SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission file number: 000-56139
TRINITY CAPITAL INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or
(IRS Employer Identification No.)
3075 West Ray Road
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.001 per share
Nasdaq Global Select Market
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 ◻ No ⌧
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes ◻ No ⌧
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ⌧ No ◻
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ◻ No ◻
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ◻
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ◻
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell Company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes ◻ No ⌧
The aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2020 has not been provided because trading of the registrant’s common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market did not commence until January 29, 2021.
As of March 3, 2021, the registrant had 26,415,275 shares of common stock ($0.001 par value per share) outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days following the end of the registrant’s fiscal year, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this annual report on Form 10-K.
TRINITY CAPITAL INC.
This annual report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. Such statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, and undue reliance should not be placed thereon. Any statements about our expectations, beliefs, plans, predictions, forecasts, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance are not historical facts and may be forward-looking. These statements are often, but not always, made through the use of words or phrases such as “anticipate,” “believes,” “can,” “could,” “may,” “predicts,” “potential,” “should,” “will,” “estimate,” “plans,” “projects,” “continuing,” “ongoing,” “expects,” “intends” and similar words or phrases. Accordingly, these statements are only predictions and involve estimates, known and unknown risks, assumptions and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in them. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements as a result of several factors discussed under Item 1A. “Risk Factors” of Part I of this annual report on Form 10-K, including, but not limited to, the following:
|●||our limited operating history as a business development company (“BDC”);|
|●||our future operating results, including the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 (“COVID-19”) pandemic;|
|●||our dependence upon our management team and key investment professionals;|
|●||our ability to manage our business and future growth;|
|●||risks related to investments in growth stage companies, other venture capital-backed companies and generally U.S. companies;|
|●||the ability of our portfolio companies to achieve their objectives;|
|●||the use of leverage;|
|●||risks related to the uncertainty of the value of our portfolio investments;|
|●||changes in political, economic or industry conditions, the interest rate environment or conditions affecting the financial and capital markets, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;|
|●||uncertainty surrounding the financial and/or political stability of the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and China, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;|
|●||the dependence of our future success on the general economy and its impact on the industries in which we invest;|
|●||risks related to changes in interest rates, our expenses, and other general economic conditions and the effect on our net investment income;|
|●||the effect of the decommissioning of LIBOR;|
|●||the effect of changes in tax laws and regulations and interpretations thereof;|
|●||the impact on our business of new or amended legislation or regulations;|
|●||risks related to market volatility, including general price and volume fluctuations in stock markets;|
|●||our ability to make distributions, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and|
|●||our ability to maintain our status as a BDC under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended and qualify annually for tax treatment as a regulated investment company under Subchapter M of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.|
Additionally, there may be other risks that are otherwise described from time to time in the reports that we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Any forward-looking statements in this annual report on Form 10-K should be considered in light of various important factors, including the risks and uncertainties listed above, as well as others. All forward-looking statements are necessarily only estimates of future results, and there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially from expectations, and, therefore, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements. Any forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to the risk factors discussed throughout this annual report on Form 10-K. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors.” Further, any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it is made, and we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which the statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. Because we are an investment company, the forward-looking statements and projections contained in this annual report on Form 10-K are excluded from the safe harbor protections provided by Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) (the “safe harbor” provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995).
Except where the context suggests otherwise, the terms “we,” “us,” “our,” “the Company,” and “Trinity” refer to Trinity Capital Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries.
Trinity Capital Inc. (“TCI”), incorporated in Maryland on August 12, 2019, is an internally managed, closed-end, non-diversified management investment company that has elected to be regulated as a business development company (“BDC”) under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). Because TCI is internally managed, all of the executive officers and employees are employed by the Company. Therefore, the Company does not pay any external investment advisory fees, but instead directly incurs the operating costs associated with employing investment and portfolio management professionals.
On January 16, 2020, the Company completed a private equity offering (the “Private Common Stock Offering”) of shares of its common stock pursuant to which it issued and sold 7,000,000 shares for gross proceeds of approximately $105.0 million. An over-allotment option related to the Private Common Stock Offering was exercised in full and on January 29, 2020 the Company issued and sold an additional 1,333,333 shares of its common stock for gross proceeds of approximately $20 million. As a result, in total, the Company issued and sold 8,333,333 shares of its common stock for total aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $125.0 million.
Concurrent with the initial closing of the Private Common Stock Offering, the Company completed a private debt offering (the “144A Note Offering” and together with the Private Common Stock Offering, the “Private Offerings”) of $105.0 million in aggregate principal amount of the Company’s unsecured 7.00% Notes due 2025 (the “2025 Notes”). An over-allotment option related to the 144A Note Offering was exercised in full and on January 29, 2020 the Company issued and sold an additional $20.0 million in aggregate principal amount of the 2025 Notes. As a result, the Company issued and sold $125.0 million in aggregate principal amount of the 2025 Notes.
On January 16, 2020, through a series of transactions (the “Formation Transactions”), we acquired Trinity Capital Investment, LLC ( “TCI, LLC”), Trinity Capital Fund II, L.P. (“Fund II”), Trinity Capital Fund III, L.P. (“Fund III”), Trinity Capital Fund IV, L.P. (“Fund IV”) and Trinity Sidecar Income Fund, L.P. (“Sidecar Fund,” and collectively, the “Legacy Funds”) and all of their respective assets (the “Legacy Assets”), including their respective investment portfolios (the “Legacy Portfolio”), as well as Trinity Capital Holdings, LLC (“Trinity Capital Holdings”), a holding company whose subsidiaries managed and/or had the right to receive fees from certain of the Legacy Funds. We used a portion of the proceeds from the Private Offerings to complete these transactions.
In the Formation Transactions, the Legacy Funds were merged with and into the Company, and we issued 9,183,185 shares of our common stock for an aggregate amount of approximately $137.7 million and paid approximately $108.7 million in cash to the Legacy Funds’ investors, which included the general partners/managers of the Legacy Funds (the “Legacy Investors”), to acquire the Legacy Funds and all of their respective assets, including the Legacy Portfolio. Our senior management team, led by Steven L. Brown, comprises the majority of the senior management team that managed the Legacy Funds and sourced the Legacy Portfolio.
As part of the Formation Transactions, we also acquired 100% of the equity interests of Trinity Capital Holdings for an aggregate purchase price of $10.0 million, which was comprised of 533,332 shares of our common stock, totaling approximately $8.0 million, and approximately $2.0 million in cash. In connection with the acquisition of such equity interests, the Company also assumed a $3.5 million severance related liability with respect to a former member of certain general partners of certain Legacy Funds. In connection with the acquisition of Trinity Capital Holdings, approximately $13.5 million (consisting of the aggregate purchase price and severance related liability assumed) was expensed to Costs related to the acquisition of Trinity Capital Holdings and Legacy Funds in the Consolidated Statements of Operations. As a result of the Formation Transactions, Trinity Capital Holdings became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company.
Trinity Funding 1, LLC (“TF1”) was formed on August 14, 2019 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Fund II to serve as a bankruptcy-remote entity for purposes of securing lending. On January 16, 2020, in connection with the Formation Transactions, the Company acquired TF1 through Fund II and became a party to, and assumed, a $300 million credit agreement (as amended, the “Credit Facility”) with Credit Suisse AG (“Credit Suisse”) through TF1. TF1 is included as a consolidated subsidiary of TCI in TCI’s consolidated financial statements.
On January 29, 2021, our common stock began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “TRIN,” and we completed our initial public offering of our common stock, par value $0.001, (“IPO”) on February 2, 2021.
In connection with the filing of our 2020 annual tax return, TCI will elect to be treated as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) under Subchapter M of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), for U.S. federal income tax purposes. As a result, the Company generally does not pay corporate-level U.S. federal income taxes on any net ordinary taxable income or capital gains that it distributes to its stockholders.
We provide debt, including loans and equipment financings, to growth stage companies, including venture-backed companies and companies with institutional equity investors. Our investment objective is to generate current income and, to a lesser extent, capital appreciation through our investments. We seek to achieve our investment objective by making investments consisting primarily of term loans and equipment financings and, to a lesser extent, working capital loans, equity and equity-related investments. Our equipment financings involve loans for general or specific use, including acquiring equipment, that are secured by the equipment or other assets of the portfolio company. In addition, we may obtain warrants or contingent exit fees from many of our portfolio companies, providing an additional potential source of investment returns. The warrants entitle us to purchase preferred or common ownership shares of a portfolio company, and we typically target the amount of such warrants to scale in proportion to the amount of the debt or equipment financing. Contingent exit fees are cash fees payable upon the consummation of certain trigger events, such as a successful change of control or initial public offering of the portfolio company. In addition, we may obtain rights to purchase additional shares of our portfolio companies in subsequent equity financing rounds.
We target investments in growth stage companies with institutional investor support, experienced management teams, promising products and offerings, and large expanding markets. We define “growth stage companies” as companies that have significant ownership and active participation by sponsors and expected annual revenues of up to $100 million. These companies typically have begun to have success selling their products to the market and need additional capital to expand their operations and sales. Despite often achieving growing revenues, these types of companies typically have limited financing options to fund their growth. Equity, being dilutive in nature, is generally the most expensive form of capital available, while traditional bank financing is rarely available, given the lifecycle stage of these companies. Financing from us bridges this financing gap, providing companies with growth capital, which may result in improved profitability, less dilution for all equity investors, and increased enterprise value. Subject to the requirements of the 1940 Act, we are not limited to investing in any particular industry or geographic area and seek to invest in under-financed segments of the private credit markets.
Our loans and equipment financings may have initial interest-only periods of up to 24 months and generally fully amortize over a total term of up to 60 months. These investments are typically secured by a blanket first position lien, a specific asset lien on mission-critical assets and/or a blanket second position lien. We may also make a limited number of direct equity and equity-related investments in conjunction with our debt investments. We target growth stage companies that have recently issued equity to raise cash to offset potential cash flow needs related to projected growth, have achieved positive cash flow to cover debt service, or have institutional investors committed to providing additional funding. A loan or equipment financing may be structured to tie the amortization of the loan or equipment financing to the portfolio company’s projected cash balances while cash is still available for operations. As such, the loan or equipment financing may have a reduced risk of default. We believe that the amortizing nature of our investments will mitigate risk and significantly reduce the risk of our investments over a relatively short period. We focus on protecting and recovering principal in each investment and structure our investments to provide downside protection.
Our loans and equipment financings generally range from $2 million to $30 million and we generally limit each loan or equipment financing to approximately five percent or less of our total assets. We believe investments of this scale are generally sufficient to support near-term growth needs of most growth stage companies. We seek to structure our loans and equipment financings such that amortization of the amount invested quickly reduces our risk exposure. Leveraging the experience of our investment professionals, we seek to target companies at their growth stage of development and to identify financing opportunities ignored by the traditional direct lending community.
The following illustrates the lifecycle stage at which we seek to invest in our portfolio companies, although we may, at our discretion, invest in other lifecycle stages.
Human Capital Resources and Management Team
We are an internally managed BDC employing 34 dedicated professionals as of December 31, 2020, including 17 investment, origination and portfolio management professionals, all of whom have experience working on investment and financing transactions for growth and early-stage companies. All of our employees are located in the United States.
Our management team has prior management experience, including with early-stage tech startups, and employs a highly systematized approach. Our senior management team, led by Steven L. Brown, comprises the majority of the senior management team that managed the Legacy Funds and sourced the Legacy Portfolio.
All investment decisions are made by the Investment Committee, whose members consist of Steven L. Brown, Gerald Harder, Kyle Brown and Ron Kundich. We consider these individuals to be our portfolio managers. The Investment Committee approves proposed investments by majority consent, which majority must include Steven L. Brown, in accordance with investment guidelines and procedures established by the Investment Committee.
Our employees drive the success of our business and investment strategy, including achieving our investment objective. We offer competitive compensation, benefits and training programs to develop our employees’ skills and expertise. We are committed to providing a safe, harassment-free work environment guided by principles of fair and equal treatment and focused on employee engagement.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we instituted a temporary work-from-home policy in March 2020, during which our employees primarily worked remotely without disruption to our operations. In May 2020, we began to allow healthy employees to work in the office if they so choose.
Potential Competitive Advantages
We believe that we are one of only a select group of specialty lenders that has our depth of knowledge, experience, and track record in lending to growth stage companies. Further, we are one of an even smaller subset of specialty lenders that offers both loans and equipment financings. Our other potential competitive advantages include:
• In-house engineering and operations expertise to evaluate growth stage companies’ business products and plans.
We have a history of employing technology experts, including those with engineering and operations expertise, who have developed proven technology and hold patents in their names, as well as executives and other employees who have experience with the products and business plans of growth stage companies. The expertise, knowledge and experience of these individuals allows them to understand and evaluate the business plans, products and financing needs of growth stage companies, including the risks related thereto.
• Direct origination networks that benefit from relationships with venture banks, institutional equity investors and entrepreneurs built during the term of operations of the Legacy Funds, which began in 2008.
We seek to be the first contact for venture bankers who focus on growth stage companies and who have a portfolio company that would benefit from term debt or equipment financings. We have established relationships with the major technology banks over the last 10 years in every major market across the United States and have established standard intercreditor and subordination agreements, which we believe make working with technology banks seamless in most regions across the United States. These banks often will provide revolving credit facilities to growth stage companies and we seek to provide term debt and/or equipment financings to their portfolio companies.
We also focus on sourcing deals from the partners of growth stage institutional investors, including growth stage venture capital firms and private equity firms. We focus on building relationships with investors who have raised recent funds and have the ability to provide ongoing support to their portfolio companies.
We receive referrals directly to the executive officers of growth stage companies from these various stakeholders. Most of these stakeholders have board seats on the portfolio companies referred to us, are intimately involved in the business of such portfolio companies and generally serve as our advocates when term sheets are negotiated. We also receive introductions to companies for potential investment opportunities from executive officers with whom we have had business relationships at former portfolio companies.
• A dedicated staff of professionals covering credit origination and underwriting, as well as portfolio management functions.
We have a broad team of professionals focused on every aspect of the investment lifecycle. We have a credit origination and underwriting team that manages and oversees our investment process from identification of investment opportunity through negotiations of final term sheet and investment in a portfolio company. Our investment management and oversight activities are separate from our origination and underwriting activities. The team members serving our investment management and oversight functions have significant operating experience and are not associated with our origination function to avoid any biased views of performance. This structure helps our originators focus on identifying investment opportunities and building relationships with our portfolio companies.
• A proprietary credit rating system and regimented process for evaluating and underwriting prospective portfolio companies.
Historically, our management team has received significant prospective investment opportunities. In order to quickly review investment opportunities and evaluate risks, we have developed a detailed and consistent credit rating system. This system allows our analysts to receive a full set of financial statements and projections and quickly fill out a rating sheet for each potential investment, which includes using a series of weighted calculations to provide an initial “pass” or “fail” rating on the potential investment, as well as identifying specific risks for further consideration.
• Scalable software platforms developed during the term of operations of the Legacy Funds, which support our underwriting processes and loan monitoring functions.
We have an internally developed pipeline management tool which gives us a detailed look at our performance in real time. We believe our historical metrics generally predict our quarterly funding needs based upon the number of prospective investment opportunities we have at varying stages of our origination process. We believe this granular look at our underwriting process gives us the ability to increase or decrease marketing efforts in order to manage available capital and achieve our deployment goals.
We believe that an attractive market opportunity exists for providing debt and equipment financings to growth stage companies for the following reasons:
|•||Growth stage companies have generally been underserved by traditional lending sources;|
|•||Unfulfilled demand exists for loans and equipment financings to growth stage companies due to the complexity of evaluating risk in these investments;|
|•||Debt investments with warrants are less dilutive than traditional equity financing and complement equity financing from venture capital and private equity funds;|
|•||Equity funding of growth stage companies, including venture capital backed companies, has increased steadily over the last ten years, resulting in new lending and equipment financing opportunities.|
|•||We estimate that the annual U.S. venture debt and equipment financing market in 2020 exceeded $23 billion. We believe that the equipment financing market is even more fragmented, with the majority of equipment financing providers unable to fund investments for more than $10 million. We believe there are significant growth opportunities for us to expand our market share in the venture debt market and become a one-stop shop for loans and equipment financings for growth stage companies.|
Growth Stage Companies are Underserved by Traditional Lenders.
We believe many viable growth stage companies have been unable to obtain sufficient growth financing from traditional lenders, including financial services companies such as commercial banks and finance companies, because traditional lenders have continued to consolidate and have adopted a more risk-averse approach to lending. More importantly, we believe traditional lenders are typically unable to underwrite the risk associated with these companies effectively.
The cash flow characteristics of many growth stage companies include significant research and development expenditures and high projected revenue growth, thus often making such companies difficult to evaluate from a credit perspective. In addition, the balance sheets of many of these companies often include a disproportionately large amount of intellectual property assets, which can be difficult to value. Finally, the speed of innovation in technology and rapid shifts in consumer demand and market share add to the difficulty in evaluating these companies.
Due to the difficulties described above, we believe traditional lenders generally refrain from lending and/or providing equipment financing to growth stage companies, instead preferring the risk-reward profile of traditional fixed asset-based lending. We believe traditional lenders generally do not have flexible product offerings that meet the needs of growth stage companies. The financing products offered by traditional lenders typically impose restrictive covenants and conditions on borrowers, including limiting cash outflows and requiring a significant depository relationship to facilitate rapid liquidation.
Unfulfilled Demand for Loans and Equipment Financings to Growth Stage Companies.
Private capital in the form of debt and equipment financing from specialty finance companies continues to be an important source of funding for growth stage companies. We believe that the level of demand for debt and equipment financing is a function of the level of annual venture equity investment activity and can be as much as 20% to 30% of such investment activity. We believe this market is largely served by a handful of venture banks, with whom our products generally do not compete, and a relative few term lenders and lessors.
We believe that demand for debt and equipment financing to growth stage companies is currently underserved, given the high level of activity in venture capital equity market for the growth stage companies in which we invest. We believe certain venture lending companies have begun to focus on larger investment opportunities, potentially creating additional opportunities for us in the near term. Our senior management team has seen a significant increase in the number of potential investment opportunities over the last ten years.
Debt Investments with Warrants Complement Equity Financing from Venture Capital and Private Equity Funds.
We believe that growth stage companies and their financial sponsors will continue to view debt and equipment financing as an attractive source of capital because it augments the capital provided by venture capital and private equity funds. We believe that our debt investments, including loans and equipment financings, will provide access to growth capital that otherwise may only be available through incremental equity investments by new or existing equity investors. As such, we intend to provide portfolio companies and their financial sponsors with an opportunity to diversify their capital sources. Generally, we believe many growth stage companies target a portion of their capital to be debt and equipment financing in an attempt to minimize ownership dilution to existing investors and company founders. In addition, because growth stage companies generally reach a more mature stage prior to reaching a liquidity event, we believe our investments could provide the capital needed to grow or recapitalize during the extended growth period sometimes required prior to liquidity events.
Investment Philosophy, Strategy and Process
We lend money in the form of term loans and equipment financings and, to a lesser extent, working capital loans to growth stage companies. Investors may receive returns from three sources — the loan’s interest payments or equipment financing payments and the associated contractual fees; the final principal payment; and, contingent upon a successful change of control or initial public offering, proceeds from the equity positions or contingent exit fees obtained at loan or equipment financing origination.
We primarily seek to invest in loans and equipment financings to growth stage companies that have generally completed product development and are in need of capital to fund revenue growth. We believe a lack of profitability often limits these companies’ ability to access traditional bank financing and our in-house engineering and operations experience allows us to better understand this risk and earn what we believe to be higher overall returns and better risk-adjusted returns than those associated with traditional bank loans.
Subject to the requirements under the 1940 Act, which require that we invest at least 70% of our total assets in qualifying assets, we may also engage in other lending activities by investing in assets that are not qualifying assets under the requirements of the 1940 Act, including asset-backed lending, which may constitute up to 30% of our total assets.
We believe good candidates for loans and equipment financings appear in all business sectors. We are not limited to investing in any particular industry or geographic area and seek to invest in under-financed segments of the private credit markets. We believe in diversification and do not intend to specialize in any one sector. Our portfolio companies are selected from a wide range of industries, technologies and geographic regions. Since we focus on investing in portfolio companies alongside venture capital firms and technology banks, we anticipate that most of our opportunities will come from sectors that those sources finance.
Characteristics of Target Portfolio Companies
We seek to invest in a cross-section of growth stage companies. In addition to the criteria discussed in this annual report on Form 10-K, we may consider other factors such as portfolio company size, industry, historical revenue growth, management’s revenue growth projections, relevant operating margins, competition, management capabilities and geographic concentration. We will evaluate prospective portfolio companies quantitatively and qualitatively, and determine investments based on the key factors, including the following items:
|•||Recent, concurrent, or future funding by a venture capital firm;|
|•||Strong, experienced and flexible management team;|
|•||Successful, market-proven product and/or service with some proprietary characteristics;|
|•||Application of proven technologies that enable their customers to reduce costs, improve strategic positioning or fundamentally change the competitive nature of their industries;|
|•||Detailed business plan with multi-year projections that cover the full term of our investment; and|
|•||A defined exit strategy with identified potential acquirers.|
We seek to structure portfolio investments to mitigate risk and provide attractive risk-adjusted returns for our investors while meeting portfolio companies financing needs. Typically, our loans, equipment financings and equity and equity-related investments take one of the following forms:
|•||Term Debt and Working Capital Loans. Term debt and working capital loans typically have initial interest-only periods of up to 24 months and may then fully amortize over a total term of up to 60 months. The annual stated interest rate on these loans typically has ranged from 8% to 14%.|
|•||Equipment Financings. Typically, an equipment financing is structured as fully amortizing over a period of up to 60 months. The specific terms of each equipment financing depend on the creditworthiness of the portfolio company and the projected value of the financed assets. Occasionally, we offer an initial period at a lower finance factor to companies with stronger creditworthiness, which is analogous to an interest-only period on a term loan. Annual interest rates on equipment financings typically have ranged from 7% to 14%.|
|•||Additional Deal Considerations. Additional deal considerations typically have included upfront fees of up to 2% of the invested principal, upfront structuring fees of approximately one-half month of finance payments for equipment financings, an upfront deposit of up to three months for equipment financings, and have final payments on average of 8% of invested principal.|
|•||Equity and Equity-Related Securities. We may also seek to obtain warrants entitling us to purchase preferred or common ownership shares of a portfolio company. We typically target the amount of such warrants to scale in proportion to the amount of the debt or equipment financing. We also attempt to structure such warrants so that the exercise price of the warrants will either be the price paid by venture capital investors in the most recent financing round or a current option price set by the portfolio company. Our typical exercise period for warrants is seven to 10 years. In addition, we may obtain rights to purchase additional shares of our portfolio companies in subsequent equity financing rounds.|
Concentration Limits; Security
We endeavor to maintain reasonable limits of concentration to specific industries, technologies and geographic regions. By their nature, these limits are subjective and are applied solely at the discretion of management.
In all our loans, we seek to take a security position in all of the assets of the portfolio company, including intellectual property, if available. From time to time, we may agree to take a security position in less than the total amount of assets. In the case of equipment financings, for instance, the security interest may extend only to the asset(s) financed.
In addition, we seek to enter into standard intercreditor agreements with the major technology banks that we anticipate engaging with, making work-out situations much easier and less contentious. Where and when possible, we will execute deposit account control agreements with our portfolio companies giving us ongoing access to their bank accounts for purposes of ensuring access to our collateral in a default. In all cases, we seek to put in place Uniform Commercial Code filings to perfect our position, and to update these filings frequently to reflect changes in our collateral.
Investment Originations; New Deals Referred
We have a multi-channel sourcing strategy focused primarily on growth stage venture capital firms, private equity firms, technology banks and, to a lesser extent, brokers who focus on our business. We have established relationships with the major technology banks and have established standard intercreditor and subordination agreements, which make working with technology banks seamless in most regions across United States.
We continue to expand our originations team internally in order to continue to focus on building relationships with individuals at top tier venture capital firms as well as building out connections to a nationwide network of technology bankers. We have developed proprietary internal systems and technology to give our originations and marketing team real time information about the broader market and our investment pipeline, which we leverage to attempt to become and maintain our relationship as the first call for our referral sources.
The following illustrates our transaction rating methodology for term loans.
The following illustrates our transaction rating methodology for equipment financings.
Our initial rating of every opportunity is based on six factors:
|(1)||the portfolio company’s investors, specifically their ability and likelihood to provide ongoing financial support as needed;|
|(2)||the experience and strength of the portfolio company’s management team and board of directors;|
|(3)||the portfolio company’s products or services and the market needs that they fulfill;|
|(4)||the portfolio company’s historical and projected financial performance, including a review of revenue potential, growth, gross margins and other metrics;|
|(5)||debt structure and cash life; and|
|(6)||other factors such as intellectual property, collateral, corporate governance, or other items that are deemed to be relevant by the due diligence team.|
Investment opportunities that score an acceptable initial rating are moved on for further consideration.
Preliminary Due Diligence and Executive Summary
The next phase of the due diligence process involves a structured call with the management team of the prospective portfolio company. Following the management call, if the opportunity still appears to be worthy of consideration, an executive summary memorandum is prepared by the due diligence team for consideration and voting by the Investment Committee. The executive summary memorandum is distributed to the Investment Committee, and the deal terms for the investment are defined. If approved by the Investment Committee, we issue a term sheet to the prospective portfolio company.
Confirmatory Due Diligence and On-Site Meeting
If the term sheet offered by us is accepted by the prospective portfolio company, the process of obtaining additional confirmatory due diligence begins. The confirmatory due diligence process typically includes calls with the venture capital partners responsible for the equity financing of the portfolio company, as well as key customers, suppliers, partners, or other stakeholders as may be deemed relevant by the due diligence team. Additional financial analysis is performed, in order to confirm the cash life assumptions that were made prior to term sheet issuance. In the case of an equipment financing, or term loan in which fixed assets make up a significant portion of our collateral, the due diligence team completes an analysis of the equipment or fixed assets being financed, which may include calls to the original manufacturer and/or any dealers, resellers, or refurbishing companies, to evaluate the value of the equipment at inception, as well as the useful life and anticipated value throughout the life of our holding period. Occasionally, we may engage the assistance of an appraiser to assist in valuations.
The final step in the confirmatory diligence process generally involves an on-site meeting, at which members of our due diligence team meet with the management team of the prospective portfolio company for a final review of the portfolio company’s financial performance and forward-looking plans. This meeting is typically held at the business offices of the portfolio company; however, occasionally the meeting will be held via video teleconference if travel to the portfolio company is not possible. One or more members of the Investment Committee will attend the on-site meeting if possible.
Underwriting Report and Investment Committee Vote
Assuming that the confirmatory due diligence process reveals no issues that would cause the due diligence team to recommend against the proposed investment, the due diligence team prepares an Investment Underwriting Report (“IUR”), which is distributed to the Investment Committee. The Investment Committee then meets to discuss and review the deal terms and IUR regarding the proposed investment and a vote takes place. A majority of the Investment Committee, which majority must include Steven L. Brown, is required to approve the transaction.
Investment Management and Oversight
Our investment management and oversight activities are separate from our origination and underwriting activities. The team members serving our investment management and oversight functions have significant operating experience and are not associated with our origination function to avoid any biased views of performance. Beyond the dedicated portfolio management team, all of our management team members and investment professionals are typically involved at various times with our portfolio companies and investments. Our portfolio management team reviews our portfolio companies’ monthly or quarterly financial statements and compares actual results to the portfolio companies’ projections. Additionally, the portfolio management team may initiate periodic calls with the portfolio company’s venture capital partners and its management team and may obtain observer rights on the portfolio company’s board of directors. Our management team and investment professionals anticipate potential problems by monitoring reporting requirements and having frequent calls with the management teams of our portfolio companies.
Investment Risk Rating System
Our portfolio management team uses an ongoing investment risk rating system to characterize and monitor our outstanding loans and equipment financings. Our portfolio management team monitors and, when appropriate, recommends changes to the investment risk ratings. Our Investment Committee reviews the recommendations and/or changes to the investment risk ratings, which are submitted on a quarterly basis to the Audit Committee (the “Audit Committee”) of our Board of Directors (the “Board”) and the Board.
From time to time, we will identify investments that require closer monitoring or become work-out assets. We will develop a workout strategy for workout assets and our Investment Committee will monitor the progress against the strategy. We may incur losses from our investing activities; however, we work with our troubled portfolio companies in order to recover as much of our investments as is practicable, including possibly taking control of the portfolio company. The risk rating system allows for early detection of issues and escalation to avoid credit losses.
For our investment risk rating system, we review seven different criteria and, based on our review of such criteria, we assign a risk rating on a scale of 1 to 5, as set forth in the following illustration.
As of December 31, 2020, the Company’s debt investment portfolio had a weighted average risk rating score of 3.2.
As a BDC, we are required to offer, and provide upon request, managerial assistance to our portfolio companies. This assistance could involve, among other things, monitoring the operations of our portfolio companies, participating in board and management meetings, consulting with and advising officers of portfolio companies and providing other organizational and financial guidance. We may, from time to time, receive fees for these services. In the event that such fees are received, we expect that they will be incorporated into our operating income and passed through to our stockholders, given the nature of our structure as an internally managed BDC. See “— Regulation as a Business Development Company — Significant Managerial Assistance” for additional information.
Our prospective markets are highly competitive and are characterized by competitive factors that vary based upon product and geographic region. Competitors vary and may include captive and independent finance companies, other BDCs, equity and debt focused public and private funds, commercial banks and thrift institutions, industrial banks, community banks, leasing companies, hedge funds, insurance companies, mortgage companies, manufacturers and vendors, and other financing providers. There has been substantial competition for attractive investment opportunities in the venture capital business, in particular.
These lenders will typically offer lower finance rates than non-bank finance companies (including us), but will require cash depository relationships, blanket liens and will often have certain performance and cash covenants, all of which make their lending program less flexible and, we believe, less attractive to borrowers. We compete, in part, on the basis of pricing, terms and structure. For additional information concerning the competitive risks we face, refer to “Item 1A. Risk Factors – Risks Relating to Our Business and Structure – We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities, which could reduce returns and result in losses.”
Emerging Growth Company
The Company is an emerging growth company as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”) and is eligible to take advantage of certain specified reduced disclosure and other requirements that are otherwise generally applicable to public companies that are not “emerging growth companies” including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”). Although we have not made a determination whether to take advantage of any or all of these exemptions, we expect to remain an emerging growth company for up to five years following the completion of our IPO or until the earliest of:
|•||the last day of the first fiscal year in which our annual gross revenues exceed $1.07 billion;|
|•||December 31 of the fiscal year that we become a “large accelerated filer” as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act which would occur if the market value of the shares of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700.0 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter and we have been publicly reporting for at least 12 months; or|
|•||the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities during the preceding three-year period.|
In addition, we will take advantage of the extended transition period provided in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards.
Regulation as a Business Development Company
We have elected to be regulated as a BDC under the 1940 Act. The 1940 Act contains prohibitions and restrictions relating to transactions between BDCs and their affiliates, principal underwriters and affiliates of those affiliates or underwriters. The 1940 Act requires a majority of the members of the board of directors of a BDC be persons other than “interested persons,” as that term is defined in the 1940 Act. In addition, the 1940 Act provides that we may not change the nature of our business so as to cease to be, or to withdraw our election as, a BDC unless approved by a majority of our outstanding voting securities.
The 1940 Act defines “a majority of the outstanding voting securities” as the lesser of (i) 67% or more of the voting securities present at a meeting if the holders of more than 50% of our outstanding voting securities are present or represented by proxy or (ii) more than 50% of our outstanding voting securities.
Qualifying Assets. Under the 1940 Act, a BDC may not acquire any asset other than assets of the type listed in Section 55(a) of the 1940 Act, which are referred to as qualifying assets, unless, at the time the acquisition is made, qualifying assets represent at least 70% of the BDC’s total assets. The principal categories of qualifying assets relevant to our business are any of the following:
|(1)||Securities purchased in transactions not involving any public offering from the issuer of such securities, which issuer (subject to certain limited exceptions) is an eligible portfolio company, or from any person who is, or has been during the preceding 13 months, an affiliated person of an eligible portfolio company, or from any other|
|person, subject to such rules as may be prescribed by the SEC. An eligible portfolio company is defined in the 1940 Act as any issuer which:|
|a.||is organized under the laws of, and has its principal place of business in, the United States;|
|b.||is not an investment company (other than a small business investment company wholly owned by the BDC) or a company that would be an investment company but for certain exclusions under the 1940 Act; and|
|c.||satisfies any of the following:|
|i.||does not have any class of securities that is traded on a national securities exchange;|
|ii.||has a class of securities listed on a national securities exchange, but has an aggregate market value of outstanding voting and non-voting common equity of less than $250 million;|
|iii.||is controlled by a BDC or a group of companies including a BDC and the BDC has an affiliated person who is a director of the eligible portfolio company; or|
|iv.||is a small and solvent company having total assets of not more than $4 million and capital and surplus of not less than $2 million;|
|(2)||Securities of any eligible portfolio company controlled by us;|
|(3)||Securities purchased in a private transaction from a U.S. issuer that is not an investment company or from an affiliated person of the issuer, or in transactions incident thereto, if the issuer is in bankruptcy and subject to reorganization or if the issuer, immediately prior to the purchase of its securities was unable to meet its obligations as they came due without material assistance other than conventional lending or financing arrangements;|
|(4)||Securities of an eligible portfolio company purchased from any person in a private transaction if there is no ready market for such securities and we already own 60% of the outstanding equity of the eligible portfolio company;|
|(5)||Securities received in exchange for or distributed on or with respect to securities described in (1) through (4) above, or pursuant to the exercise of warrants or rights relating to such securities; or|
|(6)||Cash, cash equivalents, U.S. government securities or high-quality debt securities maturing in one year or less from the time of investment.|
In addition, a BDC must be operated for the purpose of making investments in the types of securities described in (1), (2) or (3) above.
Significant Managerial Assistance. A BDC must have been organized and have its principal place of business in the United States and must be operated for the purpose of making investments in the types of securities described above. However, in order to count portfolio securities as qualifying assets for the purpose of the 70% test, the BDC must either control the issuer of the securities or must offer to make available to the issuer of the securities (other than small and solvent companies described above) significant managerial assistance. However, where the BDC purchases such securities in conjunction with one or more other persons acting together, one of the other persons in the group may make available such managerial assistance. Making available significant managerial assistance means, among other things, any arrangement whereby the BDC, through its directors, officers or employees, offers to provide and, if accepted, does so provide, significant guidance and counsel concerning the management, operations or business objectives and policies of a portfolio company through monitoring of portfolio company operations, selective participation in board and
management meetings, consulting with and advising a portfolio company’s officers or other organizational or financial guidance.
Temporary Investments. Pending investment in other types of qualifying assets, as described above, our investments can consist of cash, cash equivalents, U.S. government securities or high quality debt securities maturing in one year or less from the time of investment, which are referred to herein, collectively, as temporary investments, so that 70% of our assets would be qualifying assets.
Issuance of Derivative Securities. Under the 1940 Act, a BDC is subject to restrictions on the issuance, terms and amount of warrants, options, restricted stock or rights to purchase shares of capital stock that it may have outstanding at any time. In particular, the amount of capital stock that would result from the conversion or exercise of all outstanding warrants, options or rights to purchase capital stock cannot exceed 25% of the BDC’s total outstanding shares of capital stock. This amount is reduced to 20% of the BDC’s total outstanding shares of capital stock if the amount of warrants, options or rights issued pursuant to an executive compensation plan would exceed 15% of the BDC’s total outstanding shares of capital stock. We intend to apply for exemptive relief from the SEC to permit us to issue restricted stock and restricted stock units to our employees, officers and directors subject to the above conditions, among others; although there can be no assurance or guarantee that such exemptive relief will be received from the SEC.
Senior Securities; Coverage Ratio. We are generally permitted, under specified conditions, to issue multiple classes of indebtedness and one class of stock senior to our Common Stock if our asset coverage, as defined in the 1940 Act, is at least equal to 150% immediately after each such issuance. In connection with the organization of the Company, the Board and our initial sole stockholder authorized us to adopt the 150% asset coverage ratio. This means we are permitted to borrow $2 for investment purposes for every $1 of investor equity. For a discussion of the risks associated with leverage refer to Item 1A. Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Our Business and Structure — Regulations governing our operation as a BDC affect our ability to, and the way in which we, raise additional capital.”
Code of Ethics. We have adopted a code of ethics pursuant to Rule 17j-1 under the 1940 Act that establishes procedures for personal investments and restricts certain personal securities transactions. Personnel subject to the code are permitted to invest in securities for their personal investment accounts, including securities that may be purchased or held by us, so long as such investments are made in accordance with the code’s requirements.
Affiliated Transactions. We are prohibited under the 1940 Act from conducting certain transactions with our affiliates without the prior approval of our directors who are not interested persons and, in some cases, the prior approval of the SEC.
Other. We will be periodically examined by the SEC for compliance with the 1940 Act and be subject to the periodic reporting and related requirements of the Exchange Act.
We are also required to provide and maintain a bond issued by a reputable fidelity insurance company to protect against larceny and embezzlement. Furthermore, as a BDC, we are prohibited from protecting any director or officer against any liability to stockholders arising from willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard of the duties involved in the conduct of such person’s office.
We are also required to designate a chief compliance officer and to adopt and implement written policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent violation of the federal securities laws and to review these policies and procedures annually for their adequacy and the effectiveness of their implementation.
Taxation as a Regulated Investment Company
In connection with the filing of our 2020 annual tax return, we will elect to be treated and to qualify each year thereafter as a RIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes. As a RIC, we generally will not have to pay corporate-level U.S. federal income taxes on any ordinary income or capital gains that we distribute to stockholders as distributions. To qualify as a RIC, we must, among other things, meet certain source-of-income and asset diversification requirements (as described below). In addition, in order to obtain RIC tax benefits, we must distribute to stockholders, for each taxable
year, at least 90% of our “investment company taxable income,” which is generally its ordinary income plus the excess of realized net short-term capital gains over realized net long-term capital losses (the “Annual Distribution Requirement”).
|•||qualify as a RIC; and|
|•||satisfy the Annual Distribution Requirement,|
then we will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on the portion of income we distribute (or are deemed to distribute) to stockholders. We will be subject to U.S. federal income tax at the regular corporate rates on any income or capital gains not distributed (or deemed distributed) to stockholders.
We are subject to a 4% nondeductible U.S. federal excise tax on certain undistributed income unless we distribute in a timely manner an amount at least equal to the sum of (i) 98% of net ordinary income for each calendar year, (ii) 98.2% of the amount by which capital gains exceeds capital losses (adjusted for certain ordinary losses) for the one-year period ending October 31 in that calendar year and (iii) certain undistributed amounts from previous years on which we paid no U.S. federal income tax (the “Excise Tax Avoidance Requirement”). While we intend to distribute any income and capital gains in order to avoid imposition of this 4% U.S. federal excise tax, we may not be successful in avoiding entirely the imposition of this tax. In that case, we will be liable for the tax only on the amount by which we do not meet the foregoing distribution requirement.
In order to qualify as a RIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we must, among other things:
|•||continue to qualify as a BDC under the 1940 Act at all times during each taxable year;|
|•||derive in each taxable year at least 90% of gross income from dividends, interest, payments with respect to loans of certain securities, gains from the sale of stock or other securities or foreign currencies, net income from certain “qualified publicly traded partnerships,” or other income derived with respect to the business of investing in such stock or securities (the “90% Income Test”); and|
|•||diversify our holdings so that at the end of each quarter of the taxable year:|
|o||at least 50% of the value of our assets consists of cash, cash equivalents, U.S. Government securities, securities of other RICs, and other securities if such other securities of any one issuer do not represent more than 5% of the value of our assets or more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of the issuer; and|
|o||no more than 25% of the value of our assets is invested in the (i) securities, other than U.S. government securities or securities of other RICs, of one issuer, (ii) securities of two or more issuers that are controlled, as determined under applicable Code rules, by us and that are engaged in the same or similar or related trades or businesses or (iii) securities of one or more “qualified publicly traded partnerships” (the “Diversification Tests”).|
We may be required to recognize taxable income in circumstances in which we do not receive cash. For example, if we hold debt obligations that are treated under applicable tax rules as having original issue discount (such as debt instruments with payment-in-kind, or PIK, interest or, in certain cases, increasing interest rates or issued with warrants), we must include in income each year a portion of the original issue discount that accrues over the life of the obligation, regardless of whether cash representing such income is received by us in the same taxable year. We may also have to include in income other amounts that we have not yet received in cash, such as PIK interest and deferred loan origination fees that are paid after origination of the loan. Because any original issue discount or other amounts accrued will be included in our investment company taxable income for the year of accrual, we may be required to make a distribution to
stockholders in order to satisfy the Annual Distribution Requirement, even though we will not have received the corresponding cash amount.
Although we do not presently expect to do so, we are authorized to borrow funds, to sell assets and to make taxable distributions of our stock and debt securities in order to satisfy distribution requirements. Our ability to dispose of assets to meet distribution requirements may be limited by (i) the illiquid nature of our portfolio and/or (ii) other requirements relating to our status as a RIC, including the Diversification Tests. If we dispose of assets in order to meet the Annual Distribution Requirement or the Excise Tax Avoidance Requirement, we may make such dispositions at times that, from an investment standpoint, are not advantageous. If we are unable to obtain cash from other sources to satisfy the Annual Distribution Requirement, we may fail to qualify for tax treatment as a RIC and become subject to tax as an ordinary corporation.
Under the 1940 Act, we are not permitted to make distributions to our stockholders while debt obligations and other senior securities are outstanding unless certain “asset coverage” tests are met. If we are prohibited from making distributions, we may fail to qualify for tax treatment as a RIC and become subject to tax as an ordinary corporation.
Certain of our investment practices may be subject to special and complex U.S. federal income tax provisions that may, among other things: (i) disallow, suspend or otherwise limit the allowance of certain losses or deductions; (ii) convert lower taxed long-term capital gain into higher taxed short-term capital gain or ordinary income; (iii) convert an ordinary loss or a deduction into a capital loss (the deductibility of which is more limited); (iv) cause us to recognize income or gain without a corresponding receipt of cash; (v) adversely affect the time as to when a purchase or sale of securities is deemed to occur; (vi) adversely alter the characterization of certain complex financial transactions; and (vii) produce income that will not be qualifying income for purposes of the 90% Income Test described above. We will monitor our transactions and may make certain tax decisions in order to mitigate the potential adverse effect of these provisions.
A RIC is limited in its ability to deduct expenses in excess of its “investment company taxable income” (which is, generally, ordinary income plus the excess of net short-term capital gains over net long-term capital losses). If our expenses in a given year exceed investment company taxable income, we would experience a net operating loss for that year. However, a RIC is not permitted to carry forward net operating losses to subsequent years. In addition, expenses can be used only to offset investment company taxable income, not net capital gain. Due to these limits on the deductibility of expenses, we may, for tax purposes, have aggregate taxable income for several years that we are required to distribute and that is taxable to stockholders even if such income is greater than the aggregate net income we actually earned during those years. Such required distributions may be made from cash assets or by liquidation of investments, if necessary. We may realize gains or losses from such liquidations. In the event we realize net capital gains from such transactions, a stockholder may receive a larger capital gain distribution than it would have received in the absence of such transactions.
Failure to Qualify as a RIC
If we have previously qualified as RIC, but are subsequently unable to qualify for treatment as a RIC, and certain cure provisions are not met, we would be subject to tax on all of our taxable income (including net capital gains) at regular corporate rates. We would not be able to deduct distributions to stockholders, nor would distributions be required to be made. Distributions, including distributions of net long-term capital gain, would generally be taxable to stockholders as ordinary dividend income to the extent of our current and accumulated earnings and profits. Subject to certain limitations under the Code, corporate stockholders would be eligible to claim a dividend received deduction with respect to such dividend and non-corporate stockholders would generally be able to treat such distributions as “qualified dividend income,” which is subject to reduced rates of U.S. federal income tax. Distributions in excess of current and accumulated earnings and profits would be treated first as a return of capital to the extent of the stockholder’s tax basis, and any remaining distributions would be treated as a capital gain. In order to requalify as a RIC, in addition to the other requirements discussed above, we would be required to distribute all previously undistributed earnings attributable to the period we failed to qualify as a RIC by the end of the first year that we intend to requalify as a RIC. If we fail to requalify as a RIC for a period greater than two taxable years, we may be subject to regular corporate tax on any net built-in gains with respect to certain assets (i.e., the excess of the aggregate gains, including items of income, over
aggregate losses that would have been realized with respect to such assets if we had been liquidated) that we elect to recognize on requalification or when recognized over the next five years.
Our principal executive offices are located at 3075 W. Ray Rd, Suite 525, Chandler, Arizona 85226. We maintain a website on the Internet at www.trincapinvestment.com. We make available, free of charge, on our website our proxy statement, annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference into this annual report on Form 10-K, and you should not consider that information to be part of this annual report on Form 10-K.
We file annual, quarterly and current periodic reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC, under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act. In addition, the SEC maintains an Internet website, at www.sec.gov, that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers, including us, who file documents electronically with the SEC.
You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information in this annual report on Form 10-K, including “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes. Our business, operating results, financial condition, or prospects could be materially and adversely affected by any of these risks and uncertainties. If any of these risks occurs, the trading price of our common stock could decline, and you might lose all or part of your investment. Our business, operating results, financial performance, or prospects could also be harmed by risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently do not believe are material.
Summary of Principal Risk Factors
The following is a summary of the principal risks that you should carefully consider before investing in our securities and is followed by a more detailed discussion of the material risks related to us and an investment in our securities.
We are subject to risks related to our business and structure, including, but not limited to the following:
|●||We have a limited operating history as a BDC.|
|●||We depend upon our senior management team and investment professionals, including the members of our Investment Committee, for our success.|
|●||Our business model depends to a significant extent upon strong referral relationships with venture capital sponsors, and our inability to develop or maintain these relationships, or the failure of these relationships to generate investment opportunities, could adversely affect our business.|
|●||Global economic, political and market conditions, including uncertainty about the financial stability of the United States, could have a significant adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.|
|●||Regulations governing our operations as a BDC affect our ability to and the way in which we raise additional capital.|
|●||Changes in laws or regulations governing our operations may adversely affect our business or cause us to alter our business strategy.|
|●||Provisions in our credit facilities may limit our operations.|
|●||We are exposed to risks associated with changes in interest rates, including the decommissioning of LIBOR.|
|●||Most or a substantial portion of our portfolio investments will be recorded at fair value as determined in good faith by the Board and, as a result, there may be uncertainty as to the value of our portfolio investments.|
|●||The Board may change our investment objective, operating policies and strategies without prior notice or stockholder approval, the effects of which may be adverse.|
|●||Any failure in cyber security systems, as well as the occurrence of events unanticipated in our disaster recovery systems and management continuity planning, could impair our ability to conduct business effectively.|
We are subject to risks related to our investments, including, but not limited to the following:
|●||Our investments are very risky and highly speculative and a lack of liquidity in our investments may adversely affect us.|
|●||Our investment strategy focuses on growth stage companies which are subject to many risks, including dependence on the need to raise additional capital, volatility, intense competition, shortened product life cycles, changes in regulatory and governmental programs, periodic downturns, below investment grade ratings, which could cause you to lose all or part of your investment in us.|
|●||The equipment financing industry is highly competitive and competitive forces could adversely affect the financing rates and resale prices that we may realize on our equipment financing investment portfolio and the prices that we have to pay to acquire our investments.|
|●||The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe disruptions in the global economy and has disrupted financial activity in the areas in which we or our portfolio companies operate.|
|●||Economic recessions or downturns could impair our portfolio companies and harm our operating results.|
|●||Our investments are geographically concentrated, which may result in a single occurrence in a particular geographic area having a disproportionate negative impact on our investment portfolio.|
|●||We may be subject to risks associated with our investments in senior loans, junior debt securities and covenant-lite loans.|
Risks related to an investment in our securities include, but are not limited to, the following:
|●||We may not be able to pay distributions, our distributions may not grow over time and/or a portion of our distributions may be a return of capital.|
|●||Investing in our common stock may involve an above-average degree of risk, including the risk of dilution.|
|●||The market value of our securities may fluctuate significantly, which may make it difficult to resell our securities, including at an attractive price.|
|●||We may borrow money, which may magnify the potential for gain or loss and may increase the risk of investing in us.|
|●||Our 2025 Notes and our 6.00% Convertible Notes due 2025 (the “Convertible Notes”) are each unsecured and therefore effectively subordinated to any secured indebtedness we currently have outstanding or may incur in the future and rank pari passu with, or equal to, all outstanding and future unsecured unsubordinated indebtedness issued by us and our general liabilities.|
We are subject to risks related to U.S. federal income tax including, but not limited to, the following:
|●||We will be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal income tax if we are unable to qualify or maintain qualification as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code.|
|●||We may have difficulty paying our required distributions if we recognize income before, or without, receiving cash representing such income.|
Risks Related to Our Business and Structure
We have limited operating history as a BDC.
We were formed on August 12, 2019 to acquire the assets of the Legacy Funds and have limited operating history as a combined entity or as a BDC. As a result, we are subject to the business risks and uncertainties associated with recently formed businesses, including the risk that we will not achieve our investment objective and the value of a stockholder’s investment could decline substantially or become worthless. In addition, we may be unable to generate sufficient revenue from our operations to make or sustain distributions to our stockholders.
The 1940 Act and the Code impose numerous constraints on the operations of BDCs and RICs that do not apply to the other types of investment vehicles and did not apply to the Legacy Funds. For example, under the 1940 Act, BDCs are required to invest at least 70% of their total assets primarily in securities of qualifying U.S. private or thinly traded companies. Moreover, qualification for RIC tax treatment under Subchapter M of the Code requires, among other things, satisfaction of source-of-income, diversification and other requirements. The failure to comply with these provisions in a timely manner could prevent us from qualifying as a BDC or RIC or could force us to pay unexpected taxes and penalties, which could be material. Our management team’s lack of experience in managing a portfolio of assets under such constraints may hinder our ability to take advantage of attractive investment opportunities and, as a result, achieve our investment objective.
We depend upon our senior management team and investment professionals, including the members of the Investment Committee, for our success.
Our ability to achieve our investment objective and to make distributions to our stockholders depends upon the performance of our senior management. We depend on the investment expertise, skill and network of business contacts of our senior management team and investment professionals, including the members of the Investment Committee, who evaluate, negotiate, structure, execute, monitor and service our investments. Our success depends to a significant extent on the continued service and coordination of these individuals. The departure of any of these individuals or competing demands on their time in the future could have a material adverse effect on our ability to achieve our investment objective. Further, if these individuals do not maintain their existing relationships with financial institutions, sponsors and investment professionals and do not develop new relationships with other sources of investment opportunities, we may not be able to grow our investment portfolio or achieve our investment objective. This could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Our business model depends to a significant extent upon strong referral relationships with venture capital sponsors, and our inability to develop or maintain these relationships, or the failure of these relationships to generate investment opportunities, could adversely affect our business.
We expect that members of our management team will maintain their relationships with venture capital sponsors, and we will rely to a significant extent upon these relationships to provide us with our deal flow. If we fail to maintain our existing relationships, our relationships become strained as a result of enforcing our rights with respect to non-performing investments in protecting our investments or we fail to develop new relationships with other firms or sources of investment opportunities, then we will not be able to grow our investment portfolio. In addition, persons with whom members of our management team have relationships are not obligated to provide us with investment opportunities and, therefore, there is no assurance that such relationships will lead to the origination of debt or other investments.
Our financial condition and results of operations depend on our ability to manage our business effectively.
Our ability to achieve our investment objective and grow depends on our ability to manage our business. This depends, in turn, on our ability to identify, invest in and monitor companies that meet our investment criteria. The achievement of our investment objective depends upon the execution of our investment process and our access to financing on acceptable terms. Our senior origination professionals and other investment personnel may be called upon to provide managerial assistance to our portfolio companies. These activities may distract them or slow our rate of investment. Any failure to manage our business and our future growth effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Our results of operations depend on many factors, including the availability of opportunities for investment, readily accessible short and long-term funding alternatives in the financial markets and economic conditions. Furthermore, if we cannot successfully operate our business or implement our investment policies and strategies, it could negatively impact our ability to pay distributions or other distributions and you may lose all or part of your investment.
We are subject to certain regulatory restrictions that may adversely affect our business.
As an internally managed BDC, the size and categories of our assets under management are limited, and we will be unable to offer as wide a variety of financial products to prospective portfolio companies and sponsors (potentially
limiting the size and diversification of our asset base). We therefore may not achieve efficiencies of scale and greater management resources available to externally managed BDCs.
Additionally, as an internally managed BDC, our ability to offer more competitive and flexible compensation structures, such as offering both a profit-sharing plan and a long-term incentive plan, is subject to the limitations imposed by the 1940 Act, which may limit our ability to attract and retain talented investment management professionals. As such, these limitations could inhibit our ability to grow, pursue our business plan and attract and retain professional talent, any or all of which may have a negative impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
You will not have the opportunity to evaluate the economic merits, transaction terms or other financial or operational data concerning our investments prior to making an investment in us.
You will not have the opportunity to evaluate the economic merits, transaction terms or other financial or operational data concerning our investments prior to making an investment in us. You must rely on our investment professionals and the Board to implement our investment policies, to evaluate our investment opportunities and to structure the terms of our investments. Because investors are not able to evaluate our investments in advance of making an investment in us, an investment in us may entail more risk than other types of offerings. This additional risk may hinder your ability to achieve your own personal investment objective related to portfolio diversification, risk-adjusted investment returns and other objectives.
Our management team and/or members of the Investment Committee may, from time to time, possess material nonpublic information, limiting our investment discretion.
Our management team and/or the members of the Investment Committee may serve as directors of, or in a similar capacity with, companies in which we invest, the securities of which are purchased or sold on our behalf. In the event that material nonpublic information is obtained with respect to such companies, or we become subject to trading restrictions under the internal trading policies of those companies or as a result of applicable law or regulations, we could be prohibited for a period of time from purchasing or selling the securities of such companies, and this prohibition may have a material adverse effect on us.
We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities, which could reduce returns and result in losses.
Our competitors include both existing and newly formed equity and debt focused public and private funds, other BDCs, investment banks, venture-oriented commercial banks, commercial financing companies and, to the extent they provide an alternative form of financing, private equity and hedge funds. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial, technical and marketing resources than us. For example, some competitors may have a lower cost of capital and access to funding sources (including deposits) that are not available to us. In addition, some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments than we have. Furthermore, many of our competitors are not subject to the regulatory restrictions that the 1940 Act imposes on us as a BDC or to the distribution and other requirements we must satisfy to maintain our ability to be subject to tax as a RIC. These characteristics could allow our competitors to consider a wider variety of investments, establish more relationships and offer better pricing and more flexible structuring than we are able to offer.
The competitive pressures we face may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. We believe that some competitors may make loans with rates that are comparable or lower than our rates. We may lose some investment opportunities if we do not match our competitors’ pricing, terms and structure. However, if we match our competitors’ pricing, terms and structure, we may experience decreased net interest income, lower yields and increased risk of credit loss. As a result of this competition, we may not be able to take advantage of attractive investment opportunities from time to time, and we may not be able to identify and make investments that are consistent with our investment objective.
In addition, we believe a significant part of our competitive advantage stems from the fact that the market for investments in small, fast-growing, private companies is underserved by traditional commercial banks and other financing sources. A significant increase in the number and/or the size of our competitors in this target market could force us to accept less attractive investment terms.
The capital markets are currently in a period of disruption and economic uncertainty. Such market conditions have materially and adversely affected debt and equity capital markets, which have had, and may continue to have, a negative impact on our business and operations.
The U.S. capital markets have experienced extreme volatility and disruption following the global outbreak of COVID-19 that began in December 2019, as evidenced by the volatility in global stock markets as a result of, among other things, uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the fluctuating price of commodities such as oil. Despite actions of the U.S. federal government and foreign governments, these events have contributed to unpredictable general economic conditions that are materially and adversely impacting the broader financial and credit markets and reducing the availability of debt and equity capital for the market as a whole. These conditions could continue for a prolonged period of time or worsen in the future.
Given the ongoing and dynamic nature of the circumstances, it is difficult to predict the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business. The extent of such impact will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain, including when the coronavirus can be controlled and abated and whether there will be additional economic shutdowns. As the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related adverse local and national economic consequences, we could be subject to any of the following risks, any of which could have a material, adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, and results of operations:
• Current market conditions may make it difficult to raise equity capital because, subject to some limited exceptions, as a BDC, we are generally not able to issue additional shares of our common stock at a price less than the NAV per share without first obtaining approval for such issuance from our stockholders and our independent directors. In addition, these market conditions may make it difficult to access or obtain new indebtedness with similar terms to our existing indebtedness.
• Significant changes or volatility in the capital markets may also have a negative effect on the valuations of our investments. While most of our investments are not publicly traded, applicable accounting standards require us to assume as part of our valuation process that our investments are sold in a principal market to market participants (even if we plan on holding an investment through its maturity).
• Significant changes in the capital markets, such as the recent disruption in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have adversely affected, and may continue to adversely affect, the pace of our investment activity and economic activity generally. Additionally, the recent disruption in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has had, and may continue to have, a negative effect on the potential for liquidity events involving our investments. The illiquidity of our investments may make it difficult for us to sell such investments to access capital if required, and as a result, we could realize significantly less than the value at which we have recorded our investments if we were required to sell them for liquidity purposes. An inability to raise or access capital, and any required sale of all or a portion of our investments as a result, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The current period of capital markets disruption and economic uncertainty may make it difficult to extend the maturity of, or refinance, our existing indebtedness or obtain new indebtedness and any failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Current market conditions may make it difficult to extend the maturity of or refinance our existing indebtedness or obtain new indebtedness with similar terms and any failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business. The debt capital that will be available to us in the future, if at all, may be at a higher cost and on less favorable terms and conditions than what we currently experience, including being at a higher cost in rising rate environments. If we are unable to raise or refinance debt, then our equity investors may not benefit from the potential for increased returns on equity resulting from leverage and we may be limited in our ability to make new
commitments or to fund existing commitments to our portfolio companies. An inability to extend the maturity of, or refinance, our existing indebtedness or obtain new indebtedness could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Capital markets may experience periods of disruption and instability. Such market conditions may materially and adversely affect debt and equity capital markets in the United States and abroad, which may have a negative impact on our business and operations.
From time-to-time, capital markets may experience periods of disruption and instability. During such periods of market disruption and instability, we and other companies in the financial services sector may have limited access, if available, to alternative markets for debt and equity capital. Equity capital may be difficult to raise because, subject to some limited exceptions which will apply to us as a BDC, we will generally not be able to issue additional shares of our common stock at a price less than net asset value without first obtaining approval for such issuance from our stockholders and our independent directors. In addition, our ability to incur indebtedness (including by issuing preferred stock) is limited by applicable regulations such that our asset coverage, as defined in the 1940 Act, must equal at least 150% immediately after each time we incur indebtedness. The debt capital that will be available, if at all, may be at a higher cost and on less favorable terms and conditions in the future. Any inability to raise capital could have a negative effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Given the extreme volatility and dislocation in the capital markets over the past several years, many BDCs have faced, and may in the future face, a challenging environment in which to raise or access capital. In addition, significant changes in the capital markets, including the extreme volatility and disruption over the past several years, has had, and may in the future have, a negative effect on the valuations of our investments and on the potential for liquidity events involving these investments. While most of our investments are not publicly traded, applicable accounting standards require us to assume as part of our valuation process that our investments are sold in a principal market to market participants (even if we plan on holding an investment through its maturity). As a result, volatility in the capital markets can adversely affect our investment valuations. Further, the illiquidity of our investments may make it difficult for us to sell such investments if required and to value such investments. Consequently, we may realize significantly less than the value at which we carry our investments. An inability to raise capital, and any required sale of our investments for liquidity purposes, could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, a prolonged period of market illiquidity may cause us to reduce the volume of loans and debt securities we originate and/or fund and adversely affect the value of our portfolio investments, which could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We may need to raise additional capital to grow because we must distribute most of our income.
We may need additional capital to fund new investments and grow our portfolio of investments through public and/or private offerings of both debt and equity. Unfavorable economic conditions could increase our funding costs or result in a decision by lenders not to amend outstanding credit facilities or extend credit to us. A reduction in the availability of new capital could limit our ability to grow. In addition, we are required to distribute each taxable year an amount at least equal to 90% of our “investment company taxable income” (i.e., our net ordinary income and net short-term capital gains in excess of net long-term capital losses, if any) to our stockholders to continue to be taxed as a RIC. As a result, these earnings are not available to fund new investments.
We could raise capital through other channels.
The Board may determine to raise additional capital through other channels, including through private or public offerings. Capital raised through other channels could subject us to additional regulatory requirements. These additional provisions could affect our stockholders and limit our ability to take certain actions. In addition, if capital is raised through other channels, we would have to use financial and other resources to file any required registration statements and to comply with any additional regulatory requirements.
Regulations governing our operation as a BDC affect our ability to and the way in which we raise additional capital.
We issued the 2025 Notes and the Convertible Notes, and assumed the Credit Facility through our wholly owned subsidiary, Trinity Funding 1, LLC, and may issue other debt securities or preferred stock and/or borrow money from other banks or other financial institutions, which we refer to collectively as “senior securities,” up to the maximum amount permitted by the 1940 Act. Under the provisions of the 1940 Act, we are permitted as a BDC to issue senior securities in amounts such that our asset coverage ratio, as defined in the 1940 Act, equals at least 150% (if certain requirements are met) of total assets less all liabilities and indebtedness not represented by senior securities immediately after each issuance of senior securities. We have satisfied the requirements to increase our asset coverage ratio to 150%, including stockholder and Board approval. Under a 150% asset coverage ratio, we could potentially borrow $2 for investment purposes of every $1 of investor equity.
If the value of our assets declines, we may be unable to satisfy this test. If that happens, we may be required to sell a portion of our investments and, depending on the nature of our leverage, repay a portion of our indebtedness at a time when such sales may be disadvantageous. This could have a material adverse effect on our operations, and we may not be able to make distributions in an amount sufficient to be subject to taxation as a RIC, or at all. See “— Risks Related to our Business and Structure” We may borrow money, which may magnify the potential for gain or loss and may increase the risk of investing in us.” In addition, issuance of securities could dilute the percentage ownership of our current stockholders in us.
No person or entity from which we borrow money will have a veto power or a vote in approving or changing any of our fundamental policies. If we issue preferred stock, the preferred stock would rank “senior” to common stock in our capital structure, preferred stockholders would have separate voting rights on certain matters and might have other rights, preferences or privileges more favorable than those of our common stockholders, and the issuance of preferred stock could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a transaction or a change of control that might involve a premium price for holders of our common stock or otherwise be in your best interest. Holders of our common stock will directly or indirectly bear all of the costs associated with offering and servicing any preferred stock that we issue. In addition, any interests of preferred stockholders may not necessarily align with the interests of holders of our common stock and the rights of holders of shares of preferred stock to receive distributions would be senior to those of holders of shares of our common stock.
In addition, while any senior securities remain outstanding, we will be required to make provisions to prohibit any dividend distribution to our stockholders or the repurchase of such securities or shares unless we meet the applicable asset coverage ratios at the time of the dividend distribution or repurchase. We will also be permitted to borrow amounts up to 5% of the value of our total assets for temporary or emergency purposes, which borrowings would not be considered senior securities.
We may borrow money, which may magnify the potential for gain or loss and may increase the risk of investing in us.
As part of our business strategy, we issued the 2025 Notes and the Convertible Notes, and assumed the Credit Facility through our wholly owned subsidiary, Trinity Funding 1, LLC, and we may borrow from and issue senior debt securities to banks, insurance companies and other lenders or investors. Holders of these senior securities or other credit facilities will have claims on our assets that are superior to the claims of our stockholders. Leverage magnifies the potential for loss on investments in our indebtedness and on invested equity capital. As we use leverage to partially finance our investments, you will experience increased risks of investing in our securities. If the value of our assets increases, then leveraging would cause the net asset value attributable to our common stock to increase more sharply than it would have had we not leveraged. Conversely, if the value of our assets decreases, leveraging would cause net asset value to decline more sharply than it otherwise would have had we not leveraged our business. Similarly, any increase in our income in excess of interest payable on the borrowed funds would cause our net investment income to increase more than it would without the leverage, while any decrease in our income would cause net investment income to decline more sharply than it would have had we not borrowed. Such a decline could negatively affect our ability to pay common stock distributions, scheduled debt payments or other payments related to our securities. Our ability to service any borrowings that we incur will depend largely on our financial performance and will be subject to prevailing economic conditions and competitive pressures. Leverage is generally considered a speculative investment technique.
The following table illustrates the effect of leverage on returns from an investment in our common stock assuming various annual returns on our portfolio, net of expenses. Leverage generally magnifies the return of stockholders when the portfolio return is positive and magnifies their losses when the portfolio return is negative. The calculations in the table below are hypothetical, and actual returns may be higher or lower than those appearing in the table below.
Assumed Return on Our Portfolio
(Net of Expenses)
Corresponding return to common stockholder (1)
Assumes (i) $559.7 million in total assets, (ii) $310.0 million in outstanding principal indebtedness, (iii) $238.7 million in net assets as of December 31, 2020 and (iv) weighted average interest rate, excluding fees (such as fees on undrawn amounts and amortization of financing costs), of 5.4% as of December 31, 2020.
See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Financial Condition, Liquidity and Capital Resources” for more information regarding our borrowings.
If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, stockholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which could harm our business and the market price of our common stock.
We are not required to comply with certain requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, including the internal control evaluation and certification requirements of Section 404 of that statute (“Section 404”), and will not be required to comply with all of those requirements until we have been subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act for a specified period of time or, in the case of the auditor\ attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the date we are no longer an emerging growth company under the JOBS Act. Accordingly, our internal controls over financial reporting do not currently meet all of the standards contemplated by Section 404 that we will eventually be required to meet. We are in the process of addressing our internal controls over financial reporting and are establishing formal procedures, policies, processes and practices related to financial reporting and to the identification of key financial reporting risks, assessment of their potential impact and linkage of those risks to specific areas and activities within the Company.
Additionally, we have begun the process of documenting our internal control procedures to satisfy the requirements of Section 404, which requires annual management assessments of the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting. Our independent registered public accounting firm will not be required to formally attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting until the later of the year following our first annual report required to be filed with the SEC pursuant to the Exchange Act, or the date we are no longer an emerging growth company under the JOBS Act. Because we do not currently have comprehensive documentation of our internal controls and have not yet tested our internal controls in accordance with Section 404, we cannot conclude in accordance with Section 404 that we do not have a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting or a combination of significant deficiencies that could result in the conclusion that we have a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. As a public entity, we will be required to complete our initial management assessment of our internal control over financial reporting in a timely manner. If we are not able to implement the requirements of Section 404 in a timely manner or with adequate compliance, our operations, financial reporting, or financial results could be adversely affected. Matters impacting our internal controls may cause us to be unable to report our financial information on a timely basis and thereby subject us to adverse regulatory consequences, including sanctions by the SEC or violations of applicable stock exchange listing rules, and result in a breach of the covenants under the agreements governing any of our financing arrangements. There could also be a negative reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of investor confidence in us and the reliability of our financial statements. Confidence in the reliability of our financial statements could also suffer if we or our independent registered public accounting firm were to report a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. This could materially adversely affect us and lead to a decline in the market price of our common stock.
Provisions in our credit facilities may limit our operations.
At our discretion, we may utilize the leverage available under the Credit Facility for investment and operating purposes. Additionally, we may in the future enter into additional credit facilities. To the extent we borrow money to make investments, the applicable credit facility may be backed by all or a portion of our loans and securities on which the lender will have a security interest. We may pledge up to 100% of our assets and may grant a security interest in all of our assets under the terms of any debt instrument we enter into with a lender. We expect that any security interests we grant will be set forth in a pledge and security agreement and evidenced by the filing of financing statements by the agent for the lenders. In addition, we expect that the custodian for our securities serving as collateral for such loan would include in its electronic systems notices indicating the existence of such security interests and, following notice of occurrence of an event of default, if any, and during its continuance, will only accept transfer instructions with respect to any such securities from the lenders or their designee. If we were to default under the terms of any debt instrument, the agent for the applicable lenders would be able to assume control of the timing of disposition of any or all of our assets securing such debt, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
In addition, any security interests and/or negative covenants required by any credit facility may limit our ability to create liens on assets to secure additional debt and may make it difficult for us to restructure or refinance indebtedness at or prior to maturity or obtain additional debt or equity financing. In addition, if our borrowing base under any credit facility were to decrease, we may be required to secure additional assets in an amount sufficient to cure any borrowing base deficiency. In the event that all of our assets are secured at the time of such a borrowing base deficiency, we could be required to repay advances under the credit facility or make deposits to a collection account, either of which could have a material adverse impact on our ability to fund future investments and to make distributions.
In addition, we may be subject to limitations as to how borrowed funds may be used, which may include restrictions on geographic and industry concentrations, loan size, payment frequency and status, average life, collateral interests and investment ratings, as well as regulatory restrictions on leverage which may affect the amount of funding that may be obtained. There may also be certain requirements relating to portfolio performance, including required minimum portfolio yield and limitations on delinquencies and charge-offs, a violation of which could limit further advances and, in some cases, result in an event of default. An event of default under a credit facility could result in an accelerated maturity date for all amounts outstanding thereunder, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition. This could reduce our liquidity and cash flow and impair our ability to grow our business.
Any defaults under a credit facility could adversely affect our business.
In the event we default under any credit facility or other borrowings, our business could be adversely affected as we may be forced to sell a portion of our investments quickly and prematurely at what may be disadvantageous prices to us in order to meet our outstanding payment obligations and/or support working capital requirements under the credit facility, any of which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. In addition, following any such default, the agent for the lenders under such credit facility could assume control of the disposition of any or all of our assets, including the selection of such assets to be disposed and the timing of such disposition, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We are exposed to risks associated with changes in interest rates.
Because we may borrow money to make investments, our net investment income will depend, in part, upon the difference between the rate at which we borrow funds and the rate at which we invest those funds. As a result, we can offer no assurance that a significant change in market interest rates will not have a material adverse effect on our net investment income. A reduction in the interest rates on new investments relative to interest rates on current investments could have an adverse impact on our net investment income. However, an increase in interest rates could decrease the value of any investments we hold which earn fixed interest rates and also could increase our interest expense, thereby decreasing our net income. Also, an increase in interest rates available to investors could make an
investment in our common stock less attractive if we are not able to increase our distribution rate, which could reduce the value of our common stock. Further, rising interest rates could also adversely affect our performance if such increases cause our borrowing costs to rise at a rate in excess of the rate that our investments yield.
In periods of rising interest rates, to the extent we borrow money subject to a floating interest rate, our cost of funds would increase, which could reduce our net investment income. Further, rising interest rates could also adversely affect our performance if we hold investments with floating interest rates, subject to specified minimum interest rates (such as a LIBOR floor), while at the same time engaging in borrowings subject to floating interest rates not subject to such minimums. In such a scenario, rising interest rates may increase our interest expense, even though our interest income from investments is not increasing in a corresponding manner as a result of such minimum interest rates.
If general interest rates rise, there is a risk that the portfolio companies in which we hold floating rate securities will be unable to pay escalating interest amounts, which could result in a default under their loan documents with us. Rising interest rates could also cause portfolio companies to shift cash from other productive uses to the payment of interest, which may have a material adverse effect on their business and operations and could, over time, lead to increased defaults. In addition, rising interest rates may increase pressure on us to provide fixed rate loans to our portfolio companies, which could adversely affect our net investment income, as increases in our cost of borrowed funds would not be accompanied by increased interest income from such fixed-rate investments.
On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”), which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to phase out LIBOR by the end of 2021. It is unclear if at that time whether LIBOR will cease to exist or if new methods of calculating LIBOR will be established such that it continues to exist after 2021. The U.S. Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, a steering committee comprised of large U.S. financial institutions, is considering replacing U.S. dollar LIBOR with a new index calculated by short term repurchase agreements, backed by Treasury securities called the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”). The first publication of SOFR was released in April 2018. Whether or not SOFR attains market traction as a LIBOR replacement remains a question and the future of LIBOR at this time is uncertain. In addition, on March 25, 2020, the FCA stated that although the central assumption that firms cannot rely on LIBOR being published after the end of 2021 has not changed, the outbreak of COVID-19 has delayed the timing of many firms’ transition planning, and the FCA will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on transition timelines and update the marketplace as soon as possible. Furthermore, on November 30, 2020, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (“ICE”) announced that the ICE Benchmark Administration Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of ICE and the administrator of LIBOR, will consult in early December 2020 to consider extending the LIBOR transition deadline to the end of June 2023. The consultation was published on December 4, 2020 and was open for feedback until late January 2021. Despite this potential extension of the US LIBOR transition deadline, US regulators continue to urge financial institutions to stop entering into new LIBOR transactions by the end of 2021. Although SOFR appears to be the preferred replacement rate for U.S. dollar LIBOR, at this time, it is not possible to predict the effect of any such changes, any establishment of alternative reference rates or any other reforms to LIBOR that may be enacted. The elimination of LIBOR or any other changes or reforms to the determination or supervision of LIBOR could have an adverse impact on the market for or value of any LIBOR-linked securities, loans, and other financial obligations or extensions of credit held by or due to us or on our overall financial condition or results of operations. In addition, if LIBOR ceases to exist, we may need to renegotiate credit agreements extending beyond 2021 with our portfolio companies that utilize LIBOR as a factor in determining the interest rate, in order to replace LIBOR with the new standard that is established, which may have an adverse effect on our overall financial condition or results of operations. Following the replacement of LIBOR, some or all of these credit agreements may bear interest a lower interest rate, which could have an adverse impact on our results of operations. Furthermore, under the Credit Facility with Credit Suisse, borrowings generally will bear interest at a rate of the three-month LIBOR plus 3.25%. If LIBOR ceases to exist, we will need to renegotiate certain terms of the Credit Facility. If we are unable to do so, amounts drawn under the Credit Facility may bear interest at a higher rate, which would increase the cost of our borrowings and, in turn, affect our results of operations.
Falling interest rates may negatively impact our investment income.
As a result of the decision by the Federal Reserve Board to decrease the target range for the federal funds rate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, interest rates have decreased. Some of our credit agreements with our portfolio companies utilize the prime rate as a factor in determining interest rate. However, under the Credit Facility, borrowing generally will bear interest at a rate of the three-month LIBOR plus 3.25%. Accordingly, a reduction in interest rates will result in a decrease in our total investment income unless limited by interest rate floors. Further, our net investment income could decrease if there is not a corresponding decrease in the interest that we pay on our borrowings.
If we do not invest a sufficient portion of our assets in qualifying assets, we could fail to qualify as a BDC, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As a BDC, we may not acquire any assets other than “qualifying assets” unless, at the time of and after giving effect to such acquisition, at least 70% of our total assets are qualifying assets. We believe that most of the investments that we may acquire in the future will constitute qualifying assets. However, we may be precluded from investing in what we believe are attractive investments if such investments are not qualifying assets for purposes of the 1940 Act. If we do not invest a sufficient portion of our assets in qualifying assets, we could violate the 1940 Act provisions applicable to BDCs. As a result of such violation, specific rules under the 1940 Act could prevent us, for example, from making follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies which could result in the dilution of our position or could require us to dispose of investments at inappropriate times in order to come into compliance with the 1940 Act. If we need to dispose of investments quickly, it could be difficult to dispose of such investments on favorable terms. We may not be able to find a buyer for such investments and, even if we do find a buyer, we may have to sell the investments at a substantial loss. Any such outcomes would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
Most or a substantial portion of our portfolio investments will be recorded at fair value as determined in good faith by the Board and, as a result, there may be uncertainty as to the value of our portfolio investments.
Under the 1940 Act, we are required to carry our portfolio investments at market value or if there is no readily available market value, at fair value as determined by the Board. Most or a substantial portion of our portfolio investments may take the form of securities that are not publicly traded. The fair value of securities and other investments that are not publicly traded may not be readily determinable, and we value these securities at fair value as determined in good faith by the Board, including to reflect significant events affecting the value of our securities. As part of the valuation process, we may take into account the following types of factors, if relevant, in determining the fair value of our investments:
• a comparison of the portfolio company’s securities to publicly traded securities;
• the enterprise value of a portfolio company;
• the nature and realizable value of any collateral;
• the portfolio company’s ability to make payments and its earnings and discounted cash flow;
• the markets in which the portfolio company does business; and
• changes in the interest rate environment and the credit markets generally that may affect the price at which similar investments may be made in the future and other relevant factors.
We expect that most of our investments (other than cash and cash equivalents) will be classified as Level 3 in the fair value hierarchy and require disclosures about the level of disaggregation along with the inputs and valuation techniques we use to measure fair value. This means that our portfolio valuations are based on unobservable inputs and our own assumptions about how market participants would price the asset or liability in question. Inputs into the determination of fair value of our portfolio investments require significant management judgment or estimation. Even if observable market data is available, such information may be the result of consensus pricing information or broker quotes, which include a disclaimer that the broker would not be held to such a price in an actual transaction. The
non-binding nature of consensus pricing and/or quotes accompanied by disclaimers materially reduces the reliability of such information. We employ the services of one or more independent service providers to review the valuation of these securities. The types of factors that the Board may take into account in determining the fair value of our investments generally include, as appropriate, comparison to publicly traded securities including such factors as yield, maturity and measures of credit quality, the enterprise value of a portfolio company, the nature and realizable value of any collateral, the portfolio company’s ability to make payments and its earnings and discounted cash flow, the markets in which the portfolio company does business and other relevant factors. Because such valuations, and particularly valuations of private securities and private companies, are inherently uncertain, may fluctuate over short periods of time and may be based on estimates, our determinations of fair value may differ materially from the values that would have been used if a ready market for these securities existed. Due to this uncertainty in the value of our portfolio investments, a fair value determination may cause net asset value on a given date to materially understate or overstate the value that we may ultimately realize upon one or more of our investments. As a result, investors purchasing shares of our common stock based on an overstated net asset value would pay a higher price than the value of the investments might warrant. Conversely, investors selling shares during a period in which the net asset value understates the value of investments will receive a lower price for their shares than the value the investment portfolio might warrant.
We will adjust quarterly the valuation of our portfolio to reflect the determination of the Board of the fair value of each investment in our portfolio. Any changes in fair value are recorded in our statements of operations as net change in unrealized gain (loss) on investments.
The Board may change our investment objective, operating policies and strategies without prior notice or stockholder approval, the effects of which may be adverse.
The Board has the authority, except as otherwise prohibited by the 1940 Act, to modify or waive certain of our operating policies and strategies without prior notice and without stockholder approval. However, absent stockholder approval, we may not change the nature of our business so as to cease to be, or withdraw our election as, a BDC. Under Maryland law, we also cannot be dissolved without prior stockholder approval except by judicial action. We cannot predict the effect any changes to our current operating policies and strategies would have on our business, operating results and the price value of our common stock. Nevertheless, any such changes could adversely affect our business and impair our ability to make distributions.
Internal and external cyber threats, as well as other disasters, could impair our ability to conduct business effectively.
The occurrence of a disaster, such as a cyber-attack against us or against a third party that has access to our data or networks, a natural catastrophe, an industrial accident, failure of our disaster recovery systems, or consequential employee error, could have an adverse effect on our ability to communicate or conduct business, negatively impacting our operations and financial condition. This adverse effect can become particularly acute if those events affect our electronic data processing, transmission, storage, and retrieval systems, or impact the availability, integrity, or confidentiality of our data.
We depend heavily upon computer systems to perform necessary business functions. Despite our implementation of a variety of security measures, our computer systems, networks, and data, like those of other companies, could be subject to cyber-attacks and unauthorized access, use, alteration, or destruction, such as from physical and electronic break-ins or unauthorized tampering. If one or more of these events occurs, it could potentially jeopardize the confidential, proprietary, and other information processed, stored in, and transmitted through our computer systems and networks. Such an attack could cause interruptions or malfunctions in our operations, which could result in financial losses, litigation, regulatory penalties, client dissatisfaction or loss, reputational damage, and increased costs associated with mitigation of damages and remediation.
Third parties with which we do business may also be sources of cybersecurity or other technological risk. We outsource certain functions, and these relationships allow for the storage and processing of our information, as well as client, counterparty, employee, and borrower information. While we engage in actions to reduce our exposure resulting from outsourcing, ongoing threats may result in unauthorized access, loss, exposure, destruction, or other
cybersecurity incidents that adversely affects our data, resulting in increased costs and other consequences as described above.
We and our third-party providers are currently impacted by quarantines and similar measures being enacted by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that are obstructing the regular functioning of business workforces (including requiring employees to work from external locations and their homes). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we instituted a work from home policy until it was deemed safe to return to the office. We have since reopened our principal office but permit employees to work from home on a voluntary basis. An extended period of remote working, whether by us or our third-party providers, could strain technology resources and introduce operational risks, including heightened cybersecurity risk. Remote working environments may be less secure and more susceptible to hacking attacks, including phishing and social engineering attempts that seek to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, the risks described above are heightened under current conditions.
We may incur lender liability as a result of our lending activities.
In recent years, a number of judicial decisions have upheld the right of borrowers and others to sue lending institutions on the basis of various evolving legal theories, collectively termed “lender liability.” Generally, lender liability is founded on the premise that a lender has either violated a duty, whether implied or contractual, of good faith and fair dealing owed to the borrower or has assumed a degree of control over the borrower resulting in the creation of a fiduciary duty owed to the borrower or its other creditors or stockholders. We may be subject to allegations of lender liability, which could be time-consuming and expensive to defend and result in significant liability.
We may incur liability as a result of providing managerial assistance to our portfolio companies.
In the course of providing significant managerial assistance to certain portfolio companies, certain of our management and directors may serve as directors on the boards of such companies. To the extent that litigation arises out of investments in these companies, our management and directors may be named as defendants in such litigation, which could result in an expenditure of our funds, through our indemnification of such officers and directors, and the diversion of management time and resources.
Our management team and investment professionals may not be able to achieve the same or similar returns as those achieved by the Legacy Funds or by such persons while they were employed at prior positions.
The track record and achievements of our management team and investment professionals are not necessarily indicative of future results that will be achieved by us. As a result, we may not be able to achieve the same or similar returns as those achieved by our management team and investment professionals at their prior positions, including at the Legacy Funds.
Risks Related to Our Investments
Our investment strategy focuses on growth stage companies, which are subject to many risks, including dependence on the need to raise additional capital, volatility, intense competition, shortened product life cycles, changes in regulatory and governmental programs, periodic downturns, below investment grade ratings, which could cause you to lose all or part of your investment in us.
We invest primarily in growth stage companies, many of which may have narrow product lines and small market shares, which tend to render them more vulnerable to competitors’ actions and market conditions, as well as to general economic downturns, compared to more mature companies. The revenues, income (or losses), and projected financial performance and valuations of growth stage companies can and often do fluctuate suddenly and dramatically. For these reasons, investments in our portfolio companies, if rated by one or more ratings agency, would typically be rated below “investment grade,” which refers to securities rated by ratings agencies below the four highest rating categories. Our target growth stage companies are geographically concentrated and are therefore highly susceptible to materially negative local, political, natural and economic events. In addition, high growth industries are generally characterized by abrupt business cycles and intense competition. Overcapacity in high growth
industries, together with cyclical economic downturns, may result in substantial decreases in the value of many growth stage companies and/or their ability to meet their current and projected financial performance to service our debt. Furthermore, growth stage companies also typically rely on venture capital and private equity investors, or initial public offerings, or sales for additional capital.
Venture capital firms in turn rely on their limited partners to pay in capital over time in order to fund their ongoing and future investment activities. To the extent that venture capital firms’ limited partners are unable or choose not to fulfill their ongoing funding obligations, the venture capital firms may be unable to continue operationally and/or financially supporting the ongoing operations of our portfolio companies which could materially and adversely impact our financing arrangement with the portfolio company.
These companies, their industries, their products and customer demand and the outlook and competitive landscape for their industries are all subject to change, which could adversely impact their ability to execute their business plans and generate cash flow or raise additional capital that would serve as the basis for repayment of our loans. Therefore, our growth stage companies may face considerably more risk of loss than do companies at other stages of development.
The equipment financing industry is highly competitive and competitive forces could adversely affect the financing rates and resale prices that we may realize on our equipment financing investment portfolio and the prices that we have to pay to acquire our investments.
As part of our investment strategy, we engage in equipment financing, through which we finance equipment to growth stage companies. Equipment manufacturers, corporations, partnerships and others offer users an alternative to the purchase of most types of equipment with payment terms that vary wide