Northstar Realty Finance 10-K 2011
Documents found in this filing:
Commission file number: 001-32330
NorthStar Realty Finance Corp.
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 o No ý
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes o No ý
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. Yes ý No o
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 Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes o No o
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 registrant's 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. ý
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 definition of "large accelerated filer", "accelerate filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes o No ý
The aggregate market value of the registrant's voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2010, was $205,907,287. As of February 24, 2011, the registrant had issued and outstanding 77,175,882 shares of common stock, par value $0.01 per share.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the definitive proxy statement for the registrant's 2011 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (the "2011 Proxy Statement"), to be filed within 120 days after the end of the registrant's fiscal year ending December 31, 2010, are incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K in response to Part III, Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.
Table of Contents
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements relate to, among other things, the operating performance of our investments and financing needs. Forward-looking statements are generally identifiable by use of forward-looking terminology such as "may," "will," "should," "potential," "intend," "expect," "seek," "anticipate," "estimate," "believe," "could," "project," "predict," "continue" or other similar words or expressions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance and are based on certain assumptions, discuss future expectations, describe plans and strategies, contain projections of results of operations or of financial condition or state other forward-looking information. Our ability to predict results or the actual effect of plans or strategies is inherently uncertain, particularly given the economic environment. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, our actual results and performance could differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results in future periods to differ materially from those forward looking statements. We are under no duty to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this report to conform these statements to actual results.
Factors that could have a material adverse effect on our operations and future prospects are set forth in "Risk Factors" in this Annual Report on Form 10-K beginning on page 15. The factors set forth in the Risk Factors section could cause our actual results to differ significantly from those contained in any forward-looking statement contained in this report.
We are a real estate finance company that has focused primarily on originating, investing in and managing commercial real estate debt, commercial real estate securities and net lease properties. We have invested in those areas of commercial real estate that enabled us to leverage our real estate investment expertise, utilize our broad capital markets knowledge, and capitalize on our ability to employ innovative financing structures. We believe that our three principal business lines are complementary to each other due to their overlapping sources of investment opportunities, common reliance on real estate fundamentals and ability to apply similar asset management skills to maximize value and to protect capital. We conduct our operations so as to qualify as a real estate investment trust, or a REIT, for federal income tax purposes. In this Annual Report, "we" or the "Company" means NorthStar Realty Finance Corp. and its consolidated subsidiaries, unless the context otherwise requires.
The U.S. economy is continuing to experience high unemployment and low economic growth compared to historical periods. These conditions were precipitated by the collapse of the U.S. residential real estate sector in 2007, and continue to have a negative impact on commercial real estate fundamentals. During 2010, liquidity began to return to commercial real estate debt and equity markets despite these poor economic conditions; however, many investors remain cautious in providing capital to legacy commercial real estate finance companies, like us, until the economic outlook becomes more clear. Our priorities are to actively manage portfolio credit to preserve capital, generate and recycle liquidity from existing assets, reduce leverage by purchasing our issued debt at discounts to par, make opportunistic investments and to access new investment capital through channels other than the listed public capital markets, such as the non-traded REIT market.
Since 2008, most of our new investment activities have been funded using proceeds from repayments and sales of investments within our portfolio. During 2010, we began raising equity capital in the non-traded REIT sector. We sponsor and are the advisor of NorthStar Real Estate Income Trust, Inc. ("NSREIT"), a registered and non-listed REIT that is currently raising capital via a continuous offering. We also have filed a registration statement on Form S-11for NorthStar Senior Care Trust, Inc., a non-listed REIT that intends to invest in loans and real estate focused on the healthcare sector. We earn fees for managing these REITs and expect that a portion of our new investment activities will be conducted on behalf of these sponsored companies.
The following describes the major commercial asset classes in which we have invested and which we continue to actively manage to maximize value and to preserve our capital. Beginning in the second half of 2007 and continuing throughout 2010, we significantly reduced new investment activity in our company, which was generally limited to a level supported by recycled capital from repayments and asset sales.
For financial information regarding our reportable segments, see Note 20, Segment Reporting, in our accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2010.
Real Estate Debt
Our real estate debt business has historically focused on originating, structuring and acquiring senior and subordinate debt investments secured primarily by commercial and multifamily properties, including first lien mortgage loans, which are also referred to as senior mortgage loans, junior participations in first lien mortgage loans, which are often referred to as B-Notes, second lien mortgage
loans, mezzanine loans and preferred equity interests in borrowers who own such properties. We generally hold these instruments for investment, but we sometimes syndicate or sell portions of loans to maximize risk adjusted returns, manage credit exposure and generate liquidity.
We have built a franchise with a reputation for providing capital to high quality real estate investors who want a responsive and flexible balance sheet lender. Given that we are a lender who does not generally seek to sell or syndicate the full amount of the loans we originate, we are able to maintain flexibility in how we structure loans that meet the unique needs of our borrowers. Typical commercial mortgage-backed securities, or CMBS, and other conduit securitization lenders generally could not provide these types of loans because of constraints within their funding structures and because they usually originated loans with the intent to sell them to third parties and relinquish control. Additionally, our centralized investment organization has enabled senior management to review potential new loans early in the origination process which, unlike many large institutional lenders with several levels of approval required to commit to a loan, allowed us to respond quickly and provided a high degree of certainty to our borrowers that we would close a loan on terms substantially similar to those initially proposed. We believe that this level of service has enhanced our reputation in the marketplace. In addition, we believe the early and active role of senior management in our investment process has been key to maximizing recoveries of invested capital from our investments and ability to be responsive to changing market conditions. As of December 31, 2010, our average funded loan size was $18.9 million and we managed 143 separate commercial real estate loans with a carrying value of $1.8 billion.
The collateral underlying our real estate debt investments consists largely of income-producing real estate assets, properties that require some capital investment to increase cash flows, or assets undergoing repositionings or conversions, and may involve vertical construction or unimproved land. We seek to make real estate debt investments that offer the most attractive risk-adjusted returns and evaluate the risk based upon our underwriting criteria, sponsorship and the pricing of comparable investments. We have accessed the asset-backed markets to match-fund our real estate debt investments with non-recourse, term debt liabilities which were structured as collateralized debt obligations ("CDOs"). These CDO transactions are flexible financing structures that have typically permitted us to re-invest proceeds from asset repayments for a five-year period after issuance with no repayment of the term debt, subject to certain criteria; thereafter, the CDO is repaid when the underlying assets pay off. In addition to these CDO financings, we have utilized secured term financings and credit facilities to finance real estate debt investments.
Our real estate debt investments typically have many of the following characteristics: (i) terms of two to ten years inclusive of any extension options; (ii) collateral in the form of a first mortgage or a subordinate interest in a first mortgage on real property, a pledge of ownership interests in a real estate owning entity or a preferred equity investment in a real estate owning entity; (iii) investment amounts of $5 million to $100 million; (iv) floating interest rates priced at a spread over LIBOR or fixed interest rates; (v) an interest rate cap or other hedge to protect against interest rate volatility; and (vi) an intercreditor agreement that outlines our rights relative to other investors in the capital structure of the transaction and that typically provides us with a right to cure any defaults to the lender of those tranches senior to us and, under certain circumstances, to purchase senior tranches.
We have employed a standardized investment and underwriting process that focuses on a number of factors in order to ensure each investment is being evaluated appropriately, including: (i) macroeconomic conditions that may influence operating performance; (ii) fundamental analysis of the underlying real estate collateral, including tenant rosters, lease terms, zoning, operating costs and
the asset's overall competitive position in its market; (iii) real estate market factors that may influence the economic performance of the collateral; (iv) the operating expertise and financial strength of the sponsor or borrower; (v) real estate and leasing market conditions affecting the asset; (vi) the cash flow in place and projected to be in place over the term of the loan; (vii) the appropriateness of estimated costs associated with rehabilitation or new construction; (viii) a valuation of the property, our investment basis relative to its value and the ability to liquidate an investment through a sale or refinancing of the underlying asset; (ix) review of third-party reports including appraisals, engineering and environmental reports; (x) physical inspections of properties and markets; and (xi) the overall legal structure of the investment and the lenders' rights.
We may originate and structure debt investments directly with borrowers or may acquire loans from third parties. In the past we emphasized direct origination of our debt investments because this allows us a greater degree of control in loan structuring and in potential future loan modification or restructuring negotiations, provides us the opportunity to create subordinate interests in the loan, if desired, that meet our risk-return objectives, allows us to maintain a more direct relationship with our borrowers and provides an opportunity for us to earn origination and other fees. We believe that the continued lack of available debt capital for commercial real estate and sub-par economic conditions may present opportunities to obtain attractive terms from both new directly-originated loans and from pre-existing loans acquired from third-party originators, who may be motivated to sell due to liquidity needs or who are exiting the business.
At December 31, 2010 we held the following real estate debt investments (dollars in thousands):
funding, the Company's equity requirement on future funding requirements would be approximately $3.0 million.
The following charts display our loan portfolio by collateral type and by geographic location:
Real Estate Securities
Our real estate securities business has historically invested in, created and managed portfolios of commercial real estate debt securities, which we have financed by raising third-party capital in transactions structured as CDOs. These securities include CMBS, debt obligations of REITs and term debt transactions backed primarily by commercial real estate securities, or CRE CDOs. Substantially all of our securities investments have explicit credit ratings assigned by at least one of the three leading nationally-recognized statistical rating agencies (Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, Inc. and Fitch Ratings, generally referred to as rating agencies), and were typically rated investment grade at the time of purchase. In addition to these securities, our CDOs may also invest in bank loans to REITs and real estate operating companies, real estate whole loans, or subordinate debt investments such as B-Notes and mezzanine loans.
We seek to mitigate credit risk through credit analysis, subordination and diversification. The CMBS we invest in are generally junior in right of payment of interest and principal to one or more senior classes, but benefit from the support of one or more subordinate classes of securities or other form of credit support within a securitization transaction. The senior unsecured REIT debt securities we invest in carry similar credit ratings and reflect comparable credit risk. Credit risk refers to each individual borrower's ability to make required interest and principal payments on the scheduled due dates. While the expected yield on our securities investments is sensitive to the performance of the underlying assets, the more subordinated securities, in the case of CMBS, and the issuer's underlying equity, in the case of REIT securities, are designed to bear the first risk of default and loss. In addition to diversification by issuer and security within our CDOs, the underlying real estate portfolios represented by each such security are further diversified by number of properties, property type, geographic location, and tenant composition. We further seek to minimize credit risk by monitoring the real estate securities portfolios of our term debt issuances and the underlying credit quality of their holdings.
The average rating of our securities investments was B/B2 as of December 31, 2010. In addition, our securities portfolio had an average investment size of approximately $3.4 million as of December 31, 2010.
The various types of securities backed by real estate assets that we invest in, including CMBS, fixed income securities issued by REITs and real estate term debt transactions, are described in more detail below.
CMBS. CMBS, or commercial mortgage-backed securities, are securities backed by obligations (including certificates of participation in obligations) that are principally secured by mortgages on real property or interests therein having a multifamily or commercial use and located in the United States. Underlying property types include regional malls, neighborhood shopping centers, office buildings, industrial or warehouse properties, hotels, apartment buildings, self-storage, and healthcare facilities. Loan collateral is held in a trust that issues securities in the form of fixed and floating-rate notes secured by the cash flows from the underlying loans. The securities issued by the trust have varying levels of priority in the allocation of cash flows from the pooled loans and are rated by one or more of the rating agencies. These ratings reflect the risk characteristics of each class of CMBS and range from "AAA" to "C". Any losses realized on defaulted loans are first absorbed by any non-rated classes, with losses then allocated in reverse sequential order to the most junior, lowest-rated bond classes. Typically, all principal received on the loans is allocated first to the most senior outstanding class of bonds and then to the next class in order of seniority.
REIT Fixed Income Securities: Substantially all of our long-term investments in REIT fixed income securities consist of non-amortizing senior unsecured notes issued by equity REITs. REITs own a variety of property types with a large number of companies focused on the office, retail, multifamily, industrial, healthcare and hotel sectors. REIT senior unsecured notes typically incorporate protective financial covenants and have credit ratings issued by one or more rating agencies. We may also invest in junior unsecured debt, preferred equity or common equity of REITs.
Commercial Real Estate CDOs: Commercial real estate term CDOs (also referred to as CRE CDO's) are debt obligations typically collateralized by a combination of CMBS and REIT unsecured debt. CRE CDOs may also include real estate whole loans, B-notes and other asset-backed securities as part of their underlying collateral. These assets are held within a special-purpose vehicle that issues rated liabilities and equity in private securities offerings. We have used the CRE CDO markets to finance a majority of our real estate loans and securities investments.
Our underwriting process for real estate securities is focused on evaluating both the real estate risk of the underlying assets and the structural protections available to the particular class of securities in which we are investing. We believe that even when a security such as a CMBS or a REIT bond is backed by a diverse pool of properties, risk cannot be evaluated purely by statistical or quantitative means. Properties backing loans with identical debt service coverage ratios or loan-to-value ratios can have very different risk characteristics depending on their age, location, lease structure and physical condition. Our underwriting process seeks to identify those factors that may lead to an increase or decrease in credit quality over time.
When evaluating a CMBS pool backed by a large number of loans, we combine real estate analysis on individual loans with stress testing of the portfolio under various sets of default and loss assumptions. First, we identify a sample of loans in the pool which are subject to individual analysis. This sample typically includes the largest 10 to 15 loans in the pool, as well as loans selected for higher risk characteristics such as low debt service coverage ratios, properties located in weaker markets, or properties that exhibit greater cash flow volatility such as hotels. We also may review a random sample of small to medium sized loans in the pool. The loans in the sample are typically analyzed based on available information including underwriter reports, servicer reports and third- party information providers, as well as any additional market or property level information that we are able to obtain including information that may be available from our other business lines. Each loan in the sample is assigned a risk rating, which affects the default assumption for that loan in our stress test. A loan with the highest risk rating is assumed to default and suffer a loss whereas loans with better risk ratings are assigned a lower probability of default. The stress tests we run allow us to determine whether the bond class in which we are investing would suffer a loss under the stressed assumptions.
REIT securities are evaluated based on the quality, type and location of the property portfolio, the capital structure and financial ratios of the company, and management's track record, operating expertise and strategy. We also evaluate the REIT's debt covenants. Our investment decisions are based on the REIT's ability to withstand financial stress, as well as more subjective criteria related to the quality of management and of the property portfolio.
At December 31, 2010, we held the following real estate securities investments:
The following charts display our CMBS assets under management by vintage and our on-balance sheet securities assets under management by asset type based on par values.
Core Net Lease
Our core net lease strategy has historically involved investing primarily in office, industrial and retail properties across the United States that are net leased long term to corporate tenants. Net lease properties are typically leased to a single tenant who agrees to pay basic rent, plus all taxes, insurance,
capital and operating expenses arising from the use of the leased property. We may also invest in properties that are leased to tenants for which we are responsible for some of the operating expenses and capital costs. At the end of the lease term, the tenant typically has a right to renew the lease at market rates or to vacate the property with no further ongoing obligation. Accordingly, we target properties that are located in primary or secondary markets with strong demand fundamentals, and that have a property design and location that make them suitable and attractive for alternative tenants.
We believe that the majority of net lease investors who acquire office, industrial and retail properties are primarily focused on assets leased to investment-grade tenants with lease terms of 15 years or longer. In our experience, there is a more limited universe of investors with the real estate and capital markets expertise necessary to underwrite net lease assets with valuations that are more closely linked to real estate fundamentals than to tenant credit.
During 2009 and 2010, we made no new net lease investments because our increased cost of capital relative to prior years continues to make investing in net lease assets uneconomical. Our primary focus in this area during 2010 was to actively manage our existing asset base by focusing on leasing vacant space and working toward tenant renewals. Weak economic conditions are currently causing difficulties in leasing vacant space and in obtaining attractive lease rates from prospective tenants. Based on current capital markets and economic conditions we do not expect new net lease investing to be a material part of our business in the near future.
We own and manage a portfolio of healthcare net lease assets, a majority of which are assisted living facilities with the remainder comprised of skilled nursing facilities, a medical campus and a medical office building. We initially entered the healthcare net lease business in 2006 through a joint venture, and in 2009 acquired our partner's interest and hired a senior management team that was formerly employed by our partner who also managed the assets. Our management team has significant experience investing in a wide variety of healthcare properties, ranging from low-acuity assisted living facilities to higher-acuity skilled nursing facilities. We have historically sought out opportunities to acquire individual assets or portfolios of assets from local or regionally-focused owner/operators with established track records and in markets where barriers to entry exist. The assets typically have been purchased from and leased back to private operators under long-term net leases. We believe that our management team that is focused on this sector provides us a competitive advantage because of its extensive relationships in the industry and its knowledge of and experience in operating, owning and lending to healthcare-related assets.
Our core net lease investments were underwritten utilizing our skills in evaluating real estate market and property fundamentals, real estate residual values and tenant credit. At inception and throughout the life of our ownership we conduct detailed tenant credit analyses to assess, among other things, the potential for credit deterioration and lease default risk. This analysis is also employed to measure the adequacy of landlord protection mechanisms incorporated into the underlying lease. Our underwriting process included sub-market and property-level due diligence in order to understand downside investment risks, including quantifying the costs associated with tenant defaults and releasing scenarios. We also evaluated stress scenarios to understand refinancing risk.
Our healthcare net lease investments were underwritten utilizing a comprehensive analysis of the profitability of a targeted business or facility, its cash flow, occupancy, patient and payer mix, financial trends in revenues and expenses, barriers to competition, the need in the market for the type of healthcare services provided by the business or the facility, the strength of the location and the
underlying value of the business or the facility, as well as the financial strength and experience of the management team of the business or the facility.
Our core and healthcare net lease investments are principally financed with non-recourse first mortgages having terms approximately matching the term of the underlying leases.
At December 31, 2010, we held the following net lease investments (dollars in thousands):
NRF Capital Markets
NRF Capital Markets, LLC, or NRF Capital Markets, is our wholly-owned subsidiary wholesale broker-dealer located in Denver, CO. NRF Capital Markets was formed in 2009 to distribute equity of our sponsored REITs in the non-traded REIT sector, and is currently raising equity capital for NSREIT. We expect that NRF Capital Markets will in the future assist us in accessing diverse sources of capital for companies that may be sponsored and managed by us, such as for NSREIT and NorthStar Senior Care Trust, Inc.
During 2010, we filed a registration statement on Form S-11for NorthStar Senior Care Trust, Inc., a REIT which will target healthcare property and debt investments. We intend to raise equity for this company in the non-traded REIT market and to use our expertise in the healthcare sector to make investments.
Our long-term primary objectives are to make real estate-related investments that increase our franchise value, produce attractive risk-adjusted returns and generate predictable cash flow for distribution to our stockholders. The recent global economic recession has required us to focus on preserving capital and managing liquidity. Although the capital markets for commercial real estate performed well during 2010 and banks began to originate new loans for securitization, as a legacy commercial mortgage finance company with assets primarily originated prior to 2008, we cannot currently raise large amounts of corporate equity capital at attractive levels. We are observing continued weak performance levels in our asset base due to poor economic and employment conditions and expect that investors will wait until economic conditions have strengthened before investing more
significantly in legacy finance REITs. We believe that we have created a franchise that derives a competitive advantage from the combination of our real estate, credit underwriting and capital markets expertise, which enables us to manage credit risk across our business lines as well as to structure and finance our assets efficiently. We hope that our reputation in the marketplace will enable us to be early in raising corporate capital when market conditions improve. We will also seek to conduct certain new investment activities, where possible, in managed vehicles using equity capital raised primarily from sources other than from our balance sheet, such as in the non-traded REIT sector. During 2010, we began raising capital for non-traded REITs sponsored by us, and believe that our fixed income investment strategy and expertise is unique in that market. If we are successful in raising capital for these managed vehicles, we believe that these structures could provide a higher return on our invested equity capital due to the management and incentive fees that may be generated, and would broaden our sources of capital so that we would be less reliant on the public equity markets to grow our business.
We believe that our complementary core businesses provide us with the following synergies that enhance our competitive position:
Sourcing Investments. CMBS, purchased real estate debt and net leased properties are often sourced from the same originators. In addition, we can offer a single source of financing by purchasing or originating a rated senior interest for our real estate securities portfolio and an unrated junior interest for our real estate debt portfolio.
Credit Analysis. Real estate debt interests are usually marketed to investors prior to the issuance of CMBS backed by rated senior interests secured by the same property. By participating in both sectors, we can utilize our underwriting resources more efficiently and enhance our ability to underwrite the securitized debt.
Flexible Asset-Backed and Secured Term Financing. We believe our experience and reputation as an issuer and manager in the asset-backed debt markets, our credit track record and our relationships with major money-center banks should provide us preferential access to match-funded financing for our real estate securities, real estate debt and net lease investments. Match funded debt capital is currently very difficult to obtain. The asset-backed markets for commercial real estate remain closed for most types of real estate loans and banks and life companies are currently working to deleverage their balance sheets and therefore are not making significant new lending commitments. Our current strategy has been to use our existing flexible financing structures to leverage new investments, or to acquire new investments that generate attractive returns without leverage.
Capital Allocation. Through our participation in these three principal businesses and the fixed income markets generally, we benefit from market information that enables us to make more informed decisions with regard to the relative valuation of financial assets and capital allocation.
Our investment and portfolio management processes are centralized and overseen by our senior management team. We have formal guidelines which require senior management approval for all new investments, and Board approval is required for investments exceeding size and concentration limits. Senior management also reviews and approves portfolio management strategies including loan modification and workout situations.
We seek to access a wide range of secured and unsecured debt and public and private equity capital sources to fund our investment activities and asset growth. Since our IPO in 2004, we have completed preferred and common equity offerings raising approximately $1.0 billion of aggregate net proceeds. Additionally, during 2007 and 2008 we issued $252.5 million of unsecured exchangeable
senior notes. We have also raised $286.3 million of long-term, subordinated debt capital that is equity-like in nature due to its 30-year term and relatively few covenants.
In the past, we have sought to access diverse short and long-term funding sources that enable us to deliver attractive risk-adjusted returns to our shareholders while match-funding our investments to minimize interest rate and maturity risk. This means we financed assets with debt having like-kind interest rate benchmarks (fixed or floating) and similar maturities. Our real estate debt and securities businesses typically used warehouse and secured credit facilities with major financial institutions to initially fund investments until a sufficient pool of assets was accumulated to efficiently execute a CRE CDO transaction.
In a CDO financing, rated bonds are issued and backed by pools of securities or loan collateral originated or acquired by us. The bonds are non-recourse and the interest income from the collateral is used to service the interest cost on the rated bonds. After a reinvestment period, which is typically five years, principal from collateral payoffs is used to amortize the notes, so there is no maturity risk. We typically have sold all of the investment-grade rated CDO bonds, and retain the non-investment grade classes as our "equity" interest in the financing. CDO financings provided low cost financing because the most senior bond classes were rated "AAA/Aaa" by the rating agencies at the time of issuance.
Net lease investments are generally match-funded with non-recourse first mortgage debt representing approximately 75% to 80% of the total value of the investment. We seek to match the term of the financing with the remaining lease term.
During 2010, the CMBS new issue market began to recover, with approximately $10 billion of issuance. Many experts expect at least $30-$40 billion of new CMBS issuance for 2011. These levels are well below the over $200 billion issued in each of 2006 and 2007, but are comparable to the $26-$77 billion of annual issuance experienced between 1996 and 2003. There have not yet been any new CRE CDO financings, but the corporate collateralized loan (CLO) market, which has a similar structure to CRE CDOs, is issuing new financings. We believe the real estate securitization markets are in the early stages of recovery, and will again provide attractive match-funded debt capital. We believe that our credit track record and reputation with bank lenders and the securitization markets could enable us to be an early user of this capital if it becomes available for independent finance companies like us.
We use derivatives primarily to manage interest rate risk exposure. These derivatives are typically in the form of interest rate swap agreements and the primary objective is to minimize the interest rate risks associated with our investing and financing activities. The counterparties to these arrangements are major financial institutions with which we may also have other financial relationships.
Creating an effective strategy for dealing with interest rate movements is complex and no strategy can completely insulate us from risks associated with such fluctuations. There can be no assurance that our hedging activities will have the intended impact on our results. A more detailed discussion of our hedging policy is provided in "Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsLiquidity and Capital Resources."
We actively monitor collateral and property-level performance of our asset base through our portfolio management group which is closely supervised by our senior executive team. All major portfolio management strategies and tactics are developed using the extensive experience of our senior executives and a majority of our employees are dedicated to portfolio management activities.
For commercial real estate loans, we typically have a contractual right to regularly receive updated information from our borrowers such as budgets, operating statements, rent rolls, major tenant lease signings, renewals, expirations and modifications. We also monitor for changes in property management, borrower's and sponsor's financial condition, timing and funding of distributions from reserves and capital accounts or future funding draws, real estate market conditions, sales of comparable and competitive properties, occupancy and asking rents at competitive properties and financial performance of major tenants. When a borrower cannot comply with its requirements according to the loan terms, we generally have a range of strategies to choose from, including foreclosing on the collateral in order to sell it, extending the final maturity date in return for a paydown and/or a fee, changing the interest rate or making any other modification to the loan terms which we believe maximizes long-term value and preserves capital.
We closely monitor our securities investments by using sophisticated third- party applications that are designed to screen for performance issues in the loan collateral underlying the securities. We also utilize our capital markets expertise to seek opportunities to sell securities investments which we believe the market is valuing too highly relative to the underlying risk.
We closely monitor our net lease assets to ensure, among other things, the tenants are complying with the terms of their respective leases, and seek to enter into renewal discussions with tenants well in advance of lease expirations. We also physically inspect these assets regularly so that we can ensure that the tenants are maintaining the assets as required.
Poor economic conditions have negatively impacted commercial real estate cash flows and valuations. During 2010, debt and equity capital began returning to the real estate markets, especially in supply-constrained urban areas such as New York City, Washington, DC and Boston, MA, and to asset types expected to benefit most immediately from an economic recovery, such as hotels and apartments. Although investors and lenders appear more confident in a few select markets, many of our assets are continuing to experience stress and have not benefited from the early signs of recovery in real estate. We expect a broader improvement in real estate conditions during 2011, but also anticipate that credit management will remain challenging.
As of March 2011, we will be added to Standard and Poor's Select Service list as an approved special servicer. This designation provides us with the ability to provide asset management services to CMBS securitizations rated by S&P relating to troubled or defaulted mortgages underlying the securitization.
We are subject, in certain instances, to supervision and regulation by state and federal governmental authorities and may be subject to various laws and judicial and administrative decisions imposing various requirements and restrictions, which, among other things: (1) regulate credit granting activities; (2) establish maximum interest rates, finance charges and other fees we can charge our customers; (3) require disclosures to customers; (4) govern secured transactions; and (5) set collection, foreclosure, repossession and claims-handling procedures and other trade practices. Although most states do not regulate commercial finance, certain states impose limitations on interest rates and other charges and on certain collection practices and creditor remedies and require licensing of lenders and financiers and adequate disclosure of certain contract terms. We are also required to comply with certain provisions of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act that are applicable to commercial real estate loans.
We believe that we are not, and intend to conduct our operations so as not to become regulated as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, or the Investment Company Act. We have been, and intend to continue to rely on current interpretations of the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, in an effort to continue to qualify for an
exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act. For more information on the exemptions that we utilize, see "Item 1ARisk FactorsMaintenance of our Investment Company Act exemption imposes limits on our operations."
Certain of our subsidiaries may apply to be registered investment advisors under the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, or the Investment Advisors Act, and, as such, may also be supervised by the SEC. The Investment Advisors Act requires registered investment advisors to comply with numerous obligations, including record-keeping requirements, operational procedures and disclosure obligations. Such subsidiaries may also be registered with various states and thus, subject to the oversight and regulation of such states' regulatory agencies. The regulatory environment in which investment advisors operate changes frequently and regulations have increased significantly in recent years. We may be adversely affected as a result of new or revised legislation or regulations or by changes in the interpretation or enforcement of existing laws and regulations.
We have elected and expect to continue to make an election to be taxed as a REIT under Section 856 through 860 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code. As a REIT, we must currently distribute, at a minimum, an amount equal to 90% of our taxable income. In addition, we must distribute 100% of our taxable income to avoid paying corporate federal income taxes. REITs are also subject to a number of organizational and operational requirements in order to elect and maintain REIT status. These requirements include specific share ownership tests and assets and gross income composition tests. If we fail to qualify as a REIT in any taxable year, we will be subject to federal income tax (including any applicable alternative minimum tax) on our taxable income at regular corporate tax rates. Even if we qualify for taxation as a REIT, we may be subject to state and local income taxes and to federal income tax and excise tax on our undistributed income.
On April 20, 2010, NRF Capital Markets became registered with the SEC and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA. Much of the regulation of broker-dealers has been delegated to self-regulatory organizations, or SROs, principally FINRA, that adopt and amend rules, subject to approval by the SEC, which govern their members and conduct periodic examinations of member firms' operations. The SEC, SROs and state securities commissions may conduct administrative proceedings that can result in censure, fine, suspension or expulsion of a broker-dealer, its officers or employees. Such administrative proceedings, whether or not resulting in adverse findings, can require substantial expenditures and can have an adverse impact on the reputation of a broker-dealer.
As a registered broker-dealer, NRF Capital Markets is required by federal law to be a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, or SIPC. When the SIPC fund falls below a certain amount, members are required to pay annual assessments to replenish the reserves. In anticipation of inadequate SIPC fund levels during the current economic environment, our broker-dealer subsidiary will be required to pay 0.25% of net operating revenues as a special assessment. As of December 31, 2010, we have incurred an immaterial amount of special assessment charges. The SIPC fund provides protection for securities held in customer accounts up to $500,000 per customer, with a limitation of $100,000 on claims for cash balances.
In addition, as a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA, NRF Capital Markets is subject to the SEC's Uniform Net Capital Rule 15c3-1, which is designed to measure the general financial integrity and liquidity of a broker-dealer and requires the maintenance of minimum net capital. Net capital is defined as the net worth of a broker-dealer subject to certain adjustments. In computing net capital, various adjustments are made to net worth that exclude assets not readily convertible into cash. Additionally, the regulations require that certain assets, such as a broker-dealer's position in securities, be valued in a conservative manner so as to avoid over-inflation of the broker-dealer's net capital.
The U.S. Government, Federal Reserve, U.S. Treasury, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Securities and Exchange Commission and other governmental and regulatory bodies have taken or are
considering taking actions in response to the recent financial crisis. We are unable to predict whether or when such actions may occur or what impact, if any, such actions could have on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In July 2010, the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or Dodd-Frank, was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law. Certain aspects of Dodd-Frank provide strengthened regulations for business activities we are engaged in. For example, Dodd-Frank contains laws affecting the securitization of mortgages with requirements for risk retention by originators and/or sponsors of mortgage securitization and laws affecting credit rating agencies. We are unable to predict at this time how this legislation, as well as other laws that may be adopted in the future, will impact the environment for financing and investing for CMBS and/or mortgage loans, the securitization industry, interest rate swaps and other derivatives as much of the Dodd-Frank's implementation will likely require numerous implementing regulations and other rulemaking by government regulators. However, at minimum, we believe that Dodd-Frank and the regulations to be promulgated thereunder are likely to increase the economic and compliance costs for participants in the mortgage and securitization industries, including us.
In the judgment of management, existing statutes and regulations have not had a material adverse effect on our business. However, it is not possible to forecast the nature of future legislation, regulations, judicial decisions, orders or interpretations, nor their impact upon our future business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects.
We have in the past been subject to significant competition in seeking real estate investments. Historically, we have competed with many third parties engaged in real estate investment activities including other REITs, specialty finance companies, savings and loan associations, banks, mortgage bankers, insurance companies, mutual funds, private institutional funds, hedge funds, private opportunity funds, investment banking firms, CMBS lenders, governmental bodies and other entities. In addition, there are other REITs with asset investment objectives similar to ours and others may be organized in the future, and in 2009 three commercial finance REITs with strategies similar to ours went public. Some of these competitors, including larger REITs and the recently-public REITs with no legacy asset issues, have substantially greater financial resources than we do and generally may be able to accept more risk. They may also enjoy significant competitive advantages that result from, among other things, a lower cost of capital and enhanced operating efficiencies.
Additionally, future competition from new market entrants may limit the number of suitable investment opportunities offered to us. It may also result in higher prices, lower yields and a narrower spread of yields over our borrowing costs, making it more difficult for us to acquire new investments on attractive terms.
As of December 31, 2010, NorthStar had 91 employees. Management believes that a major strength of NorthStar is the quality and dedication of our people. We strive to maintain a work environment that fosters professionalism, excellence, diversity and cooperation among our employees.
Corporate Governance and Internet Address
We emphasize the importance of professional business conduct and ethics through our corporate governance initiatives. Our Board of Directors consists of a majority of independent directors; the audit, nominating and corporate governance, and compensation committees of our Board of Directors are composed exclusively of independent directors. We have adopted corporate governance guidelines and a code of business conduct and ethics, which delineate our standards for our officers, directors and employees.
Our internet address is www.nrfc.com. The information on our website is not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We make available, free of charge through a link on our site, our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to such reports, if any, as filed with the SEC, as soon as reasonably practicable after such filing. Our site also contains our code of business conduct and ethics, code of ethics for senior financial officers, corporate governance guidelines, and the charters of our audit committee, nominating and corporate governance committee and compensation committee of our Board of Directors. Within the time period required by the rules of the SEC and the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, we will post on our website any amendment to our code of business conduct and ethics and our code of ethics for senior financial officers as defined in the code.
Our business is subject to a number of risks that are substantial and inherent in our business. This section describes some of the more important risks that we face, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and future prospects. The risk factors set forth in this section could cause our actual results to differ significantly from those contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In connection with the forward-looking statements that appear in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, you should carefully review the factors discussed below and the cautionary statements referred to under "Forward-Looking Statements."
The commercial real estate finance industry has been and may continue to be adversely affected by conditions in the global financial markets and economic conditions in the U.S. generally.
The U.S. economy is continuing to experience high unemployment and low economic growth compared to historical periods. These conditions were precipitated by the collapse of the U.S. residential real estate sector in 2007, and continue to have a negative impact on commercial real estate fundamentals. During 2010, liquidity began to return to commercial real estate debt and equity markets despite these poor economic conditions; however, many investors remain cautious in providing capital to legacy commercial real estate finance companies, like us, until the economic outlook becomes clearer. Although we are hopeful that the financial markets will continue to improve, a worsening of these conditions would likely exacerbate any adverse effects the market environment may have on us, on others in the commercial real estate finance industry and on commercial real estate generally.
Liquidity is essential to our businesses and we rely on outside sources of capital that have been severely impacted by the recent economic recession.
We require significant outside capital to fund our businesses. A primary source of liquidity for us has been the equity and debt capital markets, including issuances of common equity, preferred equity, trust preferred securities and convertible senior notes. When the subprime residential lending and single family housing market collapse quickly spread broadly into the capital markets, our business was adversely affected, including due to the lack of access to capital and prohibitively high costs of obtaining capital. Since 2008, most of our new investment activities have been funded using proceeds from repayments and sales of investments within our portfolio. Although investor interest in real estate improved during 2010, we do not know whether any sources of capital will be available to us in the future on terms that are acceptable to us, if at all. If we cannot obtain sufficient capital on acceptable terms, our business and our ability to operate will be severely impacted. For information about our available sources of funds, see "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsLiquidity and Capital Resources" and the notes to the consolidated financial statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We also depend on external sources of capital because the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, requires that a REIT distribute 90% of its taxable income to its shareholders, including taxable income where we do not receive corresponding cash. We intend to distribute all or substantially all of our REIT taxable income in order to comply with the REIT distribution requirements of the Code.
Our exchangeable senior notes are recourse obligations to us.
As of December 31, 2010, the amount outstanding under our exchangeable senior notes was $128.9 million. These amounts are full recourse obligations of the company. If we are not able to extend, refinance or repurchase the indebtedness, we may not have the ability to repay these amounts when they come due. Our inability to repay any of our exchangeable senior notes could cause the acceleration of the indebtedness, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.
Our exchangeable senior notes contain cross- acceleration provisions.
Our indentures governing our exchangeable senior notes contain cross-acceleration provisions whereby a default under one agreement could result in a default and acceleration of indebtedness under other agreements. If a cross-acceleration were to occur, we may not be able to pay our debts or access capital from external sources in order to refinance our debts. If some or all of our debt obligations default and it causes a default under other indebtedness, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Our CDOs have certain coverage tests that are required to be met in order for payments to be made to our subordinate bonds and equity notes. Failing coverage tests could significantly impact our cash flow and overall liquidity position.
Our CDOs generally require that the underlying collateral and cash flow generated by the collateral to be in excess of ratios stipulated in the related indentures. These ratios are called overcollateralization, or OC, and interest coverage, or IC, tests and are used primarily to determine whether and to what extent principal and interest proceeds on the underlying collateral debt securities and other assets may be used to pay principal of, and interest on, the subordinate classes of bonds in the CDOs. Uncured defaults on commercial real estate loans and rating agency downgrades on commercial real estate securities are the primary causes for decreases in the OC and IC ratios. In the event these tests are not met, cash that would normally be distributed to us would be used to amortize the senior notes until the financing is back in compliance with the tests. Additionally, we may elect to buy assets out of our CDOs in order to preserve cash flow, which could have a significant impact on our liquidity. As of December 31, 2010 we were in compliance with all of the OC and IC tests in our CDOs, except for N-Star Real Estate CDO II and the CSE RE 2006-A CDO. Nonetheless, we expect that weak economic conditions, lack of capital for "legacy" commercial real estate and credit ratings downgrades of real estate securities will make complying with OC and IC tests more difficult in the future. Our failure to satisfy the coverage tests could adversely affect our operating results, liquidity and cash flows.
The reinvestment period for certain of our CDOs will expire in 2011.
The reinvestment periods, which allow us to reinvest principal payments on the underlying assets into qualifying replacement collateral, for our N-Star Real Estate CDO VI and N-Star Real Estate CDO VII, will each expire in June 2011. The CDO notes have a stated maturity in June 2041 and June 2051, respectively, although the actual life of the notes are expected to be substantially shorter. The reinvestment periods have already expired for our N-Star Real Estate CDO I and N-Star Real Estate CDO II, in 2003 and 2004, respectively, and for our N-Star Real Estate CDO III, N-Star REL CDO IV and N-Star Real Estate CDO V, in 2010. Since we will be unable to reinvest principal in these
CDOs, principal repayments will pay down the senior-most notes, which will de-lever the CDO and negatively impact our return on equity. Additionally, our ability to reinvest has been important in maintaining OC and IC ratios. Following the conclusion of the reinvestment period in a CDO, our ability to maintain the OC and IC ratios will be negatively impacted.
We retain the subordinate classes of bonds and equity notes in the CDOs that we have issued, which entails certain risks, including that subordinate classes of bonds and equity notes in the CDOs receive distributions only if the CDO generates enough income to pay all of the other bond classes.
The subordinate classes of bonds and equity notes that we retain in the CDOs that we have issued represent leveraged investments in the underlying assets. Various classes of securities participate in the income stream in CDOs and distributions on subordinate classes of bonds and equity notes are generally made only after payment of interest on, and principal of, the senior bond classes. Although generally there is no interest or principal due on the equity notes, distributions may be made to holders of the subordinate classes of bonds and equity notes on each payment date after all of the other required payments are made on each payment date. There will be little or no income available to the subordinate classes of bonds and equity notes if there are defaults by the obligors under the underlying collateral and those defaults exceed a certain amount. In that event, the value of our investment in the CDO could decrease quickly and substantially. There can be no assurance that after making required payments on the senior bond classes there will be any remaining funds available to pay us. Accordingly, our subordinate classes of bonds and equity notes may not be paid in full and we may be subject to a loss of all of our interest in the event that payments are not made on the underlying assets or losses are incurred with respect to the underlying assets, which could have a material adverse effect on us.
A payment default on bonds underlying one of our CDOs could have a compounding effect on our other CDOs.
Certain of our CDOs have invested in bonds issued by other CDOs that we created and manage. Such investments expose us to increased risk, as potential defaults in any particular CDO would also affect other CDOs that own bonds in the CDO that experiences defaults. Defaults across certain of our CDOs could, therefore, have a material impact on the cash flow of other CDOs that we own that may not have otherwise had such an impact.
We are unable to complete additional CDOs due to the collapse of the credit markets.
We historically accessed the asset-backed markets to match-fund our real estate debt investments with non-recourse, term debt liabilities which were structured as CDOs. When the subprime residential lending and single family housing market collapse quickly spread broadly into the capital markets in 2007, the resulting investor concerns surrounding the real estate markets and the asset-backed markets generally, among other things, left no liquidity available through the issuance of new CDOs. Although the general economic condition began to improve during 2010, there has been no successful CDO financing since the collapse of the credit markets in 2007. Issuing CDOs was a critical part of our overall business plan and we currently believe that CDOs will not be available for the foreseeable future, if ever.
The documentation governing our CDOs is complex.
The operation of each of our CDOs is governed by an indenture, collateral management agreement and other documentation. The documents are complex and collectively describe the conditions upon which we can sell assets and reinvest principal proceeds and set forth covenants and other provisions to which we and the CDOs are subject. As described above, our ability to sell certain assets and reinvest proceeds is instrumental in maintaining the IC and OC ratios. In certain circumstances the performance of the underlying CDO collateral has raised ambiguities in both our and
other CDO documentation. Although we have as a general matter been able to reach agreement with our CDO trustees as to how the CDO documentation should be interpreted, it is possible that we and our CDO trustees may not be able to reach agreement on important CDO documentation provisions in the future. To the extent we and our CDO trustees are unable to resolve any differences in CDO documentation interpretation, or third parties do not agree with conclusions that are reached by us and/or the CDO trustees, our ability to manage the underlying collateral, and thus maintain the IC and OC ratios and otherwise optimize the performance of the CDOs, may be adversely affected.
Continued disruptions in the financial markets and difficult economic conditions could adversely affect the values of investments we made.
Weakened U.S. macroeconomic conditions combined with the recent turmoil in the capital markets, and constrained equity and debt capital available for investment in commercial real estate, have resulted in fewer buyers seeking to acquire commercial properties compared to historic levels. Additionally, these buyers are requiring greater returns and are ascribing lower valuations for commercial real estate properties. Furthermore, difficult economic conditions have, and may in the future, negatively impact commercial real estate fundamentals, which could have adverse effects on the collateral securing our commercial real estate loans.
Adverse economic conditions could significantly reduce the amount of income we earn on our commercial real estate loans.
Adverse economic conditions have caused us to experience an increase in the number of commercial real estate loans that could result in loan delinquencies, foreclosures and nonperforming assets and a decrease in the value of the property or other collateral which secures our commercial real estate loans, all of which could adversely affect our results of operations. Loan defaults result in a decrease in interest income and may require the establishment of, or an increase in, loan loss reserves. The decrease in interest income resulting from a loan default or defaults may be for a prolonged period of time as we seek to recover, primarily through legal proceedings, the outstanding principal balance, accrued interest and default interest due on a defaulted commercial real estate loan, plus the legal costs incurred in pursuing our legal remedies. Legal proceedings, which may include foreclosure actions and bankruptcy proceedings, are expensive and time consuming. The decrease in interest income, and the costs involved in pursuing our legal remedies will reduce the amount of cash available to meet our expenses and adversely impact our liquidity and operating results.
Loan restructurings may reduce our net interest income.
As a result of the adverse economic conditions and difficult conditions that we experienced in the commercial real estate market, we continue to restructure loans. In order to preserve long-term value, we are often required to lower the interest rate on our loans in connection with a restructuring, which ultimately reduces our net interest income. Although the commercial mortgage-backed securities markets are beginning to recover, we expect loan restructurings where we reduce interest rates to continue, which will have an adverse impact on our net interest margin.
Our borrowers were unable to achieve their business plans due to the difficult economic environment and strain on commercial real estate, which has caused stress in our commercial real estate loan portfolio.
Many of our commercial real estate loans were made to borrowers who had business plans to improve occupancy and cash flows that have not been accomplished due to the economic recession. The economic recession created a number of obstacles to borrowers attempting to achieve their business plans, including lower occupancy rates and lower lease rates across all property types, which continues to be exacerbated by high unemployment and overall financial uncertainty. If borrowers are
unable to achieve their business plans, the related commercial real estate loans could go into default and severely impact our operating results and cash flows.
Many of our commercial real estate loans are funded with interest reserves and our borrowers may be unable to replenish those interest reserves once they run out.
Given the transitional nature of many of our commercial real estate loans, we required borrowers to pre-fund reserves to cover interest and operating expenses until the property cash flows were projected to increase sufficiently to cover debt service costs. We also generally required the borrower to replenish reserves if they became deficient due to underperformance or if the borrower wanted to exercise extension options under the loan. Despite low interest rates, revenues on the properties underlying commercial real estate loans decreased in the recent economic environment, which made it more difficult for borrowers to meet their payment obligations to us. In fact, many of our borrowers only met their obligations to us because of the reserves we set up at the outset of our loans. We expect that in the future many of the reserves will run out and some of our borrowers will have difficulty servicing our debt and will not have sufficient capital to replenish reserves, which could have a significant impact on our operating results and cash flow.
Our mortgage loans, mezzanine loans, participation interests in mortgage and mezzanine loans, real estate securities and preferred equity investments have been and may continue to be adversely affected by widening credit spreads.
Our investments in commercial real estate loans and real estate securities are subject to changes in credit spreads. When credit spreads widen, which was the case in 2008 and early 2009, the economic value of existing loans decreases. Although credit spreads decreased in 2010, if a lender were to originate a loan today, such loan would likely still carry a greater credit spread than that attributable to many of the loans that we originated. Even though a loan may be performing in accordance with its loan agreement and the underlying collateral has not changed, the economic value of the loan may be negatively impacted by the incremental interest foregone from the widened credit spread. Although credit spreads tightened in 2010 and into early 2011, the economic value of our commercial real estate loan portfolio and our real estate securities portfolio has been significantly impacted by credit spread widening.
Loan repayments are unlikely in the current market environment.
In the past, a source of liquidity for us was the voluntary repayment of loans. Because the CMBS market has just recently begun to recover and traditional commercial real estate lenders severely curtailed their lending between mid-2007 and 2009, resulting in a severe shortage of debt capital for real estate investors and those needing to refinance maturing loans, real estate owners are having difficulty refinancing their assets at maturity. If borrowers are not able to refinance loans at their maturity, the loans could go into default and the liquidity that we would receive from such repayments will not be available. Furthermore, without a functioning commercial real estate finance market, borrowers that are performing on their loans will almost certainly extend such loans if they have that right, which will further delay our ability to access liquidity through repayments.
Higher loan loss reserves are expected if economic conditions do not improve significantly.
If the U.S. economy does not improve significantly, we will likely continue to experience significant loan loss provisions, defaults and asset impairment charges in 2011. Borrowers may also be less able to pay principal and interest on loans if the economy does not continue to strengthen and they continue to experience financial stress. Declines in real property values also increased loan-to-value ratios on our loans and, therefore, weakened our collateral coverage and increased the likelihood of higher loan loss
provisions. A continuing period of increased defaults and foreclosures would adversely affect our interest income, financial condition, business prospects and our cash flows.
Loan loss reserves are difficult to estimate in a turbulent economic environment.
Our loan loss reserves are evaluated on a quarterly basis. Our determination of loan loss reserves requires us to make certain estimates and judgments, which have been, and may continue to be, difficult to determine in turbulent economic conditions. While the overall economy has seen some signs of growth, our estimates and judgments are based on a number of factors, including projected cash flows from the collateral securing our commercial real estate loans, loan structure, including the availability of reserves and recourse guarantees, likelihood of repayment in full at the maturity of a loan, potential for refinancing and expected market discount rates for varying property types, which remain uncertain. Our estimates and judgments may not be correct and, therefore, our results of operations and financial condition could be severely impacted.
Furthermore, in the current commercial real estate environment, in order to maximize value we may be more likely to extend and work out a loan, rather than pursue foreclosure. However, in situations where there are multiple creditors in large capital structures, it can be particularly difficult to assess the most likely course of action that a lender group or the borrower may take. Consequently, there could be a wide range of potential principal recovery outcomes, the timing of which can be unpredictable, based on the strategy pursued by a lender group and/or by a borrower. These multiple creditor situations tend to be associated with our larger loans. We, as one of a group of lenders, are often a lender on a subordinated basis, and do not independently control the decision making. Risks associated with our largest multiple creditor loans include:
East Rutherford, NJ Retail Construction First Mortgage Loan. We own a 22% interest held in Meadowlands One, LLC that is secured by a retail/entertainment complex located in East Rutherford, NJ ("NJ Property"), and the lender group is in the process of seeking to recapitalize the NJ Property. While the lender group has selected a developer to complete the NJ Property, there is no assurance that a recapitalization will be completed or that a recapitalization will be completed on terms acceptable to us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
Las Vegas, NV Casino/Hotel Mezzanine Loan. We own an $89 million mezzanine loan (the "NV Loan") that is secured by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV (the "Hard Rock"). We, along with certain of the other lenders, and the borrower and its affiliates under the NV Loan, have entered into a term sheet that provides for a long-term restructuring of the NV Loan. As part of the restructuring, it is expected that Brookfield will take ownership of the Hard Rock and will enter into a seven-year loan with the existing senior lender, subject to achieving certain tests, and we will retain our $89 million mezzanine loan (or its economic equivalent), as well as an equity participation in the Hard Rock. There is no assurance that the restructuring will be completed or, if completed, that it will be successful over time. Accordingly, we may lose all of our investment, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
The mortgage loans we originate and invest in and the commercial mortgage loans underlying the mortgage-backed securities we invest in are subject to risks of delinquency, foreclosure, loss and bankruptcy of the borrower under the loan. If the borrower defaults, it may result in losses to us.
Mortgage loans are secured by real estate and are subject to risks of delinquency, foreclosure, loss and bankruptcy of the borrower, all of which are and will continue to be prevalent if the overall economic environment does not continue to improve significantly. The ability of a borrower to repay a loan secured by real estate is typically dependent primarily upon the successful operation of such property rather than upon the existence of independent income or assets of the borrower. If the net
operating income of the property is reduced, the borrower's ability to repay the loan may be impaired. Net operating income of a property can be affected by, among other things:
Any one or a combination of these factors may cause a borrower to default on a loan or to declare bankruptcy. If a default or bankruptcy occurs and the underlying asset value is less than the loan amount, we will suffer a loss.
Additionally, we may suffer losses for a number of reasons, including the following, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial performance.
during the during the recent economic recession. Mezzanine loans are subject to the additional risk that other lenders may be directly secured by the real estate assets of the borrowing entity.
The subordinate mortgage notes, participation interests in mortgage notes, mezzanine loans and preferred equity investments we have originated and invested in may be subject to risks relating to the structure and terms of the transactions, as well as subordination in bankruptcy, and there may not be sufficient funds or assets remaining to satisfy our investments, which may result in losses to us.
We have focused on originating, structuring and acquiring senior and subordinate debt investments secured primarily by commercial properties, including first lien mortgage loans, junior participations in first lien mortgage loans, which are often referred to as B-Notes, second lien mortgage loans, mezzanine loans and preferred equity interests in borrowers who own such properties. These investments may be subordinate to other debt on commercial property and are secured by subordinate rights to the commercial property or by equity interests in the commercial entity. If a borrower defaults or declares bankruptcy, after senior obligations are met, there may not be sufficient funds or assets remaining to satisfy our subordinate interests. Because each transaction is privately negotiated, subordinate investments can vary in their structural characteristics and lender rights. Our rights to control the default or bankruptcy process following a default will vary from transaction to transaction. The subordinate investments that we originate and invest in may not give us the right to demand foreclosure as a subordinate real estate debtholder. Furthermore, the presence of intercreditor agreements may limit our ability to amend our loan documents, assign our loans, accept prepayments, exercise our remedies and control decisions made in bankruptcy proceedings relating to borrowers. Similarly, a majority of the participating lenders may be able to take actions to which we object but to which we will be bound. Certain transactions that we have originated and invested in could be particularly difficult, time consuming and costly to workout because of their complicated structure and the diverging interests of all the various classes of debt in the capital structure of a given asset.
Our control over management for our CSE RE 2006-A CDO loans is governed by contractual agreements with CapitalSource Inc., which may limit our control of certain loans.
In certain circumstances under the CSE RE 2006-A CDO, we are required to seek approval from CapitalSource prior to taking actions with respect to the loans comprising the CSE RE 2006-A CDO, which may hinder our ability to enforce the loan or to foreclose upon the collateral securing the loan or otherwise exercise remedies that we believe are appropriate.
We are subject to risks associated with construction lending, such as declining real estate values, cost over-runs and delays in completion.
Our commercial real estate loan assets include loans made to developers to construct prospective projects. The primary risks to us of construction loans are the potential for cost over-runs, the developer's failing to meet a project delivery schedule and the inability of a borrower to sell or refinance the project at completion and repay our commercial real estate loan due to declining real estate values. These risks could cause us to have to fund more money than we originally anticipated in order to complete the project. We may also suffer losses on our commercial real estate loans if the borrower is unable to sell the project or refinance our commercial real estate loan.
In addition to risks associated with the United States economy generally, we are subject to risks associated with economic conditions in Germany with respect to one of our loans.
We own a €43.3 million participation in a mezzanine loan that is collateralized by a German retail portfolio that is net leased to a single tenant, or the German Loan. Accordingly, economic conditions in Germany could have a direct impact on the German Loan. The German Loan was restructured in 2010; however, there can be no assurance that the restructuring will be successful over time and that the German Loan will not default in the future.
We have and may continue to invest in CMBS, including subordinate securities, which entail certain risks.
CMBS are generally securities backed by obligations (including certificates of participation in obligations) that are principally secured by mortgages on real property or interests therein having a commercial or multifamily use, such as regional malls, other retail space, office buildings, industrial or warehouse properties, hotels, apartment buildings, nursing homes and senior living centers, and may include, without limitation, CMBS conduit securities, CMBS credit tenant lease securities, CMBS large loan securities and synthetic securities. We invest in a variety of CMBS, including CMBS which are subject to the first risk of loss if any losses are realized on the underlying mortgage loans. CMBS entitle the holders thereof to receive payments that depend primarily on the cash flow from a specified pool of commercial or multifamily mortgage loans. Consequently, CMBS will be affected by payments, defaults, delinquencies and losses on the underlying commercial real estate loans, which began to increase significantly toward the end of 2008 and are expected to continue into 2011. Furthermore, if the rental and leasing markets do not continue to improve, including reduced occupancy rates and reduced market rental rates, it could reduce cash flow from the loan pools underlying our CMBS investments.
Additionally, CMBS are subject to particular risks, including lack of standardized terms and payment of all or substantially all of the principal only at maturity rather than regular amortization of principal. Additional risks may be presented by the type and use of a particular commercial property. Commercial property values and net operating income are subject to volatility, which may result in net operating income becoming insufficient to cover debt service on the related commercial real estate loan. The repayment of loans secured by income-producing properties is typically dependent upon the successful operation of the related real estate project rather than upon the liquidation value of the underlying real estate. Furthermore, the net operating income from and value of any commercial property are subject to various risks. The exercise of remedies and successful realization of liquidation proceeds relating to CMBS may be highly dependent on the performance of the servicer or special servicer. Expenses of enforcing the underlying commercial real estate loans (including litigation expenses) and expenses of protecting the properties securing the commercial real estate loans may be substantial. Consequently, in the event of a default or loss on one or more commercial real estate loans contained in a securitization, we may not recover our investment.
The mortgage-backed securities in which we may invest are subject to the risks of the mortgage securities market as a whole and risks of the securitization process.
The value of mortgage-backed securities may change due to shifts in the market's perception of issuers and regulatory or tax changes adversely affecting the mortgage securities market as a whole. Mortgage-backed securities are also subject to several risks created through the securitization process. Subordinate mortgage-backed securities are paid interest only to the extent that there are funds available to make payments. To the extent the collateral pool includes delinquent loans, there is a risk that the interest payment on subordinate mortgage-backed securities will not be fully paid. Subordinate mortgage-backed securities are also subject to greater credit risk than those mortgage-backed securities that are more highly rated.
Interest shortfalls on the CMBS that we own could have an adverse impact on the cash flow in our securities CDOs.
Our CMBS securities are subject to the risk of interest payment shortfalls on the CMBS that we own. These interest shortfalls may arise from underlying loan defaults, appraisal reductions, special-servicer workout fees, and realized losses on liquidation of foreclosed properties. We attempt to mitigate these losses by purchasing bonds with sufficient credit enhancement to avoid such shortfalls. However, there can be no assurance that such interest shortfalls will not continue to increase in the future.
We may not control the special servicing of the mortgage loans included in the CMBS in which we invest and, in such cases, the special servicer may take actions that could adversely affect our interests.
With respect to each series of CMBS in which we invest, overall control over the special servicing of the related underlying mortgage loans may be held by a directing certificateholder, which is appointed by the holders of the most subordinate class of CMBS in such series. We ordinarily do not have the right to appoint the directing certificateholder. In connection with the servicing of the specially serviced mortgage loans, the related special servicer may, at the direction of the directing certificateholder, take actions that could adversely affect our interests.
The CMBS market was severely impacted by the recent economic recession, which had a negative impact on the CMBS that we own.
Because the CMBS markets were virtually closed and other participants in the commercial real estate lending drastically curtailed lending activity during the economic recession, real estate owners had difficulty refinancing their assets. Property values also decreased over the past couple of years because of scarcity of financing, which, if it was available, had terms generally at much lower leverage and higher cost than available in prior years. Although the consumer asset-backed debt and equity markets began to recover during 2009 and continued to improve during 2010, macroeconomic indicators remain weak and uncertainty regarding future economic conditions may continue to impact commercial real estate values. These conditions, together with wide-spread downgrades of CMBS by the rating agencies, significantly higher risk premiums required by investors and uncertainty surrounding commercial real estate generally, have had, and may continue to have, a negative impact on CMBS and have significantly decreased the value of most of the CMBS that we own from the time we purchased the CMBS, other than, for the most part, CMBS purchased in 2009 and 2010.
Credit ratings assigned to our investments are subject to ongoing evaluations and we cannot assure you that the ratings currently assigned to our investments will not be downgraded.
Some of our investments are rated by Moody's Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and/or Standard & Poor's Rating Services, Inc. The rating agencies have changed their ratings methodologies for all securitized asset classes, including commercial real estate, in light of questionable ratings previously assigned to residential mortgage portfolios. Their reviews have resulted in, and may continue to result in, large amounts of ratings downgrade actions for CMBS, negatively impacting market values of CMBS and in many cases negatively impacting our CDOs. If rating agencies assign a lower-than-expected rating or reduce, or indicate that they may reduce, their ratings of our investments in the future, the value of these investments could significantly decline, which may impact our CDOs and may have an adverse affect on our financial condition.
Market conditions in 2008 and early 2009 have caused and may continue to cause uncertainty in valuing our real estate securities.
The market volatility and the lack of liquidity in 2008 and 2009 made the valuation process pertaining to certain of our assets extremely difficult, particularly our CMBS assets for which there was limited market activity. Historically, our estimate of the value of these investments was primarily based on active issuances and the secondary trading market of such securities as compiled and reported by independent pricing agencies. Although the current market environment has improved with some new issuances and increased secondary trading of CMBS, there continues to be uncertainty in the market and trading is limited. Therefore, our estimate of fair value, which is based on the notion of orderly market transactions, requires significant judgment and consideration of other indicators of value such as current interest rates, relevant market indices, broker quotes, expected cash flows and other relevant market and security-specific data as appropriate. The amount that we could obtain if we were forced to liquidate our securities portfolio into the current market could be materially different than management's best estimate of fair value.
Our investments in REIT securities are subject to risks relating to the particular REIT issuer of the securities and to the general risks of investing in senior unsecured real estate securities, which may result in losses to us.
In addition to general economic and market risks, our investments in REIT securities involve special risks relating to the particular issuer of the securities, including the financial condition and business outlook of the issuer. REITs generally are required to substantially invest in real estate or real estate-related assets and are subject to the inherent risks associated with real estate-related investments.
Our investments in REIT securities and other senior unsecured debt are also subject to the risks described above with respect to commercial real estate loans and mortgage-backed securities and similar risks, including risks of delinquency and foreclosure, the dependence upon the successful operation of, and net income from, real property, risks generally related to interests in real property, and risks that may be presented by the type and use of a particular commercial property.
REIT securities are generally unsecured and may also be subordinate to other obligations of the issuer. We may also invest in securities that are rated below investment-grade. As a result, investments in REIT securities are also subject to risks of:
These risks may adversely affect the value of outstanding REIT securities we hold and the ability of the issuers thereof to repay principal and interest or make distributions.
Investments in net lease properties may generate losses.
The value of our investments and the income from our investments in net lease properties may be significantly adversely affected by a number of factors, including:
We may obtain only limited warranties when we purchase a property, which will increase the risk that we may lose some or all of our invested capital in the property or rental income from the property which, in turn, could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results from operations and our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders.
The seller of a property often sells such property in its "as is" condition on a "where is" basis and "with all faults," without any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular use or purpose. In addition, purchase and sale agreements may contain only limited warranties, representations and indemnifications that will only survive for a limited period after the closing. The purchase of properties with limited warranties increases the risk that we may lose some or all of our invested capital in the property, as well as the loss of rental income from that property if an issue should arise that decreases the value of that property and is not covered by the limited warranties or any such issue arises after the survival period of the relevant indemnification provision. If any of these results occur, it may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders.
Our investments in net lease properties and a substantial portion of our healthcare business is dependent upon tenants successfully operating their businesses and their failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
We depend on our tenants to manage the day-to-day operations of our net lease properties and our senior housing facilities in a manner which generates revenues sufficient to allow them to meet their obligations to us, including their obligations to pay rent, maintain certain insurance coverage, pay real estate taxes and maintain the facilities under their operational control in a manner so as not to jeopardize their operating licenses or regulatory status. The ability of our tenants to fulfill their obligations to us may depend, in part, upon the overall profitability of their operations, including any other facilities, properties or businesses they may acquire or operate. The cash flow generated by the operation of our facilities may not be sufficient for a tenant to meet its obligations to us. Our financial position could be weakened and our ability to fulfill our obligations under our indebtedness could be limited if our tenants are unable to meet their obligations to us or we fail to renew or extend our contractual relationship with any of our tenants. Any of these results could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
The bankruptcy, insolvency or financial deterioration of any of our tenants could significantly delay our ability to collect unpaid rents or require us to find new tenants.
Our financial position and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders may be adversely affected by financial difficulties experienced by any of our major operators, including bankruptcy, insolvency or a general downturn in the business, or in the event any of our major tenants do not renew or extend their relationship with us as their lease terms expire.
We are exposed to the risk that our tenants may not be able to meet their obligations, which may result in their bankruptcy or insolvency. Although our leases and loans provide us the right to terminate an investment, evict a tenant, demand immediate repayment and other remedies, the bankruptcy laws afford certain rights to a party that has filed for bankruptcy or reorganization. A tenant in bankruptcy may be able to restrict our ability to collect unpaid rents or interest during the bankruptcy proceeding. Furthermore, dealing with a tenant's bankruptcy or other default may divert management's attention and cause us to incur substantial legal and other costs.
The Bankruptcy Code provides that a debtor has the option to assume or reject an unexpired lease within a certain period of time of filing for bankruptcy, but generally requires such assumption or rejection to be made in its entirety. Most of our healthcare properties are and will be net-leased to a tenant operating multiple facilities pursuant to a single master lease. If one or more of our healthcare property tenants files for bankruptcy relief, it is possible that in bankruptcy the debtor may be required to assume or reject the master lease in its entirety, rather than making the decision on a property-by-property basis, thereby preventing the debtor from assuming the better performing properties and terminating the master lease with respect to the poorer performing properties. Thus, a debtor cannot choose to keep the beneficial provisions of a contract while rejecting the burdensome ones; the contract must be assumed or rejected as a whole. However, where under applicable law a contract (even though it is contained in a single document) is determined to be divisible or severable into different agreements, or similarly, where a collection of documents is determined to constitute separate agreements instead of a single, integrated contract, then in those circumstances a debtor/trustee may be allowed to assume some of the divisible or separate agreements while rejecting the others. If the debtor chooses to assume the agreement or if a non-debtor tenant is unable to comply with the terms of an agreement, we may be forced to modify the agreements in ways that are unfavorable to us.
Because real estate investments are relatively illiquid, our ability to promptly sell properties in our portfolio is limited.
The real estate market is affected by many factors, such as general economic conditions, availability of financing, interest rates and other factors, including supply and demand, that are beyond our control. We cannot predict whether we will be able to sell any property for the price or on the terms set by us or whether any price or other terms offered by a prospective purchaser would be acceptable to us. We also cannot predict the length of time needed to find a willing purchaser and to close the sale of a property, Additionally, our healthcare properties are special purpose properties that could not be readily converted to general residential, retail or office use. Transfers of operations of healthcare properties are subject to regulatory approvals not required for transfers of other types of commercial operations and other types of real estate. To the extent we are unable to sell any properties for its book value or at all, we may be required to take a non-cash impairment charge or loss on the sale, either of which would reduce our net income.
We may be required to expend funds to correct defects or to make improvements before a property can be sold. We cannot assure you that we will have funds available to correct those defects or to make those improvements. We may agree to transfer restrictions that materially restrict us from selling that property for a period of time or impose other restrictions, such as a limitation on the amount of debt that can be placed or repaid on that property. These transfer restrictions would impede
our ability to sell a property even if we deem it necessary or appropriate. These facts and any others that would impede our ability to respond to adverse changes in the performance of our properties may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
We may not be able to relet or renew leases at the properties held by us on terms favorable to us.
Our net leased assets have been negatively impacted by the economic recession and will continue to be pressured if our economic conditions and rental markets do not continue to show improvement. Upon expiration or earlier termination of leases for space located at our properties, the space may not be relet or, if relet, the terms of the renewal or reletting (including the cost of required renovations or concessions to tenants) may be less favorable than current lease terms. Poor economic conditions would likely reduce tenants' ability to make rent payments in accordance with the contractual terms of their leases and lead to early termination of leases. Furthermore, corporate space needs may contract resulting in lower lease renewal rates and longer releasing periods when leases are not renewed. Any of these situations may result in extended periods where there is a significant decline in revenues or no revenues generated by a property. Additionally, to the extent that market rental rates are reduced, property-level cash flows would likely be negatively affected as existing leases renew at lower rates. If we are unable to relet or renew leases for all or substantially all of the space at these properties, if the rental rates upon such renewal or reletting are significantly lower than expected, or if our reserves for these purposes prove inadequate, we will experience a reduction in net income and may be required to reduce or eliminate distributions to our stockholders.
We may become responsible for capital improvements. To the extent such capital improvements are not undertaken, the ability of our tenants to manage our facilities effectively and on favorable terms may be affected, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business, financial conditions and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Although under our typical triple net lease structure our tenants are generally responsible for capital improvement expenditures, it is possible that a tenant may not be able to fulfill its obligations to keep the facility in good operating condition. To the extent capital improvements are not undertaken or are deferred, occupancy rates and the amount of rental and reimbursement income generated by the facility may decline, which would impact the overall value of the affected senior housing facility. Any of these results could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Lease defaults or terminations or landlord-tenant disputes may adversely reduce our income from our net lease property portfolio.
Lease defaults or terminations by one or more tenants may reduce our revenues unless a default is cured or a suitable replacement tenant is found promptly. The creditworthiness of our tenants in our net leased assets, could be significantly impacted, which could result in their inability to meet the terms of their leases. In addition, disputes may arise between the landlord and tenant that result in the tenant withholding rent payments, possibly for an extended period. These disputes may lead to litigation or other legal procedures to secure payment of the rent withheld or to evict the tenant. Any of these situations may result in extended periods during which there is a significant decline in revenues or no revenues generated by a property. If this were to occur, it could adversely affect our results of operations.
Environmental compliance costs and liabilities associated with our properties or our real estate related investments may materially impair the value of our investments.
Under various federal, state and local environmental laws, ordinances and regulations, a current or previous owner or operator of real property, such as us and our tenants, may be liable in certain circumstances for the costs of investigation, removal or remediation of, or related releases of, certain hazardous or toxic substances, including materials containing asbestos, at, under or disposed of in connection with such property, as well as certain other potential costs relating to hazardous or toxic substances, including government fines and damages for injuries to persons and adjacent property. In addition, some environmental laws create a lien on the contaminated site in favor of the government for damages and the costs it incurs in connection with the contamination. Such laws often impose liability without regard to whether the owner knew of, or was responsible for, the presence or disposal of such substances and liability may be imposed on the owner in connection with the activities of a tenant at the property. The presence of contamination or the failure to remediate contamination may adversely affect our or our tenants' ability to sell or lease real estate or to borrow using the real estate as collateral. We, or our tenants, as owner or operator of a site, may be liable under common law to third parties for damages and injuries resulting from environmental contamination emanating from the site. The cost of any required investigation, remediation, removal, fines or personal or property damages and the our or our tenants' liability therefore could exceed the value of the property. In addition, the presence of such substances, or the failure to properly dispose of or remediate such substances, may adversely affect our or our tenants' ability to attract additional residents, ability to sell or rent such property or to borrow using such property as collateral which, in turn, could reduce our revenues.
The scope of the indemnifications our tenants have agreed to provide us may be limited. For instance, some of our agreements with our tenants do not require them to indemnify us for environmental liabilities arising before the tenant took possession of the premises. Further, we cannot assure you that any such tenant would be able to fulfill its indemnification obligations. If we were to be liable for any such environmental liabilities and were unable to seek recovery against our tenant, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Furthermore, we may invest in real estate, or mortgage loans secured by real estate, with environmental problems that materially impair the value of the real estate. There are substantial risks associated with such an investment. We have only limited experience in investing in real estate with environmental liabilities.
Uninsured losses or losses in excess of our, or our tenants', insurance coverage could adversely affect our financial condition and our cash flows.
Although we believe our net leased assets, including our healthcare properties, and properties collateralizing our commercial real estate loan and securities investments are adequately covered by insurance, there are certain types of losses, generally of a catastrophic nature, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, terrorism or acts of war that may be uninsurable or not economically insurable. Inflation, changes in building codes and ordinances, environmental considerations and other factors, including terrorism or acts of war, also might make the insurance proceeds insufficient to repair or replace a property if it is damaged or destroyed. Under such circumstances, the insurance proceeds received might not be adequate to restore our economic position with respect to the affected real property. Any uninsured loss could result in both loss of cash flow from, and the asset value of, the affected property.
As a result of the events of September 11, 2001, insurance companies are limiting and charging significant premiums to cover acts of terrorism in insurance policies. As a result, although we, our tenants and our borrowers may carry terrorism insurance, we may suffer losses from acts of terrorism
that are not covered by insurance. In addition, the commercial real estate loans which are secured by certain of our properties contain customary covenants, including covenants that require us to maintain property insurance in an amount equal to the replacement cost of the properties, which may increase the cost of obtaining the required insurance.
We are named as a defendant in a lawsuit and the adverse resolution of this matter could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
One of our net lease investments was comprised of three office buildings totaling 257,000 square feet located in Chatsworth, CA and was 100% leased to Washington Mutual Bank, FA ("WaMu"). The tenant vacated the buildings as of March 23, 2009, and the leases (the "WaMu Leases") were disaffirmed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or the FDIC. In the third quarter of 2009 the lender, GECCMC 2005-CI Plummer Office Limited Partnership (the "Lender"), foreclosed on the property. On August 10, 2009, the Lender filed a complaint against NRFC NNN Holdings, Inc. ("NNN") and NRFC Sub Investor IV, LLC ("NRFC Sub IV"), which are our subsidiaries, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles. In the complaint, the Lender alleged, among other things, that the WaMu Loan is a recourse obligation of NNN due to the FDIC's disaffirmance of the WaMu Leases. The judge presiding over the lawsuit has entered a judgment against NNN in the amount of approximately $45 million. In January 2011, NNN posted an appeal bond, which is currently collateralized by $26 million of cash, and intends to vigorously pursue an appeal of the decision. An adverse result on appeal would have a material adverse effect on our liquidity and financial condition.
Many of our investments are illiquid, and we may not be able to vary our portfolio in response to further changes in economic and other conditions, which may result in losses to us.
Our investments are relatively illiquid and, therefore, our ability to sell properties, securities or commercial real estate loans in response to changes in economic and other conditions, as we experienced during the economic recession, will be limited, except at distressed prices. The Internal Revenue Code also places limits on our ability to sell properties held for fewer than four years. These considerations could make it difficult for us to dispose of any of our assets even if a disposition were in the best interests of our stockholders. As a result, our ability to vary our portfolio in response to further changes in economic and other conditions may be relatively limited, which may result in losses to us.
We may make investments in assets with lower credit quality, which will increase our risk of losses.
Most of our securities investments have explicit ratings assigned by at least one of the three leading nationally-recognized statistical rating agencies. However, we may invest in unrated securities, enter into net leases with unrated tenants or participate in unrated or distressed mortgage loans. Because the ability of obligors of net leases and mortgages, including mortgages underlying mortgage-backed securities, to make rent or principal and interest payments may be impaired during an economic downtown, as we recently experienced, prices of lower credit quality investments and securities may decline. The existing credit support in the securitization structure may be insufficient to protect us against loss of our principal on these investments and securities. We have not established and do not currently plan to establish any investment criteria to limit our exposure to these risks for future investments.
We have no established investment criteria limiting the geographic concentration of our investments in real estate debt, real estate securities or net lease properties. If our investments are concentrated in an area that experiences adverse economic conditions, our investments may lose value and we may experience losses.
Certain commercial real estate loans and securities in which we invest may be secured by a single property or properties in one geographic location. Additionally, net lease properties that we may acquire may also be located in a geographic cluster. These current and future investments carry the risks associated with significant geographical concentration. We have not established and do not plan to establish any investment criteria to limit our exposure to these risks for future investments. As a result, properties underlying our investments may be overly concentrated in certain geographic areas, and we may experience losses as a result. A worsening of economic conditions in the geographic area in which our investments may be concentrated could have an adverse effect on our business, including reducing the demand for new financings, limiting the ability of customers to pay financed amounts and impairing the value of our collateral.
Our portfolio is highly leveraged, which may adversely affect our return on our investments and may reduce cash available for distribution on our securities.
We leverage our portfolio through borrowings, generally through the use of bank credit facilities, commercial real estate loans, securitizations, including the issuance of CDOs, and other borrowings, many of which are not currently available to us. The type and percentage of leverage varies depending on our ability to obtain credit facilities and the lender's estimate of the stability of the portfolio's cash flow. However, we do not restrict the amount of indebtedness that we may incur. Our return on our investments and cash available for distribution to our stockholders has been reduced because of the recent economic recession, which caused the cost of financing to increase relative to the income that can be derived from our assets. Moreover, we may have to incur more recourse indebtedness in order to obtain financing for our business.
Our joint venture partners could take actions that decrease the value of an investment to us and lower our overall return.
We may enter into joint ventures with third parties to make investments. We may also make investments in partnerships or other co-ownership arrangements or participations. Such investments may involve risks not otherwise present with other methods of investment, including, for example, the following risks:
Any of the above might subject us to liabilities and thus reduce our returns on our investment with that co-venturer or partner.
We are subject to risks associated with owning residential land investments in our LandCap joint venture.
In late 2007, we entered into a joint venture with Whitehall Street Global Real Estate Limited Partnership 2007 to form LandCap Partners, which we refer to as LandCap. The venture is currently managed by a third party. LandCap's investment strategy was to opportunistically invest in single family residential land through land loans, lot option agreements and select land purchases. These investments were expected to generate very little current cash flow and to be held for several years prior to liquidation. We do not expect to provide any new investment capital to LandCap in the future. The
venture will continue to manage existing investments and we do not expect the venture to return capital to us for several years.
Interest rate fluctuations may reduce the spread we earn on our interest-earning investments and may reduce our net income.
Although we seek to match-fund our assets and mitigate the risk associated with future interest rate volatility, we are primarily subject to interest rate risk because we do not hedge our retained equity interest in our floating rate CDOs. If a CDO has floating rate assets, our earnings will generally increase with increases in floating interest rates to the extent such increases do not cause distress for borrowers and our underlying assets are able to provide sufficient cash to pay such higher rates. Conversely, our earnings will generally decrease with declines in floating interest rates. Interest rates are highly sensitive to many factors, including governmental monetary and tax policies, domestic and international economic and political considerations and other factors beyond our control.
Our interest rate risk sensitive assets, liabilities and related derivative positions are generally held for non-trading purposes. As of December 31, 2010, a hypothetical 100 basis point increase in interest rates applied to our variable rate assets would increase our annual interest income by approximately $27.5 million, offset by an increase in our interest expense of approximately $23.7 million on our variable rate liabilities. Similarly, a hypothetical 100 basis point decrease in interest rates would decrease our annual interest income by the same net amount.
Our hedging transactions may limit our gains and could result in losses.
To limit the effects of changes in interest rates on our operations, we may employ hedging strategies, including engaging in interest rate swaps, caps, floors and other interest rate exchange contracts as well as engaging in short sales of securities or of future contracts. The use of these types of derivatives to hedge our assets and liabilities carries certain risks, including the risks that:
Our results of operations may be adversely affected during any period as a result of the use of derivatives. If we anticipate that the income from any such hedging transaction will not be qualifying income for REIT income test purposes, we may conduct some or all of our hedging activities through a corporate subsidiary that would be subject to corporate income taxation.
We may change our investment strategy without stockholder consent and make riskier investments.
We may change our investment strategy at any time without the consent of our stockholders, which could result in our making investments that are different from, and possibly riskier than, the investments described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. A change in our investment strategy may increase our exposure to interest rate and real estate market fluctuations.
We have been, and may in the future be, subject to significant competition, and we may not be able to compete successfully for investments.
We have been, and may in the future be, subject to significant competition for attractive investment opportunities from other real estate investors, some of which have greater financial resources than us, including publicly traded REITs, private REITs, investment banking firms, private institutional funds, hedge funds and private opportunity funds. We may not be able to compete successfully for investments.
Actions of the U.S. Government, including the U.S. Congress, Federal Reserve, U.S. Treasury and other governmental and regulatory bodies for the purpose of stabilizing or reforming the financial markets, or market response to those actions, may adversely affect our business.
In July 2010, the U.S. Congress enacted DoddFrank in part to impose significant investment restrictions and capital requirements on banking entities and other organizations that are significant to U.S. financial markets. For instance, DoddFrank will impose significant restrictions on the proprietary trading activities of certain banking entities and subject other systemically significant organizations regulated by the U.S. Federal Reserve to increased capital requirements and quantitative limits for engaging in such activities. DoddFrank also seeks to reform the assetbacked securitization market (including the CMBS market) by requiring the retention of a portion of the credit risk inherent in the pool of securitized assets and by imposing additional registration and disclosure requirements. DoddFrank also imposes significant regulatory restrictions on the origination of residential mortgage loans. While the full impact of DoddFrank cannot be assessed until implementing regulations are released, DoddFrank's extensive requirements may have a significant effect on the financial markets, and may affect the availability or terms of financing from our lenders and the availability or terms of CMBS, both of which may have an adverse effect on our business.
In addition, U.S. Government, Federal Reserve, U.S. Treasury and other governmental and regulatory bodies have taken or are considering taking other actions to address the causes of the recent economic recession. We cannot predict whether or when such actions may occur or what affect, if any, such actions could have on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The senior living industry is highly competitive and we expect it to become more competitive.
In May 2006, we entered the healthcare-related net lease business by forming a joint venture with Chain Bridge Capital LLC to invest in senior housing and healthcare-related net leased assets, which we refer to as NRF Healthcare, LLC. In 2008, we brought another equity partner, Inland American Real Estate Trust, Inc., or Inland American, into NRF Healthcare, LLC by selling a $100 million preferred membership interest to Inland American, convertible into an approximate 42% interest in NRF Healthcare, LLC. In December 2009, we bought Chain Bridge Capital's interest in NRF Healthcare, LLC and retained certain principals of Chain Bridge who have extensive experience owning and investing in skilled nursing facilities, or SNFs, and assisted living facilities, or ALFs.
In November 2010, we filed a registration statement on Form S-11 for NorthStar Senior Care Trust, Inc., or our Senior Care REIT, a corporation that will not be listed on a major exchange and was formed to originate, acquire and manage a diversified portfolio of debt and equity investments in the healthcare property sector. We expect that if the registration statement filed by our Senior Care REIT is declared effective by the SEC, it would also be managed by us through a subsidiary and we would earn a management fee for our services.
The senior living industry is highly competitive, and we expect that it may become more competitive in the future. The tenants of the facilities we own or lend to compete with numerous other companies that provide long-term care alternatives such as home healthcare agencies, life care at home, facility-based service programs, retirement communities, convalescent centers and other independent
living, assisted living and skilled nursing providers, including not-for-profit entities. In general, regulatory and other barriers to competitive entry in the independent living and assisted living segments of the senior living industry are not substantial, although there are generally barriers to the development of skilled nursing facilities. Consequently, our tenants may encounter increased competition that could limit their ability to attract new residents, raise resident fees or expand their businesses, which could adversely adverse effect our revenues and earnings.
Inland American exercised their convertible preferred membership interest, which will require us to redeem their interest or sell assets of NRF Healthcare, LLC.
In July 2010, we were notified by Inland American that it desires to have NRF Healthcare, LLC engage in a sale process for a portfolio of 34 senior housing properties or otherwise redeem $50 million of Inland American's convertible preferred membership interest by January 9, 2011. NRF Healthcare, LLC has not redeemed $50 million of the Inland American interest and has engaged a broker to sell the 34 property senior housing portfolio. If such portfolio is not sold by October 9, 2011, then Inland American may undertake a sale process for that portfolio. Inland American may also undertake a sale process for all of the assets of NRF Healthcare, LLC beginning August 8, 2011, unless at least $25 million of Inland American's preferred membership interest has been redeemed by June 10, 2011, in which case all future net cash flow to the common members of NRF Healthcare, LLC will be used to redeem the preferred membership interest. On July 8, 2012, if the preferred membership interest has not been redeemed in full, Inland American may sell the assets of NRF Healthcare, LLC. We are currently exploring alternatives for partial and/or full redemption of the preferred membership interest; however, there is no assurance that we will be able to redeem the preferred membership interest and, accordingly, may lose control of the assets in NRF Healthcare, LLC.
Our failure or the failure of our tenants to comply with licensing and certification requirements, the requirements of governmental reimbursement programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, fraud and abuse regulations or new legislative developments may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
We or our tenants, as the case may be, are subject to numerous federal, state and local laws and regulations that are subject to frequent and substantial changes (sometimes applied retroactively) resulting from legislation, adoption of rules and regulations, and administrative and judicial interpretations of existing laws. The ultimate timing or effect of any changes in these laws and regulations cannot be predicted. With respect to senior housing facilities held and operated through net-lease transaction structures, we have no direct control over our tenants' ability to meet the numerous federal, state and local regulatory requirements. Failure to comply with these laws, requirements and regulations may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders. In particular:
standards governing operations. State agencies administering those laws regularly inspect such facilities and investigate complaints. Failure to meet all regulatory requirements could result in the loss of the ability to provide or bill and receive payment for healthcare services. In such event, revenues from those facilities could be reduced or eliminated for an extended period of time or permanently. Transfers of operations of healthcare facilities are subject to regulatory approvals not required for transfers of other types of commercial operations and real estate.
neglect laws); and health standards set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The healthcare industry is heavily regulated. New laws or regulations such as the healthcare reform law and related regulations, changes to existing laws or regulations, loss of licensure or failure to obtain licensure could result in the inability of our tenants to make rent payments to us.
The healthcare industry is heavily regulated by federal, state and local governmental bodies. Healthcare facility operators generally are subject to laws and regulations covering, among other things, licensure, certification for participation in government programs, and relationships with physicians and other referral sources. Changes in these laws and regulations could negatively affect the ability of our tenants to make lease payments to us and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Many of our targeted properties and their operators may require a license or certificate of need, or CON, to operate. Failure to obtain a license or CON, or loss of a required license or CON would prevent a facility from operating in the manner intended by the operator. These events could materially adversely affect our tenants' ability to make rent payments to us. State and local laws also may regulate expansion, including the addition of new beds or services or acquisition of medical equipment, and the construction of healthcare-related facilities, by requiring a CON or other similar approval. State CON laws are not uniform throughout the United States and are subject to change. We cannot predict the impact of state CON laws on our development of facilities or the operations of our tenants.
In addition, state CON laws often materially impact the ability of competitors to enter into the marketplace of our facilities. The repeal of CON laws could allow competitors to freely operate in restricted markets. This could negatively affect our tenants' abilities to make rent payments to us.
In limited circumstances, loss of state licensure or certification or closure of a facility could ultimately result in loss of authority to operate the facility and require new CON authorization to re-institute operations. As a result, a portion of the value of the facility may be reduced, which would adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Recently enacted comprehensive healthcare reform legislation could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to pay distributions to stockholders.
On March 23, 2010, the President signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and on March 30, 2010, the President signed into law the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or the Reconciliation Act, which in part modified the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Together, the two laws serve as the primary vehicle for comprehensive healthcare reform in the U.S. and will become effective through a phased approach, which began in 2010 and will conclude in 2018. The laws are intended to reduce the number of individuals in the U.S. without health insurance and significantly change the means by which healthcare is organized, delivered and reimbursed. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes program integrity provisions that both create new authorities and expand existing authorities for federal and state governments to address fraud, waste and abuse in federal health programs. In addition, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands reporting requirements and responsibilities related to facility ownership and management, patient safety and care quality. In the ordinary course of their businesses, our tenants may be regularly subjected to inquiries, investigations and audits by Federal and State agencies that oversee these laws and regulations. If they do not comply with the additional reporting requirements and responsibilities, our tenants' ability to participate in federal health programs may be adversely affected. Moreover, our tenants could be
required to provide health insurance to a number of additional employees, which in turn could impact such tenants' ability to meet their obligations to us, including their obligations to pay rent, maintain certain insurance coverage, pay real estate taxes and maintain the facilities under their operational control in a manner so as not to jeopardize their operating licenses or regulatory status, and there may be other aspects of the comprehensive healthcare reform legislation for which regulations have not yet been adopted, which, depending on how they are implemented, could materially and adversely affect our tenants, and therefore our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to pay distributions to you.
A significant portion of our leases expire in the same year.
A significant portion of the leases that we have entered into expire in 2017, which coincides with the debt maturities on the properties subject to these leases. As a result, we could be subject to a sudden and material change in value of our healthcare portfolio and available cash flow from our healthcare assets in the event that these leases are not renewed or in the event that we are not able to extend or refinance the loans on the properties that are subject to these leases.
State law may limit the availability of certain types of healthcare facilities for our acquisition or development and may limit our ability to replace obsolete properties.
Certificate-of-Need laws may impose investment barriers for us. Some states regulate the supply of some types of retirement facilities, such as SNFs or ALFs, through Certificate-of-Need laws. A Certificate-of-Need typically is a written statement issued by a state regulatory agency evidencing a community's need for a new, converted, expanded or otherwise significantly modified retirement facility or service which is regulated pursuant to the state's statutes. These restrictions may create barriers to entry or expansion and may limit the availability of properties for our acquisition or development. In addition, we may invest in properties which cannot be replaced if they become obsolete unless such replacement is approved or exempt under a Certificate-of-Need law.
Our investments in healthcare assets are not only subject to many of the same risks as our other net lease properties, but are subject to additional risks specific to the senior living industry.
The value of our investments and the income from our investments in healthcare related net lease properties are subject to many of the same risks associated with our other net lease properties. However, characteristics of the senior living industry subject our healthcare assets to additional risks described in this subsection entitled "Risks Relating to Investments in Healthcare Assets".
Our tenants are faced with increased litigation and rising insurance costs that may affect their ability to make their lease or mortgage payments.
In some states, advocacy groups have been created to monitor the quality of care at healthcare facilities, and these groups have brought litigation against tenants. Also, in several instances, private litigation by patients has succeeded in winning very large damage awards for alleged abuses. The effect of this litigation and potential litigation has been to materially increase the costs incurred by our tenants for monitoring and reporting quality of care compliance. In addition, the cost of liability and medical malpractice insurance has increased and may continue to increase so long as the present litigation environment affecting the operations of healthcare facilities continues. Continued cost increases could cause our tenants to be unable to make their lease or mortgage payments, potentially decreasing our revenue and increasing our collection and litigation costs. Moreover, to the extent we are required to take back the affected facilities, our revenue from those facilities could be reduced or eliminated for an extended period of time.
Events could occur that could adversely affect the ability of seniors to afford the monthly resident fees or entrance fees (including downturns in the economy, housing market, consumer confidence or the equity markets) and, in turn, materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Costs to seniors associated with independent and assisted living services are generally not reimbursable under government reimbursement programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Only seniors with income or assets meeting or exceeding the comparable median in the regions where our facilities are located typically will be able to afford to pay our monthly resident fees. Economic downturns, softness in the housing market, lower levels of consumer confidence, reductions or declining growth of government entitlement programs, such as social security benefits, stock market volatility and changes in demographics could adversely affect the ability of seniors to afford the monthly resident fees or entrance fees for our senior housing facilities. If our tenants are unable to retain and attract seniors with sufficient income, assets or other resources required to pay the fees associated with independent and assisted living services and other services provided by our tenants at our senior housing facilities, our occupancy rates could decline, which could, in turn, materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
The inability of seniors to sell real estate may delay their moving into our residences which could materially adversely affect our occupancy rates and our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Recent housing price declines and reductions in residential mortgage availability have negatively affected the U.S. housing market, with certain geographic areas experiencing more acute deterioration than others. Downturns in the U.S. housing market, such as the one we have recently experienced, could adversely affect the ability (or perceived ability) of seniors to afford entrance fees and resident fees at our senior housing facilities, as potential residents frequently use the proceeds from the sale of their homes to cover the costs of these fees. Specifically, if seniors have a difficult time selling their homes, these difficulties could impact their ability to relocate into our facilities or finance their stays at our facilities. This could cause the amount of our revenues generated by private payment sources to decline. If the recent volatility in the U.S. housing market continues for a protracted period, it could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Government budget deficits could lead to a reduction in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement.
The recent slowdown in the U.S. economy has negatively affected state budgets, which may put pressure on states to decrease reimbursement rates with the goal of decreasing state expenditures under state Medicaid programs. The need to control Medicaid expenditures may be exacerbated by the potential for increased enrollment in state Medicaid programs due to unemployment, declines in family incomes and eligibility expansions required by the recently enacted healthcare reform law. These potential reductions could be compounded by the potential for federal cost-cutting efforts that could lead to reductions in reimbursement rates under both the federal Medicare program and state Medicaid programs. Potential reductions in reimbursements under these programs could negatively impact the ability of our tenants and their ability to meet their obligations to us.
Possible changes in the acuity profile of our residents as well as payor mix and payment methodologies may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
The sources and amounts of our revenues from our healthcare property portfolio are determined by a number of factors, including licensed bed capacity, occupancy, the acuity profile of residents and the rate of reimbursement. Changes in the acuity profile of the residents as well as payor mix among private pay, Medicare and Medicaid may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
The geographic concentration of our senior housing facilities could leave us vulnerable to an economic downturn, regulatory or reimbursement changes or acts of nature in those areas, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
For the year ended December 31, 2010, we derived 10% or more of our annualized contractual rental revenue from senior housing facilities in our portfolio located in Indiana (14.3%). As a result of such concentration, the conditions of local economies and real estate markets, changes in governmental rules and regulations, particularly with respect to state Medicaid programs, acts of nature and other factors that may result in a decrease in demand for services at our senior housing facilities in this state could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders.
Certain operators will account for a significant percentage of our contractual rental revenue, and the failure of any of these operators to meet their obligations to us could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
For the year ended December 31, 2010, we derived 10% or more of our annualized contractual rental revenue from senior housing facilities in our portfolio operated by Miller Health Systems, Inc. (11.6%), and Midwest Care Holdco TRS I LLC (38.9%). If these operators fail to meet their obligations to us, our business, financial condition, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders could be materially and adversely impacted. No other operator generated more than 10% of our annualized rental revenue under existing leases for the year ended December 31, 2010. The failure or inability of this operator to meet its obligations to us could materially reduce our rental revenue and net income, which could in turn reduce the amount of distributions we pay and cause our stock price to decline.
Because of the unique and specific improvements required for healthcare properties, we may be required to incur substantial renovation costs to make certain of our properties suitable for other tenants, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders.
Healthcare properties are typically highly customized and may not be easily adapted to non-healthcare-related uses. The improvements generally required to conform a property to healthcare use, such as upgrading electrical, gas and plumbing infrastructure, are costly and often times tenant-specific. A new or replacement tenant may require different features in a property, depending on that tenant's particular operations. If a current tenant is unable to pay rent and vacates a property, we may incur substantial expenditures to modify a property for a new tenant, or for multiple tenants with varying infrastructure requirements, before we are able to release the space. Consequently, our healthcare properties may not be suitable for lease to traditional office or other tenants without significant expenditures or renovations, which costs may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders.
We are subject to risks associated with debt financing, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Our healthcare portfolio has total debt of approximately $471.7 million. Financing for future investments and our maturing commitments for our healthcare portfolio may be provided by borrowings under credit facilities, private or public offerings of debt, the assumption of secured indebtedness, mortgage financing on a portion of our owned healthcare portfolio or through joint ventures. We are subject to risks normally associated with debt financing, including the risks that our cash flow will be insufficient to make timely payments of interest, that we will be unable to refinance existing indebtedness or support collateral obligations and that the terms of refinancing will not be as favorable as the terms of existing indebtedness. If we are unable to refinance or extend principal payments due at maturity or pay them with proceeds from other capital transactions, our cash flow may not be sufficient in all years to pay distributions to our stockholders and to repay all maturing debt. Furthermore, if prevailing interest rates, changes in our debt ratings or other factors at the time of refinancing result in higher interest rates upon refinancing, the interest expense relating to that refinanced indebtedness would increase, which could reduce our profitability and the amount of dividends we are able to pay. Moreover, additional debt financing increases the amount of our leverage, which could negatively affect our ability to obtain additional financing in the future or make us more vulnerable to a downturn in our results of operations or the economy generally.
If our tenants fail to cultivate new or maintain existing relationships with residents in the markets in which they operate, our occupancy percentage, payor mix and resident rates may deteriorate which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
The ability of our tenants to improve the overall occupancy percentage, payor mix and resident rates at our senior housing facilities, depends on our tenants' reputation in the communities they serve and our tenants' ability to successfully market our facilities to potential residents. A large part of our tenants' marketing and sales effort is directed towards cultivating and maintaining relationships with key community organizations that work with seniors, physicians and other healthcare providers in the communities where our facilities are located, whose referral practices significantly affect the choices seniors make with respect to their long-term care needs. If our tenants are unable to successfully cultivate and maintain strong relationships with these community organizations, physicians and other healthcare providers, occupancy rates at our facilities could decline, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
We may not be able to compete effectively in those markets where overbuilding exists and our inability to compete in those markets may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Overbuilding in the senior housing segment in the late 1990s reduced occupancy and revenue rates at senior living facilities. This, combined with unsustainable levels of indebtedness, forced several operators into bankruptcy. The occurrence of another period of overbuilding could adversely affect our future occupancy and resident fee rates, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Our tenants may be subject to significant legal actions that could subject them to increased operating costs and substantial uninsured liabilities, which may affect their ability to meet their obligations to us.
Our tenants may be subject to claims that their services have resulted in resident injury or other adverse effects. The insurance coverage maintained by our tenants, whether through commercial insurance or self-insurance, may not cover all claims made against them or continue to be available at a
reasonable cost, if at all. In some states, insurance coverage for the risk of punitive damages arising from professional liability and general liability claims and litigation may not, in certain cases, be available to our tenants due to state law prohibitions or limitations of availability. As a result, our tenants operating in these states may be liable for punitive damage awards that are either not covered or are in excess of their insurance policy limits. From time to time, there may also be increases in government investigations of long-term care providers, particularly in the area of Medicare/Medicaid false claims and resident care, as well as increases in enforcement actions resulting from these investigations. Insurance is not available to cover such losses. Any adverse determination in a legal proceeding or government investigation, whether currently asserted or arising in the future, could lead to potential termination from government programs, large penalties and fines and otherwise have a material adverse effect on a healthcare operator's financial condition. If a healthcare operator is unable to obtain or maintain insurance coverage, if judgments are obtained in excess of the insurance coverage, if a healthcare operator is required to pay uninsured punitive damages, or if a healthcare operator is subject to an uninsurable government enforcement action, the healthcare operator could be exposed to substantial additional liabilities, which could result in its bankruptcy or insolvency or have a material adverse effect on the healthcare operator's business and its ability to meet its obligations to us.
Moreover, advocacy groups that monitor the quality of care at healthcare facilities have sued healthcare facility operators and called upon state and federal legislators to enhance their oversight of trends in healthcare facility ownership and quality of care. In response, the recently enacted healthcare reform law imposes additional reporting requirements and responsibilities for healthcare facility operators. Patients have also sued healthcare facility operators and have, in certain cases, succeeded in winning very large damage awards for alleged abuses. This litigation and potential litigation in the future has materially increased the costs incurred by our tenants for monitoring and reporting quality of care compliance. In addition, the cost of medical malpractice and liability insurance has increased and may continue to increase so long as the present litigation environment affecting the operations of healthcare facilities continues. Compliance with the requirements in the healthcare reform law could increase costs as well. Increased costs could limit our tenants' ability to meet their obligations to us, potentially decreasing our revenue and increasing our collection and litigation costs. To the extent we are required to remove or replace a tenant, our revenue from the affected property could be reduced or eliminated for an extended period of time.
Delays in our tenants' collection of their accounts receivable could adversely affect their cash flows and financial condition and their ability to meet their obligations to us.
Prompt billing and collection are important factors in the liquidity of our tenants. Billing and collection of accounts receivable are subject to the complex regulations that govern Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and rules imposed by non-government payors. The inability of our tenants to bill and collect on a timely basis pursuant to these regulations and rules could subject them to payment delays that could negatively impact their cash flows and ultimately their financial condition and their ability to meet their obligations to us.
Our healthcare properties may be subject to impairment charges, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We will periodically evaluate our healthcare properties for impairment indicators. The judgment regarding the existence of impairment indicators is based on factors such as market conditions, healthcare operator performance and legal structure. If we determine that a significant impairment has occurred, we would be required to make an adjustment to the net carrying value of the healthcare property, which could have a material adverse affect on our results of operations and funds from operations in the period in which the write-off occurs.
Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act, and fire, safety and other regulations may require us to make unanticipated expenditures which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Our facilities and properties are required to comply with the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, or ADA. The ADA generally requires that buildings be made accessible to people with disabilities. We must also comply with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits us and our tenants from discriminating against individuals on certain bases in any of our practices if it would cause such individuals to face barriers in gaining residency in any of our facilities. In addition, our facilities and properties are required to operate in compliance with applicable fire and safety regulations, building codes and other land use regulations and food licensing or certification requirements as they may be adopted by governmental agencies and bodies from time to time. We may be required to make substantial expenditures to comply with those requirements.
We are facing increasing competition for the acquisition of senior housing facilities and other healthcare properties which may impede our ability to make future acquisitions or may increase the cost of these acquisitions which, in turn, could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
We compete with many other businesses engaged in real estate investment activities for the acquisition of senior housing facilities and other healthcare properties, including local, regional and national operators and acquirers and developers of healthcare real estate. The competition for senior housing facilities and other healthcare properties may significantly increase the price we might pay for a facility or property we seek to acquire and our competitors may succeed in acquiring those facilities or properties themselves. In addition, operators with whom we attempt to do business may find our competitors to be more attractive because they may have greater resources, may be willing to pay more for the properties or may have a more compatible operating philosophy. In particular, larger healthcare REIT may enjoy significant competitive advantages that result from, among other things, a lower cost of capital and enhanced operating efficiencies. In addition, the number of entities and the amount of funds competing for suitable investment properties may increase. This competition may result in increased demand for these assets and therefore increased prices paid for them. If we pay higher prices for healthcare properties, our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders may be materially adversely affected.
The organization and management of NSREIT and Senior Care REIT, and any future funds that we raise, may create conflicts of interest.
In addition to managing the assets of our CDOs, we sponsored and, through a majority owned subsidiary, are the advisor of NorthStar Real Estate Income Trust, Inc., which we refer to as NSREIT, a non-listed REIT that is currently raising capital via a continuous offering. Additionally, we sponsored and filed a registration statement on Form S-11 for NorthStar Senior Care Trust, Inc., or our Senior Care REIT, a non-listed REIT that was formed to originate, acquire and manage a diversified portfolio of debt and equity investments in the healthcare sector. We expect that if our Senior Care REIT is declared effective by the SEC, it would also be managed by us through a subsidiary advisor.
NSREIT and Senior Care REIT, along with any new funds we may manage, which together are referred to as our "Funds," will hold assets that we determine should be acquired by the Funds. Doing so may create conflicts of interest, including between investors in these Funds and our shareholders, since our investment strategy may be very similar to that of our Funds, and therefore many investment opportunities that are suitable for us may also be suitable for the Funds.
We will earn a management fee for our services to our Funds. Our executives and other real estate and debt finance professionals may face conflicts of interest in allocating their time among NorthStar and our Funds. Although as a company we will seek to make these decisions in a manner that we believe is fair and consistent with the operative legal documents governing these investment vehicles, the transfer or allocation of these assets may 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 and our ability to attract investors for future vehicles.
Our ability to raise capital and attract investors in our Sponsored REITs is critical to their success and our ability to grow depends on our ability to attract a motivated sales force in our licensed broker dealer.
NSREIT and Senior Care REIT, together referred to as our Sponsored REITs, depend upon our ability to attract purchasers of equity interests, which is highly dependent upon the efforts of the motivated sales force of our subsidiary, NRF Capital Markets, LLC, or NRF Capital Markets. NRF Capital Markets is a FINRA member and a wholesale broker-dealer that is registered in the various jurisdictions in which our Funds will do business. Our ability to grow our Sponsored REITs will be dependent on our ability to retain and motivate our sales force and other key personnel and to strategically recruit, retain and motivate new talent. However, we may not be successful in our efforts to recruit, retain and motivate the required personnel as the market for qualified professionals is extremely competitive. If we do not retain a motivated and effective sales force, or our sales professionals join competitors or form competing companies, it could result in the loss of significant investment opportunities and possibly existing investors, which would have a material impact on our Sponsored REITs.
There is no assurance we will be able to enter into additional third-party selling agreement, and declines in asset value and reductions in distributions in our Sponsored REITs could cause the loss of such third-party selling agreements and limit our ability to sign future third-party selling agreements.
NRF Capital Markets has entered into, and we anticipate will enter into, third-party selling agreements in order to raise capital for our Sponsored REITs. There is no assurance that we will be able to enter into additional third-party selling agreements on reasonable terms, or at all, which would hinder or even cease our ability to raise capital for our Sponsored REITs. Additionally, significant declines in asset value and reductions in distributions in our Sponsored REITs could cause us to lose third-party selling agreements and limit our ability to sign future third-party selling agreements.
Misconduct by third-party selling broker-dealers or our sales force, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We will rely on selling broker-dealers and our broker-dealer sales force to properly offer our securities programs to customers in compliance with our selling agreements and with applicable regulatory requirements. While these persons are responsible for their activities as registered broker-dealers, their actions may nonetheless result in complaints or legal or regulatory action against us.
Our organization and management of the Sponsored REITs could distract our management and have a negative effect on our business.
The organization and management of our Sponsored REITs could divert our management team's attention from our existing business to form and manage the operations and personnel of the Sponsored REITs and implement the business initiatives. Our management team could be required to spend significant time and financial resources on the Sponsored REITs, which could distract and
prevent them from furthering our core business activities, regardless of the outcome of the Sponsored REITs. Consequently, this could have a negative effect on our business.
Because there are numerous companies seeking to raise capital through non-listed REITs, it may be more difficult for us to do so, particularly as a relatively new sponsor.
The number of entrants in the non-listed REIT space has grown significantly over the last couple of years. We have invested significant capital into the organization and management of our Sponsored REITs, and may in the future invest additional capital in other non-listed REIT products. Based on publicly available information, as of December 2010, there were approximately 60 non-listed REITs in the marketplace and 24 others have filed registration statements. As a result, we will be subject to significant competition from these and other companies seeking to raise capital in the non-listed REIT space. There can be no assurance that we will be able to compete successfully against current and future competitors and raise capital through our Sponsored REITs or recoup our invested capital.
The creation and management of Funds and other investment vehicles could require us to register with the SEC as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act and subject us to costs and constraints that we are not currently subject to.
A consequence of creating and managing Funds and other investment vehicles, including CDO vehicles and Sponsored REITs, is that we may be required to register with the SEC as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act. Registered investment advisers must establish policies and procedures for their operations and make regulatory filings. The Investment Advisers Act and the rules and regulations under this Act generally grant the SEC broad administrative powers, including, in some cases, the power to limit or restrict doing business for failure to comply with such laws and regulations. These laws and regulations have increased, and could further increase, our expenses and require us to devote substantial time and effort to legal and regulatory compliance issues. In addition, the regulatory environment in which investment advisors operate changes frequently and regulations have increased significantly in recent years. We may be adversely affected as a result of new or revised legislation or regulations or by changes in the interpretation or enforcement of existing laws and regulations.
Termination of management arrangements with one or more of our Funds could harm our business.
We provide management services to our existing Funds, and may in the future provide management services to any future funds, through our position as the sole or managing general partner of partnership funds, through our position as the operating manager of other fund entities, through our advisory agreements with our Sponsored REITs, or combinations thereof. Our arrangements are generally expected to be long-term, and frequently have no specified termination dates. However, our management arrangements with, or our position as general partner, operating manager or advisor of, a fund typically may be terminated by action taken by the investors or board of directors of the applicable vehicle. Upon any such termination, our management fees, after payment of any termination payments required, would cease, thereby reducing our expected revenues.
Difficult market conditions and the collapse of the CMBS market adversely affected our Securities Fund, which may impact our ability to raise capital for future Funds.
We managed an off-balance sheet fund, or our Securities Fund, which was formed in July 2007 and is expected to dissolve in early 2011. The deterioration of the capital markets, credit spread widening and corresponding lower mark-to-market adjustments to the assets in our Securities Fund contributed to its value decline and adversely affected the performance of our Securities Fund. Due to the foregoing, raising capital for future Funds could be more difficult.
There are risks in using prime brokers and custodians.
Our Funds may depend on the services of prime brokers and custodians to carry out certain transactions. In the event of the insolvency of a prime broker and/or custodian, our Funds might not be able to recover equivalent assets in full as they will rank among the prime broker and custodian's 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 broker's or custodian's own cash, and the Funds will therefore rank as unsecured creditors in relation thereto.
Our failure to maintain registration as a broker-dealer member in the various jurisdictions in which we will do business and increased supervision and regulation of broker-dealers under Dodd-Frank could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
NRF Capital Markets is a FINRA member broker-dealer that is registered in the various jurisdictions in which our Funds will do business. Our continued membership and registration is contingent upon compliance with regulatory guidelines. There is no guarantee that FINRA, the SEC or the states or territories in which we are registered will not take action against NRF Capital Markets to remove its membership and/or registrations. Accordingly, such events would delay or potentially hinder sales of our Sponsored REITs' securities.
In addition, the recently enacted Dodd-Frank calls for imposition of expanded standards of care by financial market participants in dealing with clients and consumers, including by providing the SEC with authority to adopt rules establishing fiduciary duties for broker-dealers and directing the SEC to examine and improve sales practices and disclosure by broker-dealers and investment advisers. The increased supervision and regulation of broker-dealers are expected to increase our expenses and require NRF Capital Markets to devote more time and effort to compliance issues.
Government intervention may limit our ability to continue to implement certain strategies or manage certain risks.
The pervasive and fundamental disruptions that the global financial markets underwent beginning in 2007 led to extensive and unprecedented governmental intervention, including the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, in October 2008, which gave the U.S. Treasury Secretary the authority to use up to $700 billion to, among other things, inject capital into financial institutions and establish a program to purchase from financial institutions residential or commercial real estate loans and other securities, TALF, in November 2008, which allowed the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to provide non-recourse loans to borrowers to fund their purchase of eligible assets, which initially included asset-backed securities but was later expanded to include CMBS and non-Agency residential mortgage-based securities, or RMBS, and, most recently, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, in July 2010, which outlined broad policies for the US financial services industry.
Such intervention has also in certain cases been implemented on an "emergency" basis, suddenly and substantially eliminating market participants' ability to continue to implement certain strategies or manage the risk of their outstanding positions. It is impossible to predict what, if any, additional interim or permanent governmental restrictions may be imposed on the markets and the effect of such restrictions on us and our results of operations. There is a high likelihood of significantly increased regulation of the financial markets that could have an impact on our operating results and financial condition.
Our ability to operate our business successfully would be harmed if key personnel terminate their employment with us.
Our future success depends, to a significant extent, upon the continued services of our key personnel, including our executive officers and Mr. Hamamoto in particular. For instance, the extent and nature of the experience of our executive officers and nature of the relationships they have developed with real estate developers and financial institutions are critical to the success of our business. Our executive officers have significant real estate investment experience. We cannot assure you of their continued employment with us. The loss of services of certain of our executive officers could harm our business and our prospects.
Our Board of Directors has and will likely in the future adopt certain incentive plans to create incentives that will allow us to retain and attract the services of key employees. These incentive plans may be tied to the performance of our common stock and as a result of the decline in our stock price, we may be unable to motivate and retain our management and these other employees. Our inability to motivate and retain these individuals could also harm our business and our prospects. Additionally, competition for experienced real estate professionals could require us to pay higher wages and provide additional benefits to attract qualified employees, which could result in higher compensation expenses to us.
Our ability to issue equity awards to employees as compensation could be impacted, which will require greater cash compensation in relation to previous levels of cash compensations.
We have historically paid a substantial portion of our overall compensation in the form of equity awards. Currently, we do not necessarily have availability under our incentive plans to issue equity awards to our employees. We will likely seek shareholder approval for additional equity awards, but in the meantime we will likely compensate our employees in a greater proportion of cash compared to equity awards. Because adjusted funds from operations, or AFFO, excludes equity based compensation expense, payment of higher levels of cash relative to equity awards will have a negative impact on our AFFO and reduce our liquidity position. Additionally, the lack of availability of equity awards could impact our ability to retain employees as equity awards historically have been a significant component of our long-term incentives.
If our risk management systems are ineffective, we may be exposed to material unanticipated losses.
We continue to refine our risk management techniques, strategies and assessment methods. However, our risk management techniques and strategies may not fully mitigate the risk exposure of our operations in all economic or market environments, or against all types of risk, including risks that we might fail to identify or anticipate. Any failures in our risk management techniques and strategies to accurately quantify such risk exposure could limit our ability to manage risks in our operations or to seek adequate risk-adjusted returns. See "Management Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of OperationsRisk Management".
The use of estimates and valuations may be different from actual results, which could have a material effect on our consolidated financial statements.
We make various estimates that affect reported amounts and disclosures. Broadly, those estimates are used in measuring the fair value of certain financial instruments, accounting for goodwill, establishing provisions for potential losses that may arise from loans that we make and potential litigation liability. Although the credit and equity markets are continuing to improve, market volatility experienced between mid-2007 and 2009 has made it extremely difficult to value certain of our real estate securities and CDO debt. Subsequent valuations, in light of factors then prevailing, may result in
significant changes in the values of these securities in future periods. In addition, at the time of any sales and settlements of these securities, the price we ultimately realize will depend on the demand and liquidity in the market at that time and may be materially lower than our estimate of their current fair value. Estimates are based on available information and judgment. Therefore, actual values and results could differ from our estimates and that difference could have a material effect on our consolidated financial statements.
We believe AFFO is an appropriate measure of our operating performance; however, in certain instances AFFO may not be reflective of actual economic results.
We utilize AFFO as a measure of our operating performance and believe that it is useful to investors because it facilitates an understanding of our operating performance after adjustment for certain non-cash expenses, such as real estate depreciation, equity based compensation and unrealized gains/losses from mark-to-market adjustments. Additionally, we believe that AFFO serves as a good measure of our operating performance because it facilitates evaluation of our company without the effects of selected items required in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, or GAAP, that may not necessarily be indicative of current operating performance and that may not accurately compare our operating performance between periods. Nonetheless, in certain instances AFFO may not necessarily be reflective of our actual economic results. For example, if a CMBS position that we purchased at par in a given year is marked down at the end of such year and then sold the subsequent year at a price above the marked down price, but less than par, we would still have a gain for purposes of AFFO between the difference of the year-end mark and the amount that we sold the CMBS for, even though we would have suffered an economic loss on the CMBS position. Our book value would, however, accurately reflect the economic loss because the decrease in value of the CMBS investment in its year of purchase would have been recorded as an unrealized loss in our income statement. Conversely, if we repurchase, for example, one of our issued CDO bonds for 50% of par in a given year and if such CDO bond were marked below 50% of par at the end of the previous year, for AFFO purposes we would recognize a realized loss on retirement of debt from the repurchase even though there is a positive economic impact to the retirement of the debt. Consistent with the prior example, while our book value would properly reflect the economic benefit from the debt repurchase because the decrease in value of the debt would have been recorded as an unrealized gain in the prior year, the impact to AFFO would not be reflective of actual economic results.
Accounting for assets acquired subject to CDO financing may not be reflective of actual economic results.
U.S. GAAP requires that we record acquired assets and liabilities, including assets and liabilities of CDOs, at their fair market values as of the acquisition date. In July 2010, we were delegated the collateral management and special servicing rights, and acquired the original below-investment grade notes, of a $1.1 billion commercial real estate loan CDO for $7 million. The assets acquired and liabilities assumed were recorded at their then fair market values. Even though we acquired the most junior certificated notes in the CDO that as of the acquisition date were, and continue to be, non-cash flowing, U.S. GAAP requires that we consolidate the assets and liabilities underlying the notes, and treat each asset and outstanding note as separate and distinct from each other. All of the loans acquired and CDO note liabilities assumed were recorded at discounts to their outstanding principal balances. Going forward, the acquisition discounts on the loans are accreted as non-cash interest income to the estimated recovery values of the loans. We elected to fair value the CDO note liabilities assumed, therefore cash interest expense from the liabilities is recorded as interest expense, and inter-period changes in market value of the liabilities are recorded as unrealized gains (losses). This results in the recognition in our income statement of cash and non-cash interest income from the loans, and interest expense and unrealized gain/loss mark-to-market adjustments of the liabilities. This accounting may result in our recognition of net income from the CDO well in excess of the actual net interest margin generated, and our AFFO may be different than GAAP net income because AFFO excludes
unrealized gains and losses from mark-to-market adjustments. Furthermore, while we may have significant GAAP net income and corresponding AFFO as well as operating cash flows, we may not be receiving any cash distributions from our acquired notes. Instead, such cash would be used to amortize the issued liabilities. Also, the portion of interest income recognized from amortization of the acquisition discounts on the loans may never be realized because the face amount of the CDO note liabilities issued may ultimately be greater than amounts recovered from the assets.
For 2010, we recognized $67.2 million of interest income ($26.9 million cash and $40.3 million non-cash accretion), $4.0 million of cash interest expense and $113.1 million of unrealized losses relating to the acquired CDO. AFFO and net loss from the CDO were $76.2 million and $33.2 million, respectively, for 2010.
AFFO includes realized gains on items such as extinguishment of debt and sales of real estate securities, which we may not be able to replicate in the future.
Historically, in addition to interest income that we earn on our assets, for purposes of AFFO we have also realized gains on extinguishing our debt and CDO bonds, and from the sales of real estate securities. In 2010, extinguishment of debt gains and gains on the sale of real estate securities were $134.6 million, representing AFFO per share of $1.62. Replicating these gains may not be possible, which could significantly impact our AFFO in the future. If we are unable to generate substantial gains in order to increase our AFFO, our stock price could be negatively impacted, which could have a material adverse effect on us.
GAAP requirements and our mark-to-market adjustments of our liabilities do not necessarily provide a precise economic reflection of our shareholders' equity.
We have elected to mark-to-market our liabilities in our real estate CDOs, but we do not mark-to-market the corresponding loans, which we hold at par net of any related credit loss reserves. Even if these loans are performing, because of a number of factors, including credit spread widening and concerns over commercial real estate generally, a third-party may not be willing to pay par for such loans. Therefore, our carrying value for these loans is likely above their current economic value. Additionally, while we have liabilities that are marked below the principal amount that we owe on such liabilities, which correspondingly increases our shareholders' equity, absent repurchasing such liabilities at a discount we will be required to repay the full par amount of such liabilities at maturity or upon a liquidation of the underlying collateral or our company. As a result of the foregoing, our shareholders' equity is and will likely continue to not necessarily be reflective of current economic or liquidation value.
Our dividend policy is subject to change.
On a quarterly basis, our Board of Directors determines an appropriate common stock dividend based upon numerous factors, including REIT qualification requirements, the amount of cash flows provided by operating activities, availability of existing cash balances, borrowing capacity under existing credit agreements, access to cash in the capital markets and other financing sources, our view of our ability to realize gains in the future through appreciation in the value of our assets, general economic conditions and economic conditions that more specifically impact our business or prospects. Although we have significantly reduced our dividends in 2009 and 2010 relative to prior years, future dividend levels are subject to further adjustment based upon any one or more of the risk factors set forth in this Form 10-K, as well as other factors that our Board of Directors may, from time to time, deem relevant to consider when determining an appropriate common stock dividend.
We are highly dependent on information systems, and systems failures could significantly disrupt our business.
As a financial services firm, our business is highly dependent on communications and information systems. Any failure or interruption of our systems could cause delays or other problems in our activities, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial performance.
Maintenance of our Investment Company Act exemption imposes limits on our operations.
We conduct our operations so that we are not required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act. Section 3(a)(1)(C) of the Investment Company Act defines as an investment company any issuer that is engaged or proposes to engage in the business of investing, reinvesting, owning, holding or trading in securities and owns or proposes to acquire investment securities having a value exceeding 40% of the value of the issuer's total assets (exclusive of government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis. Excluded from the term "investment securities," among other things, are securities issued by majority owned subsidiaries that are not themselves investment companies and are not relying on the exception from the definition of investment company in Section 3(c)(1) or Section 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act. Because we are a holding company that conducts its businesses through subsidiaries, the securities issued by our subsidiaries that rely on the exception from the definition of "investment company" in Section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act, together with any other investment securities we may own directly, may not have a combined value in excess of 40% of the value of our total assets on an unconsolidated basis. This requirement limits the types of businesses in which we may engage through these subsidiaries.
We believe that neither our operating partnership nor the subsidiary REIT through which we hold the substantial majority of our investments are investment companies because each of them satisfy the 40% test of Section 3(a)(1)(C). We must monitor their holdings to ensure that the value of their investment securities does not exceed 40% of their respective total assets (exclusive of government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis. Certain of our other subsidiaries do not satisfy the 40% test, but instead rely on exceptions and exemptions from registration as an investment company under the Investment Company Act that either limits the types of assets these subsidiaries may purchase or the manner in which these subsidiaries may acquire and sell assets. For instance, certain of our CDOs rely on the exemption from registration as an investment company under the Investment Company Act provided by Rule 3a-7 thereunder, which is available for certain structured financing vehicles. This exemption limits the ability of these CDOs to sell their assets and reinvest the proceeds from asset sales. Our subsidiary that invests in net lease properties relies on the exception from the definition of "investment company" provided by Sections 3(c)(6) and 3(c)(5)(C) of the Investment Company Act, and certain of our other CDOs similarly rely on the 3(c)(5)(C) exception from the definition of "investment company." These provisions exempt companies that primarily invest in real estate, mortgages and certain other qualifying real estate assets. When a CDO relies on the exception from the definition of "investment company" provided by 3(c)(5)(C) of the Investment Company Act, the CDO is limited in the types of real estate related assets that it could invest in. Our subsidiaries that engage in operating businesses and satisfy the 40% test are also not subject to the Investment Company Act.
If the combined value of the investment securities issued by our subsidiaries that rely on the exception provided by Section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act, together with any other investment securities we may own directly exceeds 40% of our total assets on an unconsolidated basis, we may be deemed to be an investment company. If we fail to maintain an exemption, exception or other exclusion from registration as an investment company, we could, among other things, be required either (a) to substantially change the manner in which we conduct our operations to avoid being required to register as an investment company or (b) to register as an investment company, either of which could have an adverse effect on us and the market price of our common stock. If we
were required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act, we would become subject to substantial regulation with respect to our capital structure (including our ability to use leverage), management, operations, transactions with affiliated persons (as defined in the Investment Company Act), portfolio composition, including restrictions with respect to diversification and industry concentration and other matters.
Maryland takeover statutes may prevent a change of our control. This could depress our stock price.
Under Maryland law, "business combinations" between a Maryland corporation and an interested stockholder or an affiliate of an interested stockholder are prohibited for five years after the most recent date on which the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. These business combinations include a merger, consolidation, share exchange, or, in circumstances specified in the statute, an asset transfer or issuance or reclassification of equity securities. An interested stockholder is defined as any person who beneficially owns 10% or more of the voting power of the corporation's shares or an affiliate or associate of the corporation who, at any time within the two-year period prior to the date in question, was the beneficial owner of 10% or more of the voting power of the then outstanding voting stock of the corporation. A person is not an interested stockholder under the statute if the Board of Directors approved in advance the transaction by which he otherwise would have become an interested stockholder. However, in approving a transaction, the Board of Directors may provide that its approval is subject to compliance, at or after the time of approval, with any terms and conditions determined by the board.
After the five-year prohibition, any business combination between the Maryland corporation and an interested stockholder generally must be recommended by the Board of Directors of the corporation and approved by the affirmative vote of at least 80% of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of outstanding shares of voting stock of the corporation; and two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of voting stock of the corporation other than shares held by the interested stockholder with whom or with whose affiliate the business combination is to be effected or held by an affiliate or associate of the interested stockholder.
These super-majority vote requirements do not apply if the corporation's common stockholders receive a minimum price, as defined under Maryland law, for their shares in the form of cash or other consideration in the same form previously paid by the interested stockholder for its shares.
The business combination statute may discourage others from trying to acquire control of us and increase the difficulty of consummating any offer, including potential acquisitions that might involve a premium price for our common stock or otherwise be in the best interest of our stockholders. The statute permits various exemptions from its provisions, including business combinations that are exempted by the Board of Directors prior to the time that the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. Pursuant to the statute, our Board of Directors has exempted any business combinations between us and any person, provided that any such business combination is first approved by our Board of Directors (including a majority of our directors who are not affiliates or associates of such person). Consequently, the five-year prohibition and the super-majority vote requirements do not apply to business combinations between us and any of them. As a result, such parties may be able to enter into business combinations with us that may not be in the best interest of our stockholders, without compliance with the supermajority vote requirements and the other provisions in the statute.
Our authorized but unissued common and preferred stock and other provisions of our charter and bylaws may prevent a change in our control.
Our charter authorizes us to issue additional authorized but unissued shares of our common stock or preferred stock and authorizes our board, without stockholder approval, to amend our charter to increase or decrease the aggregate number of shares of stock or the number of shares of stock of any
class or series that we have the authority to issue. In addition, our Board of Directors may classify or reclassify any unissued shares of common stock or preferred stock and may set the preferences, rights and other terms of the classified or reclassified shares. Our board could establish a series of common stock or preferred stock that could delay or prevent a transaction or a change in control that might involve a premium price for the common stock or otherwise be in the best interest of our stockholders.
Our charter and bylaws also contain other provisions that may delay or prevent a transaction or a change in control that might involve a premium price for our common stock or otherwise be in the best interest of our stockholders.
Maryland law also allows a corporation with a class of equity securities registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Securities Exchange Act, and at least three independent directors to elect to be subject, by provision in its charter or bylaws or a resolution of its Board of Directors and notwithstanding any contrary provision in the charter or bylaws, to a classified board, unless its charter prohibits such an election. Our charter contains a provision prohibiting such an election to classify our board under this provision of Maryland law. This makes us more vulnerable to a change in control. If our stockholders voted to amend this charter provision and to classify our Board of Directors, the staggered terms of our directors could reduce the possibility of a tender offer or an attempt at a change in control even though a tender offer or change in control might be in the best interests of our stockholders.
Our failure to qualify as a REIT would subject us to federal income tax and reduce cash available for distribution to our stockholders.
We intend to continue to operate in a manner so as to qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes. However, qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex Internal Revenue Code provisions for which only a limited number of judicial and administrative interpretations exist. Even an inadvertent or technical mistake could jeopardize our REIT status. Our continued qualification as a REIT will depend on our satisfaction of certain asset, income, organizational, distribution, stockholder ownership and other requirements on a continuing basis.
Moreover, new tax legislation, administrative guidance or court decisions, in each instance potentially with retroactive effect, could make it more difficult or impossible for us to qualify as a REIT. If we were to fail to qualify as a REIT in any taxable year, we would be subject to federal income tax, including any applicable alternative minimum tax, on our taxable income at regular corporate rates, and distributions to stockholders would not be deductible by us in computing our taxable income. Any such corporate tax liability could be substantial and would reduce the amount of cash available for distribution to our stockholders, which in turn could have an adverse impact on the value of, and trading prices for, our stock.
We hold a substantial majority of our assets in a majority owned subsidiary, which we refer to as our private REIT. Our private REIT is organized to qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes. Additionally, we have sponsored and manage, through our private REIT, additional subsidiaries that intend to qualify as REITs. Our private REIT and its REIT subsidiaries must also meet all of the REIT qualification tests under the Internal Revenue Code and are subject to all of the same risks as us. If our private REIT or one of its REIT subsidiaries did not qualify as a REIT, it is likely that we would also not qualify as a REIT. If, for any reason, we failed to qualify as a REIT and we were not entitled to relief under certain Internal Revenue Code provisions, we would be unable to elect REIT status for the four taxable years following the year during which we ceased to so qualify.
Complying with REIT requirements may force us to borrow funds to make distributions to stockholders or otherwise depend on external sources of capital to fund such distributions.
To qualify as a REIT, we are required to distribute annually at least 90% of our taxable income, subject to certain adjustments, to our stockholders. To the extent that we satisfy the distribution requirement, but distribute less than 100% of our taxable income, we will be subject to federal corporate income tax on our undistributed taxable income. In addition, we may elect to retain and pay income tax on our net long-term capital gain. In that case, a shareholder would be taxed on its proportionate share of our undistributed long-term gain and would receive a credit or refund for its proportionate share of the tax we paid. A shareholder, including a tax-exempt or foreign shareholder, would have to file a federal income tax return to claim that credit or refund. Furthermore, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax if the actual amount that we distribute to our stockholders in a calendar year is less than a minimum amount specified under federal tax laws. We anticipate that distributions generally will be taxable as ordinary income, although a portion of such distributions may be designated by us as long-term capital gain to the extent attributable to capital gain income recognized by us, or may constitute a return of capital to the extent that such distribution exceeds our earnings and profits as determined for tax purposes.
From time to time, we may generate taxable income greater than our net income for financial reporting purposes due to, among other things, amortization of capitalized purchase premiums, mark-to-market adjustments and reserves. In addition, our taxable income may be greater than our cash flow available for distribution to stockholders as a result of, among other things, repurchases of our outstanding debt at a discount and investments in assets that generate taxable income in advance of the corresponding cash flow from the assets (for example, if a borrower defers the payment of interest in cash pursuant to a contractual right or otherwise).
We believe that our operating partnership properly elected to defer, under section 108(i) of the Internal Revenue Code, the recognition of cancellation of indebtedness, or COD, income generated from repurchasing its debt at a discount. If the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, successfully challenges our operating partnership's ability to make that election, we may be treated as having failed to pay sufficient dividends to satisfy the 90% distribution requirement and/or avoid the corporate income tax and the 4% nondeductible excise tax. We may be required to correct any failure to meet the 90% distribution requirement by paying deficiency dividends to our stockholders and an interest charge to the IRS in a later year.
If we do not have other funds available in the situations described in the preceding paragraphs, we could be required to borrow funds on unfavorable terms, sell investments at disadvantageous prices or find another alternative source of funds to make distributions sufficient to enable us to distribute enough of our taxable income to satisfy the REIT distribution requirement and to avoid corporate income tax and the 4% excise tax in a particular year. These alternatives could increase our costs or reduce our equity.
Because of the distribution requirement, it is unlikely that we will be able to fund all future capital needs, including capital needs in connection with investments, from cash retained from operations. As a result, to fund future capital needs, we likely will have to rely on third-party sources of capital, including both debt and equity financing, which may or may not be available on favorable terms or at all. Our access to third-party sources of capital will depend upon a number of factors, including the market's perception of our growth potential and our current and potential future earnings and cash distributions and the market price of our stock.
We may distribute our common stock in a taxable dividend, in which case stockholders may sell shares of our common stock to pay tax on such dividends, placing downward pressure on the market price of our common stock.
We may distribute taxable dividends that are payable in cash and common stock. Under IRS Revenue Procedure 2010-12 up to 90% of any such taxable dividend paid with respect to our 2011 taxable year could be payable in shares of our common stock. Taxable stockholders receiving such dividends will be required to include the full amount of the dividend as ordinary income to the extent of our current and accumulated earnings and profits, as determined for federal income tax purposes. As a result, stockholders may be required to pay income tax with respect to such dividends in excess of the cash dividends received. If a U.S. stockholder sells the common stock that it receives as a dividend in order to pay this tax, the sales proceeds may be less than the amount included in income with respect to the dividend, depending on the market price of our common stock at the time of the sale. Furthermore, with respect to certain non-U.S. stockholders, we may be required to withhold U.S. federal income tax with respect to such dividends, including in respect of all or a portion of such dividend that is payable in common stock. If we utilize Revenue Procedure 2010-12 and a significant number of our stockholders determine to sell shares of our common stock in order to pay taxes owed on dividends, it may put downward pressure on the trading price of our common stock.
We could fail to qualify as a REIT if the IRS successfully challenges our treatment of our mezzanine loans and repurchase agreements.
We intend to continue to operate in a manner so as to qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes. However, qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex Internal Revenue Code provisions for which only a limited number of judicial and administrative interpretations exist. If the IRS disagrees with the application of these provisions to our assets or transactions, including assets we have owned and past transactions, our REIT qualification could be jeopardized. For example, IRS Revenue Procedure 2003-65 provides a safe harbor pursuant to which a mezzanine loan, if it meets each of the requirements contained in the revenue procedure, will be treated by the IRS as a real estate asset for purposes of the REIT asset tests, and interest derived from it will be treated as qualifying mortgage interest for purposes of the REIT 75% income test. Although the Revenue Procedure provides a safe harbor on which taxpayers may rely, it does not prescribe rules of substantive tax law. Moreover, our mezzanine loans typically do not meet all of the requirements for reliance on this safe harbor. We have invested, and will continue to invest, in mezzanine loans in a manner that we believe will enable us to continue to satisfy the REIT gross income and asset tests. In addition, we have entered into sale and repurchase agreements under which we nominally sold certain of our mortgage assets to a counterparty and simultaneously entered into an agreement to repurchase the sold assets. We believe that we will be treated for federal income tax purposes as the owner of the mortgage assets that are the subject of any such agreement notwithstanding that we transferred record ownership of the assets to the counterparty during the term of the agreement. It is possible, however, that the IRS could assert that we did not own the mortgage assets during the term of the sale and repurchase agreement, in which case our ability to qualify as a REIT could be adversely affected. Even if the IRS were to disagree with one or more of our interpretations and we were treated as having failed to satisfy one of the REIT qualification requirements, we could maintain our REIT qualification if our failure was excused under certain statutory savings provisions. However, there can be no guarantee that we would be entitled to benefit from those statutory savings provisions if we failed to satisfy one of the REIT qualification requirements, and even if we were entitled to benefit from those statutory savings provisions, we could be required to pay a penalty tax.
Even if we remain qualified as a REIT, we may face other tax liabilities that reduce our cash flow.
Even if we remain qualified for taxation as a REIT, we may be subject to certain federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income, tax on income from certain activities conducted as a result of a foreclosure, the federal alternative minimum tax and state or local income, property and transfer taxes, such as mortgage recording taxes. Any of these taxes would decrease cash available for distribution to our stockholders. In addition, in order to meet the REIT qualification requirements, or to avert the imposition of a 100% tax that applies to certain gains derived by a REIT from dealer property or inventory, we may hold some of our assets through taxable subsidiary corporations.
Complying with REIT requirements may cause us to forego otherwise attractive opportunities or liquidate otherwise attractive investments.
To qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes we must continually satisfy tests concerning, among other things, the sources of our income, the nature and diversification of our assets, the amounts we distribute to our stockholders and the ownership of our stock. As discussed above, we may be required to make distributions to stockholders at disadvantageous times or when we do not have funds readily available for distribution. Additionally, we may be unable to pursue investments that would be otherwise attractive to us in order to satisfy the source of income requirements for qualifying as a REIT.
We must also ensure that at the end of each calendar quarter at least 75% of the value of our assets consists of cash, cash items, government securities and qualified real estate assets. The remainder of our investment in securities (other than government securities and qualified real estate assets) generally cannot include more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any one issuer or more than 10% of the total value of the outstanding securities of any one issuer. In addition, in general, no more than 5% of the value of our assets can consist of the securities of any one issuer (other than government securities and qualified real estate assets), and no more than 25% of the value of our total securities can be represented by securities of one or more taxable REIT subsidiaries. If we fail to comply with these requirements at the end of any calendar quarter, we must correct such failure within 30 days after the end of the calendar quarter to avoid losing our REIT status and suffering adverse tax consequences, unless certain relief provisions apply. As a result, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our ability to operate solely on the basis of profit maximization and may require us to liquidate or forego otherwise attractive investments. These actions could have the effect of reducing our income and amounts available for distribution to our stockholders.
Modifications of the terms of our mortgage loans, mezzanine loans and B-Notes and loans supporting our mortgage-backed securities in conjunction with reductions in the value of the real property securing such loans could cause us to fail to qualify as a REIT.
Our investments in mortgage loans, mezzanine loans and B-Notes and mortgage-backed securities have been and may continue to be materially affected by the weakened condition of the real estate market and the economy in general. As a result, many of the terms of our mortgage loans, mezzanine loans and B-Notes and the loans supporting our mortgage-backed securities have been modified and may in the future be modified to avoid foreclosure actions and for other reasons. Under the Internal Revenue Code, if the terms of a loan are modified in a manner constituting a "significant modification," such modification triggers a deemed exchange of the original loan for the modified loan. In general, under applicable Treasury Regulations, if a loan is secured by real property and other property and the highest principal amount of the loan outstanding during a taxable year exceeds the fair market value of the real property securing the loan determined as of (i) the date we agreed to acquire the loan or (ii) in the event of a significant modification, the date we modified the loan, then a portion of the interest income from such loan will not be qualifying income for purposes of the 75%
gross income test, but will be qualifying income for purposes of the 95% gross income test. Although the law is not entirely clear, a portion of the loan will likely be a non-qualifying asset for purposes of the 75% asset test. The non-qualifying portion of such a loan would be subject to, among other requirements, the requirement that a REIT not hold securities possessing more than 10% of the total value of the outstanding securities of any one issuer, or the 10% Value Test.
The IRS recently issued Revenue Procedure 2011-16, which provides a safe harbor pursuant to which we will not be required to redetermine the fair market value of the real property securing a loan for purposes of the gross income and asset tests discussed above in connection with a loan modification that is (1) occasioned by a borrower default or (2) made at a time when we reasonably believe that the modification to the loan will substantially reduce a significant risk of default on the original loan. No assurance can be provided all of our loan modifications have or will qualify for the safe harbor in Revenue Procedure 2011-16. To the extent we significantly modify loans in a manner that does not qualify for that safe harbor, we will be required to redetermine the value of the real property securing the loan at the time it was significantly modified. In determining the value of the real property securing such a loan, we generally will not obtain third- party appraisals, but rather will rely on internal valuations. No assurance can be provided that the IRS will not successfully challenge our internal valuations. If the terms of our mortgage loans, mezzanine loans and B-Notes and loans supporting our mortgage backed securities are significantly modified in a manner that does not qualify for the safe harbor in Revenue Procedure 2011-16 and the fair market value of the real property securing such loans has decreased significantly, we could fail the 75% gross income test, the 75% asset test and/or the 10% Value Test. Unless we qualified for relief under certain Internal Revenue Code cure provisions, such failures could cause us to fail to qualify as a REIT.
Our ability to invest in distressed debt may be limited by our intention to maintain our qualification as a REIT.
We have and may in the future acquire distressed debt, including distressed mortgage loans, mezzanine loans, B-Notes and mortgage-backed securities. In general, under the applicable Treasury Regulations, if a loan is secured by real property and other property and the highest principal amount of the loan outstanding during a taxable year exceeds the fair market value of the real property securing the loan as of (i) the date we agreed to acquire the loan or (ii) in the event of a significant modification, the date we modified the loan, then a portion of the interest income from such a loan will not be qualifying income for purposes of the 75% gross income test, but will be qualifying income for purposes of the 95% gross income test. Although the law is not entirely clear, a portion of the loan will also likely be a non-qualifying asset for purposes of the 75% asset test. The non-qualifying portion of such a loan would be subject to, among other requirements, the 10% Value Test. The IRS recently issued Revenue Procedure 2011-16, which provides a safe harbor under which the IRS has stated that it will not challenge a REIT's treatment of a loan as being, in part, a qualifying real estate asset in an amount equal to the lesser of (1) the fair market value of the real property securing the loan determined as of the date the REIT committed to acquire the loan or (2) the fair market value of the loan on the date of the relevant quarterly REIT asset testing date. This safe harbor will help us comply with the REIT asset tests immediately following the acquisition of distressed debt. It will be less helpful if the value of the distressed debt increases over time. Under the safe harbor, when the current value of a distressed debt exceeds the fair market value of the real property that secures the debt, determined as of the date we committed to acquire the debt, the excess will be treated as a non-qualifying asset. Accordingly, an increasing portion of a distressed debt will be treated as a non-qualifying asset as the value of the distressed debt increases. Additionally, Revenue Procedure 2011-16 states that the IRS will treat distressed debt acquired by a REIT as producing in part non-qualifying income for the 75% gross income test. Specifically, Revenue Procedure 2011-16 indicates that interest income on distressed debt will be treated as qualifying income based on the ratio of (1) fair market value of the real property securing the debt determined as of the date we committed to
acquire the debt and (2) the face amount of the debt (and not the purchase price or current value of the debt). The face amount of a distressed debt will typically exceed the fair market value of the real property securing the debt on the date we commit to acquire the debt. Because distressed debt that we acquire may produce a significant amount of non-qualifying income for purposes of the 75% gross income test and a significant portion of a distressed debt may be treated as a non-qualifying asset for the REIT asset tests once the debt increases in value, we may be limited in our ability to invest in distressed debt and maintain our qualification as a REIT.
Our investments in distressed debt may produce "phantom income" that will increase the amount of taxable income we have to distribute to satisfy the REIT distribution requirement and avoid corporate income and excise taxes, which may cause us to sell assets, borrow funds, or make taxable distributions of debt or equity securities to satisfy that requirement and avoid those taxes.
Our acquisition of distressed debt may cause us to recognize "phantom income" (or non-cash income) for federal income tax purposes. For example, if we acquire non-publicly traded distressed debt and then significantly modify that debt, we would recognize gain on the resulting deemed exchange equal to the difference between the adjusted issue price of the modified distressed debt and our adjusted tax basis in the unmodified distressed debt. Because we typically acquire distressed debt at a significant discount, our adjusted tax basis in the unmodified distressed debt typically is significantly lower than the adjusted issue price of the modified distressed debt. Accordingly, if we significantly modify non-publicly traded distressed debt, we may recognize a substantial amount of taxable income without receiving any cash. That "phantom income" will increase the amount of taxable income we are required to distribute to satisfy the REIT distribution requirement and avoid corporate income and excise taxes. To satisfy that requirement and avoid those taxes, we may have to sell assets or borrow funds at inopportune times or make taxable distributions of our debt or equity securities.
Complying with REIT requirements may limit our ability to hedge effectively.
The REIT provisions of the Internal Revenue Code may limit our ability to hedge our operations effectively. Our aggregate gross income from non-qualifying hedges, fees, and certain other non-qualifying sources cannot exceed 5% of our annual gross income. Additionally, our gross income from qualifying hedges entered into prior to July 31, 2008 constitutes non-qualifying income for purposes of the 75% gross income test. Consequently, our gross income from qualifying hedges entered into prior to July 31, 2008, along with other sources of non-qualifying income for purposes of the 75% gross income test, cannot exceed 25% of our annual gross income. As a result, we might have to limit our use of advantageous hedging techniques or implement those hedges through a taxable REIT subsidiary. Any hedging income earned by a taxable REIT subsidiary would be subject to federal, state and local income tax at regular corporate rates. This could increase the cost of our hedging activities or expose us to greater risks associated interest rate or other changes than we would otherwise incur.
We may fail to qualify as a REIT as a result of our fee income from managing certain structured finance and investment vehicles and our income from active businesses.
We currently manage certain structured finance and investment vehicles that are treated as taxable REIT subsidiaries or REITs. Fee income and active business income that we generate directly (rather than through a taxable REIT subsidiary) constitute non-qualifying income for purposes of the 95% and 75% gross income tests. It is not possible to predict with complete accuracy the amount of gross income that we will generate in any taxable year due to, among other things, fluctuations in interest rates. Accordingly, our qualifying income for purposes of our gross income tests may be lower than we anticipate, and, conversely, our fee income and active business income may be higher than we anticipate. If our fee income and active business income, combined with other sources of non-qualifying income, such as income from non-qualifying hedges, were to exceed 5% of our gross income, we would
fail to satisfy the 95% gross income test. Unless we qualified for certain Internal Revenue Code cure provisions, a failure of the 95% gross income test would cause us to fail to qualify as a REIT.
Liquidation of assets may jeopardize our REIT status.
To continue to qualify as a REIT, we must comply with requirements regarding our assets and our sources of income. If we are compelled to liquidate our mortgage, preferred equity or other investments to satisfy our obligations to our lenders, we may be unable to comply with these requirements, ultimately jeopardizing our status as a REIT.
Adverse legislative or regulatory tax changes could reduce the market price of our common stock.
At any time, the federal income tax laws governing REITs or the administrative interpretations of those laws may be amended. Any of those new laws or interpretations may take effect retroactively and could adversely affect us or you as a stockholder. For example, legislation enacted in 2003, 2006 and 2010 generally reduced the federal income tax rate on most dividends paid by corporations to investors taxed at individual rates to a maximum of 15% through the end of 2012. REIT dividends, with limited exceptions, do not benefit from the rate reduction, because a REITs income is generally not subject to corporate level tax. As such, this legislation could cause shares in non-REIT corporations to be a more attractive investment to investors taxed at individual rates than shares in REITs and could have an adverse effect on the value of our stock.
The prohibited transactions tax may limit our ability to engage in transactions, including dispositions of assets and certain methods of securitizing loans, that would be treated as sales for federal income tax purposes.
A REIT's net income from prohibited transactions is subject to a 100% tax. In general, prohibited transactions are sales or other dispositions of property, other than foreclosure property, but including loans, held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business. If we securitize loans in a manner that is, for federal income tax purposes, treated as a sale of the loans we may be subject to the prohibited transaction tax. Therefore, in order to avoid the prohibited transactions tax, we may choose not to engage in certain sales of loans and may limit the structures we utilize for our securitization transactions even though such sales or structures might otherwise be beneficial to us. Additionally, we may be subject to the prohibited transaction tax upon a disposition of real property. Although a safe-harbor to the characterization of the sale of real property by a REIT as a prohibited transaction is available, we cannot assure you that we can comply with the safe harbor or that we will avoid owning property that may be characterized as held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business. Consequently, we may choose not to engage in certain sales of real property or may conduct such sales through a taxable REIT subsidiary.
We may recognize substantial amounts of REIT taxable income, which we would be required to distribute to our stockholders, in a year in which we are not profitable under GAAP principles or other economic measures.
We may recognize substantial amounts of REIT taxable income in years in which we are not profitable under GAAP or other economic measures as a result of the differences between GAAP and tax accounting methods. For example, we may recognize substantial amounts of COD income for federal income tax purposes (but not for GAAP purposes) due to discount repurchases of our debt, which could cause our REIT taxable income to exceed our GAAP income. Additionally, we may deduct our capital losses only to the extent of our capital gains, and not against our ordinary income, in computing our REIT taxable income for a given taxable year. Finally, certain of our assets and liabilities are marked-to-market for GAAP purposes but not for tax purposes, which could result in losses for GAAP purposes that are not recognized in computing our REIT taxable income. Consequently, we could recognize substantial amounts of REIT taxable income, and would be required
to distribute such income to our stockholders, in a year in which we are not profitable under GAAP principles or other economic measures.
We may lose our REIT status if the IRS successfully challenges our characterization of our income from our foreign taxable REIT subsidiaries.
We have elected to treat several Cayman Islands companies, including issuers in term debt transactions, as taxable REIT subsidiaries. We intend to treat certain income inclusions received with respect to our equity investments in those foreign taxable REIT subsidiaries as qualifying income for purposes of the 95% gross income test but not the 75% gross income test. Because there is no clear precedent with respect to the qualification of such income for purposes of the REIT gross income tests, no assurance can be given that the IRS will not assert a contrary position. In the event that such income was determined not to qualify for the 95% gross income test, we could be subject to a penalty tax with respect to such income to the extent it exceeds 5% of our gross income or we could fail to qualify as a REIT.
If our foreign taxable REIT subsidiaries are subject to U.S. federal income tax at the entity level, it would greatly reduce the amounts those entities would have available to distribute to us and that they would have available to pay their creditors.
There is a specific exemption from federal income tax for non-U.S. corporations that restrict their activities in the United States to trading stock and securities (or any activity closely related thereto) for their own account whether such trading (or such other activity) is conducted by the corporation or its employees through a resident broker, commission agent, custodian or other agent. We intend that our foreign taxable REIT subsidiaries will rely on that exemption or otherwise operate in a manner so that they will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on their net income at the entity level. If the IRS were to succeed in challenging that tax treatment, it would greatly reduce the amount that those foreign taxable REIT subsidiaries would have available to pay to their creditors and to distribute to us.
The stock ownership restrictions of the Internal Revenue Code for REITs and the 9.8% stock ownership limit in our charter may inhibit market activity in our stock and restrict our business combination opportunities.
To qualify as a REIT, five or fewer individuals, as defined in the Internal Revenue Code, may not own, actually or constructively, more than 50% in value of our issued and outstanding stock at any time during the last half of a taxable year. Attribution rules in the Internal Revenue Code determine if any individual or entity actually or constructively owns our stock under this requirement. Additionally, at least 100 persons must beneficially own our stock during at least 335 days of a taxable year. To help insure that we meet these tests, our charter restricts the acquisition and ownership of shares of our stock.
Our charter, with certain exceptions, authorizes our directors to take such actions as are necessary and desirable to preserve our qualification as a REIT. Unless exempted by our Board of Directors, no person, including entities, may own more than 9.8% of the value of our outstanding shares of stock or more than 9.8% in value or number (whichever is more restrictive) of our outstanding shares of common stock. The board may not grant an exemption from these restrictions to any proposed transferee whose ownership in excess of 9.8% of the value of our outstanding shares would result in the termination of our status as a REIT. Despite these restrictions, it is possible that there will be five or fewer individuals who own more than 50% in value of our outstanding shares, which could cause us to fail to qualify as a REIT. These restrictions on transferability and ownership will not apply, however, if our Board of Directors determines that it is no longer in our best interest to continue to qualify as a REIT.
These ownership limits could delay or prevent a transaction or a change in control that might involve a premium price for our common stock or otherwise be in the best interest of the stockholders.
Our dividends that are attributable to excess inclusion income will likely increase the tax liability of our tax-exempt stockholders, foreign stockholders, and stockholders with net operating losses.
In general, dividend income that a tax-exempt entity receives from us should not constitute unrelated business taxable income as defined in Section 512 of the Internal Revenue Code. If we realize excess inclusion income and allocate it to our stockholders, however, then this income would be fully taxable as unrelated business taxable income to a tax-exempt entity under Section 512 of the Internal Revenue Code. A foreign stockholder would generally be subject to U.S. federal income tax withholding on this income without reduction pursuant to any otherwise applicable income tax treaty. U.S. stockholders would not be able to offset such income with their net operating losses.
Although the law is not entirely clear, the IRS has taken the position that we are subject to tax at the highest corporate rate on the portion of our excess inclusion income equal to the percentage of our stock held in record name by "disqualified organizations" (generally tax-exempt investors, such as certain state pension plans and charitable remainder trusts, that are not subject to the tax on unrelated business taxable income). To the extent that our stock owned by "disqualified organizations" is held in street name by a broker/dealer or other nominee, the broker/dealer or nominee would be liable for a tax at the highest corporate rate on the portion of our excess inclusion income allocable to the stock held on behalf of the "disqualified organizations." A regulated investment company or other pass-through entity owning our stock may also be subject to tax at the highest corporate tax rate on any excess inclusion income allocated to their record name owners that are "disqualified organizations."
Excess inclusion income could result if a REIT held a residual interest in a real estate mortgage investment conduit, or REMIC. In addition, excess inclusion income also may be generated if a REIT issues debt obligations with two or more maturities and the terms of the payments of these obligations bear a relationship to the payments that the REIT received on mortgage loans or mortgage-backed securities securing those debt obligations. Although we do not hold any REMIC residual interests, we anticipate that certain of the term debt transactions conducted by our private REIT will produce excess inclusion income that will be allocated to our stockholders. Accordingly, we expect that a portion of our dividends will constitute excess inclusion income, which will likely increase the tax liability of tax-exempt stockholders, foreign stockholders, stockholders with net operating losses, regulated investment companies and other pass-through entities whose record name owners are disqualified organizations, and brokers/dealers and other nominees who hold stock on behalf of disqualified organizations.
Our investments in net lease properties, which comprise our net lease business segment, are described under "BusinessNet Lease." The following table sets forth certain information with respect to each of our net lease properties and real estate owned (or "REO") properties as of December 31, 2010:
As of, and for the year ended December 31, 2010, we had no single property with a book value or gross revenues, respectively, equal to or greater than 10% of our total assets. For the year ended December 31, 2010, we had no single property that accounted for gross revenues equal to or greater than 10% of our total revenues.
One of our net lease investments was comprised of three office buildings totaling 257,000 square feet located in Chatsworth, CA and was 100% leased to Washington Mutual Bank, FA, or WaMu. NNN, which is a subsidiary of ours, is a defendant in a lawsuit, or the Lawsuit, filed on August 10, 2009 by the Lender, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, relating to a loan the properties previously owned by one of our subsidiaries, NRFC Sub IV, that were 100% leased, or the Lease, to WaMu. The Lawsuit alleges, among other things, that the loan provided by Lender to NRFC Sub IV became a recourse obligation of NNN due to an alleged termination of the Lease. The judge presiding over the Lawsuit granted the Lender's motion for summary judgment and, accordingly, entered a judgment against NNN in the amount of approximately $45 million, or the Judgment. NNN intends to vigorously pursue an appeal of the decision.
Pursuant to the guidance Accounting for Contingencies, an estimated loss from a loss contingency shall be accrued by a charge to income if two conditions are met. First, information available prior to the issuance of the financial statements indicates that it is probable that an asset had been impaired or a liability had been incurred at the date of the financial statements. It is implicit in this condition that it must be probable that on one or more future events will occur confirming the facts of the loss. Second, the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated. We believe it is not probable that the Lawsuit will result in an unfavorable outcome and, therefore, we have not established an accrual relating to the Lawsuit.
In connection with filing for an appeal, pursuant to California law, NNN is required to post a bond in an amount equal to one and a half times the amount of the Judgment, or the Bond. Accordingly, we have entered into a standard General Agreement of Indemnity with an issuer of surety bonds, or the Surety Agreement, which could require us to post collateral equal to the amount of the Bond. As part of the Surety Agreement, in connection with the issuance of the Bond, we have posted cash collateral equal to 38% of the amount of the Bond, or approximately $26 million.
Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "NRF".
The following table sets forth the high, low and last sales prices for our common stock, as reported on the New York Stock Exchange, and dividends per share with respect to the periods indicated.
On January 20, 2009, we declared dividend at $0.25 per share of common stock, payable with respect to the quarter ended December 31, 2008, to stockholders of record as of January 28, 2009. The dividend was paid on February 27, 2009 in a combination of 40% cash and 60% common stock to stockholders of record as of the close of business on January 28, 2009.
On April 21, 2009, we declared a cash dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock. The dividend was paid on May 15, 2009 to the stockholders of record as of the close of business on May 5, 2009.
On July 21, 2009, we declared a cash dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock. The dividend was paid on August 14, 2009 to the stockholders of record as of the close of business on August 4, 2009.
On October 20, 2009, we declared a cash dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock. The dividend was paid on November 16, 2009 to the stockholders of record as of the close of business on November 6, 2009.
On January 19, 2010, we declared a dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock. The dividend was paid on February 12, 2010 to the stockholders of record as of the close of business on February 5, 2010.
On April 20, 2010, we declared a dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock. The dividend was paid on May 14, 2010, to the stockholders of record as of the close of business on May 4, 2010.
On July 20, 2010, we declared a dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock. The dividend was paid on August 16, 2010, to the stockholders of record as of the close of business on August 6, 2010.
On October 19, 2010, we declared a dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock. The dividend was paid on November 15, 2010, to the stockholders of record as of the close of business on November 5, 2010.
On January 19, 2011, we declared a dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock. The dividend was paid on February 14, 2011 to the stockholders of record as of the close of business on February 4, 2011.
On October 8, 2008 our Board of Directors authorized a share repurchase program of up to 10,000,000 shares of our outstanding common stock, or approximately 16% of our outstanding common stock as of December 31, 2010. Stock repurchases under this program may be made from time to time through the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. The timing and actual number of shares repurchased will depend on a variety of factors including price, corporate and regulatory requirements, market conditions, and other corporate liquidity requirements and priorities. For the three months ended December 31, 2010 we did not purchase any shares pursuant to the share repurchase program.
On February 23, 2011, the closing sales price for our common stock, as reported on the NYSE, was $5.13. As of February 23, 2011, there were 172 record holders of our common stock. This figure does not reflect the beneficial ownership of shares held in nominee name.
Set forth below is a graph comparing the cumulative total stockholder return on shares of our common stock with the cumulative total return of the NAREIT All REIT Index and the Russell 2000 Index. The period shown commences on January 1, 2006 and ends on December 31, 2010, the end of our most recently completed fiscal year. The graph assumes an investment of $100 on January 1, 2006 and the reinvestment of any dividends. The stock price performance shown on this graph is not necessarily indicative of future price performance. The information in the graph and the table below was obtained from SNL Financial without independent verification.
Equity Compensation Plan Information
The following table summarizes information, as of December 31, 2010, relating to our equity compensation plans pursuant to which grants of securities may be made from time to time.
The information below should be read in conjunction with "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes, each included elsewhere in this Form 10-K.
The selected historical consolidated information presented for the years ended December 31, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006 and relates to our operations and has been derived from our audited consolidated statement of operations included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K or our prior Annual Reports on Form 10-K.
Our consolidated financial statements include our majority owned subsidiaries which we control. Where we have a non-controlling interest, such entity is reflected on an unconsolidated basis.
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included in Item 8 of this report.
Organization and Overview
We are a real estate investment trust, or REIT, that was formed in October 2003 to continue and expand the real estate debt, real estate securities and net lease businesses of our predecessor. We conduct substantially all of our operations and make our investments through our operating partnership, of which we are the sole general partner. Through our operating partnership, including its subsidiaries, we primarily:
We believe that these businesses are complementary to each other due to their overlapping sources of investment opportunities, common reliance on real estate fundamentals and ability to utilize secured debt to finance assets and enhance returns. We seek to match-fund our real estate securities and real estate debt investments primarily by issuing term debt, obtaining secured term financing and accessing private equity.
Sources of Operating Revenues
We primarily derive revenues from interest income on the real estate debt investments that we originate with borrowers or acquire from third parties and our real estate securities in which we invest. We generate rental income from our net lease investments.
We primarily derive income on a recurring basis through the difference between the interest and rental income we are able to generate from our investments, and the cost at which we are able to obtain financing for our investments. In order to protect this difference, or "spread", we seek to match-fund our investments using secured sources of long term financing such as CDO financings, mortgage financings and long-term unsecured subordinate debt. Match-funding means that we try to obtain debt with maturities equal to our asset maturities, and borrow funds at interest rate benchmarks similar to our assets. Match-funding results in minimal impact to spread when interest rates are rising and falling and minimizes refinancing risk since our asset maturities match those of our debt. We may also acquire investments which generate attractive returns with no long-term financing. Realized gains have more recently been a significant source of income and have been primarily derived by selling securities at premiums to our carrying values and by repurchasing our issued debt at discounts to contractual face amounts. Both of these activities are opportunistic in nature and are very dependent on market conditions; therefore it is difficult to predict whether realized gains may be a significant part of income in the future.
We primarily earn interest income from real estate debt investments. At December 31, 2010, our real estate debt portfolio had a carrying value of $1.8 billion consisting of senior and subordinate debt investments. We made six new investments and 52 loans were acquired as part of the CSE RE 2006-A
CDO transaction in 2010, one new investment in 2009, three investments in 2008, 41 investments in 2007 and 74 investments in 2006.
Approximately 56.6% of our loan assets generate interest income based upon a floating index, primarily one-month LIBOR or the prime rate, plus a credit spread. Our revenues will be impacted by changes in floating interest rates; however, we seek to minimize the impact of changes in floating interest rates by financing floating rate assets with floating rate debt having interest rates benchmarked to the same index as our assets. Decreases in floating interest rates may result in lower income for our stockholders because the unfinanced portion of the asset is not hedged, notwithstanding the match-funding of floating rate assets with floating rate liabilities.
We earn interest income from real estate fixed income securities and, prior to their consolidation, management fees from our off-balance sheet CDO financings. Similar to our real estate debt business, we seek to minimize the impact of floating interest rates by funding floating rate assets with floating rate debt and by hedging fixed rate assets funded with floating rate debt.
Core Net Lease Properties
We earn rental and escalation income from our core net leased properties, which includes primarily suburban office, industrial and retail properties. During 2007 and 2006, we acquired $125.9 million and $164.9 million, respectively, of core net lease properties. We made no core net lease acquisitions during 2008, 2009 or 2010.
We earn rental and escalation income from our healthcare net leased properties, which we characterize as mid-acuity, and that are operated by and/or leased to regional, middle-market tenants or operators. We define mid-acuity as those properties that provide needed services to residents that cannot be easily or as affordably provided in a home or other health care setting. These types of properties include including independent living facilities, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, memory care facilities and continuing care retirement facilities as well as in medical office buildings and research facilities. During 2008, 2007 and 2006, we acquired $4.2 million, $591.0 million and $78.8 million, respectively, of healthcare net lease properties. We made no healthcare net lease acquisitions during 2009 or 2010.
Commission income represents income earned by us for selling equity, through our broker-dealer subsidiary, for the NorthStar Income Opportunity REIT I, Inc., a commercial finance REIT sponsored by us.
Profitability and Performance Metrics
We calculate several metrics to evaluate the profitability and performance of our business.
Credit risk management is our ability to manage our assets in a manner that preserves principal and income and minimizes credit losses that would decrease income.
Corporate expense management influences the profitability of our business. We must balance making appropriate investments in our infrastructure and employees with the recognition that our accounting, finance, legal and risk management infrastructure does not directly generate quantifiable revenues for us. We frequently refer to general and administrative expenses, excluding stock-based compensation expense, divided by total revenues as a measure of our efficiency in managing expenses.
Availability and cost of capital will impact our profitability and earnings since we must raise new capital to fund a majority of our AUM growth.
Outlook and Recent Trends
U.S. macroeconomic and real estate sector conditions have remained poor since 2007, when the subprime residential lending and single family housing market collapse quickly spread broadly into the capital markets. The resulting virtual shutdown of the credit and equity markets pushed the U.S. economy into recession, and the unemployment rate increased from a low of 4.4% in 2007 to 9.4% at December 31, 2010. Traditional commercial real estate lenders such as banks and life insurance companies severely curtailed their lending between mid-2007 and 2009, resulting in a severe shortage of debt capital for real estate investors and those needing to refinance maturing loans. The corporate bond, consumer asset-backed debt and equity markets began to recover during 2009 and continued to improve during 2010, although macroeconomic indicators remain weak. The commercial mortgage-backed markets are beginning to recover and issued approximately $10 billion of securities in 2010.
Despite poor economic conditions, the Morgan Stanley REIT Index returned approximately 28.6% for 2009 and approximately 28.5% for 2010. In addition, three REITs with a real estate debt focus raised approximately $1.5 billion of capital in 2009, but no new commercial mortgage REITs went public during 2010. Notwithstanding the ability of the public REIT market to raise capital, this market is very small relative to the size of the estimated $1.5 trillion commercial real estate finance market. More recently, U.S. economic conditions appear to be improving (based on 2.6% annualized GDP growth as of September 30, 2010, the most recent available data), however, the unemployment rate remains high indicating a low rate of business expansion, which drives commercial real estate cash flows. Commercial real estate tends to lag economic recoveries and with the exception of certain high-density, supply-constrained markets such as New York City, Washington DC and Boston, MA, we expect commercial real estate fundamentals to continue to be difficult into 2011.
Commercial Real Estate Macroeconomic Conditions
Virtually all commercial real estate property types have been adversely impacted by the recent economic recession, including core property types such as hotel, retail, office, industrial and multi-family properties. Land, condominium and other commercial property types have also been severely impacted. As a result, cash flows and values associated with properties serving as collateral for our loans are generally weaker than expected when we originated the loans. Our credit loss provisioning levels for 2009 and 2010 were higher than in the past due to the impact of these conditions. Despite weak economic conditions, during 2010, investor interest began returning to commercial real estate
especially in urban areas having high concentrations of institutional quality real estate, and in certain asset types such as apartments and hotels that are expected to benefit quickly from recovering economic conditions. During 2011, the degree to which commercial real estate values erode or improve within the local markets in which our real estate collateral is located will impact the level of credit losses in our asset base.
Many of our real estate loans bear interest rates based on a spread to one-month LIBOR, a floating rate index based on rates that banks charge each other to borrow. One-month LIBOR as of December 31, 2010, is 0.26%, well below its 2.93% average over the past five years. Lower LIBOR means lower debt service costs for our borrowers which have partially offset decreasing cash flows caused by the economic recession, and extended the life of interest reserves for those loans that require interest reserves to service debt while the collateral properties are being repositioned by our borrowers. Lower interest rates also theoretically support real estate valuations because a lower discount rate is applied to underlying future real estate cash flow assumptions in valuing a property, although the availability and cost of debt capital appears to have a much more significant impact on property values. Although investor interest in real estate has improved during 2010, much of the new capital has been directed to the highest quality, stabilized urban real estate assets and properties expected to benefit quickly from improving economic conditions. Many of our collateral properties had business plans to improve occupancy and cash flows that have not been accomplished due to the recent economic recession. Weak cash flow performance and conservative underwriting standards by current market lenders continues to cause extreme difficulties in obtaining repayments at maturity.
For existing loans, when credit spreads widen, which was the case in 2008 and early 2009, the economic value of existing loans decreases. Although credit spreads decreased in 2010, if a lender were to originate a similar loan today, such loan would likely still carry a greater credit spread than the existing loan. Even though a loan may be performing in accordance with its loan agreement and the underlying collateral has not changed, the economic value of the loan may be negatively impacted by the incremental interest foregone from the widened credit spread. Accordingly, when a lender wishes to sell or finance the loan, the reduced value of the loan will impact the total proceeds that the lender will receive.
Our real estate securities investments are also negatively impacted by weaker real estate market and economic conditions. Within the underlying loan pools, slowdown in economic conditions is reducing tenants' ability to make rent payments in accordance with the terms of their leases. Additionally, to the extent that market rental rates are reduced, property-level cash flows are negatively affected as existing leases renew at lower rates. Finally, declining occupancy rates also impact cash flow and reduce borrowers' ability to service their outstanding loans.
Real estate securities values are also influenced by credit ratings assigned to the securities by accredited rating agencies. In 2009, the rating agencies changed their ratings methodologies for all securitized asset classes, including commercial real estate, in light of questionable ratings previously assigned to residential mortgage portfolios. Combined with a poor economic outlook, their reviews have resulted in, large amounts of ratings downgrade actions for CMBS in 2009 and in 2010, negatively impacting market values of CMBS and in many cases negatively impacting the CDO financing structures used by us and others to leverage these investments.
Our net leased assets are also adversely impacted by a weaker economy as well. Corporate space needs are contracting resulting in lower lease renewal rates and longer releasing periods when leases are not renewed. Poor economic conditions may negatively impact the creditworthiness of our tenants, which could result in their inability to meet the terms of their leases.
We responded to these difficult conditions by decreasing investment activity and aggressively raising corporate capital when we observed deteriorating market conditions. We expect credit to continue to be challenging through 2011 and we continue to focus our company resources on portfolio management activities to preserve our invested capital and liquidity. We anticipate that most of our investment activity and uses of available unrestricted cash liquidity for the foreseeable future will be focused on discounted repurchases of our previously issued debt securities and for growth in our asset management portfolio, as well as opportunistic investments.
The relative lack of supply and high demand for capital is allowing investors with cash to make investments with very attractive returns compared to historical levels. For this reason, we are working to raise equity capital through alternative channels, especially in the nonlisted REIT market. During 2010, we raised approximately $37.7 million in the non-traded REIT sector for NSREIT and its predecessor, and filed a registration statement for NorthStar Senior Care Trust, Inc. We are the advisor to these companies and earn management fees which vary based on the amount of assets under management and investment performance. We expect to use our broad commercial real estate investment and management platform to operate these companies and to earn management fees in return for our services, and the non-traded REIT efforts reflect our strategy of accessing alternative sources of equity capital, leveraging our existing platform to generate fee revenues and to become less reliant on the public markets to grow our business.
Our Financing Structures
On June 30, 2010, we fully repaid and extinguished, at a discount to the outstanding principal amount, the First Amended and Restated Credit Agreement (the "Credit Agreement") and the Second Amendment to Note Purchase Agreement (the "Note Purchase Agreement," and together with the Credit Agreement, the "WA Secured Term Loan") with Wachovia Bank, National Association ("Wachovia"), having an outstanding principal balance of approximately $304.0 million and secured by assets having an aggregate unpaid principal balance of approximately $448.6 at the time of the payoff. We paid approximately $208.0 million of cash and granted the lender a 40% participation interest in the principal proceeds of a €43.3 million participation in a mezzanine loan that is collateralized by a German retail portfolio.
As of December 31, 2010, approximately $4.1 billion of our collateralized debt obligations permit reinvestment of capital proceeds which means when the underlying assets repay or are sold we are able to reinvest the proceeds in new assets without having to repay the liabilities. Approximately $265.1 million of our funded loan commitments have their initial maturity date during 2011; however, many of the loans contain extension options of at least one year. We also expect that a majority of the $186.2 million of loans having final maturities during 2011 will have their maturities extended beyond 2011 with the expectation that future periods will have more attractive economic conditions and cheaper debt capital. It is therefore difficult to estimate how much capital, if any, will be generated in our CDO financings from loan repayments during 2011.
Our CDO structures do not have corporate financial covenants but require that the underlying loans and securities meet interest coverage and collateral value coverage (as defined by the indentures) in order for us to receive regular cash flow distributions. If the tests are not met, cash flow is diverted from us to repay the liabilities until the tests are back into compliance. In some cases, our ability to reinvest can be adversely impacted if these tests are not in compliance. Ratings downgrades and defaults of CMBS and other securities can reduce the deemed value of the security in measuring collateral coverage, depending on the level of the downgrade. Also, defaults in our loans can reduce the collateral coverage of the defaulted loan in our CDO structures. As economic conditions remain weak and capital for "legacy" commercial real estate assets remains scarce, we expect credit quality in
our assets to remain weak. While we have devoted a majority of our resources to managing our existing asset base, a continued poor economic environment and additional credit ratings downgrades will make maintaining compliance with the CDO structures more difficult, jeopardizing regular cash flow distributions to our company.
We believe that liquidity is returning to the commercial real estate finance markets and corporate debt capital is currently available to the stronger equity REITs. Approximately $10 billion in multi-borrower CMBS transactions were completed in 2010 and many industry experts are predicting at least $30-$40 billion of CMBS issuance in 2011. Wall Street banks have also begun to more actively provide credit to real estate lenders to originate or purchase new real estate loans. We expect that credit availability will continue to improve during 2011, increasing opportunities for us to access attractive debt capital.
We use many methods to actively manage our asset base to preserve our income and capital. For loans and net lease assets, frequent dialogue with borrowers/tenants and inspections of our collateral and owned properties have proven to be an effective process for identifying issues early and prior to missed debt service and lease payments. Many of our loans also require borrowers to replenish cash reserves for items such as taxes, insurance and future debt service costs. Late replenishments of cash reserves also may be an early indicator there could be a problem with the borrower or collateral property. We also may negotiate modifications to loan terms if we believe such modification improves our ability to maximize principal recovery. Modifications may include changes to contractual interest rates, maturity dates and other borrower obligations. When we make a concession such as reducing an interest rate or extending a maturity date, we seek to get additional collateral and/or fees in return for the modification although as challenging real estate conditions continue, obtaining additional collateral from struggling borrowers has become more difficult. In some cases we may issue default notices and begin foreclosure proceedings when the borrower is not complying with the loan terms and we believe taking control of the collateral is the best course of action to protect our capital. For net leases, we may seek to obtain up-front or accelerated payment in return for an early cancelation of the lease if we believe the tenant's creditworthiness has significantly deteriorated and that taking control of the property and re-leasing it maximizes value.
In certain circumstances, we may pursue loan sales and payoffs at discounts to our book value. We may agree to discounted sales or payoffs where we believe there is an economic benefit from monetizing the asset in advance of its contractual maturity date. For example, we may accept a discounted payoff where we believe the cash proceeds can be reinvested at a much higher rate of return (including the capital loss from the payoff), where we believe there is significant risk of collateral value or cash flow erosion through maturity, or where we believe refinancing risk at maturity is very high. When evaluating sales and payoffs at discounts to book value, we also consider the impact such transactions have on our financing structures, corporate debt covenants and earnings.
Securities investments generally have a more liquid market than loans and net lease assets, but we typically have very little control over restructuring decisions when there are problems with the underlying collateral. We manage risk in the securities portfolio by selling the asset when we can obtain a price that is attractive relative to its risk. In certain situations, we may sell an asset because there is an opportunity to reinvest the capital into a new asset with a more attractive risk/return profile.
We conduct a quarterly comprehensive credit review which is designed to enable management to evaluate and proactively manage asset-specific credit issues and identify credit trends on a portfolio-wide basis as an "early warning system." Nevertheless, we cannot be certain that our review will identify all issues within our portfolio due to, among other things, adverse economic conditions or events adversely affecting specific assets; therefore, potential future losses may also stem from assets
that are not identified by our credit reviews. During the quarterly reviews, assets are put on non-performing status and identified for possible impairment based upon several factors, including missed or late contractual payments, significant declines in collateral performance, and other data which may indicate a potential issue in our ability to recover our capital from the investment.
On July 8, 2010, we acquired, as part of the CSE RE 2006-A CDO acquisition, commercial real estate loans having an aggregate $1.1 billion outstanding principal balance. The loans were recorded as of July 8, 2010, at their estimated $396.0 million fair market value. As of December 31, 2010, the CSE RE 2006-A loans had an aggregate $966.6 million outstanding principal balance and an aggregate $291.0 million carrying value. The $616.9 million acquisition discount as of December 31, 2010, acts as a built-in reserve for credit issues and recoveries less than contractual amounts related to these acquired loans. Although fair market values and any related discounts to outstanding principal balances were determined on a loan-by-loan basis and therefore cannot be allocated to other loans, we believe the overall discount provides protection to our basis for ongoing credit issues associated with this portfolio.
At December 31, 2010, our loan portfolio, inclusive of the CSE RE 2006-A CDO, had the following credit statistics (in thousands):
At December 31, 2010, our loan portfolio principal and interest aging is as follows (inclusive of our non-performing loans) (in thousands):
For the three months ended December 31, 2010, we recorded a $32.8 million credit loss provision relating to three loans. For the year ended December 31, 2010, we recorded $168.4 million of credit loss provisions relating to 16 loans, which included; (i) $6.5 million for four first mortgage loans sold during the period, net of $1.3 million in credit loss reversal for two of the loans sold for which we received net sale proceeds in excess of their carrying amounts, having an aggregate principal amount of approximately $90.3 million and sold for approximately $61.9 million, (ii) $13.9 million in provisions for two mezzanine loans having an aggregate principal amount of approximately $71.2 million and sold for approximately $57.6 million, (iii) $0.2 million in provisions for a junior participation in a first mortgage loan having a principal amount of approximately $21.4 million and sold for approximately $21.2 million and (iv) $3.0 million in provisions for a junior participation in a first mortgage loan having a principal amount of approximately $18.0 million that was foreclosed and recorded as REO held for sale at December 31, 2010.
As of December 31, 2010, loan loss reserves totaled $197.2 million and related to 13 loans having an aggregate $347.9 million gross book value (exclusive of the related reserve) and includes reserves of $25.7 million related to loans having an aggregate gross book value of $43.6 million (exclusive of the related reserve) that were added to the reserve balance as a result of the acquisition of N-Star CDO IX.
Activity in the allowance for credit losses on real estate debt investments for year ended December 31, 2010, is as follows (in thousands):
At December 31, 2010, we had four loans, exclusive of the CSE RE 2006-A loans, totaling $64.5 million of aggregate outstanding principal amount on non-performing status due to maturity defaults, and $38.7 million of our credit loss reserves were allocated to these loans. First mortgages represent approximately 19.4% of the gross book value of these loans (exclusive of reserves), and 44.1% of the loans are backed by land collateral. There can be no assurance that there will be acceptable outcomes under our non-performing loans and accordingly, we may, in the future, determine that more reserves are required for these loans.
Overall, the prolonged poor economic conditions and the scarcity of commercial real estate debt capital resulted in increasing stress levels for commercial real estate credit. A shrinking economy generally results in decreasing real estate cash flows as corporations and consumers reduce their real estate needs, travel and spending. While the overall economy has recently seen some signs of growth, generally lower property cash flows than when the existing financing was completed are causing real estate owners to have difficulty refinancing their assets at maturity. Many owners are also having trouble achieving their business plans to the extent they acquired a property to reposition it or otherwise invest capital to increase the property's cash flows. Property values have also generally decreased over the past few years because of scarcity of financing, which when it is available the terms generally are at much lower leverage and higher cost than available in prior years, uncertainty regarding future economic conditions and higher returning investment opportunities available in other asset classes. Decreasing values make it difficult for real estate investors to sell their properties and to recoup their capital. As a result of the weak commercial real estate market, many lenders, including us,
are concluding that extending loans at original maturity, rather than foreclosure and sale, may be the most attractive path for maximizing value.
Many of our loans were made to borrowers who had a business plan to improve the collateral property and who therefore needed a flexible balance sheet lender. In many cases we required the borrowers to pre-fund reserves to cover interest and operating expenses until the property cash flows increased sufficiently to cover debt service costs. We also required the investor to refill these reserves if they became deficient due to underperformance and if the borrower wanted to exercise extension options under the loan. Despite low interest rates, we expect that in the future some of our borrowers may have difficulty servicing our debt because they cannot achieve their business plan in this economic environment. If any of our borrowers are unable to replenish reserves and otherwise are unable to ultimately achieve their business plans, the related loans may become non-performing. In addition, even if a borrower's business plan is achieved, current real estate valuations and the financing environment may result in a borrower being unable to recoup its invested capital and a default under the loan causing a partial or full loss of our loan principal.
Each of our loan investments, while primarily backed by commercial real estate collateral, is unique and requires customized asset management strategies for dealing with potential credit situations. The complexity of each situation depends on many factors, including the number of collateral properties, the type of property, macro and local market conditions impacting the demand, cash flow and value of the of the collateral, and the financial condition of our borrowers and their willingness to support our collateral properties. Additionally, in many cases there are multiple lenders involved with specific collateral properties and these lenders may have different objectives which influence their preferred strategy for dealing with a credit situation.
Our impairment analyses often requires that we make assumptions regarding collateral values and the timing regarding when we will receive debt service payments, including principal recovery. In a difficult environment for commercial real estate, our impairment analyses may lead us to the determination that extending and working out a loan, rather than pursuing foreclosure, is the best course of action to maximize total and long-term value. However, in situations where there are multiple creditors in large capital structures, it can be particularly difficult to assess the most likely course of action that a lender group or the borrower may take. Consequently, there could be a wide range of potential principal recovery outcomes, the timing of which can be unpredictable, based on the strategy pursued by a lender group and/or by a borrower. Our impairment analysis in each of these situations is based on our assessment of the facts and circumstances currently known to us and because these situations often involve complicated collateral and complex creditor and borrower dynamics, our assessment of recovery value may change more dramatically and quickly and without the visibility that may be available in other situations. These multiple creditor situations tend to be associated with larger loans, and NorthStar has been and continues to be involved in situations such as these, although NorthStar, as one of a group of lenders and often a lender on a subordinated basis, does not independently control the decision making. The discussion below summarizes the largest credit situations that currently meet some of the foregoing characteristics.
East Rutherford, NJ Retail Construction First Mortgage Loan.
We own a 22% interest held in Meadowlands One, LLC that is secured by a retail/entertainment complex located in East Rutherford, NJ ("NJ Property"), and the lender group is in the process of seeking to recapitalize the NJ Property. While the lender group has selected a developer to complete the NJ Property, there is no assurance that a recapitalization will be completed or that a recapitalization will be completed on terms acceptable to us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
Las Vegas, NV Casino/Hotel Mezzanine Loan.
We own an $89 million mezzanine loan (the "NV Loan") that is secured by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV (the "Hard Rock"). We, along with certain of the other lenders, and the borrower and its affiliates under the NV Loan, have entered into a term sheet that provides for a long-term restructuring of the NV Loan. As part of the restructuring, it is expected that Brookfield will take ownership of the Hard Rock and will enter into a seven-year loan with the existing senior lender, subject to achieving certain tests, and we will retain our $89 million mezzanine loan (or its economic equivalent), as well as an equity participation in the Hard Rock. There is no assurance that the restructuring will be completed or, if completed, that it will be successful over time. Accordingly, we may lose all of our investment, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
Critical Accounting Policies
Our discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations is based on our financial statements which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, or U.S. GAAP. These accounting principles requires the use of estimates and assumptions that could affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses. Actual results could differ significantly from those estimates. The estimates are based on information that is currently available to management, as well as on various other assumptions that management believes are reasonable under the circumstances. We have identified our critical accounting policies that affect the more significant judgments and estimates used by us in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements to be the following:
The consolidated financial statements include our accounts and our majority-owned subsidiaries and variable interest entities ("VIE") where we are deemed the primary beneficiary. All significant inter-company balances have been eliminated in consolidation.
Proper valuation of financial instruments is a critical component of our financial statement preparation. Fair value is defined as the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between marketplace participants at the measurement date (i.e., the exit price).
We have categorized our financial instruments, based on the priority of the inputs to the valuation technique, into a three level fair value hierarchy. The fair value hierarchy gives the highest priority to quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities (Level 1) and the lowest priority to unobservable inputs (Level 3). If the inputs used to measure the financial instruments fall within different levels of the hierarchy, the categorization is based on the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement of the instrument.
Financial assets and liabilities recorded on the Consolidated Balance Sheets are categorized based on th