Articles Tagged with securities arbitration

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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=1Based on publicly available information, including recent SEC filings, shares of Summit Healthcare REIT, Inc. (“Summit” or the “Company”) may have a value of less than $2.00 a shares – far below the initial offering price of $8.00 share and also less than the $2.80 NAV provided by Summit.

Headquartered in Lake Forest, CA, Summit is structured as a Maryland corporation that qualifies as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) for tax purposes.  Formed in 2004, Summit was formerly known as Cornerstone Core Properties REIT, Inc.  Following a strategic repositioning of the Company’s property portfolio to focus on healthcare real estate and related assets, the name change was formally adopted in October 2013.

On June 21, 2018, a third party known as MacKenzie Realty Capital, Inc. reportedly closed on a tender offer, purchasing some 41,566 shares of Summit at a price of $1.56 per share.  As of December 31, 2017, Summit reported a net asset value (NAV) of $2.80 per share.

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BuildingHeadquartered in Newport Beach, CA, KBS Real Estate Investment Trust II, Inc. (“KBS II”) was formed as a Maryland REIT in July 2007.  Pursuant to its public offering, KBS II offered 280 million shares of common stock, of which 200 million shares were registered in its primary offering, and an additional 80 million common shares were registered under the non-traded REIT’s dividend reinvestment plan.  KBS II’s initial offering closed on December 31, 2010, with 182,681,633 shares sold, thus raising gross offering proceeds of $1.8 billion.

Many KBS II investors may have been steered into this complex investment by a financial advisor or stockbroker.  Unfortunately, KBS II investors may have been uninformed as to the illiquid nature of their investment (as a non-traded REIT, KBS II shares do not trade on a national securities exchange), and now have limited options if they seek liquidity on their investment.

In January 2016, KBS II’s board of directors formed a Special Committee for the purpose of exploring “the availability of strategic alternatives.”  Subsequently, the Special Committee determined that it was in the best interest of KBS II stockholders to market some of the non-traded REIT’s assets, and depending on the scope of the asset sales, “thereafter adopt a plan of liquidation that would involve the sale” of remaining KBS II assets.

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Money WhirlpoolOn November 6, 2018, Sierra Income Corporation (“Sierra”) filed a Registration Statement (on Form N-14) with the SEC, notifying Sierra investors and the public at large of a proposed merger transaction.  Specifically, Sierra’s board of directors is seeking shareholder approval on a series of related transactions designed to effectuate a merger between and among Sierra, a publicly registered non-traded business development company (BDC), as well as Medley Capital Corporation (“MCC”), a publicly traded BDC, and Medley Management Inc. (“MDLY”), a publicly traded asset management firm.

MDLY is the parent company of both MCC’s and Sierra’s investment adviser, and the same portfolio management team and officers are responsible for both MCC’s and Sierra’s operations.  While a date for a special shareholder meeting has yet to be set, Sierra’s board of directors is seeking shareholder approval on the contemplated merger, a transaction which will reportedly create the second largest internally managed and seventh largest publicly traded BDC.

Sierra is currently externally managed by SIC Advisors LLC, which in turn, is affiliated with MDLY.  MDLY operates a national direct origination franchise through which it seeks to market its financial products, including Sierra.  As of December 31, 2016, Sierra reported that it had raised in excess of $900 million in connection with its equity capital raise.  As of July 31, 2018, Sierra had closed its public offering.  Most recently, shares of Sierra have been assigned a NAV of $7.27 per share by management, and has reported approximately $1.1 billion in total assets.

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Building DemolishedInvestors in AR Global’s Healthcare Trust, Inc. (“HTI”), may have FINRA arbitration claims, if their investment was recommended by a financial advisor who lacked a reasonable basis for the recommendation, or if the nature of the investment was misrepresented by the stock broker.  AR Global’s HTI was incorporated on October 15, 2012, as a Maryland corporation that elected to be taxed as a real estate investment trust (REIT).  HTI invests in multi-tenant medical office buildings and, as of year-end 2017, owned a portfolio consisting of 8.4 million-square-feet including 164 properties, with a total purchase price of $2.3 billion.

As a publicly registered non-traded REIT, HTI 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 money manager.  HTI terminated its offering in November 2014 after raising approximately $2.2 billion in investor equity.

Recently, third party real estate investment firm MacKenzie Realty Capital, LP (“MacKenzie”) initiated an unsolicited mini-tender offer to purchase up to 1 million shares of HTI for $10.99 per share.  Accordingly, investors who acquired HTI shares through the offering at $25 per share will incur substantial losses on their initial investment of approximately 55% (exclusive of commissions paid and distributions received to date).

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investing in real estate through a limited partnershipInvestors in numerous non-traded REITs and real estate limited partnerships may have recently encountered difficulty in exiting their investment position through redemption of shares with the sponsor.  As we have highlighted in several previous blog posts, non-traded REITs and similar limited partnership investments (often sold via private placement), are extremely complex and risky investments.

Unlike exchange traded REITs that trade on deep and liquid national securities exchanges, publicly registered non-traded REITs are sold through an offering or successive offerings to the retail investing public, often over the course of several years.  Once the offering has closed, investors may find that their ability to redeem shares with the sponsor is severely restricted, or in some instances, outright suspended.  This is particularly problematic for retail investors who quite often were steered into the investment by a financial advisor who, in some instances, may have failed to fully disclose the nature of the investment, including its illiquid nature.

In the same vein, investments in real estate limited partnerships are often conducted via a private placement, pursuant to Regulation D as promulgated by the SEC.  As a general rule, a private placement investment in real estate carries with it many of the same risks embedded in investing in non-traded REITs.  These risks include: (1) high fees and commissions, (2) a general lack of transparency concerning the investment (while publicly registered non-traded REITs will typically provide more information than a private placement, the fact remains that many non-traded REITs are structured as blind pools, and accordingly an investor will not be able to readily ascertain the nature of the underlying property portfolio), and (3) difficulty exiting an illiquid investment position.

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Oil Drilling RigsHard Rock Exploration, Inc. (“Hard Rock”) of Charleston, West Virginia and certain of its affiliate entities, including Blue Jacket Gathering LLC, Blue Jacket Partnership, Caraline Energy Company, and Brothers Realty, LLC (“Hard Rock Affiliates”), are independent oil and gas development companies.

On September 5, 2017, Hard Rock and Hard Rock Affiliates filed for bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of West Virginia Bankruptcy Court (2:17-bk-20459).  Shortly after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Hard Rock reported a monthly cash flow shortage of $325,000.  According to Hard Rock’s lender, Huntington National Bank, “rehabilitation of the Debtors’ business is impossible” due to their ongoing hemorrhaging of cash.

Hard Rock and Hard Rock Affiliates operate approximately 390 well sites in the Appalachian Basin.  In addition, Caraline Energy Co. owns and maintains approximately 365 miles of pipeline developed to support natural gas collection.

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investing in real estate through a limited partnershipInvestors in NorthStar Healthcare Income, Inc. (“NHI REIT”) are likely facing substantial principal losses based on recently reported transactions.  Although liquidity is limited, NHI REIT investors may be able to sell shares through a limited and fragmented secondary market.  Recently, NHI REIT shares were listed for sale on a secondary platform at $6.70 per share.  Thus, for investors who bought in through the IPO at $10 per share, it would appear that they have sustained losses of roughly 1/3 on their initial capital outlay (these losses are exclusive of distribution income received to date).

NHI REIT investors also may have arbitration claims to be pursued before FINRA, if their investment was recommended by a financial advisor who lacked a reasonable basis for the recommendation, or if the nature of the investment was misrepresented by the broker.  According to its prospectus, NHI REIT was formed as a Maryland corporation in October 2010 for the purpose of acquiring, originating and managing a “[d]iversified portfolio of equity and debt investments in healthcare real estate, with a focus on the mid-acuity senior housing sector.”

Headquartered in New York, New York, NHI REIT is a publicly registered non-traded real estate investment trust.  As of November 2015, NHI REIT’s portfolio consisted of 20 investments, including 16 equity investments with a total cost of $942.7 million, and 4 debt investments with a principal amount of $145.9 million.  Pursuant to its offering, which closed December 17, 2015, NHI REIT offered up to $500,000,000 in shares of its common stock at a price of $10.20 per share, in addition to $200,000,000 in shares offered under the REIT’s amended and restated distribution reinvestment plan, at a price of $9.69 per share.

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Oil Drilling RigsOn April 2, 2018, EV Energy Partners, L.P. (“EVEP”) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Delaware (Case No. 18-10814 (CIS)).  While EVEP continues to operate its business, it now seeks to implement a prepackaged plan of reorganization, under which equity investors who purchased EVEP Units will likely sustain significant losses.

Investors who bought into EVEP upon a recommendation by their broker or financial advisor may be able to recover their losses in FINRA arbitration, in the event the recommendation to invest lacked a reasonable basis, or if the investment was solicited through a misleading sales presentation.  EVEP is a publicly traded master limited partnership (“MLP”) specializing in the acquisition and operation and development of onshore oil and gas properties in the continental United States.  EVEP’s holdings include oil and gas properties in the Barnett Shale, the San Juan Basin, the Appalachian Basin, as well as the Permian Basin.

As most recently reported, under the currently proposed plan of reorganization, EVEP Unitholders will receive 5% of the new entity (post-bankruptcy), with 5-year warrants to buy up to 8% of the reorganized company’s new equity.

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money whirlpoolAegis Capital Corp. (“Aegis”, CRD# 15007) was recently fined by both the SEC and FINRA in connection with allegations concerning the firm’s purported failure to supervise suspicious penny stock transactions in certain customer delivery versus payment (“DVP”) accounts.  Specifically, based on its investigation, FINRA alleged that “Aegis failed to adequately monitor or investigate the trading in seven DVP customer accounts that liquidated billions of shares of low-priced securities, generating millions of dollars in proceeds for its customers.”  Of considerable concern to both the SEC and FINRA, Aegis allegedly failed to identify these trades as suspicious even after its clearing firm put Aegis on alert of various Anti-Money Laundering (“AML”) red flags surrounding “suspicious low-priced securities transactions.”

On Wednesday, March 28, FINRA announced a fine of $550,000 against Aegis for its alleged supervisory failures.  Further, the SEC penalized Aegis $750,000 after the brokerage firm admitted that it failed to file required suspicious activity reports (“SAR’s”) on numerous penny stock transactions.  Additionally, Aegis’ CEO, Robert Eide, was fined $40,000 by the SEC in a separate action concerning the broker-dealer’s failure to file SARs from “at least late 2012 through early 2014.”

Formed in January 1984 and headquartered in New York, New York, Aegis is a mid-sized, full service retail and institutional broker-dealer.  As of March 2017, Aegis employed approximately 415 brokers in its sixteen branches.  The bulk of Aegis’ branch office network is located in New York City and Long Island, NY, in addition to a presence in New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas, Florida, Oregon, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico.

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Money MazeSierra Income Corporation (“SIC”) recently extended a tender offer to its shareholders, which terminated on December 22, 2017, offering to purchase shares for $7.89 a share.  SIC is a publicly registered, non-traded business-development company (“BDC”).  This non-traded BDC invests primarily in first lien senior secured debt, second lien secured debt, and certain subordinated debt of middle market companies with annual revenue between $50 million and $1 billion.  Investors who participated in the tender offer likely sustained losses on their initial capital investment at $10 per share (exclusive of fees, commissions and any distribution income received).  According to publicly available information, a total of 4,923,026 shares were validly tendered.

According to publicly available information, SIC is externally managed by SIC Advisors LLC, which in turn, is affiliated with Medley Management (NYSE: MDLY, “Medley”).  Medley operates a national direct origination franchise through which it seeks to market its financial products, including SIC.  As of December 31, 2016, Sierra reported that it had raised in excess of $900 million in connection with its equity capital raise.

Investors who purchased shares in SIC’s offering acquired shares at $10 per share.  Further, as outlined in SIC’s prospectus, investors who participated in the offering were subject to hefty up-front fees and commissions of nearly 10%, including a “selling commission” of 7.00%, in addition to a “dealer-manager fee” of 2.75%.