funds has been as follows (dollars in millions):
For private equity funds, other than the Mortgage Opportunities Funds, and hybrid PE funds, returns represent net annualized internal rates of return to limited partners after management fees and incentive allocations, and are computed on an inception to date basis consistent with industry standards. Incentive allocations are computed based on a hypothetical liquidation of net assets of each fund as of the balance sheet date. Returns are calculated for the investors as a whole. The computation of such returns for an individual investor may vary from these returns based on different management fee and incentive arrangements, and the timing of capital transactions.
For Castles, returns represent the return on invested equity (ROE) as reported by such entities. ROE is not reported on an inception to date basis. Newcastles 2008 and 2009 ROE is not meaningful because Newcastle incurred a loss and had negative book equity.
For liquid and hybrid hedge funds, as well as the Mortgage Opportunities Fund, returns represent net returns after taking into account any fees borne by the funds for a new issue eligible, single investor class as of the close of business on the last date of the relevant period. Specific performance may vary based on, among other things, whether fund investors are invested in one or more special investments.
Incentive income is calculated as a percentage of profits (or in some cases taxable income) earned by the Fortress Funds. Incentive income that is not subject to contingent repayment is recorded as earned. Incentive income received from funds that continues to be subject to contingent repayment is deferred and recorded as a deferred incentive income liability until the related contingency is resolved. The contingencies related to a portion of the incentive income we have received from certain private equity Fortress Funds have been resolved.
Fund Management and Investment Platform
In order to accommodate the demands of our funds investment portfolios, we have created investment platforms, which are comprised primarily of our people, financial and operating systems and supporting infrastructure. Expansion of our investment platform historically required increases in headcount, consisting of newly hired investment professionals and support staff, as well as leases and associated improvements to corporate offices to house the increasing number of employees, and related augmentation of systems and infrastructure. Our headcount increased from 806 employees as of December 31, 2007 to 914 employees as of December 31, 2008 and then decreased to 811 employees as of December 31, 2009. This resulted in changes in our compensation, office related and other personnel related expenses, although these changes varied by business. In addition, in conjunction with and subsequent to our initial public offering, we have implemented an equity-based compensation plan described in Note 8 to Part II, Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Equity-Based and Other Compensation as a means to provide an additional financial incentive to retain our existing and future employees.
Year Ended December 31, 2009 compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2008
For the year ended December 31, 2009 compared with the year ended December 31, 2008, total revenues changed as a result of the following:
Management fees from affiliates decreased by $159.5 million primarily due to the net effect of increases (decreases) in average AUM of ($1.6) billion, ($0.1) billion, ($4.9) billion, ($0.7) billion and $1.6 billion in our private equity funds, our Castles, our liquid hedge funds, our hybrid hedge funds, and our hybrid PE funds, respectively. The combined net decrease to average AUM generated a reduction in the amount of $152.9 million in management fees. In addition, management fees from affiliates decreased by $4.0 million as a result of a decrease in the average management fee percentage earned and by $1.7 million as a result of changes in foreign currency exchange rates.
Incentive income from affiliates decreased by $5.7 million primarily as a result of (i) a decrease of $25.7 million and $3.2 million in incentive income from our private equity funds and our liquid hedge funds, respectively, and partially offset by (ii) the recognition of $22.8 million and $1.0 million of incentive income from our hybrid PE funds and our hybrid hedge funds, respectively, generated from distributions not subject to clawback for the year ended December 31, 2009 as compared to $0.4 million and $0.1 million, respectively, in income recognized in the prior comparative period. The decrease in incentive income from our private equity funds was primarily due to incentive income recognized from Fund I in the amount of $13.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2009 as compared to $38.7 million of incentive income recognized from NIH, Fund I and Fund II for the year ended December 31, 2008, as contingencies for repayment had been resolved allowing for income recognition during those respective periods. The decrease in incentive income from our liquid hedge funds was primarily due to incentive income generated by the Fortress Macro Funds and Fortress Commodities Fund of $3.8 million and $10.4 million, respectively, for the year ended December 31, 2009 as compared to $2.3 million and $15.2 million of incentive income generated by special investments, within the Drawbridge Global Macro Funds, and the Fortress Commodities Fund, respectively, for the year ended December 31, 2008. The decrease of incentive income in the Fortress Commodities Fund was primarily due to a decrease in average capital eligible for incentive income and the decrease of incentive income in special investments was due to realization events in 2008 which did not occur in 2009.
Expense reimbursements from affiliates increased by $32.6 million primarily due to an increase in operating expenses eligible for reimbursement from our funds for the year ended December 31, 2009, primarily attributable to the Value Recovery Funds which Fortress began managing in June 2009, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2008.
Other revenues decreased by $15.1 million primarily due to a decrease in interest income of $6.6 million and a decrease of $13.4 million in fees from non-affiliates, including managed accounts, offset by a net increase of $4.8 million in dividend income earned primarily from our direct investment in GAGFAH common stock compared to dividends earned from the Castles in the prior comparative period. Interest income decreased due to a decreased average cash balance and decreased average interest rates for the year ended December 31, 2009 as compared to the year ended December 31, 2008. Incentive income from non-affiliates decreased primarily due to a realization event in 2008; there was no such event in 2009.
Year Ended December 31, 2008 compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2007
For the year ended December 31, 2008 compared with the year ended December 31, 2007, total revenues changed as a result of the following:
Management fees from affiliates increased by $125.8 million primarily due to the net effect of increases in average AUM of $2.6 billion, $0.1 billion, $2.2 billion, $1.4 billion and $0.7 billion in our private equity funds, our Castles, our liquid hedge funds, our hybrid hedge funds, and our hybrid PE funds, respectively. The combined increase to average AUM generated $113.7 million of additional management fees. In addition, management fees from affiliates increased by $10.1 million as a result of an increase in the average management fee percentage earned and by $2.0 million as a result of changes in foreign currency exchange rates.
Incentive income from affiliates decreased by $598.0 million as a result of $39.1 million of incentive income recognized from our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds for the year ended December 31, 2008, as contingencies for repayment had been resolved in certain funds allowing income recognition, compared to $321.5 million of incentive income recognized from our private equity funds and hybrid PE funds for the year ended December 31, 2007, which was no longer subject to contingencies. Furthermore, our liquid hedge funds, our Castles and our hybrid hedge funds contributed additional decreases of $180.8 million, $37.6 million and $97.2 million, respectively, in incentive income primarily due to lower returns.
Expense reimbursements from affiliates, which are recorded gross on our statement of operations, increased by $7.7 million primarily due to an increase in expenses related to an increase in average headcount needed to support the growth of the hybrid hedge funds, private equity funds and our Castles of $4.0 million, $0.8 million, and $1.0 million, respectively, and a net increase due to new private equity funds, liquid hedge funds and hybrid PE funds of $1.4 million.
Other revenues increased by $7.8 million primarily due to a $12.1 million increase in incentive income from non-affiliates, dividend income of $1.7 million from our Castles (prior to the adoption of the fair value election, dividend income was recorded as return of capital on investments), and a $0.4 million increase in management fees from non-affiliates, which were offset by a decrease in interest income of $6.4 million. Incentive income from non-affiliates increased primarily due to a realization event in 2008 from a third party account we manage.
Year Ended December 31, 2009 compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2008
For the year ended December 31, 2009 compared with the year ended December 31, 2008, total expenses changed as a result of the following:
Interest expense decreased by $15.9 million primarily due to (i) a decrease of $17.5 million as a result of a decrease in average interest rates and a decrease in average borrowings from the year ended December 31, 2008, (ii) a decrease of $0.6 million in bank and other related charges, and offset by (iii) an increase of $2.8 million due to write-offs and increased amortization of deferred financing costs. The increase in write-offs and amortization of deferred financing costs is primarily due to the partial prepayment of our term loans as a result of our May 2009 equity offering and the March 2009 amendment to our credit agreement.
Compensation and benefits increased by $64.0 million primarily due to (i) an increase of $49.3 million in equity-based compensation largely due to a decrease in forfeiture assumptions relating to RSUs under our equity-based compensation plan and an increase of our underlying stock price during the year ended December 31, 2009, (ii) an increase of $26.5 million in equity based compensation primarily due to the 31 million FOG RPUs granted in April 2008 (see discussion below), (iii) a $4.6 million net increase in profit sharing compensation due to an increase in distributions from our hybrid PE and private equity funds not subject to clawback, offset by (iv) a $9.4 million decrease due to a decrease in our employee population and discretionary bonuses and (v) a $7.0 million one-time discretionary bonus declared during the first quarter of 2008 to one senior employee. Our average headcount for the year ended December 31, 2009 decreased by 4.2% as compared to the year ended December 31, 2008.
Principals agreement compensation is being amortized on a straight-line basis over the term of the agreement.
General, administrative and other expenses increased by $8.0 million, primarily, as a result of (i) an allowance for potentially uncollectible management fees in connection with certain funds experiencing liquidity shortfalls in the amount of $13.8 million, (ii) $3.5 million in fees paid to Nomura in connection with raising investor capital for a new fund in Asia during the year ended December 31, 2009, and offset by (iii) a net decrease of $9.3 million in recruiting, professional fees and other general expenses.
Year Ended December 31, 2008 compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2007
For the year ended December 31, 2008 compared with the year ended December 31, 2007, total expenses changed as a result of the following:
Interest expense increased by $5.8 million primarily due to (i) a net increase of $3.5 million due to higher average borrowings in 2008, offset by a decrease in average interest rates, and (ii) a net increase of $2.1 million in the amortization and write off of deferred financing costs.
Compensation and benefits decreased by $208.4 million primarily due to a decrease in profit sharing compensation of $252.1 million, offset by an increase due to growth in our employee population of $14.8 million, a $7.0 million discretionary bonus declared during the first quarter of 2008 to one senior employee, and an increase in equity based compensation of $22.0 million, primarily due to the 31 million FOG RPUs granted in April 2008 (see discussion below). Profit-sharing compensation decreased due largely to greater private equity realization events in 2007 than in 2008, and decreased profit from our liquid and hybrid hedge funds. Our average headcount for the year ended December 31, 2008 grew 23% compared to the year ended December 31, 2007.
General, administrative and other expenses increased by $8.6 million, primarily as a result of a net increase of $6.5 million in office and administrative costs to support a larger workforce and increased infrastructure demands, an increase of $1.2 million in other general expenses related to being a public company and an increase of $0.9 million in professional fees and consulting fees.
Principals agreement compensation increased by $101.7 million because there was not a full year of amortization in 2007.
Principals Agreement Compensation
In connection with the initial public offering in February 2007, the principals entered into an agreement among themselves, which provides that in the event a principal voluntarily terminates his employment with Fortress Operating Group for any reason prior to the fifth anniversary of the initial public offering, a portion of the equity interests held by that principal as of the completion of the initial public offering would be forfeited to the principals who remain employed by Fortress Operating Group. As a result of this service requirement, the fair value of Fortress Operating Group units subject to the risk of forfeiture of $4,763.0 million is being charged to compensation expense on a straight-line basis over the five-year vesting period. When Fortress records this non-cash expense, it records a corresponding increase in capital.
GAAP Net Income (Loss) Excluding Principals Agreement Compensation is simply equal to GAAP Net Income (Loss) plus Principals Agreement Compensation. GAAP Net Income (Loss) Excluding Principals Agreement Compensation was equal to the following:
Future Compensation Expense
In future periods, we will further recognize non-cash compensation expense on our non-vested equity-based awards outstanding as of December 31, 2009 of $632.8 million with a weighted average recognition period of 3.1 years. This does not include amounts related to the Principals Agreement, which is discussed above.
In April 2008, we granted 31 million Fortress Operating Group (FOG) restricted partnership units (RPUs) to a senior employee. In connection with the grant of these interests, the employee receives partnership distribution equivalent payments on such units with economic effect as from January 1, 2008. The interests will vest into full capital interests in FOG units in three equal portions on the first business day of 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively, subject to continued employment with Fortress. In connection with this grant, we have reduced the employees profit sharing interests in various Fortress Funds.
Other Income (Loss)
Year Ended December 31, 2009 compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2008
For the year ended December 31, 2009 compared with the year ended December 31, 2008, total other income (loss) changed as a result of the following:
Gains (Losses) direct investments increased by $83.7 million primarily due to (i) the recognition of an unrealized gain of $23.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2009 on our investments in GAGFAH and in our Castles, as compared to the recognition of an unrealized loss of $36.7 million on our investments in our Castles for the year ended December 31, 2008, related to changes in the share prices of these publicly traded investments, (ii) the recognition of an unrealized gain of $1.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2009 on our options and convertible debt in our Castles, as compared to the
recognition of an unrealized loss of $16.0 million on our options in our Castles for the year ended December 31, 2008, and (iii) a $6.4 million increase due to a reversal of a guarantee of potential incentive income clawback payments related to one of our private equity funds that was initially recognized in November 2008 and was subsequently reversed for the year ended December 31, 2009. Our investments in GAGFAH and the Castles are held at fair value.
As described below, in connection with the establishment of a valuation allowance for a portion of the deferred tax asset for the period ended December 31, 2008, we recorded other income of $55.2 million arising from a reduction in the tax receivable agreement liability.
Earnings (losses) from equity method investees increased by $364.5 million primarily due to the net effect of (i) the recognition of a $60.3 million in net income from equity method investees in 2009 as a result of an increase in income attributable to investments in our private equity funds, our liquid hedge funds, our hybrid hedge funds, and our hybrid PE funds, compared to (ii) the recognition of a $304.2 million loss on our equity method investments for the year ended December 31, 2008. The overall increase in income was primarily a result of improved returns within the funds.
Year Ended December 31, 2008 compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2007
For the year ended December 31, 2008 compared with the year ended December 31, 2007, total other income (loss) changed as a result of the following:
Losses other investments decreased by $50.9 million primarily due to the net effect of:
As described below, in connection with the establishment of a valuation allowance for a portion of the deferred tax asset for the period ended December 31, 2008, we recorded other income of $55.1 million arising from a reduction in the tax receivable agreement liability.
Earnings (losses) from equity method investees decreased by $245.7 million primarily due to the net effect of (i) the recognition of a $304.2 million net loss from equity method investees in 2008 as a result of a loss attributable to investments in our private equity funds, our Castles, our liquid hedge funds, our hybrid hedge funds, and our hybrid PE funds, compared to (ii) the recognition of a $58.4 million loss on our equity method investments for the year ended December 31, 2007. The overall decrease was primarily a result of diminished returns within the funds.
Income Tax Benefit (Expense)
Fortress has recorded a significant deferred tax asset. A substantial portion of this asset is offset by a liability associated with the tax receivable agreement with our Principals. This deferred tax asset is further discussed under Critical Accounting Policies below and the tax receivable agreement is discussed in our consolidated financial statements included herein.
For the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, Fortress recognized income tax expense (benefit) of ($5.0 million), $115.2 million and ($5.6 million), respectively. The primary reason for the changes in income tax expense (benefit) is changes in the mix of business segments producing income, which may be subject to tax at different rates. For the year ended December 31, 2008, we have recorded a valuation allowance for a portion of the deferred tax asset resulting in a $95.9 million charge to income tax expense. In addition, the establishment of the valuation allowance resulted in a reduction of the obligation associated with the tax receivable agreement and a corresponding reduction of the deferred tax asset of $20.8 million. The deferred tax asset is further discussed under Critical Accounting Policies below.
Fortress conducts its management and investment business through the following primary segments: (i) private equity funds, (ii) Castles, (iii) liquid hedge funds, (iv) hybrid hedge funds, (v) hybrid PE funds and (vi) principal investments in these funds as well as cash that is available to be invested. These segments are differentiated based on their varying strategies. Due to the increased significance of the principal investments segment and the hybrid PE funds segment, they have been disaggregated from the other segments for all periods presented.
Discussed below are our results of operations for each of our reportable segments. They represent the separate segment information available and utilized by our management committee, which consists of our principals and certain key officers, and which functions as our chief operating decision maker to assess performance and to allocate resources. Management evaluates the performance of each segment based on its distributable earnings.
As segment revenues reflected in our distributable earnings are presented on an unconsolidated basis, management fee and incentive income are reflected on a gross basis prior to elimination as required in consolidation. As a result of this presentation, management fees and incentive income are greater than those reflected on a consolidated GAAP basis for periods prior to the deconsolidation on March 31, 2007. Other items within distributable earnings are less than the related amounts on a GAAP basis for these periods, as they do not include the effects of consolidating the Fortress Funds.
As mentioned above, results of operations for each of our segments are reflected on an unconsolidated basis, even for periods prior to the deconsolidation. Management also assesses our segments on a Fortress Operating Group and pre-tax basis, and therefore adds back the non-controlling interests in consolidated subsidiaries related to Fortress Operating Group units (held by the principals) and income tax expense.
Distributable earnings is defined in Note 11 to Part II, Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data Segment Reporting. Furthermore, a complete discussion of distributable earnings basis impairment and reserves, including the methodology used in estimating the amounts as well as the amounts incurred in the relevant periods, is disclosed therein.
Private Equity Funds
Year Ended December 31, 2009 compared to Year Ended December 31, 2008
Pre-tax distributable earnings increased by $50.7 million primarily due to:
Year Ended December 31, 2008 compared to Year Ended December 31, 2007
Pre-tax distributable earnings decreased by $202.5 million primarily due to:
Fund V Coinvestment, FECI, Mortgage Opportunities Fund I, Mortgage Opportunities Fund II and Mortgage Opportunities Fund III, and (ii) an increase of $10.7 million related to an increase in average AUM from Fund IV, Fund IV Coinvestment, and FHIF. These increases to management fees were partially offset by a decrease of $4.8 million in management fees collected from Fund II, Fund III, and FRID as a result of distributions to investors (which reduces AUM) during 2007 and a decrease of $3.1 million from Fund IV, as a consequence of the creation of Fund V in May 2007 (which caused the management fees from Fund IV to be based on invested capital rather than capital commitments);
Publicly Traded Alternative Investment Vehicles (Castles)