Articles Tagged with investment attorney

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Oil Drilling RigsInvestors in certain oil and gas limited partnerships offered and underwritten by David Lerner Associates, Inc. (“David Lerner”) — including Energy 11, L.P. (“Energy 11”) and Energy Resources 12, L.P. (“ER12”) — may be able to recover investment losses through FINRA arbitration, in the event that the investor’s broker lacked a reasonable basis for the recommendation, or if the nature of the investment including its many risk components was misrepresented by the financial advisor.  Energy 11 is a Delaware limited partnership formed in 2013 “to acquire producing and non-producing oil and natural gas properties onshore in the United States and to develop those properties.”  Specifically, as of March 31, 2017, Energy 11 had made key acquisitions in certain Sanish Field Assets (for approx. $340.5 million) located in North Dakota in proximity to the Bakken Shale.

ER12 was formed in 2016 as a Delaware limited partnership, with essentially the same objective as Energy 11, namely to “acquire producing and non-producing oil and gas properties with development potential by third-party operators on-shore in the United States.”  On February 1, 2018, ER12 closed on the purchase of certain Bakken Assets, including a minority working interest in approximately 204 existing producing wells and approximately 547 future development locations, primarily in McKenzie, Dunn, McLean and Mountrail counties in North Dakota.

Structured as limited partnerships, both Energy 11 and ER12 carry significant risks that may not be adequately explained to retail investors in marketing pitches by financial advisors who may recommend these complex financial products.  To begin, both Energy 11 and ER12 were only recently formed (2013 and 2016, respectively) and have very little operating history.  Moreover, each limited partnership is helmed by a CEO and CFO, Glade Knight and David McKenney, whose primary experience is in the real estate industry, not the oil and gas arena.  Oil and gas investments by their very nature are extremely volatile as they are subject to the boom and bust cycles which characterize the oil market.

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Oil Drilling RigsIf your financial advisor recommended an investment in All American Oil & Gas (“AAOG”) stock, limited partnership units, or high yield (“junk”) bonds, you may be able to recover losses sustained through FINRA arbitration, in the event your broker lacked a reasonable basis for the recommendation, or if your financial advisor failed to disclose the many risks associated with an investment in AAOG.  Headquartered in San Antonio, TX, AAOG is a privately held oil and gas producer that is the parent company of subsidiaries Western Power & Steam, Inc. (“WPS”) and Kern River Holding Inc. (“KRH”), an upstream exploration and production outfit with approximately 124 producing wells in the Kern River Oil Field.  Together, AAOG, WPS and KRH are referred to as the Company.

On November 12, 2018, the Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas, citing “an ongoing dispute with its lenders.”  As of the date of filing its petition, the Company has a total of $141,942,197 in debt obligations.  According to the bankruptcy petition, in a number of instances KRH is the borrower on the Company’s loan facilities, as it requires regular ongoing cash flows to maintain its exploration and production activities.

With U.S. crude oil now trading below $50 per barrel (in 2014 oil was trading around $100, and as recently as September 2018 was hovering around $80 per barrel), many oil and gas companies may now be encountering financial distress after leveraging their balance sheets in order to fund costly exploration, drilling and related operations.  Predictably, this overleveraging has placed some oil and gas companies in a precarious financial position, particularly those operating in the capital-intensive and risky upstream sector of the oil and gas market.

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Money WhirlpoolAs recently reported, both the SEC and FINRA have commenced their own investigations into GPB Capital Holdings, LLC (“GPB”).  GPB is a New York-based alternative asset management firm whose business model is predicated on “acquiring income-producing private companies” across a number of industries including automotive, waste management, and middle market lending.  These investigations by federal regulators come on the heels of Massachusetts securities regulators announcing in September 2018 their own investigation into GPB, as well as the sales practices of more than 60 independent broker-dealers who reportedly offered private placement investments in various GPB funds to their clientele.

GPB has raised approximately $1.8 billion in investor funds across its various private placement offerings, including GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP, and GPB Waste Management, LP.  Private placement investments are complex and fraught with risk.  To begin, private placements are often sold under a high fee and commission structure.  Reportedly, one brokerage executive has indicated that the sales loads for GPB private placements were 12%, including a 10% commission to the broker and his or her broker-dealer, as well as a 2% fee for offering and organization costs.  Such high fees and expenses act as an immediate drag on investment performance.

Further, private placement investments carry a high degree of risk due to their nature as unregistered securities offerings.  Unlike stocks that are publicly registered, and therefore, must meet stringent registration and reporting requirement as set forth by the SEC, private placements do not have the same regulatory oversight.  Accordingly, private placements are typically sold through what is known as a “Reg D” offering.  Unfortunately, investing through a Reg D offering is risky because investors are usually provided with very little in the way of information.  For example, private placement investors may be presented with unaudited financials or overly optimistic growth forecasts, or in some instances, with a due diligence report that was prepared by a third-party firm hired by the sponsor of the investment itself.

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BuildingInvestors in Strategic Realty Trust, Inc. (“SRT” or the “Company” — formerly known as TNP Strategic Retail Trust, Inc.), a REIT based in San Mateo, California, may face principal losses if they attempt to sell their shares in the illiquid and fragmented secondary market.  SRT invests in and manages a portfolio of income-producing properties, including various shopping centers, primarily in Western U.S. locations.  Structured as a Maryland corporation that qualifies as a REIT, SRT was formed in September 2008.  By August 2009, the Company had initiated its public offering at $10 per share for up to $1 billion in investor equity.

Retail investors commonly are solicited by financial advisors or stockbrokers to invest in non-traded REITs like SRT, which typically are sold by independent broker-dealer firms.  Unfortunately, customers who purchased shares through SRT’s IPO upon the recommendation of a broker may, in certain instances, have been solicited via misleading sales presentations that failed to adequately disclose the complex nature of the investment, its negative features, and its risks.  Risks associated with non-traded REITs include high up-front commissions (as high as 7-10%), high due diligence and administrative expenses, risk of loss of principal, and illiquidity.

Investors in non-traded REITs including SRT may come to find out too late that their shares are illiquid, and their options to exit the investment are limited.  Briefly, investors seeking liquidity may: (i) seek to redeem their shares directly with the sponsor (SRT suspended its redemption program altogether from January 15, 2013 – April 1, 2015), (ii) be presented with limited, market-driven opportunities to tender their shares to a third party investment firm (typically at a disadvantageous price), or (iii) sell their shares on a limited and fragmented secondary market specializing in creating a trading platform for illiquid securities.

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Money in WastebasketThird-party real estate investment firm Everest REIT Investors I, LLC (“Everest”) recently launched an unsolicited tender offer to purchase up to 780,000 shares of common stock in Cole Credit Property Trust IV, Inc. (“Cole Credit IV”), at $6.60 per share.

Cole Credit IV was formed in July 2010 and is structured as a publicly registered, non-traded REIT.  Shares issued through its offering were priced at $10 per share.  As of December 31, 2017, Cole Credit IV had raised approximately $3.4 billion in investor equity.  While the non-traded REIT has most recently estimated its share value at $9.37 per share, Cole Credit IV further “states that such figure is based on numerous assumptions and judgments and there can be no assurances that such amount would be realized upon a liquidation of assets or other liquidity event.”

Non-traded REITs pose a great deal of risks that are often not readily apparent to retail investors, and may not be adequately explained by the financial advisors and stockbrokers who recommend these complex investments.  One significant risk associated with non-traded REITs concerns their high up-front commissions, typically between 7-10%.  In addition to high commissions, non-traded REITs like Cole Credit IV generally charge investors for certain due diligence and administrative fees, ranging anywhere from 1-3%.

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Piggybank in a CageOn November 9, 2018, GPB Capital Holdings, LLC (“GPB”) notified certain broker-dealers who had been selling investments in its various funds that GPB’s auditor, Crowe LLP, elected to resign.  As reported, GPB’s CEO, David Gentile, stated that the resignation purportedly came about “[d]ue to perceived risks that Crowe determined fell outside of their internal risk tolerance parameters.”  GPB has since engaged EisnerAmper LLP to provide it with audit services moving forward.

As we recently discussed, GPB has come under considerable scrutiny of late.  In August 2018, the sponsor of various private placement investment offerings including GPB Automotive Portfolio and GPB Holdings II, announced that it was not accepting any new investor capital, and furthermore, was suspending any redemptions of investor funds.  This announcement followed GPB’s April 2018 failure to produce audited financial statements for its two largest aforementioned funds.  By September 2018, securities regulators in Massachusetts disclosed that they had commenced an investigation into the sales practices of some 63 independent broker-dealers who have reportedly offered private placement investments in various GPB funds.  To name a few, these broker-dealers include: HighTower Securities, Advisor Group’s four independent broker-dealers – FSC Securities, SagePoint Financial Services, Woodbury Financial Services, and Royal Alliance Associates, in addition to Ladenburg Thalmann’s Triad Advisors.

The various GPB private placement offerings include:

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financial charts and stockbrokerDespite FS Investment Corporation II’s (“FSIC II”, or the “Company”) providing an estimated value of $8.31 a share, recent publicly-available information concerning pricing suggests a lower value, with secondary market transactions reportedly at prices of between $7.20 and $7.31 a share and a third-party tender offer being completed at $5.15 a share.

FSIC II is a publicly registered, non-traded business development company (“BDC”) that may have been marketed to some public investors as a relatively safe investment offering a steady yield of income.   However, as a non-traded BDC, the Company carries with it considerable risks.  Accordingly, in those instances where retail investors were solicited by a financial advisor to invest in FSIC II without first being fully informed of the risks associated with the investment, including the potential for principal losses, high upfront fees and commissions, and the illiquid market in the Company’s shares, investors seeking to recoup their losses may have legal claims against stockbrokers or investment advisory firms who sold them the shares.

Organized under Maryland law in July 2011, FSIC II commenced its operations on June 18, 2012 and is structured as a publicly registered, non-traded BDC under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (’40 Act).  Publicly-available information suggests numerous retail investors participated in FSIC II’s initial offering, priced at approximately $10 per share.  FSIC II is managed by FS Investments (formerly known as Franklin Square), a Philadelphia-based alternative asset management firm sponsoring a number of non-traded BDCs.  As of June 30, 2018, FSIC II reported assets under management of approximately $4.77 billion.

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investing in real estate through a limited partnershipRecent pricing on shares of Cole Credit Property Trust V, Inc. (“CCPT V” or, the “Company”) – at reported prices of $17.25-$17.75 – suggests that investors who chose to sell their shares on a limited secondary market may have sustained considerable losses of up to 30% (excluding any distributions received to date).  Formed in December 2012, CCPT V is structured as a Maryland corporation.  As a publicly registered, non-traded real estate investment trust (“REIT”), CCPT V is focused on the business of acquiring and operating “a diversified portfolio of retail and other income-producing commercial properties.”  As of October 31, 2018, the Company’s real estate portfolio consisted of 141 properties across 33 states, with portfolio tenants spanning some 26 industry sectors.

The shares of CCPT V, a publicly registered, non-traded REIT, were offered to retail investors in connection with CCPT V’s initial offering, which was priced at $25 per share.  The Company launched its initial offer in March 2014, and as of the second quarter of 2018, had raised $434 million in investor equity through the issuance of common stock.

Some retail investors may have been steered into an investment in CCPT V by a financial advisor, without first being fully informed of the risks associated with investing in non-traded REITs.  For example, one initial risk that is often overlooked concerns a non-traded REIT’s characteristic structure as a blind pool.  In the case of CCPT V, its blind pool offering means that not only were shares issued to public investors for a REIT lacking any previous operating history, but moreover, CCPT V did not immediately identify any of the properties that it intended to purchase.

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https://i1.wp.com/www.investorlawyers.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/15.10.14-apartment-buildings.jpg?resize=300%2C210&ssl=1NorthStar Healthcare Income, Inc. (“NorthStar Healthcare”) is a public, non-traded REIT formed in October 2010 as a Maryland corporation.  NorthStar Healthcare is in the business of acquiring a geographically diverse portfolio of various healthcare real estate assets, including equity and debt investments (including various joint ventures with other non-traded REITs) in the mid-acuity senior housing sector, as well as in memory care, skilled nursing, and independent living facilities.  Pursuant to its initial offering, which closed on February 2, 2015, the non-traded REIT raised gross proceeds of $1.1 billion (subsequently, NorthStar Healthcare conducted a Follow-on Primary offering, raising total gross proceeds of $1.9 billion through March 22, 2017).

As a publicly registered, non-traded REIT, numerous retail investors were solicited by a financial advisor to invest in NorthStar Healthcare.  Unfortunately, customers who purchased shares through the IPO upon the recommendation of a broker may, in some instances, have been uninformed of the complex nature of the investment, including its high upfront commissions and fees (as set forth in its prospectus, NorthStar Healthcare charged investors a selling commission of up to 7% of gross offering proceeds, a dealer-manager fee of up to 3%, and an acquisition fee of 2.25% for properties acquired by the REIT).

Furthermore, as a non-traded REIT, NorthStar Healthcare is illiquid in nature.  Investors seeking liquidity have limited options at their disposal in the event that they wish to exit their investment position in the near term.  Briefly, investors seeking liquidity may: (i) seek to redeem their shares directly with the sponsor (it is worth noting that NorthStar is “not obligated to repurchase shares” under its Share Repurchase Program), or (ii) be presented with limited, market-driven opportunities to tender their shares to a third party professional investment firm (typically at a disadvantageous price), or finally, (iii) seek to sell their shares on a limited secondary market specializing in creating a market for illiquid securities.

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Wastebasket Filled with Crumpled Dollar BillsInvestors in Carter Validus Mission Critical REIT, Inc. (“Carter Validus”) may have arbitration claims to be pursued before FINRA, in the event the investment recommendation was unsuitable, or if the financial advisor’s recommendation was predicated on a misleading sales presentation.  Headquartered in Tampa, FL, Carter Validus is structured as a Maryland real estate investment trust (“REIT”).  As a publicly registered, non-traded REIT, Carter Validus was permitted to sell securities to the investing public at large, including numerous unsophisticated retail investors who bought shares through the IPO upon the recommendation of a broker or financial advisor.

In connection with its IPO, Carter Validus offered up to 150,000,000 shares of common stock at $10 per share.  As set forth in its Registration Statement as filed with the SEC, Carter Validus seeks to acquire “income-producing commercial real estate with a focus on medical facilities, data centers and educational facilities.”  As more fully described below, recent secondary market pricing for Carter Validus shares, at a bid-ask spread of between $3.15 – $3.30 per share, suggests investors who opted to sell their shares through a limited secondary market have sustained a principal loss of approximately 67%, excluding distributions.

Non-traded REITs like Carter Validus pose many risks to investors that are often not readily apparent, or in some instances adequately explained by the financial advisors recommending these complex and esoteric investments.  To begin, one significant risk associated with non-traded REITs has to do with their high up-front fees and commissions, which act as an immediate drag on investment performance.  In connection with its IPO, Carter Validus charged investors a “selling commission” of 7%, in additional to a “dealer manager fee” of 2.75%, and certain “organization and offering expenses” of 1.25%.  Thus, in aggregate, investors who participated in the IPO were charged 11% in commissions and fees from the outset.