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Recent Secondary Market Pricing Suggests Investors in Certain Non-Traded BDCs Have Sustained Losses

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.”

Because of the illiquid nature of non-traded NCIs, investors seeking to exit their investment position are constrained by limited options, including redemption of some or all of their shares directly with the sponsor (often at a disadvantageous price and only in an amount approved by the sponsor), as well as selling their investment in a fragmented and inefficient secondary market, typically at a disadvantageous price.

According to recent secondary market pricing, shares of FS Energy & Power Fund (FSEP), a non-traded BDC sponsored by Franklin Square, were recently listed for sale at $5.70 per share.  This recent pricing in FSEP suggests that investors in this non-traded BDC may well have suffered considerable investment losses of approximately 40% on their initial investment (which does not include distributions paid to date).  With respect to another non-traded BDC, Business Development Corporation of America (“BDCA”), recent secondary market pricing indicates BDCA shares were recently sold at $6.50 per share.  BDCA’s shares were offered through its IPO at $11.15 per share; thus, it appears investors seeking liquidity through recent secondary market transactions have sustained losses on their BDCA investment of approximately 40% (excluding distributions and commissions paid to date).

Investors in FSEP or BDCA (or other non-traded BDCs) may be able to recover investment losses in FINRA arbitration if their investment was the subject of an unsuitable recommendation by a stockbroker or investment advisor.  Investors may contact a securities arbitration lawyer at Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. at (866) 966-9598 or via email at newcases@investorlawyers.net for a no-cost, confidential consultation.