Articles Posted in FS Energy and Power Fund

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Oil Drilling RigsInvestors in FS Energy and Power Fund (“FSEP” or the “Company”) will likely encounter difficulty in selling out of all or a substantial portion of their FSEP position, in the event they seek to redeem their shares directly with FSEP’s sponsor, Franklin Square.  Headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, FSEP was formed as a Delaware Statutory Trust in September 2010, and subsequently commenced its investment operations on July 18, 2011.  Structured as a regulated investment company, or RIC, for federal tax purposes, FSEP qualifies as a business development company (“BDC”) under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

Upon information and belief, as a publicly registered, non-traded BDC, FSEP was marketed and recommended to numerous retail investors nationwide.  As set forth in its most recent quarterly 10-Q as filed with the SEC, “The Company’s investment objective is to generate current income and long-term capital appreciation by investing primarily in privately-held U.S. companies in the energy and power industry.”

As we have highlighted in recent blog posts, BDCs have been around since the early 1980’s, when Congress first enacted legislation amending federal securities laws allowing for BDCs — which are simply types of closed-end funds — to make investments in developing companies and firms that would otherwise have difficulty accessing financing.  Because they provide financing solutions for smaller, private companies, BDCs have been likened to private equity investment vehicles for retail investors in various marketing pitches by BDC sponsors and the financial advisors who recommend these financial products.

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Money MazeBased upon recent secondary market pricing, investors in certain publicly registered, non-traded business development companies (“BDCs”), may have suffered losses on their illiquid investments.  In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many retail investors have been steered into so-called non-conventional investments (“NCIs”), including non-traded REITs and BDCs, often premised upon a sales pitch or marketing presentation from a financial advisor touting the investment’s lack of correlation to stock market volatility and enhanced income via hefty distributions.  Unfortunately, in some instances, investors were solicited to invest in such NCIs without first being fully informed of the risk components embedded in these products.

In January 2017, FINRA issued the following guidance with respect to investments in non-traded NCIs:

“While these products can be appropriate for some customers, certain non-traded REITs and unlisted BDCs, for example, may have high commissions and fees, be illiquid, have distributions that may include return of principal, have limited operating history, or present material credit risk arising from unrated or below investment grade products. Given these concerns, firms should make sure that they perform and supervise customer specific suitability determinations. More generally, firms should carefully evaluate their supervisory programs in light of the products they offer, the specific features of those products and the investors they serve.”

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As we highlighted in a previous blog post, investors in FS Energy and Power Fund (“FSEP” or the “Fund”) may be able to recover losses on their investment in arbitration through arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), if the recommendation to invest in FSEP was unsuitable, or if the broker or financial advisor who recommended the investment made a misleading sales presentation.  Headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, the Fund is structured as a non-traded business development company (“BDC”) that invests primarily in the debt of a portfolio of private U.S. energy and power companies.

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BDCs first emerged in the early 1980’s when the U.S. Congress enacted legislation that amended the federal securities laws.  These legislative changes allowed BDCs — which are a type of closed-end fund — to make investments in developing companies and firms.  BDCs are in the business of providing various debt and mezzanine financing solutions for small and medium-sized businesses that otherwise could not access credit in the same way as more established companies.

By providing credit solutions to less established companies, BDCs frequently collect much higher than average interest income and seek to pass along such income to investors in the form of dividends.  While an investment in a BDC may seem like an attractive option for an investor seeking enhanced income, our office has frequently encountered situations in which financial advisors recommended unsuitable nonconventional investment products to their clients, including non-traded BDCs, such as FSEP.

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Lawyers at Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. have handled many cases against stockbrokers and other investment professionals involving non-traded invesments such as REITs, hedge funds and private placements.

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FS Energy and Power Fund (“FSEP” or the “Fund”) is a non-traded business development company that invests primarily in the debt of a portfolio of private U.S. energy and power companies.  BDC’s have been around since 1980 when the U.S. Congress enacted legislation which ushered in certain amendments to federal securities laws allowing for BDC’s — which are simply types of closed-end funds — to make investments in developing companies and firms.

BDC’s are in the business of providing various debt and mezzanine financing solutions for typically small and medium-sized businesses that cannot access credit in the same way as larger, more established companies.  By providing credit solutions to less established companies, BDC’s will frequently collect much higher than average interest income and seek to pass along such income to investors in the form of dividends.