10-K
Table of Contents

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

Form 10-K

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018

OR

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                 to                

Commission file number: 814-00861

 

 

FIDUS INVESTMENT CORPORATION

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

Maryland   27-5017321

(State or Other Jurisdiction of

Incorporation or Organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

1603 Orrington Avenue, Suite 1005

Evanston, Illinois

  60201
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)   (Zip Code)

(847) 859-3940

(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   The NASDAQ Global Select Market
5.875% Notes due 2023   The NASDAQ Global Select Market
6.000% Notes due 2024   The 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 if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.406) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  ☒

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 definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer      Accelerated filer  
Non-accelerated filer      Smaller reporting company  
     Emerging growth company  

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected 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 is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934).    Yes  ☐     No  ☒

The aggregate market value of common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 29, 2018 based on the closing price on that date of $14.21 on the NASDAQ Global Select Market was $343,229,917. For the purpose of calculating this amount only, all directors and executive officers of the registrant have been treated as affiliates. There were 24,463,119 shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding as of February 26, 2019.

 

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s proxy statement to be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A in connection with the registrant’s 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which will be filed subsequent to the date hereof, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K. Such proxy statement will be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days following the end of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2018.

 

 

 


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

          Page  
PART I   

Item 1.

  

Business.

     4  

Item 1A.

  

Risk Factors.

     33  

Item 1B.

  

Unresolved Staff Comments.

     61  

Item 2.

  

Properties.

     61  

Item 3.

  

Legal Proceedings.

     61  

Item 4.

  

Mine Safety Disclosures.

     61  
PART II   

Item 5.

  

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

     62  

Item 6.

  

Selected Consolidated Financial Data.

     66  

Item 7.

  

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

     67  

Item 7A.

  

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure about Market Risk.

     87  

Item 8.

  

Consolidated Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.

     89  

Item 9.

  

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure.

     142  

Item 9A.

  

Controls and Procedures.

     142  

Item 9B.

  

Other Information.

     143  
PART III   

Item 10.

  

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance.

     144  

Item 11.

  

Executive Compensation.

     144  

Item 12.

  

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters.

     144  

Item 13.

  

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence.

     144  

Item 14.

  

Principal Accountant Fees and Services.

     144  
PART IV   

Item 15.

  

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules.

     145  
  

SIGNATURES

     148  

 

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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Annual Report”) contains forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but rather are based on current expectations, estimates and projections about us, our current and prospective portfolio investments, our industry, our beliefs, and our assumptions. Words such as “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “will,” “may,” “continue,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “would,” “should,” “targets,” “projects” and variations of these words and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K involve risks and uncertainties, including statements as to:

 

   

our future operating results;

 

   

our business prospects and the prospects of our portfolio companies;

 

   

the impact of investments that we expect to make;

 

   

our contractual arrangements and relationships with third parties;

 

   

the dependence of our future success on the general economy and its impact on the industries in which we invest;

 

   

the ability of our portfolio companies to achieve their objectives;

 

   

our expected financing and investments;

 

   

the adequacy of our cash resources and working capital;

 

   

the timing of cash flows, if any, from the operations of our portfolio companies;

 

   

the impact of increased competition;

 

   

the ability of our investment advisor to identify suitable investments for us and to monitor and administer our investments;

 

   

the ability of our investment advisor to attract and retain highly talented professionals;

 

   

our regulatory structure and tax status;

 

   

our ability to operate as a BDC, a SBIC and a RIC;

 

   

the timing, form and amount of any dividend distributions;

 

   

the impact of fluctuations in interest rates on our business;

 

   

the valuation of any investments in portfolio companies, particularly those having no liquid trading market; and

 

   

our ability to recover unrealized losses.

These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond our control and difficult to predict and could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or forecasted in the forward-looking statements, including without limitation:

 

   

an economic downturn could impair our portfolio companies’ ability to continue to operate, which could lead to the loss of value in some or all of our investments in such portfolio companies;

 

   

a contraction of available credit and/or an inability to access the equity markets could impair our lending and investment activities;

 

   

interest rate volatility could adversely affect our results, particularly because we use leverage as part of our investment strategy;

 

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currency fluctuations could adversely affect the results of our investments in portfolio companies with foreign operations; and,

 

   

the risks, uncertainties and other factors we identify in Item 1A. – Risk Factors contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018 and in our other filings with the SEC.

Although we believe that the assumptions on which these forward-looking statements are based are reasonable, any of those assumptions could prove to be inaccurate, and as a result, the forward-looking statements based on those assumptions also could later prove to be inaccurate. Important assumptions include our ability to originate new loans and investments, certain margins and levels of profitability and the availability of additional capital. In light of these and other uncertainties, the inclusion of a projection or forward-looking statement in this Annual Report should not be regarded as a representation by us that our plans and objectives will be achieved. These risks and uncertainties include those described or identified in Item 1A entitled “Risk Factors” in Part 1 and elsewhere in this Annual Report. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements as a prediction of actual results, which apply only as of the date of this Annual Report. We expressly disclaim any responsibility to update forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. The forward-looking statements and projections contained in this Annual Report are excluded from the safe harbor protection provided by Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act.

 

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PART I

Except as otherwise specified, references to “we,” “us,” “our,” “Fidus” and “FIC” refer to Fidus Investment Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries. Some of the statements in this Annual Report constitute forward-looking statements, which apply to us and relate to future events, future performance or financial condition. The forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties for us and actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements for any reason, including those factors discussed in “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this report.

Item 1. Business.

GENERAL

Fidus Investment Corporation, a Maryland Corporation, operates as an externally managed business development company (“BDC”) under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (“1940 Act”). FIC completed its initial public offering, or IPO, in June 2011. In addition, FIC has elected to be treated as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) under Subchapter M of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). As of December 31, 2018, our shares were listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “FDUS.”

FIC may make investments directly or through its two wholly-owned investment company subsidiaries, Fidus Mezzanine Capital, L.P. (“Fund I”) and Fidus Mezzanine Capital II, L.P. (“Fund II”)(collectively Fund I and Fund II are referred to as the “Funds”). Fidus Investment GP, LLC, the general partner of the Funds, is also a wholly owned subsidiary of FIC. The Funds are licensed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (the “SBA”) as small business investment companies (“SBICs”). The Funds utilize the proceeds of the issuance of SBA-guaranteed debentures to enhance returns to our stockholders. We believe that utilizing both FIC and the Funds as investment vehicles provides us with access to a broader array of investment opportunities. Given our access to lower cost capital through the SBA’s SBIC debenture program, we expect that the majority of our investments will continue to be made through the Funds until the Funds reach their borrowing limit under the program. For three or more SBICs under common control, the maximum amount of outstanding SBA debentures cannot exceed $350.0 million.

Overview of our Business

We provide customized debt and equity financing solutions to lower middle-market companies, which we define as U.S. based companies having revenues between $10.0 million and $150.0 million. Our investment objective is to provide attractive risk-adjusted returns by generating both current income from our debt investments and capital appreciation from our equity related investments. Our investment strategy includes partnering with business owners, management teams and financial sponsors by providing customized financing for ownership transactions, recapitalizations, strategic acquisitions, business expansion and other growth initiatives. We seek to maintain a diversified portfolio of investments in order to help mitigate the potential effects of adverse economic events related to particular companies, regions or industries.

We invest in companies that possess some or all of the following attributes: predictable revenues; positive cash flows; defensible and/or leading market positions; diversified customer and supplier bases; and proven management teams with strong operating discipline. We target companies in the lower middle-market with annual earnings, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, between $5.0 million and $30.0 million; however, we may from time to time opportunistically make investments in larger or smaller companies. Our investments typically range between $5.0 million and $30.0 million per portfolio company.

As of December 31, 2018, we had debt and equity investments in 63 portfolio companies with an aggregate fair value of $643.0 million. The weighted average yield on our debt investments as of December 31, 2018 was 12.6%. The weighted average yield of our debt investments is not the same as a return on investment for our

 

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stockholders but, rather, relates to a portion of our investment portfolio and is calculated before the payment of all of our fees and expenses. The weighted average yield was computed using the effective interest rates as of December 31, 2018, including accretion of original issue discount (“OID”) and loan origination fees, but excluding investments on non-accrual status, if any. There can be no assurance that the weighted average yield will remain at its current level.

Available Information

Our headquarters are in Evanston, Illinois, and our internet address is www.fdus.com. We are not including the information contained on our website as a part of, or incorporating it by reference into, this Annual Report. We make available free of charge through our website our proxy statement, annual reports 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 such material to, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). You may read and copy all materials we file with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549. You may obtain information regarding the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800- SEC-0330. The SEC maintains an internet site at http://www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers, like us, that file electronically with the SEC. Copies of this Annual Report and other reports are also available without charge by contacting us in writing at 1603 Orrington Avenue, Suite 1005, Evanston, Illinois 60201, Attention: Investor Relations.

Our Advisor

Our investment activities are managed by Fidus Investment Advisors, LLC, our investment advisor, and supervised by our board of directors, a majority of whom are not “interested persons” of FIC as defined in section 2(a)(19) of the 1940 Act, and who we refer to hereafter as the Independent Directors. Pursuant to the terms of the investment advisory and management agreement, which we refer to as the Investment Advisory Agreement, between us and our investment advisor, our investment advisor is responsible for determining the composition of our portfolio, including sourcing potential investments, conducting research and diligence on potential investments and equity sponsors, analyzing investment opportunities, structuring our investments and monitoring our investments and portfolio companies on an ongoing basis. Our investment advisor’s investment professionals seek to capitalize on their significant deal origination and sourcing, underwriting, due diligence, investment structuring, execution, portfolio management and monitoring experience. These professionals have developed a broad network of contacts within the investment community, have gained extensive experience investing in assets that constitute our primary focus and have expertise in investing across all levels of the capital structure of lower middle-market companies.

Our relationship with our investment advisor is governed by and dependent on the Investment Advisory Agreement and may be subject to conflicts of interest. We pay our investment advisor a fee for its services under the Investment Advisory Agreement consisting of two components—a base management fee and an incentive fee. The base management fee is calculated at an annual rate of 1.75% of the average value of our total assets (other than cash or cash equivalents but including assets purchased with borrowed amounts). The incentive fee consists of two parts. The first part is calculated and payable quarterly in arrears and equals 20.0% of our “pre-incentive fee net investment income” for the immediately preceding quarter, subject to a 2.0% preferred return, or “hurdle,” and a “catch up” feature. The second part is determined and payable in arrears as of the end of each fiscal year in an amount equal to 20.0% of our realized capital gains, if any, on a cumulative basis from inception through the end of each fiscal year, computed net of all realized capital losses and unrealized capital depreciation on a cumulative basis, less the aggregate amount of any capital gain incentive fees paid in prior years. We accrue, but do not pay, a capital gains incentive fee in connection with any unrealized capital appreciation, as appropriate. For more information about how we compensate our investment advisor, see “Management and Other Agreements—Investment Advisory Agreement.”

 

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Among other things, our board of directors is charged with protecting our interests by monitoring how our investment advisor addresses conflicts of interest associated with its management services and compensation. Our board of directors is not expected to review or approve each borrowing or incurrence of leverage. However, our board of directors periodically reviews our investment advisor’s portfolio management decisions and portfolio performance. In addition, our board of directors at least annually reviews the services provided by and fees paid to our investment advisor. In connection with these reviews, our board of directors, including a majority of our Independent Directors, considers whether the fees and expenses (including those related to leverage) that we pay to our investment advisor are fair and reasonable in relation to the services provided. Renewal of our Investment Advisory Agreement must be approved each year by our board of directors, including a majority of our Independent Directors.

Fidus Investment Advisors, LLC is a Delaware limited liability company that is registered as an investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended, or the Advisers Act. In addition, Fidus Investment Advisors, LLC serves as our administrator and provides us with office space, equipment and clerical, book-keeping and record-keeping services pursuant to an administration agreement, which we refer to as the Administration Agreement.

Business Strategy

We intend to accomplish our goal of becoming one of the premier providers of capital to and value-added partner of lower middle-market companies by:

Leveraging the Experience of Our Investment Advisor. Our investment advisor’s investment professionals have significant experience investing in, lending to and advising companies across multiple industries and changing market cycles. These professionals have diverse backgrounds with prior experience in senior management positions at investment banks, specialty finance companies, commercial banks and privately and publicly held companies and have extensive experience investing across all levels of the capital structure of lower middle-market companies. We believe these professionals possess an in-depth understanding of the strategic, financial and operational challenges and opportunities of lower middle-market companies, enabling our investment advisor to effectively identify, assess, structure and monitor our investments.

Capitalizing on Our Strong Transaction Sourcing Network. Our investment advisor’s investment professionals possess an extensive network of long-standing relationships with private equity firms, middle-market senior lenders, junior capital partners, financial intermediaries and management teams of privately owned businesses. We believe that the combination of our investment advisor’s relationships and our reputation as a reliable, responsive and value-added financing partner helps us generate a steady stream of new investment opportunities and proprietary deal flow.

Serving as a Value-Added Partner with Customized Financing Solutions. We follow a partnership-oriented investment approach and focus on opportunities where we believe we can add value to a portfolio company. We primarily concentrate on industries or market niches in which the investment professionals of our investment advisor have prior experience. These professionals also have expertise in structuring securities at all levels of the capital structure, which we believe positions us well to meet the unique financing needs of our portfolio companies. We invest primarily in second lien and subordinated debt securities, typically coupled with an equity interest; however, on a selective basis we may invest in first lien senior secured or unitranche loans. Further, as a publicly-traded BDC, we have a longer investment horizon without the capital return requirements of traditional private investment vehicles. We believe this flexibility enables us to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns on invested capital and enables us to be a better long-term partner for our portfolio companies. We believe that by leveraging the industry and structuring expertise of our investment advisor coupled with our long-term investment horizon, we are well positioned to be a value-added partner for our portfolio companies.

 

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Employing Rigorous Due Diligence and Underwriting Processes Focused on Capital Preservation. Our investment advisor follows a disciplined and credit-oriented approach to evaluating and investing in companies. We focus on companies with proven business models, significant free cash flow, defensible market positions and significant enterprise value cushion for our debt investments. In making investment decisions, we seek to minimize the risk of capital loss without foregoing the opportunity for capital appreciation. Our investment advisor’s investment professionals have developed extensive due diligence and underwriting processes designed to better assess a portfolio company’s prospects and to determine the appropriate investment structure. Our investment advisor thoroughly analyzes each potential portfolio company’s competitive position, financial performance, management team, growth potential and industry attractiveness. As part of this process, our investment advisor also participates in meetings with management, tours of facilities, discussions with industry professionals and third-party reviews. We believe this approach enables us to build and maintain an attractive investment portfolio that meets our return and value criteria over the long term.

Actively Managing our Portfolio. We believe that our investment advisor’s initial and ongoing portfolio review process allows us to effectively monitor the performance and prospects of our portfolio companies. We seek to obtain board observation rights or board seats with respect to our portfolio companies, and we conduct monthly financial reviews and have regular discussions with portfolio company management. We structure our investments with a comprehensive set of financial maintenance, affirmative and negative covenants. We believe that active monitoring of our portfolio companies’ compliance with covenants provides us with an early warning of any financial difficulty and enhances our ability to protect our invested capital.

Maintaining Portfolio Diversification. We seek to maintain a portfolio of investments that is appropriately diversified among companies, industries, geographic regions and end markets. We have made investments in portfolio companies in the following industries: business services, industrial products and services, value-added distribution, healthcare products and services, consumer products and services (including retail, food and beverage), energy services, defense and aerospace, transportation and logistics, information technology services and niche manufacturing. We believe that investing across various industries helps mitigate the potential effects of negative economic events for particular companies, regions and industries.

Benefiting from Lower Cost of Capital. The Funds’ SBIC licenses allow us to issue SBA-guaranteed debentures. These SBA debentures carry long-term fixed rates that are generally lower than rates on comparable bank and public debt. Because lower-cost SBA leverage is, and will continue to be, a significant part of our funding strategy, our relative cost of debt capital should be lower than many of our competitors. For three or more SBICs under common control, the maximum amount of outstanding SBA debentures cannot exceed $350.0 million.

Investments

We seek to create a diversified investment portfolio that primarily includes loans and, to a lesser extent, equity securities. Our investments typically range between $5.0 million to $30.0 million per portfolio company, although this investment size may vary proportionately with the size of our capital base. Our investment objective is to provide attractive risk-adjusted returns by generating both current income from our debt investments and capital appreciation from our equity related investments. We may invest in the equity securities of our portfolio companies, such as preferred stock, common stock, warrants and other equity interests, either directly or in conjunction with our debt investments.

Second Lien Debt. The majority of our debt investments take the form of second lien debt, which includes senior subordinated notes. Second lien debt investments obtain security interests in the assets of the portfolio company as collateral in support of the repayment of such loans. Second lien debt typically is senior on a lien basis to other liabilities in the issuer’s capital structure and has the benefit of a security interest over assets of the issuer, though ranking junior to first lien debt secured by those assets. First lien lenders and second lien lenders typically have separate liens on the collateral, and an intercreditor agreement provides the first lien lenders with priority over the second lien lenders’ liens on the collateral. These loans typically provide for no contractual loan

 

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amortization, with all amortization deferred until loan maturity, and may include payment-in-kind (“PIK”) interest, which increases the principal balance over the term and, coupled with the deferred principal payment provision, increases credit risk exposure over the life of the loan.

Subordinated Debt. These investments are typically structured as unsecured, subordinated notes. Structurally, subordinated debt usually ranks subordinate in priority of payment to first lien and second lien debt and may not have the benefit of financial covenants common in first lien and second lien debt. Subordinated debt may rank junior as it relates to proceeds in certain liquidations where it does not have the benefit of a lien in specific collateral held by creditors (typically first lien and/or second lien) who have a perfected security interest in such collateral. However, subordinated debt ranks senior to common and preferred equity in an issuer’s capital structure. These loans typically have relatively higher fixed interest rates (often representing a combination of cash pay and PIK interest) and amortization of principal deferred to maturity. The PIK feature (meaning a feature allowing for the payment of interest in the form of additional principal amount of the loan instead of in cash), which effectively operates as negative amortization of loan principal, coupled with the deferred principal payment provision, increases credit risk exposure over the life of the loan.

First Lien Debt. To a lesser extent, we also structure some of our debt investments as senior secured or first lien debt investments. First lien debt investments are secured by a first priority lien on existing and future assets of the borrower and may take the form of term loans or revolving lines of credit. First lien debt is typically senior on a lien basis to other liabilities in the issuer’s capital structure and has the benefit of a first-priority security interest in assets of the issuer. The security interest ranks above the security interest of any second lien lenders in those assets. Our first lien debt may include stand-alone first lien loans, “last out” first lien loans, or “unitranche” loans. Stand-alone first lien loans are traditional first lien loans. All lenders in the facility have equal rights to the collateral that is subject to the first-priority security interest. “Last out” first lien loans have a secondary priority behind super-senior “first out” first lien loans in the collateral securing the loans in certain circumstances. The arrangements for a “last out” first lien loan are set forth in an “agreement among lenders,” which provides lenders with “first out” and “last out” payment streams based on a single lien on the collateral. Since the “first out” lenders generally have priority over the “last out” lenders for receiving payment under certain specified events of default, or upon the occurrence of other triggering events under intercreditor agreements or agreements among lenders, the “last out” lenders bear a greater risk and, in exchange, receive a higher effective interest rate, through arrangements among the lenders, than the “first out” lenders or lenders in stand-alone first lien loans. Agreements among lenders also typically provide greater voting rights to the “last out” lenders than the intercreditor agreements to which second lien lenders often are subject.

Many of our debt investments also include excess cash flow sweep features, whereby principal repayment may be required before maturity if the portfolio company achieves certain defined operating targets. Additionally, our debt investments typically have principal prepayment penalties in the early years of the loan. The majority of our debt investments provide for a fixed interest rate.

Equity Securities. Our equity securities typically consist of either a direct minority equity investment in common or preferred stock or membership/partnership interests of a portfolio company, or we may receive warrants to buy a minority equity interest in a portfolio company in connection with a debt investment. Warrants we receive with our debt investments typically require only a nominal cost to exercise, and thus, as a portfolio company appreciates in value, we may achieve additional investment return from this equity interest. Our equity investments are typically not control-oriented investments, and in many cases, we acquire equity securities as part of a group of private equity investors in which we are not the lead investor. We may structure such equity investments to include provisions protecting our rights as a minority-interest holder, as well as a “put,” or right to sell such securities back to the issuer, upon the occurrence of specified events. In many cases, we may also seek to obtain registration rights in connection with these equity interests, which may include demand and “piggyback” registration rights. Our equity investments typically are made in connection with debt investments to the same portfolio companies.

 

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Our Consolidated Portfolio

We generally seek to invest in companies from the broad range of industries in which our investment advisor has direct experience. The following is a representative list of the broad industry segments in which we have invested; however, we may invest in other industries if we are presented with attractive opportunities.

 

  aerospace & defense;      infrastructure;
  business services;      logistics & transportation;
  consumer products / multi-unit;      niche manufacturing;
  energy services;      software & tech-enabled services; and
  healthcare products;      valued-added distribution.
  industrial;     

As of December 31, 2018, we had investments in 63 portfolio companies with an aggregate fair value of $643.0 million. As of December 31, 2017, we had investments in 63 portfolio companies with an aggregate fair value of $596.3 million.

The following table shows the portfolio composition by geographic region at fair value and cost and as a percentage of total investments (dollars in millions). The geographic composition is determined by the location of the corporate headquarters of the portfolio company, which may not be indicative of the primary source of the portfolio company’s business.

 

     Fair Value     Cost  
     December 31, 2018     December 31, 2017     December 31, 2018     December 31, 2017  

Midwest

   $ 161.1        25.1   $ 168.0        28.2   $ 152.6        25.5   $ 161.8        28.1

Southeast

     176.8        27.5       130.2        21.8       155.3        25.9       130.7        22.6  

Northeast

     89.7        13.9       107.8        18.1       84.2        14.1       105.3        18.2  

West

     62.8        9.8       63.4        10.6       54.5        9.1       54.0        9.3  

Southwest

     152.6        23.7       126.9        21.3       152.2        25.4       126.0        21.8  
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

   $ 643.0        100.0   $ 596.3        100.0   $ 598.8        100.0   $ 577.8        100.0
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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The following table shows the detailed industry segment composition of our portfolio at fair value and cost as a percentage of total investments.

 

     Fair Value     Cost  
     December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
    December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
 

Specialty Distribution

     13.4     6.2     14.1     6.2

Business Services

     9.7       6.5       10.3       7.3  

Information Technology Services

     8.5       10.7       8.5       11.0  

Component Manufacturing

     7.9       6.6       8.9       7.0  

Healthcare Services

     7.8       10.8       7.7       9.9  

Oil & Gas Services

     6.4       4.7       1.7       2.7  

Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing

     5.8       4.4       6.0       4.3  

Transportation Services

     5.2       7.1       5.4       7.3  

Healthcare Products

     4.8       7.3       3.2       7.1  

Vending Equipment Manufacturing

     4.6       5.7       5.2       5.9  

Industrial Cleaning & Coatings

     4.1       4.3       4.7       4.6  

Promotional Products

     4.1       3.0       4.2       2.9  

Building Products Manufacturing

     3.8       5.1       5.1       5.4  

Retail

     2.4       2.8       2.7       2.9  

Utility Equipment Manufacturing

     2.4       2.6       2.5       2.8  

Consumer Products

     2.3       3.3       2.6       2.7  

Packaging

     2.2       0.1       2.4       0.1  

Environmental Industries

     1.9       —         2.0       —    

Utilities: Services

     1.7       1.6       1.7       1.7  

Oil & Gas Distribution

     1.0       1.0       1.0       1.0  

Capital Equipment Manufacturing

     0.0       3.4       0.0       3.4  

Restaurants

     0.0       0.4       0.1       1.7  

Specialty Chemicals

     0.0       0.2       0.0       0.2  

Apparel Distribution

     —         0.9       —         1.0  

Electronic Components Supplier

     —         0.6       —         0.2  

Laundry Services

     —         0.7       —         0.7  

Safety Products Manufacturing

     —         0.0       —         0.0  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total

     100.0     100.0     100.0     100.0
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Investment Criteria/Guidelines

We use the following criteria and guidelines in evaluating investment opportunities and constructing our portfolio. However, not all of these criteria and guidelines have been, or will be, met in connection with each of our investments.

Value Orientation / Positive Cash Flow. Our investment advisor places a premium on analysis of business fundamentals from an investor’s perspective and has a distinct value orientation. We focus on companies with proven business models in which we can invest at relatively low multiples of operating cash flow. We also typically invest in portfolio companies with a history of profitability and minimum trailing twelve month EBITDA of $5.0 million. We do not invest in start-up companies, “turn-around” situations or companies that we believe have unproven business plans.

Experienced Management Teams with Meaningful Equity Ownership. We target portfolio companies that have management teams with significant experience and/or relevant industry experience coupled with meaningful equity ownership. We believe management teams with these attributes are more likely to manage the companies in a manner that protects our debt investment and enhances the value of our equity investment.

 

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Niche Market Leaders with Defensible Market Positions. We seek to invest in portfolio companies that have developed defensible and/or leading positions within their respective markets or market niches and are well positioned to capitalize on growth opportunities. We favor companies that demonstrate significant competitive advantages, which we believe helps to protect their market position and profitability.

Diversified Customer and Supplier Base. We prefer to invest in portfolio companies that have a diversified customer and supplier base. Companies with a diversified customer and supplier base are generally better able to endure economic downturns, industry consolidation and shifting customer preferences.

Significant Equity Value. We believe the existence of significant underlying equity value provides important support to our debt investments. With respect to our debt investments, we look for portfolio companies where management/sponsors have provided significant equity funding and where we believe aggregate enterprise value significantly exceeds aggregate indebtedness, after consideration of our investment.

Viable Exit Strategy. We invest in portfolio companies that we believe will provide steady cash flows to service our debt, ultimately repay our loans and provide working capital for their respective businesses. In addition, we seek to invest in portfolio companies whose business models and expected future cash flows offer attractive exit possibilities for our portfolio equity investments. We expect to exit our investments typically through one of three scenarios: (a) the sale of the portfolio company resulting in repayment of all outstanding debt and monetization of equity; (b) the recapitalization of the portfolio company through which our investments are replaced with debt or equity from a third party or parties; or (c) the repayment of the initial or remaining principal amount of our debt investment from cash flow generated by the portfolio company. In some investments, there may be scheduled amortization of some portion of our debt investment that would result in a partial exit of our investment prior to the maturity of the debt investment.

Investment Committee

Our investment advisor has formed an investment committee to evaluate and approve all of our investments. The investment committee process is intended to bring the diverse experience and perspectives of the committee’s members to the analysis and consideration of each investment. The investment committee also serves to provide investment consistency and adherence to our investment advisor’s core investment philosophy and policies. The investment committee also determines appropriate investment sizing and suggests ongoing monitoring requirements.

The members of the investment committee that evaluate and approve all of our investments are Edward H. Ross, Thomas C. Lauer, John H. Grigg, Robert G. Lesley, Jr., John J. Ross, II, Thomas J. Steiglehner, and W. Andrew Worth.

Investment Process Overview

Our investment advisor has developed the following investment process based on the experience of its investment professionals to identify investment opportunities and to structure investments quickly and effectively. Furthermore, our investment advisor seeks to identify those companies exhibiting superior fundamental risk-reward profiles and strong defensible business franchises while focusing on the relative value of the security in the portfolio company’s capital structure. The investment process consists of five distinct phases:

 

   

Investment Generation/Origination;

 

   

Initial Evaluation;

 

   

Due Diligence and Underwriting;

 

   

Documentation and Closing; and

 

   

Active Portfolio Management.

 

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Each of the phases is described in more detail below.

Investment Generation/Origination. Our investment origination efforts are focused on leveraging our investment advisor’s extensive network of long-standing relationships with private equity firms, middle-market senior lenders, junior-capital partners, financial intermediaries, service providers and management teams of privately owned businesses. We believe that our investment advisor’s investment professionals have reputations as reliable, responsive and value-added partners for lower middle-market companies. Our investment advisor’s focus and reputation as a valued-added partner generates a balanced mix of proprietary deal flow and a steady stream of new deal opportunities.

Initial Evaluation. After a potential transaction is received by our investment advisor, it will conduct an initial review of the transaction materials to determine whether it meets our investment criteria and complies with SBA and other regulatory compliance requirements.

If the potential transaction initially meets our investment criteria, at least two members of the investment committee, referred to as the deal team, will conduct a preliminary due diligence review, taking into consideration some or all of the following factors:

 

   

A comprehensive financial model based on quantitative analysis of historical financial performance, projections and pro forma adjustments to determine a range of estimated internal rates of return.

 

   

An initial call or meeting with the portfolio company management team, owner, private equity sponsor or other deal partner.

 

   

A brief industry and market analysis, leveraging direct industry expertise from other investment professionals of our investment advisor.

 

   

Preliminary qualitative analysis of the portfolio company management team’s competencies and backgrounds.

 

   

Potential investment structures and pricing terms.

Upon successful completion of the screening process, the deal team prepares a screening memorandum and makes a recommendation to the investment committee. At this time, the investment committee will also consider whether the investment would be made by FIC or through the Funds. If the investment committee supports the deal team’s recommendation, the deal team issues a non-binding term sheet to the potential portfolio company. Such a term sheet will typically include the key economic terms based on our analysis conducted during the screening process. Upon agreement on a term sheet with the potential portfolio company, our investment advisor will begin a formal diligence and underwriting process.

Due Diligence and Underwriting. Our investment advisor has developed a rigorous and disciplined due diligence process that includes a comprehensive understanding of a borrower’s industry, market, operational, financial, organizational and legal positions and prospects. The due diligence review will take into account information that the deal team deems necessary to make an informed decision about the creditworthiness of the borrower and the risks of the investment, which includes some or all of the following:

 

   

Initial or additional site visits and facility tours with management and key personnel.

 

   

Review of the business history, operations and strategy.

 

   

In depth review of industry and competition.

 

   

Analysis of key customers and suppliers, including review of any concentrations and key contracts.

 

   

Detailed review of historical and projected financial statements, including a review of at least three years of performance (annual and monthly), key financial ratios, revenue, expense and profitability drivers and sensitivities to management’s financial projections.

 

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Detailed evaluation of company management, including background checks.

 

   

Third party reviews of accounting, environmental, legal, insurance, material contracts, competition, industry and market studies and interviews with customers and suppliers, (each as appropriate).

 

   

Financial sponsor diligence, if applicable, including portfolio company and other reference checks.

During the due diligence process, significant attention is given to sensitivity analyses and how the portfolio company might be expected to perform given various scenarios, including downside, “base case” and upside. Upon satisfactory completion of the due diligence review process, the deal team will present their findings and a recommendation to the investment committee. If the investment committee supports the deal team’s recommendation, the deal team will proceed with negotiating and documenting the investment.

Documentation and Closing. Our investment advisor works with the management of a potential portfolio company and its other capital providers, including, as applicable, senior, junior and equity capital providers to structure an investment. Our investment advisor structures each investment with an acute focus on capital preservation and will tailor the terms of each investment to the facts and circumstances of the transaction and the prospective portfolio company. We seek to limit the downside of our investments by:

 

   

Targeting an optimal total return on our investments (including a combination of current and deferred interest, prepayment penalties and equity participation) that compensates us for credit risk.

 

   

Negotiating covenants in connection with our investments that afford our portfolio companies as much flexibility in managing their businesses as possible, yet consistent with preservation of our capital. Such restrictions may include affirmative and negative covenants, default penalties, lien protection, change of control provisions and board rights, including either board observation or rights to a seat on the board under some circumstances.

 

   

Structuring financial covenants and terms in our debt investments that require a portfolio company to reduce leverage over time, thereby mitigating the risk of loss and increasing the likelihood of achieving targeted returns on investment. These methods may include, among others: leverage covenants requiring a decreasing ratio of debt to cash flow; cash flow covenants requiring an increasing ratio of cash flow to interest expense and possibly other cash expenses such as capital expenditures, cash taxes and mandatory principal payments; and debt incurrence prohibitions, or limiting a company’s ability to relever its balance sheet. In addition, limitations on asset sales and capital expenditures prevent a company from changing the nature of its business or capitalization without our consent.

We expect to hold most of our investments to maturity or repayment, but may exit our investments earlier if a liquidity event takes place, such as a sale or recapitalization of a portfolio company, or if we determine that a sale of one or more of our investments is in our best interest.

Active Portfolio Management. Active portfolio monitoring is a vital part of our investment process and we continuously monitor the status and progress of the portfolio companies. The same deal team that was involved in the investment process will continue its involvement in the portfolio company post-investment. This provides for continuity of knowledge and allows the deal team to maintain a strong business relationship with key management of its portfolio companies for post-investment assistance and monitoring purposes.

As part of the monitoring process, the deal team conducts a comprehensive review of the financial and operating results of each portfolio company that includes a review of the monthly/quarterly financials relative to prior year and budget, a review of the financial projections including cash flow and liquidity needs, meeting with management, attending board meetings and reviewing compliance certificates and covenants. We maintain an ongoing dialogue with the management and any controlling equity holders of a portfolio company that will include discussions about the company’s business plans and growth opportunities and any changes in industry and competitive dynamics. While we maintain limited involvement in the ordinary course operations of our portfolio companies, we may maintain a higher level of involvement in non-ordinary course financing or strategic activities and any non-performing scenarios. Our investment advisor’s portfolio management will also include quarterly portfolio reviews with all investment professionals and investment committee members.

 

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Investment Rating System

In addition to various risk management and monitoring tools, our investment advisor uses an internally developed investment rating system to characterize and monitor the credit profile and our expected level of returns on each investment in our portfolio. We use a five-level numeric rating scale. The following is a description of the conditions associated with each investment rating:

 

   

Investment Rating 1 is used for investments that involve the least amount of risk in our portfolio. The portfolio company is performing above expectations, the debt investment is expected to be paid in the near term and the trends and risk factors are favorable, and may include an expected capital gain on the equity investment.

 

   

Investment Rating 2 is used for investments that involve a level of risk similar to the risk at the time of origination. The portfolio company is performing substantially within our expectations and the risks factors are neutral or favorable. Each new portfolio investment enters our portfolio with Investment Rating 2.

 

   

Investment Rating 3 is used for investments performing below expectations and indicates the investment’s risk has increased somewhat since origination. The portfolio company requires closer monitoring, but we expect a full return of principal and collection of all interest and/or dividends.

 

   

Investment Rating 4 is used for investments performing materially below our expectations and the risk has increased materially since origination. The investment has the potential for some loss of investment return, but we expect no loss of principal.

 

   

Investment Rating 5 is used for investments performing substantially below our expectations and the risks have increased substantially since origination. We expect some loss of principal.

The following table shows the distribution of our investments on the 1 to 5 investment rating scale at fair value and cost as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 (dollars in millions).

 

     Fair Value     Cost  

Investment Rating

   December 31, 2018     December 31, 2017     December 31, 2018     December 31, 2017  

1

   $ 123.8        19.2   $ 125.7        21.1   $ 63.7        10.7   $ 83.2        14.4

2

     403.1        62.7       398.4        66.8       396.2        66.2       393.6        68.1  

3

     94.3        14.7       51.8        8.7       101.4        16.9       60.7        10.5  

4

     21.3        3.3       18.3        3.1       33.2        5.5       28.3        4.9  

5

     0.5        0.1       2.1        0.3       4.3        0.7       12.0        2.1  
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

   $ 643.0        100.0   $ 596.3        100.0   $ 598.8        100.0   $ 577.8        100.0
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Based on our investment rating system, the weighted average rating of our portfolio as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 was 2.0 and 1.9, respectively, on a fair value basis and 2.2 and 2.1, respectively, on a cost basis.

Determination of Net Asset Value and Valuation Process

We determine the net asset value per share of our common stock on at least a quarterly basis, and more frequently if we are required to do so in connection with the issuance of shares of our common stock or pursuant to applicable federal laws and regulations. The net asset value per share of common stock is equal to the carrying value of our total assets minus liabilities and any preferred stock outstanding divided by the total number of shares of common stock outstanding. Our business plan calls for us to invest primarily in illiquid securities issued by private companies. These portfolio investments may be subject to restrictions on resale and will generally have no established trading market. Because there is not a readily available market for substantially all of the investments in our portfolio, we value substantially all of our portfolio investments at fair value as determined in good faith by our board of directors using a documented valuation policy and consistently applied valuation

 

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process in accordance with authoritative accounting guidelines. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Critical Accounting Policies and Use of Estimates – Valuation of Portfolio Investments.”

Competition

Our primary competitors in providing financing to lower middle-market companies include public and private funds, other BDCs, SBICs, commercial and investment 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 we do. For example, we believe some competitors may have access to funding sources that are not available to us. In addition, some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments and establish more relationships than us. 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 RIC status.

We use the expertise of the investment professionals of our investment advisor to assess investment risks and determine appropriate pricing for our investments in portfolio companies. In addition, the relationships of the investment professionals of our investment advisor enable us to learn about, and compete effectively for, financing opportunities with attractive lower middle-market companies in the industries in which we seek to invest. For additional information concerning the competitive risks we face, see “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.”

Employees

We do not have any direct employees, and our day-to-day investment operations are managed by our investment advisor, which is also acting as our administrator. We have a chief executive officer, president, chief financial officer and chief compliance officer and, to the extent necessary, our board of directors may elect to hire additional personnel going forward. Our officers are employees of, and are compensated by, our investment advisor, and our allocable portion of the cost of our chief financial officer and chief compliance officer and their respective staffs are paid by us pursuant to the Administration Agreement. Some of our executive officers are also officers of our investment advisor. See “Management and Other Agreements — Administration Agreement.”

MANAGEMENT AND OTHER AGREEMENTS

Our investment advisor is located at 1603 Orrington Avenue, Suite 1005, Evanston, Illinois 60201. Our investment advisor also maintains additional office space at 227 West Trade Street Suite 1910, Charlotte, North Carolina 28202, 1140 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1500, New York, New York 10036, and 170 Meeting Street, Suite 226, Charleston, South Carolina 29401. Our investment advisor is registered as an investment adviser under the Advisers Act. Subject to the overall supervision of our board of directors and in accordance with the 1940 Act, our investment advisor manages our day-to-day operations and provides investment advisory services to us. Under the terms of the Investment Advisory Agreement, our investment advisor:

 

   

determines the composition of our portfolio, the nature and timing of the changes to our portfolio and the manner of implementing such changes;

 

   

assists us in determining what securities we purchase, retain or sell;

 

   

identifies, evaluates and negotiates the structure of the investments we make (including performing due diligence on our prospective portfolio companies); and

 

   

executes, closes, services and monitors the investments we make.

 

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Investment Advisory Agreement

Management Fee

Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement, we pay our investment advisor a fee for investment advisory and management services consisting of two components — a base management fee and an incentive fee.

Base Management Fee

The base management fee is calculated at an annual rate of 1.75% based on the average value of our total assets (other than cash or cash equivalents but including assets purchased with borrowed amounts) at the end of the two most recently completed calendar quarters, and appropriately adjusted for any share issuances or repurchases during the current calendar quarter. Base management fees for any partial quarter are appropriately prorated. The base management fee is payable quarterly in arrears.

Incentive Fee

The incentive fee consists of two parts. The first part is calculated and payable quarterly in arrears based on our pre-incentive fee net investment income for the immediately preceding calendar quarter. Pre-incentive fee net investment income means interest income, dividend income and any other income (including any other fees such as commitment, origination, structuring, diligence and consulting fees or other fees that we receive from portfolio companies but excluding fees for providing managerial assistance) accrued during the calendar quarter, minus operating expenses for the quarter (including the base management fee, any expenses payable under the Administration Agreement and any interest expense and dividends paid on any outstanding preferred stock, but excluding the incentive fee and excise taxes on realized gains). Pre-incentive fee net investment income includes, in the case of investments with a deferred interest feature (such as market discount, debt instruments with PIK interest, preferred stock with PIK dividends and zero-coupon securities), accrued income that we have not yet received in cash. Our investment advisor is not under any obligation to reimburse us for any part of the incentive fee it receives that was based on accrued interest that we never actually receive.

Pre-incentive fee net investment income does not include any realized capital gains, realized capital losses or unrealized capital appreciation or depreciation. Because of the structure of the incentive fee, it is possible that we may pay an incentive fee for a quarter where we incur a loss. For example, if we receive pre-incentive fee net investment income in excess of the hurdle rate (as defined below) for a quarter, we will pay the applicable incentive fee even if we have incurred a loss in that quarter due to realized and unrealized capital losses.

Pre-incentive fee net investment income, expressed as a rate of return on the value of our weighted average net assets (defined as total assets less indebtedness and before taking into account any incentive fees payable during the period) at the end of the immediately preceding calendar quarter, is compared to a fixed “hurdle rate” of 2.0% per quarter. If market interest rates rise, we may be able to invest our funds in debt instruments that provide for a higher return, which would increase our pre-incentive fee net investment income and make it easier for our investment advisor to surpass the fixed hurdle rate and receive an incentive fee based on such net investment income.

We pay our investment advisor an incentive fee with respect to our pre-incentive fee net investment income earned in each calendar quarter as follows:

 

   

no incentive fee in any calendar quarter in which the pre-incentive fee net investment income does not exceed the hurdle rate of 2.0%;

 

   

100.0% of our pre-incentive fee net investment income with respect to that portion of such pre-incentive fee net investment income, if any, that exceeds the hurdle rate but is less than 2.5% in any calendar quarter. We refer to this portion of our pre-incentive fee net investment income (that exceeds the hurdle rate but is less than 2.5%) as the “catch-up” provision. The catch-up is meant to provide our investment advisor with 20.0% of the pre-incentive fee net investment income as if a hurdle rate did not apply if net investment income exceeds 2.5% in any calendar quarter; and

 

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20.0% of the amount of our pre-incentive fee net investment income, if any, that exceeds 2.5% in any calendar quarter.

These calculations are appropriately prorated for any period of less than three months and adjusted for any share issuances or repurchases during the current quarter.

The following is a graphical representation of the calculation of the quarterly income-related portion of the incentive fee:

Quarterly Incentive Fee Based on Pre-Incentive Fee Net Investment Income

Pre-incentive fee net investment income

(expressed as a percentage of the value of net assets)

 

 

LOGO

Percentage of pre-incentive fee net investment income

allocated to income-related portion of incentive fee

The second part of the incentive fee is a capital gains incentive fee that is determined and paid in arrears as of the end of each fiscal year (or, upon termination of the Investment Advisory Agreement, as of the termination date), and equals 20.0% of our net capital gains as of the end of the fiscal year. In determining the capital gains incentive fee to be paid to our investment advisor, we calculate the cumulative aggregate realized capital gains and cumulative aggregate realized capital losses since the IPO, and the aggregate unrealized capital depreciation as of the date of the calculation, as applicable, with respect to each of the investments in our portfolio. At the end of the applicable year, the amount of capital gains that serves as the basis for our calculation of the capital gains incentive fee equals the cumulative aggregate realized capital gains less cumulative aggregate realized capital losses, less aggregate unrealized capital depreciation, with respect to our portfolio of investments. If this number is positive at the end of such year, then the capital gains incentive fee for such year equals 20.0% of such amount, less the aggregate amount of any capital gains incentive fees paid in respect of our portfolio in all prior years. We accrue, but do not pay, a capital gains incentive fee in connection with any unrealized capital appreciation, as appropriate.

Examples of Quarterly Incentive Fee Calculation

Example 1: Income Related Portion of Incentive Fee

Alternative 1

Assumptions

Investment income (including interest, dividends, fees, etc.) = 1.25%

Hurdle rate (1) = 2.0%

Management fee (2) = 0.4375%

Other expenses (administrative service expenses, legal, accounting, custodian, transfer agent, etc.) (3) = 0.2%

Pre-incentive fee net investment income

(investment income – (management fee + other expenses)) = 0.6125%

 

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Pre-incentive fee net investment income does not exceed hurdle rate, therefore there is no income-related incentive fee.

Alternative 2

Assumptions

Investment income (including interest, dividends, fees, etc.) = 2.9%

Hurdle rate (1) = 2.0%

Management fee (2) = 0.4375%

Other expenses (administrative service expenses, legal, accounting, custodian, transfer agent, etc.) (3) = 0.2%

Pre-incentive fee net investment income

(investment income – (management fee + other expenses)) = 2.2625%

 

Incentive fee   = 100.0% × pre-incentive fee net investment income (subject to “catch-up”) (4)
  = 100.0% × (2.2625% – 2.0%)
  = 0.2625%

Pre-incentive fee net investment income exceeds the hurdle rate, but does not fully satisfy the “catch-up” provision, therefore the income related portion of the incentive fee is 0.2625%.

Alternative 3

Assumptions

Investment income (including interest, dividends, fees, etc.) = 3.5%

Hurdle rate (1) = 2.0%

Management fee (2) = 0.4375%

Other expenses (administrative service expenses, legal, accounting, custodian, transfer agent, etc.) (3) = 0.2%

Pre-incentive fee net investment income

(investment income – (management fee + other expenses)) = 2.8625%

Incentive fee = 100.0% × pre-incentive fee net investment income (subject to “catch-up”) (4)

Incentive fee = 100.0% × “catch-up” + (20.0% × (pre-incentive fee net investment income – 2.5%))

 

  “Catch-up”   = 2.5% – 2.0%
    = 0.5%
  Incentive fee   = (100.0% × 0.5%) + (20.0% × (2.8625% – 2.5%))
             = 0.5% + (20.0% × 0.3625%)
    = 0.5% + 0.0725%
    = 0.5725%

Pre-incentive fee net investment income exceeds the hurdle rate and fully satisfies the “catch-up” provision, therefore the income related portion of the incentive fee is 0.5725%.

 

(1)

Represents 8.0% annualized hurdle rate.

(2)

Represents 1.75% annualized base management fee.

(3)

Excludes organizational and offering expenses.

 

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(4)

The “catch-up” provision is intended to provide our investment advisor with an incentive fee of 20.0% on all pre-incentive fee net investment income as if a hurdle rate did not apply when our net investment income exceeds 2.5% in any fiscal quarter.

Example 2: Capital Gains Portion of Incentive Fee(*):

Alternative 1

Assumptions

Year 1 : $5.0 million investment made in Company A (“Investment A”), and $7.5 million investment made in Company B (“Investment B”)

Year 2 : Investment A sold for $12.5 million and fair market value (“FMV”) of Investment B determined to be $8.0 million

Year 3 : FMV of Investment B determined to be $6.25 million

Year 4 : Investment B sold for $7.75 million

The capital gains portion of the incentive fee would be:

Year 1 : None

Year 2 : Capital gains incentive fee of $1.5 million — ($7.5 million realized capital gains on sale of Investment A multiplied by 20.0%)

Year 3 : None — $1.25 million (20.0% multiplied by ($7.5 million cumulative capital gains less $1.25 million cumulative capital depreciation)) less $1.5 million (previous capital gains fee paid in Year 2)

Year 4 : Capital gains incentive fee of $50,000 — $1.55 million ($7.75 million cumulative realized capital gains multiplied by 20.0%) less $1.5 million (capital gains incentive fee taken in Year 2)

Alternative 2

Assumptions

Year 1 : $4.0 million investment made in Company A (“Investment A”), $7.5 million investment made in Company B (“Investment B”) and $6.25 million investment made in Company C (“Investment C”)

Year 2 : Investment A sold for $12.5 million, FMV of Investment B determined to be $6.25 million and FMV of Investment C determined to be $6.25 million

Year 3 : FMV of Investment B determined to be $6.75 million and Investment C sold for $7.5 million

Year 4 : FMV of Investment B determined to be $8.75 million

Year 5 : Investment B sold for $5.0 million

The capital gains incentive fee, if any, would be:

Year 1 : None

Year 2 : $1.45 million capital gains incentive fee — 20.0% multiplied by $7.25 million ($8.5 million realized capital gains on Investment A less $1.25 million unrealized capital depreciation on Investment B)

Year 3 : $0.35 million capital gains incentive fee (1) — $1.8 million (20.0% multiplied by $9.0 million ($9.75 million cumulative realized capital gains less $0.75 million unrealized capital depreciation)) less $1.45 million capital gains incentive fee received in Year 2

Year 4 : None

 

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Year 5 : None — $1.45 million (20.0% multiplied by $7.25 million (cumulative realized capital gains of $9.75 million less realized capital losses of $2.5 million)) is less than $1.8 million cumulative capital gains incentive fee paid in Year 2 and Year 3 (2)

 

*

The hypothetical amounts of returns shown are based on a percentage of our total net assets and assume no leverage. There is no guarantee that positive returns will be realized and actual returns may vary from those shown in this example. The examples shown pertain to the capital gains portion of the incentive fee payable at the end of the fiscal year. We accrue, but do not pay, a capital gains incentive fee in connection with any unrealized capital appreciation, as appropriate.

(1)

As illustrated in Year 3 of Alternative 2 above, if we were to be dissolved on a date other than our fiscal year end of any year, we may have paid aggregate capital gains incentive fees that are more than the amount of such fees that would be payable if we had been dissolved on our fiscal year end of such year.

(2)

As noted above, it is possible that the cumulative aggregate capital gains fee received by our investment advisor ($1.8 million) is effectively greater than $1.45 million (20.0% of cumulative aggregate realized capital gains less net realized capital losses or net unrealized depreciation ($7.25 million)).

Payment of Our Expenses

All investment professionals of our investment advisor and/or its affiliates, when and to the extent engaged in providing investment advisory and management services to us, and the compensation and routine overhead expenses of personnel allocable to these services to us, are provided and paid for by our investment advisor and not by us. We bear all other out-of-pocket costs and expenses of our operations and transactions. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Overview – Expenses.”

Duration and Termination

At an in-person meeting of our board of directors on June 7, 2018, our board of directors, including a majority of the Independent Directors, unanimously voted to approve the continuation of the Investment Advisory Agreement to June 20, 2019. Unless terminated earlier, the Investment Advisory Agreement will automatically renew for successive annual periods if approved annually by our board of directors or by the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of our outstanding voting securities (as that term is defined in the 1940 Act), including, in either case, approval by a majority of the Independent Directors.

In reaching a decision to approve the current Investment Advisory Agreement, our board of directors reviewed information comparing our investment performance to other externally managed BDCs with similar investment objectives and to appropriate market indices. The board also reviewed other information and considered, among other things:

 

   

the nature, extent and quality of the advisory and other services (including administrative services provided under the Administrative Agreement as discussed below) provided to us by our investment advisor;

 

   

the fee structure of comparative externally managed BDCs with similar investment objectives;

 

   

our projected operating expenses and expense ratio compared to BDCs with similar investment objectives;

 

   

our investment advisor’s pro forma profitability with respect to managing us and providing administrative services under the Administrative Agreement;

 

   

the limited potential for our investment advisor and its affiliates to derive additional “fall-out” benefits as a result of our relationship with our investment advisor; and

 

   

various other matters.

 

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Our board of directors did not rank or otherwise assign relative weights to the specific factors it considered in connection with its evaluation of the Investment Advisory Agreement, nor did it undertake to make any specific determination as to whether any particular factor, or any aspect of any particular factor, was favorable or unfavorable to the ultimate decision made by our board of directors. Rather, our board of directors based its approval of the Investment Advisory Agreement on the totality of information presented to it. In considering the factors discussed above, individual directors may have given different weights to different factors.

Based on the information reviewed and the factors discussed above, our board of directors (including the Independent Directors) concluded that the terms of the Investment Advisory Agreement, including the fee rates thereunder, are fair and reasonable in relation to the services provided and approved the continuation of the Investment Advisory Agreement as being in the best interests of FIC and our stockholders.

Conflicts of interest may arise if our investment advisor seeks to change the terms of the Investment Advisory Agreement, including, for example, the amount of the base management fee, the incentive fee or other compensation terms. In general, material amendments to the Investment Advisory Agreement must be approved by the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of our outstanding voting securities (as that term is defined in the 1940 Act) and by a majority of our Independent Directors.

See “Item 1A. Risk Factors – Risks Relating to our Business and Structure – We are dependent upon our investment advisor’s managing members and our executive officers for our future success. If our investment advisor was to lose any of its managing members or we lose any of our executive officers, our ability to achieve our investment objective could be significantly harmed.”

Indemnification

The Investment Advisory Agreement provides that, absent willful misconduct, bad faith or gross negligence in the performance of its duties under the Investment Advisory Agreement or by reason of the reckless disregard of its duties and obligations under the Investment Advisory Agreement, our investment advisor and its affiliates, and their respective officers, directors, members, managers, partners, stockholders and employees, are entitled to indemnification from us from and against any claims or liabilities, including reasonable legal fees and other expenses reasonably incurred, arising out of or in connection with our investment advisor’s performance of its duties and obligations under the Investment Advisory Agreement or otherwise as our investment advisor.

Administration Agreement

Pursuant to the Administration Agreement, Fidus Investment Advisors, LLC acts as our administrator and furnishes us with office facilities and equipment and clerical, book-keeping and record-keeping services at such facilities. Under the Administration Agreement, our investment advisor performs, or oversees the performance of, our required administrative services, which include being responsible for the financial records that we are required to maintain and preparing reports to our stockholders and reports filed with the SEC. In addition, our investment advisor assists us in determining and publishing our net asset value, overseeing the preparation and filing of our tax returns and the printing and dissemination of reports to our stockholders, and generally overseeing the payment of our expenses and the performance of administrative and professional services rendered to us by others. Under the Administration Agreement, our investment advisor also provides managerial assistance on our behalf to those portfolio companies that have accepted our offer to provide such assistance and we reimburse our Investment Advisor for fees and expenses incurred with providing such services. In addition, we reimburse our Investment Advisor for fees and expenses incurred while performing due diligence on our prospective portfolio companies, including “dead deal” costs for potential investments which are ultimately not pursued. Payments under the Administration Agreement are equal to an amount based upon our allocable portion of our investment advisor’s overhead in performing its obligations under the Administration Agreement, including rent and our allocable portion of the cost of our officers, including our chief financial officer and chief compliance officer and their respective staffs. To the extent that our investment advisor outsources any of its functions, we will pay the fees associated with such functions on a direct basis without profit to our investment advisor.

 

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At an in-person meeting of our board of directors on June 7, 2018, our board of directors, including a majority of the Independent Directors, unanimously voted to approve the continuation of the Administration Agreement to June 20, 2019. Unless terminated earlier, the Administration Agreement will automatically renew for successive annual periods if approved annually by our board of directors or by the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of our outstanding voting securities (as that term is defined in the 1940 Act), including, in either case, approval by a majority of our Independent Directors. In making the decision to approve the continuation of the Administration Agreement, our board of directors took into account, to the extent relevant, certain information set forth above under “Investment Advisory Agreement – Duration and Termination” with respect to its consideration of the Investment Advisory Agreement.

The Administration Agreement may be terminated by either party without penalty upon 60 days’ written notice to the other party. The holders of a majority of our outstanding voting securities (as that term is defined in the 1940 Act) may also terminate the Administration Agreement without penalty.

Indemnification

The Administration Agreement provides that, absent willful misconduct, bad faith or gross negligence in the performance of its duties under the Administration Agreement or by reason of the reckless disregard of its duties and obligations under the Administration Agreement, our investment advisor and its affiliates, and their respective officers, directors, members, managers, stockholders and employees, are entitled to indemnification from us from and against any claims or liabilities, including reasonable legal fees and other expenses reasonably incurred, arising out of or in connection with our investment advisor’s performance of its duties or obligations under the Administration Agreement or otherwise as our administrator.

License Agreement

We have entered into a license agreement with Fidus Partners, LLC under which Fidus Partners, LLC has agreed to grant us a non-exclusive (provided that there is not a change in control of Fidus Partners, LLC), royalty-free license to use the name “Fidus.” Under this agreement, we have a right to use the “Fidus” name for so long as our investment advisor remains our investment advisor. Other than with respect to this limited license, we have no legal right to the “Fidus” name. This license agreement will remain in effect for so long as the Investment Advisory Agreement with our investment advisor remains in effect.

REGULATION

General

We and Fund I have elected to be treated as BDCs under the 1940 Act and we have elected to be treated as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code. The 1940 Act contains prohibitions and restrictions relating to transactions between BDCs and their affiliates (including any investment advisors), principal underwriters and affiliates of those affiliates or principal underwriters and requires that a majority of the directors 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, as that term is defined in the 1940 Act.

We may invest up to 100.0% of our assets in securities acquired directly from issuers in privately negotiated transactions. With respect to such securities, we may, for the purpose of public resale, be deemed an “underwriter” as that term is defined in the Securities Act. Our intention is to not write (sell) or buy put or call options to manage risks associated with any publicly-traded securities that may from time-to-time be held by our portfolio companies, except that we may enter into hedging transactions to manage the risks associated with interest rate fluctuations. However, we may purchase or otherwise receive warrants to purchase the common stock of our portfolio companies in connection with acquisition financing or other investments. Similarly, in

 

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connection with an acquisition, we may acquire rights to require the issuers of acquired securities or their affiliates to repurchase them under certain circumstances. We also do not intend to acquire securities issued by any investment company that exceed the limits imposed by the 1940 Act. Under these limits, we generally cannot acquire more than 3.0% of the total outstanding voting stock of any investment company, invest more than 5.0% of the value of our total assets in securities issued by one investment company or invest more than 10.0% of the value of our total assets in securities issued by more than one investment company. With regard to that portion of our portfolio invested in securities issued by investment companies, it should be noted that such investments might subject our stockholders to additional expenses. These policies are not fundamental and, as a result, each may be changed by the vote of a majority of our board of directors without stockholder approval.

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 70.0% of the company’s total assets. The principal categories of qualifying assets relevant to our business are the following:

(a) 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 that:

 

   

is organized under the laws of, and has its principal place of business in, the U.S.;

 

   

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

 

   

satisfies either of the following:

 

   

does not have any class of securities listed on a national securities exchange or has any class of securities listed on a national securities exchange subject to a $250.0 million market capitalization maximum; or

 

   

is controlled by a BDC or a group of companies including a BDC, the BDC actually exercises a controlling influence over the management or policies of the eligible portfolio company, and, as a result, the BDC has an affiliated person who is a director of the eligible portfolio company.

(b) Securities of any eligible portfolio company which we control.

(c) 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 to such a private transaction, 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.

(d) 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 60.0% of the outstanding equity of the eligible portfolio company.

(e) Securities received in exchange for or distributed on or with respect to securities described above, or pursuant to the exercise of warrants or rights relating to such securities.

(f) Cash, cash equivalents, U.S. government securities or high-quality debt securities that mature in one year or less from the date of investment.

 

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The regulations defining qualifying assets may change over time. We may adjust our investment focus as needed to comply with and/or take advantage of any regulatory, legislative, administrative or judicial actions in this area.

Managerial Assistance to Portfolio Companies

A BDC must be organized and have its principal place of business in the U.S. and must be operated for the purpose of making investments in the types of securities described in (a), (b) or (c) above. However, in order to count portfolio securities as qualifying assets for the purpose of the 70.0% test, the BDC must either control the issuer of the securities or must offer to make available to the issuer of the securities significant managerial assistance; except that, when 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 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. Our investment advisor, acting as our administrator, has agreed to provide such managerial assistance on our behalf to portfolio companies that request this assistance. We may receive fees for these services and will reimburse our investment advisor, acting as our administrator, for its allocated costs in providing such assistance.

Temporary Investments

Pending investment in other types of qualifying assets, as described above, our investments may consist of cash, cash equivalents, U.S. government securities, repurchase agreements and high-quality debt investments that mature in one year or less from the date of investment, which we refer to, collectively, as temporary investments, so that 70.0% of our assets are invested in qualifying assets or temporary investments. We may from time to time invest in U.S. Treasury bills or in repurchase agreements, so long as the agreements are fully collateralized by cash or securities issued by the U.S. government, including securities issued by certain U.S. government agencies. A repurchase agreement involves the purchase by an investor, such as us, of a specified security and the simultaneous agreement by the seller to repurchase it at an agreed-upon future date and at a price that is greater than the purchase price by an amount that reflects an agreed-upon interest rate. There is no percentage restriction on the proportion of our assets that may be invested in such repurchase agreements. However, if more than 25.0% of our total assets constitute repurchase agreements from a single counterparty (other than repurchase agreements fully collateralized by U.S. government securities), we would not satisfy the asset diversification requirements for qualification as a RIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Accordingly, we do not intend to enter into any such repurchase agreements that would cause us to fail such asset diversification requirements. Our investment advisor monitors the creditworthiness of the counterparties with which we enter into repurchase agreement transactions.

Senior Securities

We are 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 200.0% immediately after each such issuance (exclusive of the SBA debentures pursuant to our SEC exemptive relief). In addition, while any senior securities remain outstanding, we must make provisions to prohibit any 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 distribution or repurchase. We may also borrow amounts up to 5.0% of the value of our total assets for temporary or emergency purposes without regard to asset coverage. For a discussion of the risks associated with leverage, see “Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Our Business and Structure — Regulations governing our operation as a BDC affect our ability to raise, and the way in which we raise, additional capital which may have a negative effect on our growth.”

 

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The SEC has proposed a new rule under the 1940 Act that would govern financial commitment transactions (defined to include reverse repurchase agreements, short sale borrowings and any firm or standby commitment agreement or similar agreement) by BDCs. Under the proposed rule, a BDC would be required to comply with one of two alternative portfolio limitations, one of which would have the effect of treating such financial commitment transactions as senior securities. There are no assurances as to when the SEC will adopt a final version of the proposed rules or as to the form that the final rules will take.

Codes of Ethics

We, Fund I and our investment advisor have adopted a joint code of ethics pursuant to Rule 17j-1 under the 1940 Act that establishes procedures for personal investments and restricts certain personal securities transactions. Additionally, our investment advisor has adopted a code of ethics pursuant to rule 204A-1 under the Advisers Act and in accordance with Rule 17j-1(c). Personnel subject to the code of ethics may 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. You may read and copy these codes at the SEC’s Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C. You may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at (800) SEC-0300. You may also obtain copies of the joint code of ethics, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov, or by writing the SEC’s Public Reference Section, 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549. The joint code of ethics is also available on our website at www.fdus.com. We have also adopted a code of business conduct that is applicable to all officers, directors and employees of Fidus and our investment advisor that is available on our website.

Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures

In light of the types of investments held in our portfolio, it is unlikely that we will be called upon to vote our shares very often. In the event that we receive a proxy statement related to one of our portfolio companies, however, we have delegated our proxy voting responsibility to our investment advisor. The proxy voting policies and procedures of our investment advisor are set out below. The guidelines are reviewed periodically by our investment advisor and our Independent Directors, and, accordingly, are subject to change. For purposes of these proxy voting policies and procedures described below, “we,” “our” and “us” refer to our investment advisor.

Introduction

As an investment adviser registered under the Advisers Act, our investment advisor has a fiduciary duty to act solely in our best interests. As part of this duty, our investment advisor recognizes that it must vote our securities in a timely manner free of conflicts of interest and in our best interests.

Our investment advisor’s policies and procedures for voting proxies for its investment advisory clients are intended to comply with Section 206 of, and Rule 206(4)-6 under, the Advisers Act.

Proxy Policies

Our investment advisor will vote proxies relating to our portfolio securities in what it perceives to be the best interest of our stockholders. Our investment advisor reviews on a case-by-case basis each proposal submitted to a stockholder vote to determine its effect on the portfolio securities we hold. In most cases our investment advisor will vote in favor of proposals that it believes are likely to increase the value of the portfolio securities we hold. Although our investment advisor will generally vote against proposals that may have a negative effect on our portfolio securities, our investment advisor may vote for such a proposal if there exist compelling long-term reasons to do so.

Proxy voting decisions are made by our investment advisor’s senior investment professionals who are responsible for monitoring each of our portfolio investments. To ensure that our investment advisor’s vote is not

 

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the product of a conflict of interest, our investment advisor requires that (a) anyone involved in the decision-making process disclose to our chief compliance officer any potential conflict that he or she is aware of and any contact that he or she has had with any interested party regarding a proxy vote; and (b) employees involved in the decision-making process or vote administration are prohibited from revealing how our investment advisor intends to vote on a proposal in order to reduce any attempted influence from interested parties. Where conflicts of interest may be present, our investment advisor will disclose such conflicts to us, including our Independent Directors, and may request guidance from us on how to vote such proxies.

Proxy Voting Records

You may obtain information about how our investment advisor voted proxies for us by making a written request for proxy voting information to: Fidus Investment Corporation, 1603 Orrington Avenue, Suite 1005, Evanston, Illinois 60201, Attention: Investor Relations, or by calling Fidus Investment Corporation collect at (847) 859-3940.

Compliance Policies and Procedures

We, Fund I and our investment advisor have each adopted and implemented written policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent violation of federal securities laws and are required to review these compliance policies and procedures annually for their adequacy and the effectiveness of their implementation. Our chief compliance officer is responsible for administering these policies and procedures.

Privacy Principles

We are committed to maintaining the privacy of our stockholders and to safeguarding their nonpublic personal information. The following information is provided to help you understand what personal information we collect, how we protect that information and why, in certain cases, we may share information with select other parties.

From time to time, we may receive nonpublic personal information relating to our stockholders. We do not disclose nonpublic personal information about our stockholders or former stockholders to anyone, except as required by law or as is necessary in order to service stockholder accounts (for example, to a transfer agent or third-party administrator).

We restrict access to nonpublic personal information about our stockholders to employees of our investment advisor, its affiliates or authorized service providers that have a legitimate business need for the information. We maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards designed to protect the nonpublic personal information of our stockholders.

Other

Under the 1940 Act, we are required to provide and maintain a bond issued by a reputable fidelity insurance company to protect us against larceny and embezzlement. Furthermore, as a BDC, we are prohibited from protecting any director or officer against any liability to us or our 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 may also be prohibited under the 1940 Act from knowingly participating in certain transactions with our affiliates without the prior approval of our Independent Directors and, in some cases, prior approval by the SEC. On March 27, 2012, the SEC granted us and Fund I exemptive relief allowing us to operate effectively as one company and to take certain actions, including engaging in certain transactions with our affiliates, and to be subject to modified consolidated asset coverage requirements for senior securities issued by a BDC, that would otherwise be prohibited by the 1940 Act. Effective June 30, 2014, our exemptive relief was amended to include Fund II. Therefore, any SBA debentures issued by Fund II are not subject to the 200.0% (or 150.0%, provided that certain requirements are met) asset coverage requirement.

 

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Small Business Administration Regulations

The Funds are licensed by the SBA to operate as SBICs under Section 301(c) of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958. Fund I received its SBIC license on October 22, 2007 and Fund II received its SBIC license on May 28, 2013. We may issue SBA debentures to fund additional investments through the Funds.

SBICs are designed to stimulate the flow of private equity capital to eligible small businesses. Under SBA regulations, SBICs can provide financing in the form of debt and/or equity securities and provide consulting and advisory services to “eligible” small businesses. The Funds have typically invested in senior subordinated debt, acquired warrants and/or made other equity investments in qualifying small businesses.

Under current SBA regulations, eligible small businesses generally include businesses that (together with their affiliates) have a tangible net worth not exceeding $19.5 million and have average annual net income after U.S. federal income taxes not exceeding $6.5 million (average net income to be computed without benefit of any carryover loss) for the two most recent fiscal years. In addition, an SBIC must devote between 20.0% and 25.0% (depending upon when it was licensed, when it obtained leverage commitments, the amount of leverage drawn and when financings occur) of its investment activity to “smaller” concerns as defined by the SBA. A smaller concern generally includes businesses (including their affiliates) that have a tangible net worth not exceeding $6.0 million and have average annual net income after U.S. federal income taxes not exceeding $2.0 million (average net income to be computed without benefit of any net carryover loss) for the two most recent fiscal years. SBA regulations also provide alternative size standard criteria to determine eligibility for designation as an eligible small business or smaller concern, which criteria depend on the industry in which the business (including its affiliates) is engaged and are based on the number of employees and gross revenue. However, once an SBIC has invested in a portfolio company, it may continue to make follow-on investments in the portfolio company, regardless of the size of the portfolio company at the time of the follow-on investment, up to the time of the portfolio company’s initial public offering.

The SBA prohibits an SBIC from providing funds to small businesses for certain purposes, such as relending and investment outside the U.S., to businesses engaged in a few prohibited industries, and to certain “passive” (non-operating) companies. In addition, under SBA regulations, without prior SBA approval, an SBIC may not invest more than 30.0% of its regulatory capital in any one portfolio company (assuming the SBIC intends to draw leverage equal to twice its regulatory capital).

The SBA places certain limitations on the financing terms of investments by SBICs in portfolio companies (such as limiting the permissible interest rate on debt securities held by an SBIC in a portfolio company). SBA regulations allow an SBIC to exercise control over a small business for a period of seven years from the date on which the SBIC initially acquires its control position. This control period may be extended for an additional period of time with the SBA’s prior written approval.

The SBA restricts the ability of an SBIC to lend money to any of its officers, directors and employees or to invest in affiliates thereof. The SBA also prohibits, without prior SBA approval, a “change of control” of an SBIC or transfers that would result in any person (or a group of persons acting in concert) owning 10.0% or more of a class of capital stock of a licensed SBIC. A “change of control” is any event that would result in the transfer of the power, direct or indirect, to direct the management and policies of an SBIC, whether through ownership, contractual arrangements or otherwise.

An SBIC (or group of SBICs under common control) may generally have outstanding debentures guaranteed by the SBA in amounts up to two times the amount of the regulatory capital of the SBIC(s). Debentures guaranteed by the SBA have a maturity of ten years, require semi-annual payments of interest, and do not require any principal payments prior to maturity. The amount of SBA-guaranteed debentures that affiliated SBIC funds can have outstanding is limited to $350.0 million, subject to SBA approval.

 

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SBICs must invest idle funds that are not being used to make loans in investments permitted under SBA regulations in the following limited types of securities: (i) direct obligations of, or obligations guaranteed as to principal and interest by, the U.S. government, which mature within 15 months from the date of the investment; (ii) repurchase agreements with federally insured institutions with a maturity of seven days or less (and the securities underlying the repurchase obligations must be direct obligations of or guaranteed by the federal government); (iii) certificates of deposit with a maturity of one year or less, issued by a federally insured institution; (iv) a deposit account in a federally insured institution that is subject to a withdrawal restriction of one year or less; (v) a checking account in a federally insured institution; or (vi) a reasonable petty cash fund.

SBICs are periodically examined and audited by the SBA’s staff to determine their compliance with SBA regulations and are periodically required to file certain forms with the SBA.

Neither the SBA nor the U.S. government or any of its agencies or officers has approved any ownership interest to be issued by us or any obligation that we or any of our subsidiaries may incur.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, imposes a wide variety of regulatory requirements on publicly held companies and their insiders. Many of these requirements affect us. For example:

 

   

pursuant to Rule 13a-14 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, our principal executive officer and principal financial officer must certify the accuracy of the financial statements contained in our periodic reports;

 

   

pursuant to Item 307 under Regulation S-K, our periodic reports must disclose our conclusions about the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures;

 

   

pursuant to Rule 13a-15 under the Exchange Act, our management must prepare an annual report regarding its assessment of our internal control over financial reporting, which must be audited by our independent registered public accounting firm; and

 

   

pursuant to Item 308 of Regulation S-K and Rule 13a-15 under the Exchange Act, our periodic reports must disclose whether there were significant changes in our internal controls over financial reporting or in other factors that could significantly affect these controls subsequent to the date of their evaluation, including any corrective actions with regard to significant deficiencies and material weaknesses.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires us to review our current policies and procedures to determine whether we comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the regulations promulgated under such act. We will continue to monitor our compliance with all regulations that are adopted under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and will take actions necessary to ensure that we comply with that act.

The NASDAQ Global Select Market Corporate Governance Regulations

The NASDAQ Global Select Market has adopted corporate governance regulations with which listed companies must comply. We are in compliance with such corporate governance listing standards applicable to BDCs.

Election to Be Taxed as a RIC

We have elected to be treated as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code. As a RIC, we generally will not be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal income taxes on any income that we distribute to our stockholders. To maintain our tax status 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 maintain our status as a RIC, we must distribute to our stockholders, for each taxable year, at least 90.0% of our “investment company taxable income,”

 

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which is generally our net ordinary income plus the excess, if any, of realized net short-term capital gain over realized net long-term capital loss, or the Annual Distribution Requirement. Depending on the level of taxable income earned in a tax year, we may choose to carry forward taxable income in excess of current year distributions into the next tax year and pay a 4.0% excise tax on such income. In such case, we must distribute any such carryover taxable income through a distribution declared prior to filing the final tax return for the year in which we generated such taxable income. Even if we maintain our status as a RIC, we generally will be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal income tax on our undistributed taxable income and could be subject to U.S. federal excise, state, local and foreign taxes.

Taxation as a RIC

Provided that we maintain our status as a RIC and satisfy the Annual Distribution Requirement, we will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on the portion of our investment company taxable income and net capital gain (which is defined as net long-term capital gain in excess of net short-term capital loss) that we timely distribute to stockholders as dividends. We will be subject to U.S. federal income tax at the regular corporate rates on any income or capital gain not distributed (or deemed distributed) to our stockholders.

We will be subject to a 4.0% 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 (1) 98.0% of our investment company taxable income for each calendar year, (2) 98.2% of our capital gain net income for the one-year period ending October 31 in that calendar year (or, if we so elect, for that calendar year) and (3) any income recognized, but not distributed, in the preceding calendar year and on which we paid no U.S. federal income tax.

In order to maintain our status as a RIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we must, among other things:

 

   

continue to qualify as a BDC or be registered as a management investment company under the 1940 Act at all times during each taxable year;

 

   

derive in each taxable year at least 90.0% of our gross income from dividends, interest, payments with respect to certain securities loans, gains from the sale or other disposition of stock or other securities or foreign currencies, other income derived with respect to our business of investing in such stock, securities or currencies and net income derived from an interest in a “qualified publicly traded partnership” (as defined in Subchapter M of the Code), or the 90% Income Test; and

 

   

diversify our holdings so that at the end of each quarter of the taxable year:

 

   

at least 50.0% 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 5.0% of the value of our assets or more than 10.0% of the outstanding voting securities of the issuer (which for these purposes includes the equity securities of a “qualified publicly traded partnership”); and

 

   

no more than 25.0% of the value of our assets is invested in the securities, other than U.S. Government securities or securities of other RICs, (i) of one issuer (ii) of two or more issuers that are controlled, as determined under applicable tax rules, by us and that are engaged in the same or similar or related trades or businesses or (iii) of one or more “qualified publicly traded partnerships,” or the Diversification Tests.

To the extent that we invest in entities treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes (other than a “qualified publicly traded partnership”), we generally must include our allocable share of the items of gross income derived by the partnerships for purposes of the 90% Income Test, and the income that is derived from a partnership (other than, a “qualified publicly traded partnership”) will be treated as qualifying income for purposes of the 90% Income Test only to the extent that such income is attributable to items of income of the partnership which would be qualifying income if realized by us directly. In addition, we generally must take into account our proportionate share of the assets held by partnerships (other than a “qualified publicly traded partnership”) in which we are a partner for purposes of the Diversification Tests.

 

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In order to meet the 90% Income Test, we have established several special purpose corporations, and in the future may establish additional such corporations, to hold assets from which we do not anticipate earning dividends, interest or other qualifying income under the 90% Income Test (the “Taxable Subsidiaries”). Any investments held through the Taxable Subsidiaries are generally subject to U.S. federal income and other taxes, and therefore we can expect to achieve a reduced after-tax yield on such investments.

We may be required to recognize taxable income in circumstances in which we do not receive a corresponding payment in cash. For example, if we hold debt instruments that are treated under applicable tax rules as having OID or debt instruments with PIK interest, we must include in income each year a portion of the OID that accrues over the life of the instrument and PIK interest, 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 deferred loan origination fees that are paid after origination of the loan or are paid in non-cash compensation such as warrants or stock. We anticipate that a portion of our income may constitute OID or other income required to be included in taxable income prior to our receipt of cash.

Because any OID or other amounts accrued will be included in our investment company taxable income for the year of the accrual, we may be required to make a distribution to our stockholders in order to satisfy the Annual Distribution Requirement, even though we will not have received any corresponding cash amount. As a result, we may have difficulty meeting the Annual Distribution Requirement. We may have to sell some of our investments at times and/or at prices we would not consider advantageous, raise additional debt or equity capital or forgo new investment opportunities for this purpose. If we are not able to obtain cash from other sources, we may fail to qualify for RIC tax treatment and thus become subject to corporate-level income tax.

Furthermore, a portfolio company in which we invest may face financial difficulty that requires us to work-out, modify or otherwise restructure our investment in the portfolio company. Any such restructuring may result in unusable capital losses and future non-cash income. Any restructuring may also result in our recognition of a substantial amount of non-qualifying income for purposes of the 90% Income Test, such as cancellation of indebtedness income in connection with the work-out of a leveraged investment (which, while not free from doubt, may be treated as non-qualifying income) or the receipt of other non-qualifying income.

Gain or loss realized by us from warrants acquired by us, as well as any loss attributable to the lapse of such warrants, generally will be treated as capital gain or loss. Such gain or loss generally will be long-term or short-term, depending on how long we held a particular warrant.

Investments by us in non-U.S. securities may be subject to non-U.S. income, withholding and other taxes, and therefore, our yield on any such securities may be reduced by such non-U.S. taxes. Stockholders will generally not be entitled to claim a credit or deduction with respect to non-U.S. taxes paid by us.

Although we do not presently expect to do so, we are authorized to borrow funds and to sell assets in order to satisfy the Annual Distribution Requirement and to avoid corporate-level U.S. federal income tax and the 4.0% U.S. federal excise tax. However, under the 1940 Act, we are not permitted to make distributions to our stockholders while our debt obligations and other senior securities are outstanding unless certain “asset coverage” tests are met. See “Regulation — Qualifying Assets” and “Regulation — Senior Securities.” Moreover, our ability to dispose of assets to satisfy the Annual Distribution Requirement and to avoid corporate-level U.S. federal income tax and the 4.0% U.S. federal excise tax may be limited by (1) the illiquid nature of our portfolio and (2) 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 to avoid corporate-level U.S. federal income tax or the 4.0% U.S. federal excise tax, we may make such dispositions at times that, from an investment standpoint, are not advantageous.

If we fail to satisfy the Annual Distribution Requirement or otherwise fail to qualify as a RIC in any taxable year, unless certain cure provisions apply, we will be subject to tax in that year on all of our taxable income,

 

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regardless of whether we make any distributions to our stockholders. In that case, all of such income will be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal income tax, reducing the amount available to be distributed to our stockholders. See “Failure To Qualify as a RIC” below.

As a RIC, we are not allowed to carry forward or carry back a net operating loss for purposes of computing our investment company taxable income in other taxable years. U.S. federal income tax law generally permits a RIC to carry forward (i) the excess of its net short-term capital loss over its net long-term capital gain for a given year as a short-term capital loss arising on the first day of the following year and (ii) the excess of its net long-term capital loss over its net short-term capital gain for a given year as a long- term capital loss arising on the first day of the following year. However, future transactions in which we may engage could cause our ability to use any capital loss carryforwards, and unrealized losses once realized, to be limited under Section 382 of the Code.

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 and qualified dividend income 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 stock or 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. We will monitor our transactions and may make certain tax elections in order to mitigate the effect of these provisions.

As described above, to the extent that we invest in equity securities of entities that are treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the effect of such investments for purposes of the 90% Income Test and the Diversification Tests will depend on whether or not the partnership is a “qualified publicly traded partnership” (as defined in Subchapter M of the Code). If the partnership is a “qualified publicly traded partnership,” the net income derived from such investments will be qualifying income for purposes of the 90% Income Test and will be “securities” for purposes of the Diversification Tests. If the partnership, however, is not treated as a “qualified publicly traded partnership,” then the consequences of an investment in the partnership will depend upon the amount and type of income and assets of the partnership allocable to us. The income derived from such investments may not be qualifying income for purposes of the 90% Income Test and, therefore, could adversely affect our qualification as a RIC. We intend to monitor our investments in equity securities of entities that are treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes to prevent our disqualification as a RIC.

We may invest in preferred securities or other securities the U.S. federal income tax treatment of which may not be clear or may be subject to recharacterization by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”). To the extent the tax treatment of such securities or the income from such securities differs from the expected tax treatment, it could affect the timing or character of income recognized, requiring us to purchase or sell securities, or otherwise change our portfolio, in order to comply with the tax rules applicable to RICs under Subchapter M of the Code.

We may make distributions that are payable in cash or shares of our stock at the election of each stockholder. In accordance with Treasury regulations and published guidance issued by the Internal Revenue Service, a publicly offered RIC may treat distributions of its own stock as counting towards its RIC distribution requirements if each stockholder may elect to receive his, her, or its entire distribution in either cash or stock of the RIC. This published guidance applies even if the aggregate amount of cash available to be distributed to all stockholders is no more than 20% of the aggregate declared distribution. Under the published guidance, if too many stockholders elect to receive their distributions in cash, the cash available for distribution must be allocated among the shareholders electing to receive cash (with the balance of the distribution paid in stock). If we decide to make any distributions that are payable in part in shares of our stock, U.S. stockholders receiving such distributions will be required to include the full amount of the distribution (whether received in cash, shares of

 

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our stock, or a combination thereof) as ordinary income (or as long-term capital gain to the extent such distribution is properly reported as a capital gain dividend) to the extent of our current and accumulated earnings and profits. As a result, a U.S. stockholder may be required to pay tax with respect to such distributions in excess of any cash received. If a U.S. stockholder sells the stock it receives in order to pay this tax, the sales proceeds may be less than the amount included in income with respect to the distribution, depending on the market price of our stock at the time of the sale. Furthermore, with respect to non-U.S. stockholders, we may be required to withhold U.S. federal tax with respect to such distributions, including in respect of all or a portion of such distributions that are payable in stock. In addition, if a significant number of our stockholders determine to sell shares of our stock in order to pay taxes owed on such distributions, it may put downward pressure on the trading price of shares of our stock.

We may decide to retain some or all of our long-term capital gains in excess of the amount required to satisfy the Annual Distribution Requirement, but designate the retained amount as a “deemed distribution.” In that case, among other consequences, we will pay tax on the retained amount on behalf of the stockholders. Each U.S. stockholder will be required to include his, her or its share of the deemed distribution in income as if it had been actually distributed to the U.S. stockholder, and the stockholder will be entitled to claim a credit equal to his, her or its allocable share of the tax paid thereon by us. Since non-U.S. stockholders generally would not have U.S. tax liability with respect to the deemed capital gain distribution, they would not be entitled to credit the tax paid by us for U.S. tax purposes. Whether non-U.S. stockholders could claim a credit with respect to their non-U.S. tax liability will depend on the foreign tax credit rules of the country in which they are a resident. In order to utilize the deemed distribution approach, we must provide written notice to our stockholders prior to the expiration of 60 days after the close of the relevant taxable year. We cannot treat any of our investment company taxable income as a “deemed distribution.”

Failure to Obtain RIC Tax Treatment

If we fail to satisfy the 90% Income Test or the Diversification Tests for any taxable year, we may nevertheless continue to qualify as a RIC for such year if certain cure provisions are applicable (which may, among other things, require us to pay certain corporate-level U.S. federal taxes or to dispose of certain assets).

If we were unable to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC, we would be subject to tax on all of our taxable income at regular corporate rates. We would not be able to deduct distributions to stockholders, nor would distributions be compulsory. Distributions would generally be taxable to our stockholders as dividend income to the extent of our current and accumulated earnings and profits (in the case of noncorporate U.S. stockholders, at a maximum federal income tax rate applicable to qualified dividend income of 20.0%). Subject to certain limitations under Subchapter M of the Code, corporate distributees would be eligible for the dividends-received deduction. Distributions in excess of our 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.

If we fail to qualify as a RIC for two or more taxable years, to qualify as a RIC in a subsequent year we may be subject to regular corporate tax on any net built-in gains with respect to certain of our 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.

 

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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Investing in our securities involves a number of significant risks. You should carefully consider these risk factors, together with all of the other information included in this Annual Report and other reports and documents filed by us with the SEC. The risks set out below are not the only risks we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or not presently deemed material by us may also impair our operations and performance. If any of the following events occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially and adversely affected. In such case, our net asset value and the trading price of our common stock could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment.

Risks Relating to Our Business and Structure

We are dependent upon our investment advisor’s managing members and our executive officers for our future success. If our investment advisor was to lose any of its managing members or we lose any of our executive officers, our ability to achieve our investment objective could be significantly harmed.

We depend on the investment expertise, skill and network of business contacts of the managing members of our investment advisor, who evaluate, negotiate, structure, execute and monitor our investments. Our future success will depend to a significant extent on the continued service and coordination of the investment professionals of our investment advisor and executive officers. Certain investment professionals and executives may not devote all of their business time to our operations and may have other demands on their time as a result of other activities. The departure of any of these individuals could have a material adverse effect on our ability to achieve our investment objective.

Our business model depends, to a significant extent, upon strong referral relationships with financial institutions, sponsors and investment professionals. Any inability of our investment advisor to maintain or develop these relationships, or the failure of these relationships to generate investment opportunities, could adversely affect our business.

We depend upon the investment professionals of our investment advisor to maintain their relationships with financial institutions, sponsors and investment professionals, and we intend to rely to a significant extent upon these relationships to provide us with potential investment opportunities. If the investment professionals of our investment advisor fail to maintain such relationships, or to develop new relationships with other sources of investment opportunities, we will not be able to grow our investment portfolio. In addition, individuals with whom the investment professionals of our investment advisor have relationships are not obligated to provide us with investment opportunities, and, therefore, we can offer no assurance that these relationships will generate investment opportunities for us in the future.

Our financial condition and results of operation depends 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 and deploy our capital effectively. This depends, in turn, on our investment advisor’s ability to identify, evaluate and monitor companies that meet our investment criteria. Accomplishing our investment objectives on a cost-effective basis depends upon our investment advisor’s execution of our investment process, its ability to provide competent, attentive and efficient services to us and, to a lesser extent, our access to financing on acceptable terms. Our investment advisor has substantial responsibilities under the Investment Advisory Agreement. In addition, our investment advisor’s investment professionals 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 and results of operations.

We may suffer credit losses and our investments could be rated below investment grade.

Private debt in the form of second lien, subordinated, and first lien (senior secured or unitranche loans) to corporate and asset-based borrowers is highly speculative and involves a high degree of risk of credit loss, and

 

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therefore an investment in our shares of common stock may not be suitable for someone with a low tolerance for risk. These risks are likely to increase during an economic recession.

In addition, investments in our portfolio are typically not rated by any rating agency. We believe that if such investments were rated, the vast majority would be rated below investment grade (which is sometimes referred to as “junk”) due to speculative characteristics of the issuer’s capacity to pay interest and repay principal. Our investments may result in an amount of risk, volatility or potential loss of principal that is greater than that of alternative investments.

Because we borrow money and may in the future issue additional senior securities, including preferred stock and debt securities, the potential for gain or loss on amounts invested in us is magnified and may increase the risk of investing in us.

Borrowings, also known as leverage, magnify the potential for gain or loss on amounts invested and, therefore, increase the risks associated with investing in us. The Funds borrow from and issue debt securities to the SBA, and we may borrow from banks and other lenders in the future. The SBA has fixed dollar claims on the Funds’ assets that are superior to the claims of our stockholders. We may also borrow from banks and other lenders or issue additional senior securities including preferred stock and debt securities in the future. 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 used leverage. 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. Similarly, any increase in our income in excess of interest payable on the borrowed funds would cause our net income to increase more than it would without the leverage, while any decrease in our income would cause net income to decline more sharply than it would have had we not borrowed. Such a decline could negatively affect our ability to make distributions to our stockholders. Leverage is generally considered a speculative investment technique.

Our ability to achieve our investment objectives may depend in part on our ability to achieve additional leverage on favorable terms by borrowing from the SBA, banks or other lenders, and there can be no assurance that such additional leverage can in fact be achieved.

As a BDC, we are generally required to meet a coverage ratio at least equal to 200.0% of total assets to total borrowings and other senior securities, which include all of our borrowings (other than the Funds’ SBA leverage under the terms of SEC exemptive relief) and any preferred stock we may issue in the future. If this ratio declines below 200.0%, we may not be able to incur additional debt and may need to sell a portion of our investments to repay some debt when it is disadvantageous to do so, and we may not be able to make distributions to our stockholders.

The following table illustrates the effect of leverage on returns from an investment in our common stock assuming various annual returns, net of expenses. 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)

 

     (10.0)%     (5.0)%     0.0%     5.0%     10.0%  

Corresponding return to common stockholder (1)

     (20.1 )%      (11.5 )%      (2.9 )%      5.8     14.4

 

(1)

Assumes $693.9 million in total assets, $191.0 million in outstanding SBA debentures, $36.5 million in borrowings under the Credit Facility (as defined below), $50.0 million oustanding of our Public Notes, $403.0 million in net assets as of December 31, 2018, and an average cost of funds of 4.149%.

 

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Legislation that took effect in 2018 would allow us to incur additional leverage.

As a BDC, under the 1940 Act generally we are not permitted to incur indebtedness unless immediately after such borrowing we have an asset coverage for total borrowings of at least 200.0% (i.e., the amount of debt may not exceed 50.0% of the value of our assets). However, legislation that took effect in 2018 has modified the 1940 Act by allowing a BDC to increase the maximum amount of leverage it may incur from an asset coverage ratio of 200.0% to an asset coverage ratio of 150.0%, if certain requirements are met. Under the legislation, we are allowed to increase our leverage capacity if stockholders representing at least a majority of the votes cast, when quorum is met, approve a proposal to do so. If we receive stockholder approval, we would be allowed to increase our leverage capacity on the first day after such approval. Alternatively, the legislation allows the “required majority” of our independent directors, as defined in Section 57(o) of the 1940 Act, to approve an increase in our leverage capacity, and such approval would become effective after one year. In either case, we would be required to make certain disclosures on our website and in SEC filings regarding, among other things, the receipt of approval to increase our leverage, our leverage capacity and usage, and risks related to leverage.

Leverage magnifies the potential for loss on investments and on invested equity capital. As we use leverage to partially finance our investments, you will experience increased risks of investing in our securities. For example, as we increase our leverage and, as a result, our total interest expense and other required payments on such indebtedness, any decrease in our income would cause net investment income to decline more sharply than it would have had we not borrowed, and the decline could negatively affect our ability to make the required payments on such indebtedness or on our other securities. Increased leverage may also cause a downgrade of our credit rating. Leverage is generally considered a speculative investment technique.

All of our portfolio investments are recorded at fair value as determined in good faith by our board of directors, and, as a result, there is uncertainty as to the value of our portfolio investments and the valuation process for certain of our portfolio holdings creates a conflict of interest.

All of our portfolio investments take the form of debt and equity securities that are not publicly-traded. The debt and equity securities in which we invest for which market quotations are not readily available are valued at fair value as determined in good faith by our board of directors. 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 comparable 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.

The fair value of each investment in our portfolio is determined quarterly by our board of directors. Any changes in fair value of portfolio securities from the prior period are recorded in our consolidated statement of operations as net change in unrealized appreciation or depreciation.

In connection with that determination, investment professionals from our investment advisor prepare portfolio company valuations based upon the most recent portfolio company financial statements available and projected financial results of each portfolio company. In addition, certain members of our board of directors have a pecuniary interest in our investment advisor. The participation of our investment advisor’s investment professionals in our valuation process, and the pecuniary interest in our investment advisor by certain members of our board of directors, may result in a conflict of interest as the management fees that we pay our investment advisor are based on our total assets (other than cash and cash equivalents but including assets purchased with borrowed amounts).

 

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Due to the inherent uncertainty of determining the fair value of investments that do not have a readily available market value, the fair value of our investments may differ significantly from the values that would have been used had a readily available market value existed for such investments, and the differences could be material. Declines in prices and liquidity in the corporate debt markets may also result in significant net unrealized depreciation in our debt portfolio. Our net asset value could be adversely affected if our determinations regarding the fair value of our investments were materially higher than the values that we ultimately realize upon the disposal of such investments.

We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities, which could reduce returns and result in losses.

A number of entities compete with us to make the types of investments that we make. We compete with public and private funds, other BDCs, commercial and investment 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 we do. For example, we believe some of our competitors may have access to funding sources that are not available to us. In addition, some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments. 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 offer. We may lose investment opportunities if we do not match our competitors’ pricing, terms and structure. If we match our competitors’ pricing, terms and structure, we may experience a decrease in net investment income or an increase in risk of capital loss. A significant part of our competitive advantage stems from the fact that the lower middle-market is underserved by traditional commercial and investment banks, and generally has less access to capital. 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.

Furthermore, many of our competitors are not subject to the regulatory restrictions that the 1940 Act imposes on us as a BDC or the source of income, asset diversification and distribution requirements we must satisfy to maintain our RIC status. The competitive pressures we face may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. As a result of this existing and potentially increasing 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.

Our management and incentive fee structure may create incentives for our investment advisor that are not fully aligned with the interests of our stockholders and may encourage our investment advisor to make speculative investments.

The management and incentive fees paid to our investment advisor are based on our total assets (other than cash or cash equivalents but including assets purchased with borrowed amounts), and our investor advisor may therefore benefit when we incur debt or use leverage. This fee structure may encourage our investment advisor to cause us to borrow money to finance additional investments. Under certain circumstances, the use of borrowed money may increase the likelihood of default, which would disfavor our stockholders. Our board of directors is charged with protecting our interests by monitoring how our investment advisor addresses these and other conflicts of interests. Our board of directors is not expected to review or approve each borrowing or incurrence of leverage. However, our board of directors, periodically reviews our investment advisor’s portfolio management decisions and portfolio performance. In addition, our board of directors at least annually reviews the services provided by and fees paid to our investment advisor. In connection with these reviews, our board of directors, including a majority of our Independent Directors, considers whether the fees and expenses (including those related to leverage) that we pay to our investment advisor are fair and reasonable in relation to the services provided and must approve renewal of our Advisory Agreement.

The part of the incentive fee payable to our investment advisor that relates to our net investment income is computed and paid on income that includes interest income that has been accrued but not yet received in cash.

 

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This fee structure may encourage our investment advisor to favor debt financings that provide for deferred interest (PIK interest), rather than current cash payments of interest. Our investment advisor may have an incentive to invest in deferred interest securities in circumstances where it would not have done so but for the opportunity to continue to earn the incentive fee even when the issuers of the deferred interest securities would not be able to make actual cash payments to us on such securities. This risk could be increased because our investment advisor is not obligated to reimburse us for any incentive fees received even if we subsequently incur losses or never receive in cash the deferred interest that was previously accrued.

The incentive fee is based, in part, upon net capital gains realized on our investments. Unlike the portion of the incentive fee based on income, there is no hurdle rate applicable to the portion of the incentive fee based on net capital gains. As a result, our investment advisor may have a tendency to invest more capital in investments that are likely to result in capital gains as compared to income producing securities. Such a practice could result in our investing in more speculative securities than would otherwise be the case, which could result in higher investment losses, particularly during economic downturns.

We may be obligated to pay our investment advisor incentive compensation even if we incur a loss and may pay more than 20.0% of our net capital gains because we cannot recover payments made in previous years.

Our investment advisor will be entitled to incentive compensation for each fiscal quarter in an amount equal to a percentage of the excess of our pre-incentive fee net investment income for that quarter above a threshold return for that quarter. Our pre-incentive fee net investment income for incentive compensation purposes excludes realized and unrealized capital losses that we may incur in the fiscal quarter, even if such capital losses result in a net loss on our consolidated statement of operations for that quarter. Thus, we may be required to pay our investment advisor incentive compensation for a fiscal quarter even if there is a decline in the value of our portfolio or we incur a net loss for that quarter. Further, if we pay an incentive fee of 20.0% of our realized capital gains (net of all realized capital losses and unrealized capital depreciation on a cumulative basis) and thereafter experience additional realized capital losses or unrealized capital depreciation, we will not be able to recover any portion of the incentive fee previously paid.

A general increase in interest rates will likely have the effect of making it easier for the investment advisor to receive incentive fees, without necessarily resulting in an increase in our net earnings.

Given the structure of the Investment Advisory Agreement, any general increase in interest rates can be expected to lead to higher interest rates applicable to our debt investments and will likely have the effect of making it easier for the investment advisor to meet the quarterly hurdle rate for payment of income incentive fees under the Investment Advisory Agreement without any additional increase in relative performance on the part of the investment advisor. This may occur without a corresponding increase in distributions to our stockholders. In addition, in view of the catch-up provision applicable to income incentive fees under the Investment Advisory Agreement, the investment advisor could potentially receive a significant portion of the increase in our investment income attributable to such a general increase in interest rates. If that were to occur, our increase in net earnings, if any, would likely be significantly smaller than the relative increase in the Adviser’s income incentive fee resulting from such a general increase in interest rates.

We may have potential conflicts of interest related to obligations that our investment advisor may have to other clients.

Currently, the Company, the Funds, Fidus Credit Opportunities, L.P. and Fidus Equity Opportunities Fund, L.P. are the only investment vehicles managed by our investment advisor. The Investment Advisory Agreement does not limit our investment advisor’s ability to act as an investment advisor to other funds, including other BDCs, or other investment advisory clients. To the extent our investment advisor acts as an investment advisor to other funds or clients, including Fidus Credit Opportunities, L.P. and Fidus Equity Opportunities Fund, L.P., we may have conflicts of interest with our investment advisor or its other clients that elect to invest in similar types

 

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of securities as those in which we invest. Members of our investment advisor’s investment committee serve or may serve as officers, directors or principals of entities that operate in the same or a related line of business as we do, or of investment funds or other investment vehicles managed by our investment advisor. In serving in these multiple capacities, they may have obligations to other clients or investors in those entities, the fulfillment of which may not be in the best interests of us or our stockholders. Our investment advisor will seek to allocate investment opportunities among eligible accounts in a manner that is fair and equitable over time and consistent with an allocation policy approved by our board of directors.

To the extent our investment advisor forms affiliates, including Fidus Credit Opportunities, L.P. and Fidus Equity Opportunities Fund, L.P., we may co-invest on a concurrent basis with such affiliates, subject to compliance with applicable regulations and regulatory guidance and our allocation procedures. While we may co-invest with investment entities managed by our investment advisor or its affiliates, to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act and the rules and regulations thereunder, the 1940 Act imposes significant limits on co-investment. On January 4, 2017, the SEC granted us relief sought in an exemptive application that expands our ability to co-invest in portfolio companies with certain of our affiliates managed by our investment advisor in a manner consistent with our investment objective, positions, policies, strategies and restrictions as well as regulatory requirements and other pertinent factors, subject to compliance with certain conditions (the “Order”). Pursuant to the Order, we are permitted to co-invest with our affiliates if a “required majority” (as defined in Section 57(o) of the 1940 Act) of our independent directors make certain conclusions in connection with a co-investment transaction, including that (1) the terms of the transactions, including the consideration to be paid, are reasonable and fair to us and our stockholders and do not involve overreaching by us or our stockholders on the part of any person concerned, and (2) the transaction is consistent with the interests of our stockholders and is consistent with our investment objective and strategies. We intend to co-invest, subject to the conditions included in the Order.

Our investment advisor or its investment committee may, from time to time, possess material non-public information, limiting our investment discretion.

The investment professionals of our investment advisor 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 non-public 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 an adverse effect on us.

We may have conflicts related to other arrangements with our investment advisor.

We entered into a license agreement with Fidus Partners, LLC under which Fidus Partners, LLC granted us a non-exclusive (provided that there is not a change in control of Fidus Partners, LLC), royalty-free license to use the name “Fidus.” Some of the members of our investment advisor’s investment committee and the senior origination professionals of our investment advisor are members of Fidus Partners, LLC. See “Management and Other Agreements — License Agreement.” In addition, we rent office space from our investment advisor and pay to our investment advisor our allocable portion of overhead and other expenses incurred in performing its obligations under the Administration Agreement, such as our allocable portion of the cost of our chief financial officer and chief compliance officer. This creates conflicts of interest that our board of directors must monitor.

The Funds are licensed by the SBA, and, therefore, are subject to SBA regulations.

The Funds are licensed to operate as SBICs and are regulated by the SBA. Under current SBA regulations, a licensed SBIC can provide capital to those entities that have a tangible net worth not exceeding $19.5 million and an average annual net income after U.S. federal income taxes not exceeding $6.5 million for the two most recent fiscal years. In addition, a licensed SBIC must devote 25.0% of its investment activity to those entities that have

 

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a tangible net worth not exceeding $6.0 million and an average annual net income after U.S. federal income taxes not exceeding $2.0 million for the two most recent fiscal years. The SBA regulations also provide alternative size standard criteria to determine eligibility, which depend on the industry in which the business is engaged and are based on either the number of employees or the gross sales of the business. The SBA regulations permit licensed SBICs to make long term loans to small businesses, invest in the equity securities of such businesses and provide them with consulting and advisory services. The SBA also places certain limitations on the financing terms of investments by SBICs in portfolio companies and prohibits SBICs from providing funds for certain purposes or to businesses in certain prohibited industries. Further, the SBA regulations require that a licensed SBIC be periodically examined and audited by the SBA staff to determine its compliance with the relevant SBA regulations. Compliance with these SBA requirements may cause the Funds to forego attractive investment opportunities that are not permitted under the SBA regulations, and may cause the Funds to make investments they otherwise would not make in order to remain in compliance with these regulations.

Failure to comply with the SBA regulations could result in the loss of the SBIC licenses and the resulting inability to participate in the SBA debenture program. The SBA prohibits, without prior SBA approval, a “change of control” of an SBIC or transfers that would result in any person (or a group of persons acting in concert) owning 10.0% or more of a class of capital stock of a licensed SBIC. Current SBA regulations provide the SBA with certain rights and remedies if an SBIC violates their terms. A key regulatory metric for SBA is the extent of “Capital Impairment,” which is the extent of realized (and, in certain circumstances, net unrealized) losses compared with the SBIC’s private capital commitments. Interest payments, management fees, organization and other expenses are included in determining “realized losses.” SBA regulations preclude the full amount of “unrealized appreciation” from portfolio companies from being considered when calculating Capital Impairment in certain circumstances. Remedies for regulatory violations are graduated in severity depending on the seriousness of Capital Impairment or other regulatory violations. For minor regulatory infractions, the SBA issues a warning. For more serious infractions, the use of SBA debentures may be limited or prohibited, outstanding debentures can be declared to be immediately due and payable, restrictions on distributions and making new investments may be imposed and management fees may be required to be reduced. In severe cases, the SBA may require the removal of a general partner of an SBIC or its officers, directors, managers or partners, or the SBA may obtain appointment of a receiver for the SBIC.

SBA regulations limit the amount of SBA-guaranteed debt that may be borrowed by an SBIC.

The SBA regulations currently limit the amount that is available to be borrowed by any SBIC and guaranteed by the SBA to 300.0% of an SBIC’s regulatory capital or $175.0 million, whichever is less. For three or more SBICs under common control, the maximum amount of outstanding SBA debentures cannot exceed $350.0 million. If the Funds borrow the maximum amount from the SBA and thereafter require additional capital, our cost of capital may increase, and there is no assurance that we will be able to obtain additional financing on acceptable terms.

Moreover, the Funds’ current status as SBICs does not automatically assure that they will continue to receive funding through the SBA debenture program. Receipt of SBA debenture funding is dependent upon the Funds’ continuing compliance with SBA regulations and policies and there being funding available. The amount of SBA debenture funding available to SBICs is dependent upon annual Congressional authorizations and in the future may be subject to annual Congressional appropriations. There can be no assurance that there will be sufficient SBA debenture funding available at the times desired by the Funds.

The debentures issued by the Funds and guaranteed by the SBA have a maturity of ten years and bear interest semi-annually at fixed rates. Certain of the Funds’ SBA debentures begin to mature in 2021 and will require repayment on or before the respective maturity dates. The Funds will need to generate sufficient cash flow to make required debt payments on such debentures. If the Funds are unable to generate such cash flow, the SBA, as guarantor of the debentures, will have a superior claim to our assets over our stockholders in the event the Funds liquidate or the SBA exercises its remedies under such debentures as the result of a default by the Funds.

 

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The Funds, as SBICs, are limited in their ability to make distributions to us, which could result in us being unable to meet the minimum distribution requirements to maintain our status as a RIC.

In order to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC, we are required to distribute to our stockholders on an annual basis 90.0% of our net ordinary income and net short-term capital gains in excess of net long-term capital losses. For this purpose, our taxable income will include the income of the Funds (and any other entities that are disregarded as separate from us for U.S. federal income tax purposes). The Funds’ ability to make distributions to us may be limited by the Small Business Investment Act of 1958. As a result, in order to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC, we may be required to make distributions attributable to the Funds’ income without receiving any corresponding cash distributions with respect to such income. We can make no assurances that the Funds will be able to make, or not be limited in making, distributions to us. If we are unable to satisfy the annual distribution requirements, we may fail to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC, which would result in the imposition of corporate-level U.S. federal income tax on our entire taxable income without regard to any distributions made by us. See “We will be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal income tax if we are unable to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code.”

Changes in interest rates will affect our cost of capital and net investment income.

Most of our debt investments bear interest at fixed rates and the value of these investments could be negatively affected by increases in market interest rates. In addition, to the extent that we borrow additional funds to make investments, an increase in interest rates would make it more expensive for us to use debt to finance our investments. As a result, a significant increase in market interest rates could both reduce the value of our portfolio investments and increase our cost of capital, which would reduce our net investment income. Conversely, a decrease in interest rates may have an adverse impact on our returns by requiring us to seek lower yields on our debt investments and by increasing the risk that our portfolio companies will prepay the debt investments, resulting in the need to redeploy capital at potentially lower rates.

In July 2017, the head of the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority announced the desire to phase out the use of London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) by the end of 2021. There is currently no definitive information regarding the future utilization of LIBOR or of any particular replacement rate. As such, the potential effect of any such event on our cost of capital and net investment income cannot yet be determined. In addition, any further changes or reforms to the determination or supervision of LIBOR may result in a sudden or prolonged increase or decrease in reported LIBOR, which could have an adverse impact on the market value for or value of any LIBOR-linked securities, loans, and other financial obligations or extensions of credit held by or due to us and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

You should also be aware that a rise in market interest rates typically leads to higher interest rates applicable to our debt investments. Accordingly, an increase in interest rates may result in an increase of the amount of incentive fees payable to our investment advisor.

Our ability to enter into transactions involving derivatives and financial commitment transactions may be limited.

The SEC has proposed a new rule under the 1940 Act that would govern the use of derivatives (defined to include any swap, security-based swap, futures contract, forward contract, option or any similar instrument) as well as financial commitment transactions (defined to include reverse repurchase agreements, short sale borrowings and any firm or standby commitment agreement or similar agreement) by BDCs. Under the proposed rule, a BDC would be required to comply with one of two alternative portfolio limitations and manage the risks associated with derivatives transactions and financial commitment transactions by segregating certain assets. Furthermore, a BDC that engages in more than a limited amount of derivatives transactions or that uses complex derivatives would be required to establish a formalized derivatives risk management program. If the SEC adopts this rule in the form proposed, our ability to enter into transactions involving such instruments may be hindered, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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Global economic, political and market conditions may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition, including our revenue growth and profitability.

The current worldwide financial market situation, as well as various social and political tensions in the United States and around the world, may contribute to increased market volatility, may have long-term effects on the U.S. and worldwide financial markets, and may cause economic uncertainties or deterioration in the United States and worldwide. The U.S. and global capital markets experienced extreme volatility and disruption during the economic downturn that began in mid-2007, and the U.S. economy was in a recession for several consecutive calendar quarters during the same period. In 2010, a financial crisis emerged in Europe, triggered by high budget deficits and rising direct and contingent sovereign debt, which created concerns about the ability of certain nations to continue to service their sovereign debt obligations. Risks resulting from such debt crisis, including any austerity measures taken in exchange for bailout of certain nations, and any future debt crisis in Europe or any similar crisis elsewhere could have a detrimental impact on the global economic recovery, sovereign and non-sovereign debt in certain countries and the financial condition of financial institutions generally. In June 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum in which voters approved an exit from the European Union (“Brexit”), and, subsequently, on March 29, 2017, the U.K. government began the formal process of leaving the European Union, which is currently set to occur on March 29, 2019. Because the U.K. Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal with the European Union in January 2019, there is increased uncertainty on the final outcome of Brexit. Brexit has created political and economic uncertainty and instability in the global markets (including currency and credit markets) and especially in the United Kingdom and European Union, and this uncertainty and instability may last indefinitely. The implications of the United Kingdom’s pending withdrawal from the European Union are unclear at present. There is continued concern about national-level support for the Euro and the accompanying coordination of fiscal and wage policy among European Economic and Monetary Union member countries. In addition, the fiscal and monetary policies of foreign nations, such as Russia and China, may have a severe impact on the worldwide and U.S. financial markets.

The current state of the economy and financial markets of the U.S., United Kingdom, China and other several countries in the European Union increases the likelihood of adverse effects on our financial position and results of operations.

Due to federal budget deficit concerns, S&P downgraded the federal government’s credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time in history on August 5, 2011. Further downgrades or warnings by S&P or other rating agencies, and the U.S. government’s credit and deficit concerns in general, could cause interest rates and borrowing costs to rise, which may negatively impact both the perception of credit risk associated with our debt portfolio and our ability to access the debt markets on favorable terms. In addition, a decreased U.S. government credit rating could create broader financial turmoil and uncertainty, which may weigh heavily on our financial performance and the value of our common stock.

In 2010, a financial crisis emerged in Europe, triggered by high budget deficits and rising direct and contingent sovereign debt, which created concerns about the ability of certain nations to continue to service their sovereign debt obligations. Risks resulting from such debt crisis and any future debt crisis in Europe or any similar crisis elsewhere could have a detrimental impact on the global economic recovery, sovereign and non-sovereign debt in certain countries and the financial condition of financial institutions generally.

In the second quarter of 2015, stock prices in China experienced a significant drop, resulting primarily from continued selloff of shares trading in Chinese markets. In addition, in August 2015, Chinese authorities sharply devalued China’s currency. Since then, the Chinese capital markets have continued to experience periods of instability. In June 2016, British voters passed a referendum to exit the European Union leading to heightened volatility in global markets and foreign currencies. These market and economic disruptions have affected, and may in the future affect, the U.S. capital markets, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

 

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In October 2014, the Federal Reserve announced that it was concluding its bond-buying program, or quantitative easing, which was designed to stimulate the economy and expand the Federal Reserve’s holdings of long-term securities, suggesting that key economic indicators, such as the unemployment rate, had showed signs of improvement since the inception of the program. It is unclear what effect, if any, the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program will have on the value of our investments. Additionally, since December 2015, the Federal Reserve has continued to raise the Federal Funds Rate and has announced its intention to continue to raise the federal funds rate over time. These developments, along with the U.S. government’s credit and deficit concerns, the European sovereign debt crisis and the economic slowdown in China, could cause interest rates and borrowing costs to rise, which may negatively impact our ability to access the debt markets on favorable terms.

We may experience fluctuations in our quarterly operating results.

We could experience fluctuations in our quarterly operating results due to a number of factors, including our ability or inability to make investments in companies that meet our investment criteria, the interest rate payable on the debt securities we acquire, the default rate on such securities, the level of our expenses, variations in and the timing of the recognition of realized and unrealized gains or losses, the degree to which we encounter competition in our markets and general economic conditions. As a result of these factors, results for any period should not be relied upon as being indicative of performance in future periods.

We will be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal income tax if we are unable to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code.

We have elected to be treated as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code; however, no assurance can be given that we will be able to maintain our RIC tax treatment. To maintain our tax treatment as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code and to avoid the imposition of U.S. federal income taxes on income and gains distributed to our stockholders, we must meet certain requirements, including source-of-income, asset diversification and annual distribution requirements. The source-of-income requirement will be satisfied if we derive at least 90.0% of our gross income for each year from dividends, interest, gains from sale of securities or similar sources. To maintain our tax treatment as a RIC, we must also meet certain asset diversification requirements at the end of each calendar quarter. Failure to meet these requirements may result in our losing our RIC tax treatment or our having to dispose of certain investments quickly in order to prevent the loss of RIC tax treatment. Because most of our investments will be in private or thinly traded public companies, any such dispositions could be made at disadvantageous prices and may result in substantial losses. The annual distribution requirement applicable to RICs will be satisfied if we distribute at least 90.0% of our net ordinary income and net short-term capital gains in excess of net long-term capital losses, if any, to our stockholders on an annual basis. In addition, we will be subject to a 4.0% nondeductible federal excise tax to the extent that we do not satisfy certain additional minimum distribution requirements on a calendar-year basis. We will be subject, to the extent we use debt financing, to certain asset coverage ratio requirements under the 1940 Act and financial covenants under loan and credit agreements that could, under certain circumstances, restrict us from making annual distributions necessary to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC. If we are unable to obtain cash from other sources, we may fail to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC and, thus, may be subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax on our entire taxable income without regard to any distributions made by us. If we fail to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC for any reason and become subject to U.S. corporate income tax, the resulting tax liability could substantially reduce our net assets, the amount of income available for distributions to stockholders and the amount of our distributions and the amount of funds available for new investments. Such a failure could have a material adverse effect on us and our stockholders.

We may not be able to pay you distributions, our distributions may not grow over time, a portion of distributions paid to you may be a return of capital, and investors in our debt securities may not receive all of the interest income to which they are entitled.

We intend to make distributions on a quarterly basis to our stockholders out of assets legally available for distribution. We cannot assure you that we will achieve investment results that will allow us to make a specified

 

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level of cash distributions or year-to-year increases in cash distributions. Our ability to pay distributions might be adversely affected by the impact of one or more of the risk factors described in this annual report on Form 10-K. In addition, due to the asset coverage test applicable to us as a BDC, in the future, we may be limited in our ability to make distributions. All distributions will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our earnings, our financial condition, maintenance of RIC tax treatment, compliance with applicable BDC regulations, SBA regulations, state corporate laws affecting the distribution of corporate assets and such other factors as our board of directors may deem relevant from time to time. We cannot assure you that we will make distributions to our stockholders in the future.

If we issue debt securities in the future, the above-referenced restrictions on distributions may also inhibit our ability to make required interest payments to holders of any such debt securities, which may cause a default under the terms of our then-existing debt agreements. Such a default could materially increase our cost of raising capital, as well as cause us to incur penalties under the terms of our then-existing debt agreements.

When we make quarterly distributions, we will be required to determine the extent to which such distributions are paid out of current and accumulated earnings and profits, recognized capital gain or capital. To the extent there is a return of capital, investors will be required to reduce their basis in our stock for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

We may have difficulty paying our required distributions if we recognize income before, or without, receiving cash representing such income.

For U.S. federal income tax purposes, we are required to include in our income certain amounts that we have not yet received in cash, such as OID, which may arise if we receive warrants in connection with the making of a loan or in other circumstances, and contractual PIK interest, which represents contractual interest added to the loan balance and due at the end of the loan term. Such OID, or increases in loan balances as a result of contracted PIK arrangements, will be included in our income before we receive any corresponding cash payments. We also may be required to include in our income certain other amounts that we will not receive in cash.

Since in certain cases we may be required to recognize income before or without receiving cash representing such income, we may have difficulty meeting the requirement to distribute on an annual basis at least 90.0% of our net ordinary income and net short-term capital gains in excess of net long-term capital losses, if any, to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC. In such a case, we may have to sell some of our investments at times and/or at prices we would not consider advantageous, raise additional debt or equity capital or forgo new investment opportunities to satisfy the annual distribution requirements. In such circumstances, if we are unable to obtain such cash from other sources, we may fail to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC and thus be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal income tax. See “We will be subject to corporate-level U.S. federal income tax if we are unable to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code.”

If a portfolio company defaults on a loan that is structured to provide accrued interest, it is possible that accrued interest previously used in the calculation of the incentive fee will become uncollectible. Our investment advisor will not be under any obligation to reimburse us for any part of the incentive fee it received that was based on accrued income that we never receive as a result of a default by an entity on the obligation that resulted in the accrual of such income. That part of the incentive fee payable by us that relates to our net investment income will be computed and paid on income that may include interest that has been accrued but not yet received in cash, such as market discount, debt instruments with PIK interest, preferred stock with PIK dividends and zero coupon securities.

To the extent the we invest in OID instruments, including PIK loans, zero coupon bonds, and debt securities with attached warrants, investors will be exposed to the risks associated with the inclusion of such non-cash income in taxable and accounting income prior to receipt of cash, including the following risks:

 

   

the interest payments deferred on a PIK loan are subject to the risk that the borrower may default when the deferred payments are due in cash at the maturity of the loan;

 

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the interest rates on PIK loans are higher to reflect the time-value of money on deferred interest payments and the higher credit risk of borrowers who may need to defer interest payments;

 

   

PIK instruments may have unreliable valuations because the accruals require judgments about ultimate collectability of the deferred payments and the value of the associated collateral;

 

   

an election to defer PIK interest payments by adding them to principal increases our gross assets and, thus, increases future base management fees to the Adviser and, because interest payments will then be payable on a larger principal amount, the PIK election also increases the Adviser’s future income incentive fees at a compounding rate;

 

   

market prices of OID instruments are more volatile because they are affected to a greater extent by interest rate changes than instruments that pay interest periodically in cash;

 

   

the deferral of interest on a PIK loan increases its loan-to-value ratio, which is a measure of the riskiness of a loan;

 

   

OID creates the risk of non-refundable cash payments to the Adviser based on non-cash accruals that may never be realized;

 

   

for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we will be required to make distributions of OID income to shareholders without receiving any cash and such distributions have to be paid from offering proceeds or the sale of assets without investors being given any notice of this fact; and

 

   

the required recognition of OID, including PIK, interest for U.S. federal income tax purposes may have a negative impact on liquidity, because it represents a non-cash component of the our taxable income that must, nevertheless, be distributed in cash to investors to avoid it being subject to corporate level taxation.

You may have a current tax liability on distributions you elect to reinvest in our common stock but would not receive cash to pay such tax liability.

If you participate in our dividend reinvestment plan, you will be deemed to have received, and for U.S. federal income tax purposes will be taxed on, the amount reinvested in our common stock to the extent the amount reinvested was not a tax-free return of capital. As a result, unless you are a tax-exempt entity, you may have to use funds from other sources to pay your tax liability on the value of our common stock received as a result of the distribution.

Because we expect to distribute substantially all of our net investment income and net realized capital gains to our stockholders, we will need additional capital to finance our growth, and such capital may not be available on favorable terms or at all.

We have elected to be taxed for U.S. federal income tax purposes as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code. If we continue to meet certain requirements, including source-of-income, asset diversification and distribution requirements, and if we continue to be regulated as a BDC, we will continue to qualify to be taxed as a RIC and therefore will not have to pay U.S. federal corporate income tax on income that we timely distribute to our stockholders, allowing us to substantially reduce or eliminate our corporate-level income tax liability. As a BDC, we are generally required to meet a coverage ratio of total assets to total senior securities, which includes all of our borrowings (other than SBA leverage) and any preferred stock we may issue in the future, of at least 200.0% at the time we issue any debt or preferred stock. This requirement limits the amount of our leverage. Because we will continue to need capital to grow our investment portfolio, this limitation may prevent us from incurring debt or issuing preferred stock and require us to raise additional equity at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.

While we expect to be able to borrow and to issue additional debt and equity securities, we cannot assure you that debt and equity financing will be available to us on favorable terms, or at all. If additional funds are not

 

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available to us, we could be forced to curtail or cease new investment activities, and our net asset value could decline. In addition, as a BDC, we generally are not permitted to issue equity securities priced below net asset value without stockholder approval. At our Annual Stockholders Meeting on June 7, 2018, our stockholders voted to allow us to issue common stock at a price below net asset value per share for a period of one year ending on the earlier of June 7, 2019 or the date of our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. We expect to present to our stockholders a similar proposal at our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The maximum number of shares issuable below net asset value pursuant to the authority granted by our stockholders that could result in such dilution is limited to 25.0% of FIC’s then outstanding common stock immediately prior to each such sale. We do not intend to issue shares of our common stock below net asset value unless our board of directors determines that it would be in our stockholders’ best interests to do so. The level of net asset value dilution that could result from such an offering is not limited.

Our board of directors may change our investment objective, operating policies and strategies without prior notice or stockholder approval, the effects of which may be adverse.

Our board of directors has the authority, except as otherwise provided by the 1940 Act, to modify or waive certain of our operating policies and strategies without prior notice and without stockholder approval. Under Maryland law, we also cannot be dissolved without prior stockholder approval except by judicial action. In addition, upon approval of a majority of our stockholders, we may elect to withdraw our status as a BDC. If we, or Fund I, decide to withdraw our election, or if we otherwise fail to maintain our qualification, as a BDC, we may be subject to the substantially greater regulation under the 1940 Act as a closed-end investment company. Compliance with such regulations would significantly decrease our operating flexibility, and could significantly increase our costs of doing business. We cannot predict the effect any changes to our current operating policies and strategies would have on our business, operating results or the value of our common stock. Nevertheless, any such changes could adversely affect our business and impair our ability to make distributions.

Regulations governing our operation as a BDC affect our ability to raise, and the way in which we raise, additional capital which may have a negative effect on our growth.

Our business will require capital to operate and grow. We may acquire such additional capital from the following sources:

Senior Securities. Currently we, through the Funds, issue debt securities guaranteed by the SBA and have access to funds under a revolving credit facility. In the future, we may issue debt securities or preferred stock and/or borrow money from banks or other financial institutions, which we refer to collectively as senior securities. As a result of issuing senior securities, we will be exposed to additional risks, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

   

Under the provisions of the 1940 Act, we are permitted, as a BDC, to issue senior securities only in amounts such that our asset coverage, as defined in the 1940 Act, equals at least 200.0% after each issuance of senior securities (or 150.0%, if certain requirements are met). If the value of our assets declines, we may be unable to satisfy this test. If that happens, we may sell a portion of our investments and, depending on the nature of our leverage, repay a portion of our debt at a time when such sales and/or repayments may be disadvantageous. Further, we will not be permitted to declare or make any distribution to stockholders or repurchase shares until such time as we satisfy this test.

 

   

Any amounts that we use to service our debt or make payments on preferred stock will not be available for distributions to our common stockholders.

 

   

It is likely that any senior securities or other indebtedness we issue will be governed by an indenture or other instrument containing covenants restricting our operating flexibility. Additionally, some of these securities or other indebtedness may be rated by rating agencies, and in obtaining a rating for such securities and other indebtedness, we may be required to abide by operating and investment guidelines that further restrict operating and financial flexibility.

 

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We and, indirectly, our stockholders will bear the cost of issuing and servicing such securities and other indebtedness.

 

   

Preferred stock or any convertible or exchangeable securities that we issue in the future may have rights, preferences and privileges more favorable than those of our common stock, including separate voting rights and could delay or prevent a transaction or a change in control to the detriment of the holders of our common stock.

Additional Common Stock. Under the provisions of the 1940 Act, we are not generally able to issue and sell our common stock at a price below net asset value per share. We may, however, sell our common stock, warrants, options or rights to acquire our common stock, at a price below the current net asset value of the common stock if our board of directors determines that such sale is in the best interests of our stockholders, and our stockholders approve such sale. At our Annual Stockholders Meeting on June 7, 2018, our stockholders voted to allow us to issue common stock at a price below net asset value per share for a period of one year ending on the earlier of June 7, 2019 or the date of our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. We expect to present to our stockholders a similar proposal at our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The maximum number of shares issuable below net asset value pursuant to the authority granted by our stockholders that could result in such dilution is limited to 25.0% of FIC’s then outstanding common stock immediately prior to each such sale. We do not intend to sell or otherwise issue shares of our common stock below net asset value unless our board of directors determines that it would be in our stockholders’ best interests to do so. The level of net asset value dilution that could result from such an offering is not limited. In any such case, however, the price at which our common stock is to be issued and sold may not be less than a price which, in the determination of our board of directors, closely approximates the market value of such securities (less any distributing commission or discount). We may also make rights offerings to our stockholders at prices per share less than the net asset value per share, subject to applicable requirements of the 1940 Act and the regulations and staff interpretations thereunder. If we raise additional funds by issuing more common stock or senior securities convertible into, or exchangeable for, our common stock, the percentage ownership of our stockholders at that time would decrease, and they may experience dilution. Moreover, we can offer no assurance that we will be able to issue and sell additional equity securities in the future, on favorable terms or at all.

The U.S. Presidential Administration may make substantial changes to financial regulation, as well as fiscal and tax policies that may adversely affect our business.

The Republican Party currently controls the executive branch and the senate portion of the legislative branch of government, which increases the likelihood that legislation may be adopted that could significantly affect the regulation of U.S. financial markets. Areas subject to potential change, amendment or repeal include the Wall Street Reform and Consumer protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank Act”) and the authority of the Federal Reserve and the Financial Stability Oversight Council. For example, in March 2018 the U.S. Senate passed a bill that eased financial regulations and reduced oversight for certain entities. The United States may also potentially withdraw from or renegotiate various trade agreements and take other actions that would change current trade policies of the United States. We cannot predict which, if any, of these actions will be taken or, if taken, their effect on the financial stability of the United States. Such actions could have a significant adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. We cannot predict the effects of these or similar events in the future on the U.S. economy and securities markets or on our investments. We monitor developments and seek to manage our investments in a manner consistent with achieving our investment objective, but there can be no assurance that we will be successful in doing so.

On May 24, 2018, the U.S. presidential administration signed into law the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which increased from $50 billion to $250 billion the asset threshold for designation of “systemically important financial institutions” or “SIFIs” subject to enhanced prudential standards set by the Federal Reserve Board, staggering application of this change based on the size and risk of the covered bank holding company. On May 30, 2018, the Federal Reserve Board voted to consider changes to the Volcker

 

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Rule that would loosen compliance requirements for all banks. The effect of this change and any further rules or regulations are and could be complex and far-reaching, and the change and any future laws or regulations or changes thereto could negatively impact our operations, cash flows or financial condition, impose additional costs on us, intensify the regulatory supervision of us or otherwise adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Uncertainty about U.S. Presidential Administration initiatives could negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The current administration has called for significant changes to U.S. trade, healthcare, immigration, foreign and government regulatory policy. In this regard, there is significant uncertainty with respect to legislation, regulation and government policy at the federal level, as well as the state and local levels. Recent events have created a climate of heightened uncertainty and introduced new and difficult-to-quantify macroeconomic and political risks with potentially far-reaching implications. There has been a corresponding meaningful increase in the uncertainty surrounding interest rates, inflation, foreign exchange rates, trade volumes and fiscal and monetary policy. To the extent the U.S. Congress or the current administration implements changes to U.S. policy, those changes may impact, among other things, the U.S. and global economy, international trade and relations, unemployment, immigration, corporate taxes, healthcare, the U.S. regulatory environment, inflation and other areas. Although we cannot predict the impact, if any, of these changes to our business, they could adversely affect our business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows. Until we know what policy changes are made and how those changes impact our business and the business of our competitors over the long term, we will not know if, overall, we will benefit from them or be negatively affected by them.

Recent tax legislation could have a negative effect on the Company.

On December 22, 2017, tax reform legislation commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law. This legislation makes significant changes to the U.S. federal income tax rules applicable to both individuals and entities, including permanently reducing the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate, reducing the maximum U.S. federal individual income tax rate (effective for taxable years 2018 through 2025), restricting the deductibility of interest expense, and changing the rules regarding the calculation of net operating loss deductions that may be used to offset taxable income. There is uncertainty as to the impact of this legislation on us, the entities in which we invest, or an investment in our securities. New legislation and any U.S. Treasury regulations, administrative interpretations or court decisions interpreting such legislation could significantly and negatively affect the Company’s ability to qualify for tax treatment as a RIC or the U.S. federal income tax consequences to the Company and its investors of such qualification, or could have other adverse consequences. You are urged to consult with your tax advisor with respect to the impact of this legislation and the status of any other regulatory or administrative developments and proposals and their potential effect on your investment in our securities.

Changes in laws or regulations governing our operations may adversely affect our business or cause us to alter our business strategy.

We are subject to regulation at the local, state and federal level. New legislation may be enacted or new interpretations, rulings or regulations could be adopted, including those governing the types of investments we are permitted to make, any of which could harm us and our stockholders, potentially with retroactive effect. In addition, any change to the SBA’s current debenture program could have a significant impact on our ability to obtain low-cost leverage and, therefore, our competitive advantage over other funds.

Legal, tax and regulatory changes could occur that may adversely affect us. For example, from time to time the market for private equity transactions has been (and is currently being) adversely affected by a decrease in the availability of senior and subordinated financings for transactions, in part in response to credit market disruptions and/or regulatory pressures on providers of financing to reduce or eliminate their exposure to the risks involved in such transactions.

 

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Additionally, any changes to the laws and regulations governing our operations related to permitted investments may cause us to alter our investment strategy in order to meet our investment objectives. Such changes could result in material differences to the strategies and plans set forth in this Annual Report and may shift our investment focus from the areas of expertise of our investment advisor to other types of investments in which our investment advisor may have little or no expertise or experience. Any such changes, if they occur, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and the value of your investment.

Changes to U.S. tariff and import/export regulations may have a negative effect on our portfolio companies and, in turn, harm us.

There has been ongoing discussion and commentary regarding potential significant changes to U.S. trade policies, treaties and tariffs. The current U.S. presidential administration, along with the U.S. Congress, has created significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United States and other countries with respect to trade policies, treaties and tariffs. These developments, or the perception that any of them could occur, may have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets, and may significantly reduce global trade and, in particular, trade between the impacted nations and the United States. Any of these factors could depress economic activity and restrict our portfolio companies’ access to suppliers or customers and have a material adverse effect on their business, financial condition and results of operations, which in turn would negatively impact us.

Our ability to enter into and exit investment transactions with our affiliates will be restricted.

Except in those instances where we have received prior exemptive relief from the SEC, we will be prohibited under the 1940 Act from knowingly participating in certain transactions with our affiliates without the prior approval of our Independent Directors. We, our investment advisor, the Funds, and Fidus Credit Opportunities, L.P. received exemptive relief from the SEC under the 1940 Act, which permits us to co-invest with other funds managed by our investment advisor or its affiliates in a manner consistent with our investment objective, positions, policies, strategies and restrictions as well as regulatory requirements and other pertinent factors. In addition, any person that owns, directly or indirectly, 5.0% or more of our outstanding voting securities is deemed our affiliate for purposes of the 1940 Act and we are generally prohibited from buying or selling any security from or to such affiliate, absent the prior approval of our Independent Directors. The 1940 Act also prohibits “joint” transactions with an affiliate, which could include investments in the same portfolio company (whether at the same or different times), without prior approval of our Independent Directors. If a person acquires more than 25.0% of our voting securities, we will be prohibited from buying or selling any security from or to such person, or entering into joint transactions with such person, absent the prior approval of the SEC. These restrictions could limit or prohibit us from making certain attractive investments that we might otherwise make absent such restrictions.

Our investment advisor can resign on 60 days’ notice, and we may not be able to find a suitable replacement within that time, resulting in a disruption in our operations that could adversely affect our financial condition, business and results of operations.

Our investment advisor has the right, under the Investment Advisory Agreement, to resign at any time upon not less than 60 days’ written notice, whether we have found a replacement or not. If our investment advisor resigns, we may not be able to find a new investment advisor and administrator or hire internal management with similar expertise and ability to provide the same or equivalent services on acceptable terms within 60 days, or at all. If we are unable to do so quickly, our operations are likely to experience a disruption, our financial condition, business and results of operations as well as our ability to pay distributions are likely to be adversely affected and the market price of our shares may decline. In addition, investment activities are likely to suffer if we are unable to identify and reach an agreement with a single institution or group of executives having the expertise possessed by our investment advisor and its affiliates. Even if we are able to retain comparable management, whether internal or external, the integration of such management and their lack of familiarity with our investment objective may result in additional costs and time delays that may adversely affect our financial condition, business and results of operations.

 

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Our investment advisor can resign from its role as our administrator under the Administration Agreement, and we may not be able to find a suitable replacement, resulting in a disruption in our operations that could adversely affect our financial condition, business and results of operations.

Our investment advisor also has the right to resign under the Administration Agreement, whether we have found a replacement or not. If our investment advisor resigns as our administrator, we may not be able to find a new administrator or hire internal management with similar expertise and ability to provide the same or equivalent services on acceptable terms, or at all. If we are unable to do so quickly, our operations are likely to experience a disruption, our financial condition, business and results of operations as well as our ability to pay distributions are likely to be adversely affected and the market price of our shares may decline. In addition, administrative activities are likely to suffer if we are unable to identify and reach an agreement with a service provider or individuals with the expertise possessed by our investment advisor. Even if we are able to retain a comparable service provider or individuals to perform such services, whether internal or external, their integration into our business and lack of familiarity with our investment objective may result in additional costs and time delays that may adversely affect our financial condition, business and results of operations.

Efforts to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act will involve significant expenditures, and non-compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act may adversely affect us and the market price of our common stock.

As a publicly-traded company, we incur legal, accounting and other expenses, including costs associated with the periodic reporting requirements applicable to a company whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act, as well as additional corporate governance requirements, including requirements under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other rules implemented by the SEC.

Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that public companies evaluate and report on their systems of internal control over financial reporting. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm must report on management’s evaluation of those controls. In future periods, we may identify deficiencies in our system of internal controls over financial reporting that may require remediation. There can be no assurances that any such future deficiencies identified may not be material weaknesses that would be required to be reported in future periods.

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, malware and computer virus attacks, or system failures and disruptions. 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

 

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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 incident that affects our data, resulting in increased costs and other consequences as described above.

Risks Relating to Our Investments

Economic recessions or downturns could impair our portfolio companies and harm our operating results.

Many of our portfolio companies are susceptible to economic slowdowns or recessions (including industry specific downturns) and may be unable to repay our debt investments during these periods. Therefore, our non-performing assets are likely to increase and the value of our portfolio is likely to decrease during these periods. Adverse economic conditions may decrease the value of collateral securing some of our debt investments and the value of our equity investments. Economic slowdowns or recessions could lead to financial losses in our portfolio and a decrease in revenues, net income and assets. Unfavorable economic conditions also could increase our funding costs, limit our access to the capital markets or result in a decision by lenders not to extend credit to us. These events could prevent us from increasing our investments and harm our operating results.

A portfolio company’s failure to satisfy financial or operating covenants imposed by us or other lenders could lead to defaults and, potentially, termination of its loans and foreclosure on its assets, which could trigger cross-defaults under other agreements and jeopardize our portfolio company’s ability to meet its obligations under the loans and debt securities that we hold. We may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms with a defaulting portfolio company.

Terrorist attacks, acts of war, or natural disasters may affect any market for our common stock, impact the businesses in which we invest and harm our business, operating results and financial condition.

Portfolio investments may be affected by force majeure events (i.e., events beyond the control of the party claiming that the event has occurred, including, without limitation, acts of God, fire, flood, earthquakes, war, terrorism and labor strikes). Some force majeure events may adversely affect the ability of a party (including a portfolio company or a counterparty to us or a portfolio company) to perform its obligations until it is able to remedy the force majeure event. In addition, the cost to a portfolio company of repairing or replacing damaged assets resulting from such force majeure event could be considerable. Additionally, a major governmental intervention into industry, including the nationalization of an industry or the assertion of control over one or more companies or its assets, could result in a loss to us, including if its investment in such issuer is cancelled, unwound or acquired (which could be without what we consider to be adequate compensation). To the extent we are exposed to investments in portfolio companies that as a group are exposed to such force majeure events, the risks and potential losses to us are enhanced.

Our investments in certain industry sectors, such as the energy sector, may be subject to significant political, economic and capacity risks that may increase the possibility that we lose all or a part of our investment.

The revenues and profitability of certain portfolio companies may be significantly affected by the future prices of and the demand for oil, natural gas liquids and natural gas, which are inherently uncertain. Investments in energy companies may have significant shortfalls in projected cash flow if prices decline from levels projected at the time the investment is made. Various factors beyond our control could affect energy prices, including worldwide supplies, political instability or armed conflicts in oil, natural gas liquids and natural gas producing regions, the price of foreign imports, the level of consumer demand, the price and availability of alternative fuels, capacity constraints and changes in existing government regulation, taxation and price controls. Energy prices have fluctuated greatly during the past, and energy markets continue to be volatile.

 

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Changes in healthcare laws and other regulations applicable to some of our portfolio companies’ businesses may constrain their ability to offer their products and services.

Changes in healthcare or other laws and regulations applicable to the businesses of some of our portfolio companies may occur that could increase their compliance and other costs of doing business, require significant systems enhancements, or render their products or services less profitable or obsolete, any of which could have a material adverse effect on their results of operations. There has also been an increased political and regulatory focus on healthcare laws in recent years, and new legislation could have a material effect on the business and operations of some of our portfolio companies.

If our portfolio companies are unable to protect their intellectual property rights, our business and prospects could be harmed, and if portfolio companies are required to devote significant resources to protecting their intellectual property rights, the value of our investment could be reduced.

Our future success and competitive position will depend in part upon the ability of our portfolio companies to obtain, maintain and protect proprietary technology used in their products and services. The intellectual property held by our portfolio companies often represents a substantial portion of the collateral securing our investments and/or constitutes a significant portion of the portfolio companies’ value and may be available in a downside scenario to repay our loans. Our portfolio companies will rely, in part, on patent, trade secret, and trademark law to protect that technology, but competitors may misappropriate their intellectual property, and disputes as to ownership of intellectual property may arise. Portfolio companies may, from time to time, be required to institute litigation to enforce their patents, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights; protect their trade secrets; determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others; or defend against claims of infringement. Such litigation could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources. Similarly, if a portfolio company is found to infringe or misappropriate a third-party’s patent or other proprietary rights, it could be required to pay damages to the third party, alter its products or processes, obtain a license from the third-party, and/or cease activities utilizing the proprietary rights, including making or selling products utilizing the proprietary rights. Any of the foregoing events could negatively affect both the portfolio company’s ability to service our debt investment and the value of any related debt and equity securities that we own, as well as any collateral securing our investment.

Our investments in portfolio companies may be risky, and we could lose all or part of our investment.

Investing in lower middle-market companies involves a number of significant risks. Among other things, these companies:

 

   

may have limited financial resources and may be unable to meet their obligations under their debt instruments that we hold, which may be accompanied by a deterioration in the value of any collateral and a reduction in the likelihood of us realizing any guarantees from subsidiaries or affiliates of portfolio companies that we may have obtained in connection with our investment;

 

   

may have shorter operating histories, narrower product lines and smaller market shares, which tend to render them more vulnerable to competitors’ actions and market conditions, as well as general economic downturns, than larger businesses;

 

   

are more likely to depend on the management talents and efforts of a small group of persons; therefore, the death, disability, resignation or termination of one or more of these persons could have a material adverse impact on our portfolio company and, in turn, on us;

 

   

generally have less predictable operating results, may from time to time be parties to litigation, may be engaged in rapidly changing businesses with products subject to a substantial risk of obsolescence, and may require substantial additional capital to support their operations, finance expansion or maintain their competitive position; and

 

   

generally have less publicly available information about their businesses, operations and financial condition. If we are unable to uncover all material information about these companies, we may not make a fully informed investment decision, and may lose all or part of our investment.

 

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In addition, 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 portfolio companies, our management and directors may be named as defendants in such litigation, which could result in an expenditure of funds (through our indemnification of such officers and directors) and the diversion of management time and resources.

The lack of liquidity in our investments may adversely affect our business.

All of our assets may be invested in illiquid securities, and a substantial portion of our investments in leveraged companies will be subject to legal and other restrictions on resale or will otherwise be less liquid than more broadly traded public securities. The illiquidity of these investments may make it difficult for us to sell such investments when desired. In addition, if we are required to liquidate all or a portion of our portfolio quickly, we may realize significantly less than the value at which we have previously recorded these investments. As a result, we do not expect to achieve liquidity in our investments in the near-term. However, to maintain the elections to be regulated as a BDC and as a RIC, we may have to dispose of investments if they do not satisfy one or more of the applicable criteria under the respective regulatory frameworks. We may also face other restrictions on our ability to liquidate an investment in a portfolio company to the extent that we or our investment advisor have material nonpublic information regarding such portfolio company.

We may not have the funds to make additional investments in our portfolio companies which could impair the value of our portfolio.

After our initial investment in a portfolio company, we may be called upon from time to time to provide additional funds to such company or have the opportunity to increase our investment through the exercise of a warrant to purchase common stock. There is no assurance that we will make, or will have sufficient funds to make, follow-on investments. Any decisions not to make a follow-on investment or any inability on our part to make such an investment may have a negative impact on a portfolio company in need of such an investment, may result in a missed opportunity for us to increase our participation in a successful operation or may reduce the expected yield on the investment. Even if we have sufficient capital to make a desired follow-on investment, we may elect not to make a follow-on investment because we may not want to increase our level of risk, because we prefer other opportunities or because we are inhibited by compliance with BDC requirements, SBA regulations or the desire to maintain our RIC tax treatment. Our ability to make follow-on investments may also be limited by our investment advisor’s allocation policy.

Portfolio companies may incur debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, our investments in such companies.

We will invest primarily in second lien and subordinated debt as well as equity issued by lower middle-market companies. The portfolio companies generally have, or may be permitted to incur, other debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, the debt in which we invest. By their terms, such senior debt instruments may entitle the holders to receive payment of interest or principal on or before the dates on which we are entitled to receive payments with respect to the debt instruments in which we invest. Also, in the event of insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of a portfolio company, holders of debt instruments ranking senior to our investment in that portfolio company would typically be entitled to receive payment in full before we receive any distribution. After repaying such senior creditors, such portfolio company may not have any remaining assets to use for repaying its obligation to us. In the case of debt ranking equally with debt instruments in which we invest, we would have to share on an equal basis any distributions with other creditors holding such debt in the event of an insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of the relevant portfolio company.

There may be circumstances where our debt investments could be subordinated to claims of other creditors or could be subject to lender liability claims.

Even though we may have structured certain of our investments as senior loans, if one of our portfolio companies were to go bankrupt, depending on the facts and circumstances, including the extent to which we

 

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actually provided managerial assistance to that portfolio company, a bankruptcy court might recharacterize our debt investment and subordinate all or a portion of our claim to that of other creditors. We may also be subject to lender liability claims for actions taken by us with respect to a borrower’s business or instances where we exercise control over the borrower. It is possible that we could become subject to a lender’s liability claim, including as a result of actions taken in rendering significant managerial assistance.

Second priority liens on collateral securing loans that we make to our portfolio companies may be subject to control by senior creditors with first priority liens. If there is a default, the value of the collateral may not be sufficient to repay in full both the first priority creditors and us.

Certain loans we make to portfolio companies are and will be secured on a second priority basis by the same collateral securing senior secured debt of such companies. The first priority liens on the collateral secure the portfolio company’s obligations under any outstanding senior debt and may secure certain other future debt that may be permitted to be incurred by the company under the agreements governing the loans. The holders of obligations secured by the first priority liens on the collateral will generally control the liquidation of and be entitled to receive proceeds from any realization of the collateral to repay their obligations in full before us. In addition, the value of the collateral in the event of liquidation will depend on market and economic conditions, the availability of buyers and other factors. There can be no assurance that the proceeds, if any, from the sale or sales of all of the collateral would be sufficient to satisfy the loan obligations secured by the second priority liens after payment in full of all obligations secured by the first priority liens on the collateral. If such proceeds are not sufficient to repay amounts outstanding under the loan obligations secured by the second priority liens, then we, to the extent not repaid from the proceeds of the sale of the collateral, will only have an unsecured claim against the company’s remaining assets, if any.

The rights we may have with respect to the collateral securing the loans we make to portfolio companies with senior debt outstanding may also be limited pursuant to the terms of one or more intercreditor agreements entered into with the holders of senior debt. Under an intercreditor agreement, at any time that obligations having the benefit of the first priority liens are outstanding, any of the following actions that may be taken in respect to the collateral will be at the direction of the holders of the obligations secured by the first priority liens:

 

   

the ability to cause the commencement of enforcement proceedings against the collateral;

 

   

the ability to control the conduct of such proceedings;

 

   

the approval of amendments to collateral documents;

 

   

releases of liens on the collateral; and

 

   

waivers of past defaults under collateral documents.

We may not have the ability to control or direct such actions, even if our rights are adversely affected.

We may hold the debt securities of leveraged companies that may, due to the significant volatility of such companies, enter into bankruptcy proceedings.

Leveraged companies may experience bankruptcy or similar financial distress. The bankruptcy process has a number of significant inherent risks. Many events in a bankruptcy proceeding are the product of contested matters and adversary proceedings and are beyond the control of the creditors. A bankruptcy filing by an issuer may adversely and permanently affect the issuer. If the proceeding is converted to a liquidation, the value of the issuer may not equal the liquidation value that was believed to exist at the time of the investment. The duration of a bankruptcy proceeding is also difficult to predict, and a creditor’s return on investment can be adversely affected by delays until the plan of reorganization or liquidation ultimately becomes effective. The administrative costs in connection with a bankruptcy proceeding are frequently high and would be paid out of the debtor’s estate prior to any return to creditors. Because the standards for classification of claims under bankruptcy law are

 

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vague, our influence with respect to the class of securities or other obligations we own may be lost by increases in the number and amount of claims in the same class or by different classification and treatment. In the early stages of the bankruptcy process, it is often difficult to estimate the extent of, or even to identify, any contingent claims that might be made. In addition, certain claims that have priority by law (for example, claims for taxes) may be substantial.

Any unrealized depreciation we experience on our investment portfolio may be an indication of future realized losses, which could reduce our income available for distribution.

As a BDC, we are required to carry our investments at fair value as determined in good faith by our board of directors. Decreases in the fair values of our investments will be recorded as unrealized depreciation. Any unrealized depreciation in our investment portfolio could be an indication of a portfolio company’s inability to meet its repayment obligations to us with respect to the affected investments. This could result in realized losses in the future and ultimately in reductions of our income available for distribution in future periods.

Defaults by our portfolio companies will harm our operating results.

A portfolio company’s failure to satisfy financial or operating covenants imposed by us or other lenders could lead to defaults and, potentially, termination of its loans and foreclosure on its assets. This could trigger cross-defaults under other agreements and jeopardize the portfolio company’s ability to meet its obligations under the debt or equity securities that we hold. We may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms, which may include the waiver of certain financial covenants, reduced interest and/or loss of principal, with a defaulting portfolio company.

To the extent OID and PIK-interest constitute a portion of our income, we will be exposed to typical risks associated with such income being required to be included in taxable and accounting income prior to receipt of cash representing such income.

Our investments may include original-issue-discount instruments and contractual PIK-interest arrangements. To the extent OID or PIK-interest constitutes a portion of our income, we are exposed to typical risks associated with such income being required to be included in taxable and accounting income prior to receipt of cash, including the following:

 

   

The higher interest rates of OID and PIK instruments reflect the payment deferral, which results in a higher principal amount at the maturity of the instrument as compared to the original principal amount of the instrument, and increased credit risk associated with these instruments, and OID and PIK instruments generally represent a significantly higher credit risk than coupon loans.

 

   

Even if the accounting conditions for income accrual are met, the borrower could still default when our actual collection is supposed to occur at the maturity of the obligation.

 

   

OID and PIK instruments may have unreliable valuations because their continuing accruals require continuing judgments about the collectability of the deferred payments and the value of any associated collateral. OID and PIK-income may also create uncertainty about the source of our cash distributions.

 

   

To the extent we provide loans with interest-only payments or moderate loan amortization, the majority of the principal payment or amortization of principal may be deferred until loan maturity. Because this debt generally allows the borrower to make a large lump-sum payment of principal at the end of the loan term, there is a risk of loss if the borrower is unable to pay the lump sum or refinance the amount owed at maturity.

 

   

For accounting purposes, any cash distributions to stockholders representing OID and PIK-income are not treated as coming from paid-in capital, even though the cash to pay them comes from the offering proceeds. As a result, despite the fact that a distribution representing OID and PIK-income could be paid out of amounts invested by our stockholders, the 1940 Act does not require that stockholders be given notice of this fact by reporting it as a return of capital.

 

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In certain cases, we may recognize taxable income before or without receiving corresponding cash payments and, as a result, we may have difficulty meeting the annual distribution requirement necessary to maintain our qualification as a RIC.

We do not expect to control many of our portfolio companies.

We do not expect to control many of our portfolio companies, even though we may have board representation or board observation rights, and the debt agreements may contain certain restrictive covenants. As a result, we are subject to the risk that a portfolio company in which we invest may make business decisions with which we disagree and the management of such company, as representatives of the holders of the company’s common equity, may take risks or otherwise act in ways that do not serve our interests as debt investors. Due to the lack of liquidity for our investments in private companies in the lower middle-market, we may not be able to dispose of our interests in our portfolio companies as readily as we would like or at an appropriate valuation. As a result, a portfolio company may make decisions that could decrease the value of our portfolio holdings.

We are a non-diversified investment company within the meaning of the 1940 Act; therefore we are not limited with respect to the proportion of our assets that may be invested in securities of a single issuer.

We are classified as a non-diversified investment company within the meaning of the 1940 Act, which means that we are not limited by the 1940 Act with respect to the proportion of our assets that we may invest in securities of a single issuer. To the extent that we assume large positions in the securities of a small number of issuers, our net asset value may fluctuate to a greater extent than that of a diversified investment company as a result of changes in the financial condition or the market’s assessment of the issuer and the aggregate returns we realize may be significantly adversely affected if a small number of investments perform poorly or if we need to write down the value of any one investment. Additionally, while we are not targeting any specific industries, our investments may be concentrated in relatively few industries. As a result, a downturn in any particular industry in which we are invested could also significantly impact the aggregate returns we realize. We may also be more susceptible to any single economic or regulatory occurrence than a diversified investment company. Beyond the asset diversification requirements applicable to RICs, we do not have fixed guidelines for diversification, and our investments could be concentrated in relatively few portfolio companies.

Prepayments of our debt investments by our portfolio companies could adversely impact our results of operations and reduce our return on equity.

We are subject to the risk that the investments we make in our portfolio companies may be repaid prior to maturity. When this occurs, we will generally reinvest these proceeds in temporary investments (cash equivalents), pending future investments in new portfolio companies. These temporary investments will typically have substantially lower yields than the debt being repaid, and we could experience significant delays in reinvesting these amounts. In addition, any future investment of such amounts in a new portfolio company may also be at lower yields than the investment that was repaid. As a result, our results of operations could be materially adversely affected if one or more of our portfolio companies elect to prepay amounts owed to us. Additionally, prepayments could negatively impact our return on equity, which could result in a decline in the market price of our common stock.

We may not realize gains from our equity investments.

Certain investments that we have made in the past and may make in the future include warrants or other equity or equity-related securities. Typically we make non-control equity investments in portfolio companies. Our goal is to realize gains upon our disposition of such equity interests. However, the equity interests we receive may not appreciate in value and, in fact, may decline in value. We also may be unable to realize any value if a portfolio company does not have a liquidity event, such as a sale of the business, recapitalization or public offering, which would allow us to sell the underlying equity interests. We often seek puts or similar rights to give

 

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us the right to sell our equity securities back to the portfolio company issuer. We may be unable to exercise these put rights for the consideration provided in our investment documents if the issuer is in financial distress. Accordingly, we may not be able to realize gains from our equity interests, and any gains that we do realize on the disposition of any equity interests may not be sufficient to offset any other losses we experience.

If our primary investments are deemed not to be qualifying assets, we could be precluded from investing in our desired manner or deemed to be in violation of the 1940 Act.

In order to maintain our status 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 70.0% 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 and be precluded from making follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies (which could result in the dilution of our position) or required to dispose of investments at inappropriate times in order to come into compliance with the 1940 Act. If we need to dispose of such 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. Furthermore, any failure to comply with the requirements imposed on BDCs by the 1940 Act could cause the SEC to bring an enforcement action against us and/or expose us to claims of private litigants. If we do not maintain our status as a BDC, we would be subject to regulation as a registered closed-end investment company under the 1940 Act. As a registered closed-end investment company, we would be subject to substantially more regulatory restrictions under the 1940 Act, which would significantly decrease our operating flexibility.

The disposition of our investments may result in contingent liabilities.

A significant portion of our investments involve private securities and we expect that a significant portion of our investments will continue to involve private securities. In connection with the disposition of an investment in private securities, we may be required to make representations about the business and financial affairs of the portfolio company typical of those made in connection with the sale of a business. Additionally, customary terms of such sales agreements generally provide adjustments to the initial purchase price determined on the closing date if the portfolio company’s net working capital varies from preliminary amounts utilized in determining the initial purchase price; such adjustments could subsequently result in upward or downward revisions to the initial purchase price and impact our amount of realized gain or loss on sale. We may also be required to indemnify the purchasers of such investment to the extent that any such representations turn out to be inaccurate or with respect to potential liabilities. These arrangements may result in contingent liabilities that ultimately result in funding obligations that we must satisfy through its return of distributions previously made to it.

We may be unable to invest a significant portion of any net proceeds from an offering or from exiting an investment or other capital on acceptable terms, which could harm our financial condition and operating results.

We may be unable to invest the net proceeds of any offering or from exiting an investment or other sources of capital on acceptable terms within the time period that we anticipate or at all. Delays in investing such capital may cause our performance to be worse than that of fully invested BDCs or other lenders or investors pursuing comparable investment strategies.

Depending on market conditions and the amount of the capital involved, it may take us a substantial period of time to invest substantially all the capital in securities meeting our investment objective. During this period, we will invest such capital primarily in short-term securities consistent with our BDC election and our election to

 

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be taxed as a RIC, which may produce returns that are significantly lower than the returns which we expect to achieve when our portfolio is fully invested in longer-term investments in pursuit of our investment objective. Any distributions that we pay during such period may be substantially lower than the distributions that we may be able to pay when our portfolio is fully invested. In addition, until such time as the net proceeds of any offering or from exiting an investment or other sources capital are invested in new investments meeting our investment objective, the market price for our common stock may decline.

Our investment advisor’s liability is limited under the Investment Advisory Agreement, and we have agreed to indemnify our investment advisor against certain liabilities, which may lead our investment advisor to act in a riskier manner on our behalf than it would when acting for its own account.

Under the Investment Advisory Agreement, our investment advisor does not assume any responsibility to us other than to render the services called for under that agreement, and it is not responsible for any action of our board of directors in following or declining to follow our investment advisor’s advice or recommendations. Under the terms of the Investment Advisory Agreement, our investment advisor and its officers, directors, members, managers, partners, stockholders and employees are not liable to us, any subsidiary of ours, our directors, our stockholders or any subsidiary’s stockholders or partners for acts or omissions performed in accordance with and pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement, except those resulting from acts constituting gross negligence, willful misconduct, bad faith or reckless disregard of our investment advisor’s duties under the Investment Advisory Agreement. In addition, we have agreed to indemnify our investment advisor and its officers, directors, members, managers, partners, stockholders and employees from and against any claims or liabilities, including reasonable legal fees and other expenses reasonably incurred, arising out of or in connection with our business and operations or any action taken or omitted on our behalf pursuant to authority granted by the Investment Advisory Agreement, except where attributable to gross negligence, willful misconduct, bad faith or reckless disregard of such person’s duties under the Investment Advisory Agreement. These protections may lead our investment advisor to act in a riskier manner when acting on our behalf than it would when acting for its own account.

Risks Relating to Our Common Stock

Shares of closed-end investment companies, including business development companies, frequently trade at a discount to their net asset value.

Shares of closed-end investment companies, including BDCs, frequently trade at a discount from net asset value. This characteristic of closed-end investment companies and BDCs is separate and distinct from the risk that our net asset value per share may decline. We cannot predict whether our common stock will trade at, above or below net asset value. In addition, if our common stock trades below net asset value, we will generally not be able to issue additional common stock at the market price without first obtaining the approval of our stockholders and our Independent Directors. On June 7, 2018 our stockholders voted to allow us to sell or otherwise issue common stock at a price below net asset value per share for a period of one year ending on the earlier of June 7, 2019 or the date of our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. We expect to present to our stockholders a similar proposal at our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. Selling or otherwise issuing shares of FIC’s common stock below its then current net asset value per share would result in a dilution of FIC’s existing common stockholders. The maximum number of shares issuable below net asset value pursuant to the authority granted by our stockholders that could result in such dilution is limited to 25.0% of FIC’s then outstanding common stock immediately prior to each such sale. We do not intend to sell or otherwise issue shares of our common stock below net asset value unless our board of directors determines that it would be in our stockholders’ best interests to do so. The level of net asset value dilution that could result from such an offering is not limited.

Market conditions may increase the risks associated with our business and an investment in us.

The current worldwide financial market situation may contribute to increased market volatility, may have long-term effects on the U.S. and worldwide financial markets and may cause economic uncertainties or

 

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deterioration in the U.S. and worldwide. These conditions raised the level of many of the risks described herein and, if repeated or continued, could have an adverse effect on our portfolio companies and on their results of operations, financial conditions, access to credit and capital. The stress in the credit market and upon banks has led other creditors to tighten credit and the terms of credit. In certain cases, senior lenders to our portfolio companies can block payments by our portfolio companies in respect of our loans to such portfolio companies. In turn, these could have adverse effects on our business, financial condition, results of operations, distributions to our stockholders, access to capital, valuation of our assets and our stock price. Notwithstanding any recent gains across either the equity or debt markets, these conditions may continue for a prolonged period of time or worsen in the future.

If, in the future, we sell common stock at a discount to our net asset value per share, stockholders who do not participate in such sale will experience immediate dilution in an amount that may be material.

On June 7, 2018, our stockholders approved our ability to sell or otherwise issue shares of our common stock at a discount from net asset value per share, as long as the cumulative number of shares sold pursuant to such authority does not exceed 25.0% of our then outstanding common stock immediately prior to each such sale, for a period of one year ending on the earlier of June 7, 2019 or the date of our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. Our stockholders will be asked to vote on a similar proposal at our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. If we sell or otherwise issue shares of our common stock at a discount to net asset value, it will pose a risk of dilution to our stockholders. In particular, stockholders who do not purchase additional shares at or below the discounted price in proportion to their current ownership will experience an immediate decrease in net asset value per share (as well as in the aggregate net asset value of their shares if they do not participate at all). These stockholders will also experience a disproportionately greater decrease in their participation in our earnings and assets and their voting power than the increase we experience in our assets, potential earning power and voting interests from such issuances or sale. In addition, such issuances or sales may adversely affect the price at which our common stock trades. For additional information and hypothetical examples of these risks, see “Sales of Common Stock Below Net Asset Value,” and for actual dilution illustrations specific to an offering, see the prospectus supplement pursuant to which such sale is made.

Our net asset value may have changed significantly since our last valuation.

Our board of directors determines the fair value of our portfolio investments on a quarterly basis based on input from our investment advisor, our audit committee and, as to certain of our investments, a third party independent valuation firm. While the board of directors will review our net asset value per share in connection with any offering, it will not always have the benefit of input from the independent valuation firm when it does so. The fair value of various individual investments in our portfolio and/or the aggregate fair value of our investments may change significantly over time. If the fair value of our investment portfolio at December 31, 2018 is less than the fair value was at the time of an offering during 2018, then we may record an unrealized loss on our investment portfolio and may report a lower net asset value per share than was reflected in the Selected Consolidated Financial Data and the financial statements included in the prospectus supplement of that offering. If the fair value of our investment portfolio at December 31, 2018 is greater than the fair value at the time of an offering during 2018, we may record an unrealized gain on our investment portfolio and may report a greater net asset value per share than so reflected in the prospectus supplement of that offering. Upon publication of this information in connection with our announcement of operating results for our fiscal year ended December 31, 2018, the market price of our common stock may fluctuate materially, and may be substantially less than the price per share you pay for our common stock in an offering.

The market price of our securities may fluctuate significantly.

The market price and liquidity of the market for shares of our common stock may be significantly affected by numerous factors, some of which are beyond our control and may not be directly related to our operating performance. These factors include:

 

   

significant volatility in the market price and trading volume of securities of BDCs or other companies in our sector, which is not necessarily related to the operating performance of these companies;

 

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exclusion of our common stock from certain market indices, such as the Russell 2000 Financial Services Index, could reduce the ability of certain institutional investors to own our common stock and could put short term pressure on our common stock;

 

   

changes in regulatory policies or tax guidelines, particularly with respect to RICs, BDCs or SBICs;

 

   

loss of RIC or BDC status;

 

   

loss of status as an SBIC for the Funds, or any other SBIC subsidiary we may form;

 

   

changes or perceived changes in earnings or variations in operating results;

 

   

changes or perceived changes in the value of our portfolio of investments;

 

   

changes in accounting guidelines governing valuation of our investments;

 

   

any shortfall in revenue or net income or any increase in losses from levels expected by investors or securities analysts;

 

   

departure of our investment advisor’s key personnel;

 

   

operating performance of companies comparable to us;

 

   

general economic trends and other external factors; and

 

   

loss of a major funding source.

Investing in our securities may involve an above average degree of risk.

The investments we make in accordance with our investment objective may result in a higher amount of risk than alternative investment options and a higher risk of volatility or loss of principal. Our investments in portfolio companies may be highly speculative; therefore, an investment in our securities may not be suitable for someone with lower risk tolerance.

Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock may have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.

As of February 26, 2019, we had 24,463,119 shares of common stock outstanding. Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock, or the availability of shares for sale, could adversely affect the prevailing market price of our common stock. If this occurs and continues, it could impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of equity securities should we desire to do so.

If we issue preferred stock and/or debt securities, the net asset value and market value of our common stock may become more volatile.

We cannot assure you that the issuance of preferred stock and/or debt securities would result in a higher yield or return to the holders of our common stock. The issuance of preferred stock and/or debt securities would likely cause the net asset value and market value of our common stock to become more volatile. If the distribution rate on the preferred stock, or the interest rate on the debt securities, were to approach the net rate of return on our investment portfolio, the benefit of leverage to the holders of our common stock would be reduced. If the distribution rate on the preferred stock, or the interest rate on the debt securities, were to exceed the net rate of return on our portfolio, the use of leverage would result in a lower rate of return to the holders of common stock than if we had not issued the preferred stock and/or debt securities. Any decline in the net asset value of our investment would be borne entirely by the holders of our common stock. Therefore, if the market value of our portfolio were to decline, the leverage would result in a greater decrease in net asset value to the holders of our common stock than if we were not leveraged through the issuance of preferred stock and/or debt securities. This decline in net asset value would also tend to cause a greater decline in the market price for our common stock.

 

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There is also a risk that, in the event of a sharp decline in the value of our net assets, we would be in danger of failing to maintain required asset coverage ratios which may be required by the preferred stock and/or debt securities or of a downgrade in the ratings of the preferred stock and/or debt securities or our current investment income might not be sufficient to meet the distribution requirements on the preferred stock or the interest payments on the debt securities. In order to counteract such an event, we might need to liquidate investments in order to fund redemption of some or all of the preferred stock and/or debt securities. In addition, we would pay (and the holders of our common stock would bear) all costs and expenses relating to the issuance and ongoing maintenance of the preferred stock and/or debt securities. Holders of preferred stock and/or debt securities may have different interests than holders of common stock and may at times have disproportionate influence over our affairs.

Provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law and our charter and bylaws could deter takeover attempts and have an adverse effect on the price of our common stock.

The Maryland General Corporation Law contains provisions that may discourage, delay or make more difficult a change in control of us or the removal of our directors. In addition, our board of directors may, without stockholder action, authorize the issuance of shares of stock in one or more classes or series, including preferred stock. Our charter and bylaws contain provisions that limit liability and provide for indemnification of our directors and officers. These provisions and others also may have the effect of deterring hostile takeovers or delaying changes in control or management. We are generally prohibited from engaging in mergers and other business combinations with stockholders that beneficially own 10.0% or more of the voting power of our outstanding voting stock, or with their affiliates, for five years after the most recent date on which such stockholders became the beneficial owners of 10.0% or more of the voting power of our outstanding voting stock and thereafter unless our directors and stockholders approve the business combination in the prescribed manner. See “Description of Our Capital Stock — Business Combinations.” Maryland law may discourage third parties from trying to acquire control of us and increase the difficulty of consummating such an offer.

We have also adopted measures that may make it difficult for a third party to obtain control of us, including provisions of our charter authorizing our board of directors to classify or reclassify shares of our stock in one or more classes or series and to cause the issuance of additional shares of our stock, including preferred stock. In addition, we have adopted a classified board of directors. A classified board may render a change in control of us or removal of our incumbent management more difficult. These provisions, as well as other provisions of our charter and bylaws, may delay, defer or prevent a transaction or a change in control that might otherwise be in the best interests of our stockholders.

Our business and operation could be negatively affected if we become subject to any securities litigation or shareholder activism, which could cause us to incur significant expense, hinder execution of investment strategy and impact our stock price.

In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been brought against that company. Shareholder activism, which could take many forms or arise in a variety of situations, has been increasing in the BDC space recently. While we are currently not subject to any securities litigation or shareholder activism, due to the potential volatility of our stock price and for a variety of other reasons, we may in the future become the target of securities litigation or shareholder activism. Securities litigation and shareholder activism, including potential proxy contests, could result in substantial costs and divert management’s and our board of directors’ attention and resources from our business. Additionally, such securities litigation and shareholder activism could give rise to perceived uncertainties as to our future, adversely affect our relationships with service providers and make it more difficult to attract and retain qualified personnel. Also, we may be required to incur significant legal fees and other expenses related to any securities litigation and activist shareholder matters. Further, our stock price could be subject to significant fluctuation or otherwise be adversely affected by the events, risks and uncertainties of any securities litigation and shareholder activism.

 

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Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

Not applicable.

Item 2. Properties.

We do not own any real estate or other physical properties materially important to our operation. Our headquarters are located at 1603 Orrington Avenue, Suite 1005, Evanston, Illinois 60201, and are provided by our investment advisor pursuant to the Administration Agreement. Our investment advisor also maintains additional office space at 227 West Trade Street, Suite 1910, Charlotte, North Carolina 28202, 1140 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1500, New York, New York 10036, and 170 Meeting Street, Suite 226, Charleston, South Carolina 29401. We believe that our office facilities are suitable and adequate to our business as we contemplate conducting it.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings.

We are not, and our investment advisor is not, currently subject to any material legal proceedings.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.

 

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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Our common stock began trading on June 21, 2011 on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “FDUS.” Effective January 3, 2012, our common stock was included in the NASDAQ Global Select Market. The last reported price for our common stock on February 26, 2019 was $15.38 per share. As of February 26, 2019, we had 19 stockholders of record.

We intend to continue to pay quarterly distributions to our stockholders. Our quarterly distributions, if any, are determined by our board of directors. We have elected to be taxed as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code. As long as we qualify for tax treatment as a RIC, we will not be taxed on our investment company taxable income or net capital gain, to the extent that such income or gain is distributed, or deemed to be distributed, to stockholders on a timely basis.

On January 31, 2019, our board of directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.39 per share payable on March 22, 2019 to holders of record as of March 8, 2019.

There were no deemed distributions during the years 2018, 2017 or 2016.

We may not be able to achieve operating results that will allow us to make distributions at a specific level or to increase the amount of these distributions from time to time. If we do not distribute a certain percentage of our income annually, we will suffer adverse tax consequences, including possible loss of our status as a RIC. We cannot assure stockholders that they will receive any distributions at a particular level.

We have adopted a dividend reinvestment plan that provides for reinvestment of our distributions on behalf of our stockholders, unless a stockholder elects to receive cash. As a result, if our board of directors authorizes, and we declare, a cash distribution, then our stockholders who have not “opted out” of our dividend reinvestment plan will have their cash distribution automatically reinvested in additional shares of our common stock, rather than receiving the cash distribution. Under the terms of our dividend reinvestment plan, dividends will primarily be paid in newly issued shares of common stock. However, we reserve the right to purchase shares in the open market in connection with the implementation of the plan. This feature of the plan means that, under certain circumstances, we may issue shares of our common stock at a price below net asset value per share, which could cause our stockholders to experience dilution.

To maintain our qualification as a RIC, we must, among other things, distribute at least 90.0% of our net ordinary income and our net short-term capital gains in excess of our net long-term capital losses, if any. In order to avoid certain excise taxes imposed on RICs, we currently intend to distribute during each calendar year an amount at least equal to the sum of (1) 98.0% of our net ordinary income for the calendar year, (2) 98.2% of our capital gain net income for the calendar year and (3) any net ordinary income and capital gain net income for the preceding calendar year that were not distributed during such year and on which we paid no U.S. federal income tax. We may retain for investment some or all of our net capital gain (i.e., net long-term capital gains in excess of net short-term capital losses) and treat such amounts as deemed distributions to our stockholders. If we do this, you will be treated as if you received an actual distribution of the capital gain we retain and then reinvested the net after-tax proceeds in our common stock. You also may be eligible to claim a tax credit (or, in certain circumstances, a tax refund) equal to your allocable share of the tax we paid on the capital gain deemed distributed to you. Please refer to “Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations” for further information regarding the consequences of our retention of net capital gain. We can offer no assurance that we will achieve results that will permit the payment of any cash distributions and, if we issue senior securities, we will be prohibited from making distributions if doing so causes us to fail to maintain the asset coverage ratios stipulated by the 1940 Act or if distributions are limited by the terms of any of our borrowings. See “Regulation” and “Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations.”

 

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We may make distributions that are payable in cash or shares of our common stock at the election of each stockholder. In accordance with Treasury regulations and published guidance issued by the Internal Revenue Service, a publicly offered RIC may treat distributions of its own stock as counting towards its RIC distribution requirements if each stockholder may elect to receive his, her, or its entire distribution in either cash or stock of the RIC. This published guidance applies even if the aggregate amount of cash available to be distributed to all stockholders is no more than 20% of the aggregate declared distribution. Under the published guidance, if too many stockholders elect to receive their distributions in cash, the cash available for distribution must be allocated among the shareholders electing to receive cash (with the balance of the distribution paid in stock). If we decide to make any distributions that are payable in part in shares of our stock, U.S. stockholders receiving such distributions generally will be required to include the full amount of the distribution (whether received in cash, shares of our stock, or a combination thereof) as ordinary income (or as long-term capital gain to the extent such distribution is properly reported as a capital gain dividend) to the extent of our current and accumulated earnings and profits. As a result, a U.S. stockholder may be required to pay tax with respect to such distributions in excess of any cash received. If a U.S. stockholder sells the stock it receives in order to pay this tax, the sales proceeds may be less than the amount included in income with respect to the distribution, depending on the market price of our stock at the time of the sale. Furthermore, with respect to non-U.S. stockholders, we may be required to withhold U.S. federal tax with respect to such distributions, including in respect of all or a portion of such distributions that are payable in stock. In addition, if a significant number of our stockholders determine to sell shares of our stock in order to pay taxes owed on such distributions, it may put downward pressure on the trading price of shares of our stock.

Distributions in excess of our current and accumulated profits and earnings 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. The determination of the tax attributes of our distributions will be made annually as of the end of our fiscal year based upon our taxable income for the full year and distributions paid for the full year. Therefore, a determination made on a quarterly basis may not be representative of the actual tax attributes of our distributions for a full year. Each year, a statement on Form 1099-DIV identifying the source of the distribution will be sent to our U.S. stockholders of record. Our board of directors presently intends to declare and pay quarterly dividends. Our ability to pay dividends could be affected by future business performance, liquidity, capital needs, alternative investment opportunities and loan covenants.

The tax character of distributions declared and paid in 2018 is described in Note 12 to our consolidated financial statements.

 

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Stock Performance Graph

This graph compares the stockholder return on our common stock from December 31, 2013 to December 31, 2018 with that of the Russell 2000 Financial Services Index and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Total Return Stock Index. This graph assumes that on December 31, 2013, $100 was invested in our common stock, the Russell 2000 Financial Services Index, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Total Return Stock Index. The graph also assumes the reinvestment of all cash dividends prior to any tax effect. The graph and other information furnished under this Part II Item 5 of this Annual Report shall not be deemed to be “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC or subject to Regulation 14A or 14C under, or to the liabilities of Section 18 of, the Exchange Act. The stock price performance included in the below graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock performance.

 

 

LOGO

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

We did not engage in any sales of unregistered securities during the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

We have an open market stock repurchase program (the “Stock Repurchase Program”) under which we may acquire up to $5.0 million of our outstanding common stock. Under the Stock Repurchase Program, we may, but are not obligated to, repurchase outstanding common stock in the open market from time to time provided that we comply with the prohibitions under our insider trading policies and the requirements of Rule 10b-18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including certain price, market value and timing constraints. The timing, manner, price and amount of any share repurchases will be determined by our management, in its discretion, based upon the evaluation of economic and market conditions, stock price, capital availability, applicable legal and regulatory requirements and other corporate considerations. On October 30, 2018, the Board extended the Stock Repurchase Program through December 31, 2019, or until the approved dollar amount has been used to repurchase shares. The Stock Repurchase Program does not require us to repurchase any specific number of shares and the Company cannot assure that any shares will be repurchased under the Stock Repurchase Program. The Stock Repurchase Program may be suspended, extended, modified or discontinued at any time. During the year ended December 31, 2018, we repurchased 44,821 shares of common stock on the

 

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open market for $0.6 million. We did not make any repurchases of common stock during the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016. The following table provides information regarding such repurchases of our common stock (dollars in millions, except per share data):

 

Period

   Total
Number of
Shares
Purchased (1)
     Average
Price Paid
Per Share
     Total Number
of Shares
Purchased as
Part of Publicly
Announced
Plans or
Programs
     Maximum Number
(or Approximate
Dollar Value)
of Shares that May
Yet Be Purchased
Under the Stock
Repurchase Program
 

January 1, 2018 through January 31, 2018

          $             $ 5.0  

February 1, 2018 through February 28, 2018

                          5.0  

March 1, 2018 through March 31, 2018

     44,821        12.94        44,821        4.4  

April 1, 2018 through April 30, 2018

                          4.4  

May 1, 2018 through May 31, 2018

                          4.4  

June 1, 2018 through June 30, 2018

                          4.4  

July 1, 2018 through July 31, 2018

                          4.4  

August 1, 2018 through August 31, 2018

                          4.4  

September 1, 2018 through September 30, 2018

                          4.4  

October 1, 2018 through October 31, 2018

                          4.4  

November 1, 2018 through November 30, 2018

                          4.4  

December 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018

                          4.4  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

Total

     44,821      $ 12.94        44,821     
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

(1)

Excludes shares purchased on the open market and reissued in order to satisfy the dividend reinvestment plan (“DRIP”) obligation to deliver shares of common stock in lieu of issuing new shares. During the year ended December 31, 2018, we purchased and reissued shares of common stock to satisfy the DRIP obligation as follows:

 

Period

   Number of
Shares
Purchased
and Reissued
     Average
Price Paid
Per Share
     Total
Amount Paid
 

March 1, 2018 through March 31, 2018

     16,503      $ 12.97      $ 0.2  

June 1, 2018 through June 30, 2018

     16,216        14.48        0.2  

September 1, 2018 through September 30, 2018

     16,207        14.83        0.3  

December 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018

     29,152        11.85        0.3  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     78,078      $ 13.25      $ 1.0  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Refer to Note 9 to our consolidated financial statements for additional information concerning stock repurchases.

 

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Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data

The following selected consolidated financial data of FIC and its subsidiaries, including the Funds, as of and for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014, is derived from the consolidated financial statements that have been audited by RSM US LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm. This financial data should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report and with Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations which follows.

 

    Years Ended December 31,  
    2018     2017     2016     2015     2014  
    (Dollars in Thousands, Except Per Share Data)  

Statement of operations data:

         

Total investment income

  $ 76,425     $ 68,615     $ 60,229     $ 54,269     $ 46,116  

Interest and financing expenses

    12,956       9,893       10,594       9,428       7,507  

Base management fee

    11,365       9,788       8,254       7,545       5,899  

Incentive fee

    12,351       10,968       10,369       6,481       4,857  

All other expenses

    4,272       4,069       3,986       3,932       4,189  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net investment income before income taxes

    35,481       33,897       27,026       26,883       23,664  

Income tax provision (benefit)

    720       220       425       390       383  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net investment income

    34,761       33,677       26,601       26,493       23,281  

Net realized gains (losses)

    (10,269     17,904       (13,835     9,531       (17,029

Net change in unrealized appreciation (depreciation)

    25,718       (5,426     29,009       (10,086     13,250  

Income tax (provision) benefit from realized gains on investments

    (758     (2,204     (205     39       (17
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net increase in net assets resulting from operations

  $ 49,452     $ 43,951     $ 41,570     $ 25,977     $ 19,485  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Per share data:

         

Net asset value (at end of period)

  $ 16.47     $ 16.05     $ 15.76     $ 15.17     $ 15.16  

Net investment income

  $ 1.42     $ 1.43     $ 1.45     $ 1.64     $ 1.62  

Net gain (loss) on investments

  $ 0.60     $ 0.44     $ 0.82     $ (0.04   $ (0.26

Net increase in net assets resulting from operations

  $ 2.02     $ 1.87     $ 2.27     $ 1.60     $ 1.36  

Dividends

  $ 1.60     $ 1.60     $ 1.60     $ 1.60     $ 1.72  

Other data:

         

Weighted average annual yield on debt investments (1)

    12.6     13.0     13.1     13.3     13.4

Number of portfolio companies at year end

    63       63       57       53       42  

Expense ratios (as percentage of average net assets (2)):

         

Operating expenses

    7.0     6.6     7.8     7.3     6.7

Interest expense

    3.3     2.6     3.7     3.8     3.4

 

(1)

Weighted average yields are computed using the effective interest rates for debt investments at cost as of the period end date, including accretion of original issue discount and loan origination fees, but excluding investments on non-accrual status, if any. The weighted average yield of our debt investments is not the same as a return on investment for our stockholders but, rather, relates to a portion of our investment portfolio and is calculated before the payment of all of our and our subsidiaries’ fees and expenses.

(2)

Average net assets is calculated as the average of the net asset balances as of each quarter end during the fiscal year and the prior year end.

 

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     As of December 31,  
     2018      2017      2016      2015      2014  
     (Dollars in Thousands)  

Statement of assets and liabilities data:

              

Total investments, fair value

   $ 642,982      $ 596,308      $ 524,454      $ 443,269      $ 396,355  

Total assets (3)

     693,876        646,263        586,742        480,668        431,020  

Borrowings

     277,500        242,800        224,000        229,000        183,500  

Total net assets

     402,985        393,273        353,785        247,362        243,263  

 

(3)

In April 2015, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2015-03, Interest—Imputation of interest (Subtopic 835-30): Simplifying the Presentation of Debt Issuance Costs, which requires that debt issuance costs related to a recognized debt liability be presented in the balance sheet as a direct deduction from the carrying amount of that debt liability rather than as an asset. We adopted ASU 2015-03 as of January 1, 2016. Prior to adoption, we recorded deferred financing costs as an asset on the consolidated statements of assets and liabilities. Upon adoption of ASU 2015-03, we reclassified these deferred costs to a direct offset of the related debt liability on the consolidated statements of assets and liabilities. In the table above, the new guidance has been applied retrospectively to fiscal years 2015 and 2014 to conform presentation.

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with “Selected Consolidated Financial Data,” FIC’s consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this annual report on Form 10-K (“Annual Report”). The information contained in this section contains forward-looking statements that involve risk and uncertainties. Please see “Risk Factors” and “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” for a discussion of the uncertainties, risks and assumptions associated with these statements.

Overview

General and Corporate Structure

We provide customized debt and equity financing solutions to lower middle-market companies, which we define as U.S. based companies having revenues between $10.0 million and $150.0 million. Our investment objective is to provide attractive risk-adjusted returns by generating both current income from our debt investments and capital appreciation from our equity related investments. Our investment strategy includes partnering with business owners, management teams and financial sponsors by providing customized financing for ownership transactions, recapitalizations, strategic acquisitions, business expansion and other growth initiatives. We seek to maintain a diversified portfolio of investments in order to help mitigate the potential effects of adverse economic events related to particular companies, regions or industries.

FIC was formed as a Maryland corporation on February 14, 2011. We completed our initial public offering, or IPO, in June 2011.

On June 20, 2011, FIC acquired all of the limited partnership interests of Fund I and membership interests of Fidus Mezzanine Capital GP, LLC, its general partner, resulting in Fund I becoming our wholly-owned SBIC subsidiary. Immediately following the acquisition, we and Fund I elected to be treated as business development companies, or BDCs, under the 1940 Act and our investment activities have been managed by Fidus Investment Advisors, LLC, our investment advisor, and supervised by our board of directors, a majority of whom are independent of us. On March 29, 2013, we commenced operations of a second wholly-owned subsidiary, Fund II. Fund I and Fund II are collectively referred to as the “Funds.”

Fund I received its SBIC license on October 22, 2007 and Fund II received its SBIC license on May 28, 2013. We plan to continue to operate the Funds as SBICs, subject to SBA approval, and to utilize the proceeds of

 

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the sale of SBA-guaranteed debentures to enhance returns to our stockholders. We have also made, and continue to make, investments directly through FIC. We believe that utilizing FIC and the Funds as investment vehicles provides us with access to a broader array of investment opportunities.

We have certain wholly-owned taxable subsidiaries (the “Taxable Subsidiaries”), each of which generally holds one or more of our portfolio investments listed on the consolidated schedules of investments. The Taxable Subsidiaries are consolidated for financial reporting purposes, such that the our consolidated financial statements reflect our investment in the portfolio company investments owned by the Taxable Subsidiaries. The purpose of the Taxable Subsidiaries is to permit us to hold equity investments in portfolio companies that are taxed as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes (such as entities organized as limited liability companies (“LLCs”) or other forms of pass through entities) while complying with the “source-of-income” requirements contained in the RIC tax provisions. The Taxable Subsidiaries are not consolidated with us for U.S. federal corporate income tax purposes, and each Taxable Subsidiary will be subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax on its taxable income. Any such income or expense is reflected in the consolidated statements of operations.

Revenues: We generate revenue in the form of interest and fee income on debt investments and capital gains and distributions, if any, on equity investments. Our debt investments, whether in the form of second lien, subordinated or first lien loans, typically have terms of five to seven years and bear interest at a fixed rate but may bear interest at a floating rate. In some instances, we receive payments on our debt investments based on scheduled amortization of the outstanding balances. In addition, we receive repayments of some of our debt investments prior to their scheduled maturity dates, which may include prepayment penalties. The frequency or volume of these repayments fluctuates significantly from period to period. Our portfolio activity may reflect the proceeds of sales of securities. In some cases, our investments provide for deferred interest payments or PIK interest. The principal amount of loans and any accrued but unpaid interest generally become due at the maturity date. In addition, we may generate revenue in the form of commitment, origination, amendment, or structuring fees and fees for providing managerial assistance. Debt investment origination fees, OID and market discount or premium, if any, are capitalized, and we accrete or amortize such amounts into interest income. We record prepayment premiums on loans as fee income. Interest and dividend income is recorded on the accrual basis to the extent that we expect to collect such amounts. Debt investments or preferred equity securities are placed on non-accrual status when principal, interest or dividend payments become materially past due, or when there is reasonable doubt that principal, interest or dividends will be collected. See “Critical Accounting Policies and Use of Estimates – Revenue Recognition.” Interest is accrued daily based on the outstanding principal amount and the contractual terms of the debt. Dividend income is recorded as dividends are declared or at the point an obligation exists for the portfolio company to make a distribution, and is generally recognized when received. Distributions of earnings from portfolio companies are evaluated to determine if the distribution is a distribution of earnings or a return of capital. Distributions of earnings are included in dividend income while a return of capital is recorded as a reduction in the cost basis of the investment. Estimates are adjusted as necessary after the relevant tax forms are received from the portfolio company.

We recognize realized gains or losses on investments based on the difference between the net proceeds from the disposition and the cost basis of the investment, without regard to unrealized gains or losses previously recognized. We record current period changes in fair value of investments that are measured at fair value as a component of the net change in unrealized appreciation (depreciation) on investments in the consolidated statements of operations.

Expenses: All investment professionals of our investment advisor and/or its affiliates, when and to the extent engaged in providing investment advisory and management services to us, and the compensation and routine overhead expenses allocable to personnel who provide these services to us, are provided and paid for by our investment advisor and not by us. We bear all other out-of-pocket costs and expenses of our operations and transactions, including, without limitation, those relating to:

 

   

organization;

 

   

calculating our net asset value (including the cost and expenses of any independent valuation firm);

 

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fees and expenses incurred by our investment advisor under the Investment Advisory Agreement or payable to third parties, including agents, consultants or other advisors, in monitoring financial and legal affairs for us and in monitoring our investments and performing due diligence on our prospective portfolio companies or otherwise relating to, or associated with, evaluating and making investments, including “dead deal” costs;

 

   

interest payable on debt, if any, incurred to finance our investments;

 

   

offerings of our common stock and other securities;

 

   

investment advisory fees and management fees;

 

   

administration fees and expenses, if any, payable under the Administration Agreement (including payments under the Administration Agreement between us and our investment advisor based upon our allocable portion of our investment advisor’s overhead in performing its obligations under the Administration Agreement, including rent and the allocable portion of the cost of our officers, including our chief compliance officer, our chief financial officer, and their respective staffs);

 

   

transfer agent, dividend agent and custodial fees and expenses;

 

   

federal and state registration fees;

 

   

all costs of registration and listing our shares on any securities exchange;

 

   

U.S. federal, state and local taxes;

 

   

Independent Directors’ fees and expenses;

 

   

costs of preparing and filing reports or other documents required by the SEC or other regulators including printing costs;

 

   

costs of any reports, proxy statements or other notices to stockholders, including printing and mailing costs;

 

   

our allocable portion of any fidelity bond, directors and officers/errors and omissions liability insurance, and any other insurance premiums;

 

   

direct costs and expenses of administration, including printing, mailing, long distance telephone, copying, secretarial and other staff, independent auditors and outside legal costs;

 

   

proxy voting expenses; and

 

   

all other expenses reasonably incurred by us or our investment advisor in connection with administering our business.

Portfolio Composition, Investment Activity and Yield

During the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, we invested $212.3 million and $214.7 million in debt and equity investments, respectively, including 15 and 14 new portfolio companies, respectively. During the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, we received proceeds from sales or repayments, including principal, return of capital dividends and net realized gains (losses), of $188.3 million and $163.7 million, respectively, including exits of 15 and eight portfolio companies, respectively. The following table summarizes investment purchases and sales and repayments of investments by type for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017 (dollars in millions).

 

     Purchases of Investments     Sales and Repayments of Investments  
     2018     2017     2018     2017  

Second Lien Debt

   $ 136.5        64.3   $ 127.2        59.2   $ 103.7        55.0   $ 55.6        33.9

Subordinated Debt

     40.2        18.9       61.7        28.8       54.3        28.8       51.3        31.3  

First Lien Debt

     25.4        12.0       10.9        5.1       1.8        1.0       32.7        20.0  

Equity

     10.2        4.8       14.0        6.5       26.1        13.9       23.0        14.1  

Warrants

     —          —         0.9        0.4       2.4        1.3       1.1        0.7  

Royalty Rights

     —          —         —          —         —          —         —          —    
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

   $ 212.3        100.0   $ 214.7        100.0   $ 188.3        100.0   $ 163.7        100.0
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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As of December 31, 2018, the fair value of our investment portfolio totaled $643.0 million and consisted of 60 active portfolio companies and three portfolio companies that have sold their underlying operations. As of December 31, 2018, seven debt investments bore interest at a variable rate, which represented $75.9 million of our portfolio on a fair value basis, and the remainder of our debt portfolio was comprised of fixed rate investments. Overall, the portfolio had net unrealized appreciation of $44.2 million as of December 31, 2018. As of December 31, 2018, our average active portfolio company investment at amortized cost was $10.0 million, which excludes investments in the three portfolio companies that have sold their underlying operations.

As of December 31, 2017, the fair value of our investment portfolio totaled $596.3 million and consisted of 60 active portfolio companies and three portfolio companies that have sold their underlying operations. As of December 31, 2017, three debt investments bore interest at a variable rate, which represented $26.1 million of our portfolio on a fair value basis, and the remainder of our debt portfolio was comprised of fixed rate investments. Overall, the portfolio had net unrealized appreciation of $18.5 million as of December 31, 2017. As of December 31, 2017, our average active portfolio company investment at amortized cost was $9.6 million, which excludes investments in the three portfolio companies that have sold their underlying operations.

The weighted average yield on debt investments as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 was 12.6% and 13.0%, respectively. The weighted average yield of our debt investments is not the same as a return on investment for our stockholders but, rather, relates to a portion of our investment portfolio and is calculated before the payment of all of our and our subsidiaries’ fees and expenses. The weighted average yields were computed using the effective interest rates for debt investments at cost as of December 31, 2018 and 2017, including the accretion of OID and loan origination fees, but excluding investments on non-accrual status, if any. The following table shows the portfolio composition by investment type at fair value and cost and as a percentage of total investments (dollars in millions):

 

     Fair Value     Cost  
     December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
    December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
 

Second Lien Debt

   $ 366.5        57.0   $ 341.3        57.3   $ 380.0        63.5   $ 357.6        62.0

Subordinated Debt

     104.3        16.2       126.5        21.2       105.9        17.7       126.5        21.9  

First Lien Debt

     51.8        8.1       28.8        4.8       52.2        8.7       31.9        5.5  

Equity

     106.7        16.6       84.6        14.2       53.5        8.9       53.9        9.3  

Warrants

     13.7        2.1       15.1        2.5       7.0        1.2       7.7        1.3  

Royalty Rights

     —          —         —          —         0.2        —         0.2        —    
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

   $ 643.0        100.0   $ 596.3        100.0   $ 598.8        100.0   $ 577.8        100.0
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

The following table shows portfolio composition by geographic region at fair value and cost and as a percentage of total investments (dollars in millions). The geographic composition is determined by the location of the corporate headquarters of the portfolio company, which may not be indicative of the primary source of the portfolio company’s business.

 

     Fair Value     Cost  
     December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
    December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
 

Midwest

   $ 161.1        25.1   $ 168.0        28.2   $ 152.6        25.5   $ 161.8        28.1

Southeast

     176.8        27.5       130.2        21.8       155.3        25.9       130.7        22.6  

Northeast

     89.7        13.9       107.8        18.1       84.2        14.1       105.3        18.2  

West

     62.8        9.8       63.4        10.6       54.5        9.1       54.0        9.3  

Southwest

     152.6        23.7       126.9        21.3       152.2        25.4       126.0        21.8  
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

   $ 643.0        100.0   $ 596.3        100.0   $ 598.8        100.0   $ 577.8        100.0
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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The following table shows the detailed industry composition of our portfolio at fair value and cost as a percentage of total investments:

 

     Fair Value     Cost  
     December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
    December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
 

Specialty Distribution

     13.4     6.2     14.1     6.2

Business Services

     9.7       6.5       10.3       7.3  

Information Technology Services

     8.5       10.7       8.5       11.0  

Component Manufacturing

     7.9       6.6       8.9       7.0  

Healthcare Services

     7.8       10.8       7.7       9.9  

Oil & Gas Services

     6.4       4.7       1.7       2.7  

Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing

     5.8       4.4       6.0       4.3  

Transportation Services

     5.2       7.1       5.4       7.3  

Healthcare Products

     4.8       7.3       3.2       7.1  

Vending Equipment Manufacturing

     4.6       5.7       5.2       5.9  

Industrial Cleaning & Coatings

     4.1       4.3       4.7       4.6  

Promotional Products

     4.1       3.0       4.2       2.9  

Building Products Manufacturing

     3.8       5.1       5.1       5.4  

Retail

     2.4       2.8       2.7       2.9  

Utility Equipment Manufacturing

     2.4       2.6       2.5       2.8  

Consumer Products

     2.3       3.3       2.6       2.7  

Packaging

     2.2       0.1       2.4       0.1  

Environmental Industries

     1.9       —         2.0       —    

Utilities: Services

     1.7       1.6       1.7       1.7  

Oil & Gas Distribution

     1.0       1.0       1.0       1.0  

Capital Equipment Manufacturing

     0.0       3.4       0.0       3.4  

Restaurants

     0.0       0.4       0.1       1.7  

Specialty Chemicals

     0.0       0.2       0.0       0.2  

Apparel Distribution

     —         0.9       —         1.0  

Electronic Components Supplier

     —         0.6       —         0.2  

Laundry Services

     —         0.7       —         0.7  

Safety Products Manufacturing

     —         0.0       —         0.0  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total

     100.0     100.0     100.0     100.0
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Portfolio Asset Quality

In addition to various risk management and monitoring tools, our investment advisor uses an internally developed investment rating system to characterize and monitor the credit profile and our expected level of returns on each investment in our portfolio. We use a five-level numeric rating scale. The following is a description of the conditions associated with each investment rating:

 

   

Investment Rating 1 is used for investments that involve the least amount of risk in our portfolio. The portfolio company is performing above expectations, the debt investment is expected to be paid in the near term and the trends and risk factors are favorable, and may include an expected capital gain on the equity investment.

 

   

Investment Rating 2 is used for investments that involve a level of risk similar to the risk at the time of origination. The portfolio company is performing substantially within our expectations and the risk factors are neutral or favorable. Each new portfolio investment enters our portfolio with Investment Rating 2.

 

   

Investment Rating 3 is used for investments performing below expectations and indicates the investment’s risk has increased somewhat since origination. The portfolio company requires closer monitoring, but we expect a full return of principal and collection of all interest and/or dividends.

 

   

Investment Rating 4 is used for investments performing materially below expectations and the risk has increased materially since origination. The investment has the potential for some loss of investment return, but we expect no loss of principal.

 

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Investment Rating 5 is used for investments performing substantially below our expectations and the risks have increased substantially since origination. We expect some loss of principal.

The following table shows the distribution of our investments on the 1 to 5 investment rating scale at fair value and cost as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 (dollars in millions):

 

     Fair Value     Cost  

Investment Rating

   December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
    December 31,
2018
    December 31,
2017
 

1

   $ 123.8        19.2   $ 125.7        21.1   $ 63.7        10.7   $ 83.2        14.4

2

     403.1        62.7       398.4        66.8       396.2        66.2       393.6        68.1  

3

     94.3        14.7       51.8        8.7       101.4        16.9       60.7        10.5  

4

     21.3        3.3       18.3        3.1       33.2        5.5       28.3        4.9  

5

     0.5        0.1       2.1        0.3       4.3        0.7       12.0        2.1  
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

   $ 643.0        100.0   $ 596.3        100.0   $ 598.8        100.0   $ 577.8        100.0
  

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

    

 

 

 

Based on our investment rating system, the weighted average rating of our portfolio as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 was 2.0 and 1.9, respectively, on a fair value basis and 2.2 and 2.1, respectively, on a cost basis.

Non-Accrual

As of December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, we had debt investments in two portfolio companies on non-accrual status, respectively (dollars in millions):

 

     December 31, 2018     December 31, 2017  

Portfolio Company

   Fair Value     Cost     Fair Value     Cost  

K2 Industrial Services, Inc.

   $ 13.2     $ 14.3     $ —   (2)     $ —   (2)  

Restaurant Finance Co, LLC

     —   (1)       —   (1)       2.1       9.3  

Six Month Smiles Holdings, Inc.

     —   (1)       —   (1)       5.0       9.4  

US GreenFiber, LLC

     7.6       15.3       —   (2)       —   (2)  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total

   $ 20.8     $ 29.6     $ 7.1     $ 18.7  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1)

Portfolio company was no longer held at period end.

(2)

Portfolio company debt investments were not on non-accrual status at period end.

Discussion and Analysis of Results of Operations

Comparison of fiscal years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016

Investment Income

Below is a summary of the changes in total investment income for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, as well as a comparison of those periods year-over-year (dollars in millions, percent change calculated based on underlying dollar amounts in thousands):

 

    Years Ended December 31,     2018 vs. 2017     2017 vs. 2016  
    2018     2017     2016     $ Change     % Change  (1)     $ Change     % Change  (1)  

Interest income

  $ 60.9     $ 55.1     $ 47.5     $ 5.8       10.5   $ 7.6       15.9

Payment-in-kind interest income

    6.6       7.0       5.2         (0.4     (6.6 %)      1.8       34.9

Dividend income

    4.0       1.9       3.7       2.1       115.4       (1.8     (49.1 %) 

Fee income

    4.8       4.5       3.7       0.3       7.8     0.8       20.9

Interest on idle funds and other income

    0.1       0.1       0.1       —         NM       —         NM  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total investment income

  $   76.4     $   68.6     $   60.2     $ 7.8       11.4   $ 8.4       13.9
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1)

NM = Not meaningful

 

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For the year ended December 31, 2018, total investment income was $76.4 million, an increase of $7.8 million or 11.4%, from the $68.6 million of total investment income for the year ended December 31, 2017. As reflected in the table above, the increase is primarily attributable to the following:

 

   

$5.3 million increase in total interest income (including payment-in-kind interest income) resulting from higher average debt investment balances outstanding, partially offset by a decrease in weighted average debt yield, during 2018 as compared to 2017.

 

   

$2.1 million increase in dividend income, during 2018 as compared to 2017, due to increased levels of distributions received from equity investments.

 

   

$0.3 million increase in fee income resulting from an increase in prepayment fee income, and partially offset by a decrease in debt amendment fee income, during 2018 as compared to 2017.

For the year ended December 31, 2017, total investment income was $68.6 million, an increase of $8.4 million or 13.9%, from the $60.2 million of total investment income for the year ended December 31, 2016. As reflected in the table above, the increase is primarily attributable to the following:

 

   

$9.4 million increase in total interest income resulting from higher average debt investment balances outstanding, partially offset by a small decrease in weighted average debt yield and two additional portfolio companies on non-accrual status, during 2017 as compared to 2016.

 

   

$0.8 million increase in fee income resulting from an increase in structuring fees due to a comparative increase in new investments and an increase in debt amendment fee income, during 2017 as compared to 2016.

 

   

$(1.8) million decrease in dividend income, during 2017 as compared to 2016, due to decreased levels of distributions received from equity investments and certain prior year dividend tax character true-ups recognized in 2017 upon receipt of the relevant tax forms from the underlying portfolio companies.

Expenses

Below is a summary of the changes in total expenses, including income tax provision, for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, as well as a comparison of those periods year-over-year (dollars in millions, percent change calculated based on underlying dollar amounts in thousands):

 

    Years Ended December 31,     2018 vs. 2017     2017 vs. 2016  
    2018     2017     2016     $ Change     % Change  (1)     $ Change     % Change  (1)  

Interest and financing expenses

  $ 13.0     $ 9.9     $ 10.6     $ 3.1       31.0   $ (0.7     (6.6 %) 

Base management fee

    11.4       9.8       8.3       1.6       16.1     1.5       18.6

Incentive fee — income

    9.4       8.9       7.4       0.5       5.6     1.5       20.9

Incentive fee — capital gains

    2.9       2.1       3.0       0.8       43.0     (0.9     (31.4 %) 

Administrative service expenses

    1.5       1.4       1.4       0.1       2.4     —         NM  

Professional fees

    1.3       1.4       1.3         (0.1     (6.3 %)      0.1       7.2

Other general and administrative expenses

    1.4       1.2       1.2       0.2       21.4     —         NM  
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total expenses, before income tax provision

    40.9       34.7       33.2       6.2       17.9     1.5       4.6

Income tax provision

    0.7       0.2       0.4       0.5       227.3       (0.2     (48.2 %) 
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total expenses, including income tax provision

  $   41.6     $   34.9     $   33.6     $ 6.7       19.3   $ 1.3       3.9
 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1)

NM = Not meaningful

 

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For the year ended December 31, 2018, total expenses, including income tax provision, were $41.6 million, an increase of $6.7 million or 19.3%, from the $34.9 million of total expenses, including income tax provision, for the year ended December 31, 2017. As reflected in the table above, the increase is primarily attributable to the following:

 

   

$3.1 million increase in interest and financing expenses due to an increase in average borrowings outstanding and an increase in weighted average interest rate on borrowings during 2018 as compared to 2017.

 

   

$1.6 million increase in base management fee due to higher average total assets during 2018 as compared to 2017.

 

   

$0.8 million increase in the capital gains incentive fee due to a $4.4 million increase in net gain on investments (net realized gains (losses) plus net change in unrealized appreciation (depreciation) on investments) during 2018, as compared to the same period in 2017.

 

   

$0.5 million increase in the income incentive fee due to a $2.5 million increase in pre-incentive fee net investment income during 2018, as compared to the same period in 2017.

 

   

$0.2 million increase in other general and administrative expenses during 2018 resulting from the write-off of deferred equity offering costs related to our previous Form N-2 registration statement.

For the year ended December 31, 2017, total expenses, including income tax provision, were $34.9 million, an increase of $1.3 million or 3.9%, from the $33.6 million of total expenses, including income tax provision, for the year ended December 31, 2016. As reflected in the table above, the increase is primarily attributable to the following:

 

   

$1.5 million increase in base management fee due to higher average total assets during 2017 as compared to 2016.

 

   

$1.5 million increase in the income incentive fee due to a $7.7 million increase in pre-incentive fee net investment income during 2017, as compared to the same period in 2016.

 

   

$(0.7) million decrease in interest and financing expenses due to a decrease in average borrowings outstanding and a decrease in weighted average interest rate on borrowings during 2017 as compared to 2016.

 

   

$(0.9) million decrease in the capital gains incentive fee due to a $(4.7) million decrease in net gain on investments (net realized gains (losses) plus net change in unrealized appreciation (depreciation) on investments) during 2017, as compared to the same period in 2016.

Net Investment Income

Net investment income was $34.8 million, $33.7 million, and $26.6 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively.

Net investment income increased by $1.1 million, or 3.2%, during fiscal 2018 as compared to fiscal 2017, as a result of the $7.8 million increase in total investment income compared to only a $6.7 million increase in total expenses, including income tax provision.

Net investment income increased by $7.1 million, or 26.6%, during fiscal 2017 as compared to fiscal 2016, as a result of the $8.4 million increase in total investment income compared to only a $1.3 million increase in total expenses, including income tax provision.

 

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Net Gain (Loss) on Investments

For the year ended December 31, 2018, the total net realized loss on investments, before income tax provision on realized gains, was $(10.3) million. Income tax (provision) benefit from realized gains on investments was $(0.8) million for the year ended December 31, 2018. Significant realized gains (losses) for the year ended December 31, 2018 are summarized below (dollars in millions):

 

Portfolio Company

  

Realization Event

   Net Realized
Gains (Losses)
 

World Wide Packaging, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

   $ 7.0  

Apex Microtechnology, Inc.

  

Exit of portfolio company

     6.7  

FAR Research Inc.

  

Sale of portfolio company

     3.3  

Caldwell & Gregory, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

     1.0  

Thermoforming Technology Group LLC (dba Brown Machine Group)

  

Sale of portfolio company

     0.7  

Malabar International

  

Escrow distribution

     0.3  

Worldwide Express Operations, LLC

  

Distributions tax character true-up

     0.2  

Ice House America, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

     0.1  

Other

        0.1  

IOS Acquisitions, Inc.

  

Exit of portfolio company

     (0.1

Inflexxion, Inc.

  

Exit of portfolio company

     (6.5

Restaurant Finance Co, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

     (6.8

Cavallo Bus Lines Holdings, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

     (7.4

Six Month Smiles Holdings, Inc.

  

Exit of portfolio company

     (8.9
     

 

 

 

Net realized gain (loss) on investments

        (10.3

Income tax provision from realized gains on investments

        (0.8
     

 

 

 

Net realized gain (loss), net of income tax provision, on investments

      $ (11.1
     

 

 

 

For the year ended December 31, 2017, the total net realized gain on investments, before income tax provision on realized gains, was $17.9 million. Income tax (provision) benefit from realized gains on investments was $(2.2) million for the year ended December 31, 2017. Significant realized gains (losses) for the year ended December 31, 2017 are summarized below (dollars in millions):

 

Portfolio Company

  

Realization Event

   Net Realized
Gains (Losses)
 

Malabar International

  

Exit of portfolio company

   $ 6.8  

Worldwide Express Operations, LLC

  

Sale of portfolio company

     6.4  

Lightning Diversion Systems, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

     4.1  

EBL, LLC (EbLens)

  

Sale of portfolio company

     2.2  

Brook & Whittle Limited

  

Exit of portfolio company

     1.0  

Anatrace Products, LLC

  

Sale of portfolio company

     0.9  

Other

        0.1  

Carlson Systems Holdings, Inc.

  

Escrow distribution

     0.1  

FTH Acquisition Corp. VII

  

Exit of portfolio company

     (1.3

FDS Avionics Corp. (dba Flight Display Systems)

  

Restructuring

     (2.4
     

 

 

 

Net realized gain (loss) on investments

        17.9  

Income tax provision from realized gains on investments

        (2.2
     

 

 

 

Net realized gain (loss), net of income tax provision, on investments

      $ 15.7  
     

 

 

 

 

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For the year ended December 31, 2016, the total net realized loss on investments, before income tax provision on realized gains, was $(13.8) million. Income tax (provision) benefit from realized gains on investments was $(0.2) million for the year ended December 31, 2016. Significant realized gains (losses) for the year ended December 31, 2016 are summarized below (dollars in millions):

 

Portfolio Company

  

Realization Event

   Net Realized
Gains (Losses)
 

Carlson Systems Holdings, Inc.

  

Distribution related to sale of operations

   $ 4.1  

Lightning Diversion Systems, LLC

  

Distribution

     1.1  

Premium Franchise Brands, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

     1.1  

National Truck Protection Co., Inc.

  

Exit of portfolio company

     1.0  

Safety Products Group, LLC

  

Distribution related to sale of operations

     0.5  

Westminster Cracker Company, Inc.

  

Distribution related to sale of operations

     0.2  

Connect-Air International, Inc.

  

Escrow distribution

     0.2  

Other

        0.1  

Continental Anesthesia Management, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

     (0.3

Channel Technologies Group, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

     (0.9

Pinnergy, Ltd.

  

Restructuring

     (8.9

Paramount Building Solutions, LLC

  

Exit of portfolio company

     (12.0
     

 

 

 

Net realized gain (loss) on investments

        (13.8

Income tax provision from realized gains on investments

        (0.2
     

 

 

 

Net realized gain (loss), net of income tax provision, on investments

      $ (14.0
     

 

 

 

During the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, we recorded a net change in unrealized appreciation (depreciation) on investments attributable to the following (dollars in millions):

 

     Years Ended December 31,  

Unrealized Appreciation (Depreciation)

   2018     2017     2016  

Exit, sale or restructuring of investments

   $ 11.2     $ (14.4   $ 21.5  

Fair value adjustments to debt investments

     (18.0     (14.1     (10.3

Fair value adjustments to equity investments

     32.5       23.1       17.8  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net change in unrealized appreciation (depreciation)

   $ 25.7     $ (5.4   $ 29.0  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net Increase in Net Assets Resulting From Operations

Net increase in net assets resulting from operations was $49.5 million, $44.0 million, and $41.6 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively, as a result of the events described above.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

As of December 31, 2018, we had $42.0 million in cash and cash equivalents and our net assets totaled $403.0 million. We believe that our current cash and cash equivalents on hand, our Credit Facility and our anticipated cash flows from operations will provide adequate capital resources with which to operate and finance our investment business and make distributions to our stockholders for at least the next 12 months. We intend to generate additional cash primarily from the future offerings of securities (including the “at-the-market” program) and future borrowings, as well as cash flows from operations, including income earned from investments in our portfolio companies. On both a short-term and long-term basis, our primary use of funds will be investments in

 

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portfolio companies and cash distributions to our stockholders. During the year ended December 31, 2018, we repaid $67.3 million of SBA debentures which would have matured during the period March 1, 2019 through March 1, 2022. Our remaining outstanding SBA debentures continue to mature in 2021 and subsequent years through 2028, which will require repayment on or before the respective maturity dates.

Cash Flows

For the year ended December 31, 2018, we experienced a net increase in cash and cash equivalents in the amount of $0.4 million. During that period, we used $8.1 million of cash for operating activities, which included the funding of $212.3 million of investments, which were partially offset by proceeds received from sales and repayments of investments of $188.3 million. During the same period, we received proceeds from the issuances of SBA debentures of $27.0 million, net proceeds of $25.0 million from borrowings under our Credit Facility and proceeds from the issuance of our Public Notes of $50.0 million; which were partially offset by repayments of SBA debentures of $67.3 million, cash dividends paid to stockholders of $39.2 million, the payment of deferred financing costs related to our debt financings of $2.7 million and repurchases of common stock under the Stock Repurchase Program (as defined below) of $0.6 million.

For the year ended December 31, 2017, we experienced a net decrease in cash and cash equivalents of $15.5 million. During that period, we used $28.2 million of cash for operating activities, which included $214.7 million used for purchases of investments, which is partially offset by proceeds of $163.7 million from sales and repayments of investments. During the same period, we received net proceeds from secondary offerings of shares of our common stock off of our effective shelf registration statement of $32.3 million, proceeds from the issuances of SBA debentures of $49.0 million, and proceeds from net borrowings under the Credit Facility of $11.5 million, which were partially offset by repayment of SBA debentures of $41.7 million, cash dividends paid to stockholders of $36.8 million and the payment of deferred financing costs of $1.6 million.

For the year ended December 31, 2016, we experienced a net increase in cash and cash equivalents of $25.4 million. During that period, we used $33.6 million of cash for operating activities, which included $197.8 million used for purchases of investments, which is partially offset by proceeds of $137.5 million from sales and repayments of investments. During the same period, we received net proceeds from secondary offerings of shares of our common stock off of our effective shelf registration statement of $94.7 million and proceeds from the issuances of SBA debenture of $10.5 million, which were partially offset by net repayment of borrowings under the Credit Facility of $15.5 million, cash dividends paid to stockholders of $29.9 million and the payment of deferred financing costs of $0.8 million.

Capital Resources

We anticipate that we will continue to fund our investment activities on a long-term basis through a combination of additional debt and equity capital.

SBA debentures

The Funds are licensed SBICs, and have the ability to issue debentures guaranteed by the SBA at favorable interest rates. Under the Small Business Investment Act and the SBA rules applicable to SBICs, an SBIC can have outstanding at any time debentures guaranteed by the SBA in an amount up to twice its regulatory capital. The SBA regulations currently limit the amount that is available to be borrowed by any SBIC and guaranteed by the SBA to 300.0% of an SBIC’s regulatory capital or $175.0 million, whichever is less. For three or more SBICs under common control, the maximum amount of outstanding SBA debentures cannot exceed $350.0 million. SBA debentures have fixed interest rates that approximate prevailing 10-year Treasury Note rates plus a spread and have a maturity of ten years with interest payable semi-annually. The principal amount of the SBA debentures is not required to be paid before maturity but may be pre-paid at any time. As of December 31, 2018, Fund I and Fund II had $41.0 million and $150.0 million of outstanding SBA debentures, respectively. Fund I

 

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has commenced a wind-down plan and can no longer issue additional SBA debentures. Subject to SBA regulatory requirements and approval of an additional SBIC licensed fund, we may access up to $159.0 million of additional SBA debentures under the SBIC debenture program.

Credit Facility

In June 2014, we entered into the Credit Facility to provide additional funding for our investment and operational activities. On December 29, 2017, we entered into an amendment to the Credit Facility to, among other things, extend the maturity date from June 16, 2018 to June 16, 2019. On June 5, 2018, we entered into an incremental commitment agreement, whereby the amount available for borrowing under the Credit Facility was increased from $50.0 million to $75.0 million. On October 19, 2018, we entered into an incremental commitment agreement, whereby the amount available for borrowing under the Credit Facility was increased from $75.0 million to $90.0 million, with allowance for future increases in the commitments up to $100.0 million. The Credit Facility is secured by substantially all of our assets, excluding the assets of the Funds.

Amounts available to borrow under the Credit Facility are subject to a minimum borrowing/collateral base that applies an advance rate to certain portfolio investments. We are subject to limitations with respect to the investments securing the Credit Facility, including, but not limited to, restrictions on sector concentrations, loan size, transferability, payment frequency and status and collateral interests, as well as restrictions on portfolio company leverage, which may also affect the borrowing base and therefore amounts available to borrow.

Borrowings under the Credit Facility bear interest, subject to our election, on a per annum basis equal to (i) the alternate base rate plus 2.5% or (ii) the applicable LIBOR, which varies depending on the period of the borrowing under the Credit Facility, plus 3.5%. The alternate base rate is equal to the greater of (i) prime rate, (ii) the federal funds rate plus 0.5% or (iii) the three-month LIBOR plus 1.0%. We pay a commitment fee ranging from 0.5% to 1.0% per annum based on the size of the unused portion of the Credit Facility.

We have made customary representations and warranties and are required to comply with various covenants, reporting requirements and other customary requirements for similar credit facilities. These covenants are subject to important limitations and exceptions that are described in the documents governing the Credit Facility. As of December 31, 2018, we were in compliance with all covenants of the Credit Facility and there were $36.5 million of borrowings outstanding under the Credit Facility.

Public Notes

On February 2, 2018, we closed the public offering of approximately $43.5 million in aggregate principal amount of our 5.875% notes due 2023, or the “Public Notes.” On February 22, 2018, the underwriters exercised their overallotment option to purchase an additional $6.5 million in aggregate principal of the Public Notes. The total net proceeds to us from the Public Notes, including the exercise of the underwriters’ overallotment option, after deducting underwriting discounts of approximately $1.5 million and estimated offering expenses of $0.4 million, were approximately $48.1 million.

The Public Notes will mature on February 1, 2023 and bear interest at a rate of 5.875%. The Public Notes are unsecured obligations and rank pari passu with our future unsecured indebtedness; effectively subordinated to all of our existing and future secured indebtedness; and structurally subordinated to all existing and future indebtedness and other obligations of any of our subsidiaries, financing vehicles, or similar facilities we may form in the future, with respect to claims on the assets of any such subsidiaries, financing vehicles, or similar facilities. The Public Notes may be redeemed in whole or in part at any time or from time to time at our option on or after February 1, 2020. Interest on the Public Notes is payable quarterly on February 1, May 1, August 1 and November 1 of each year. The Public Notes are listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the trading symbol “FDUSL.” As of December 31, 2018, the outstanding principal balance of the Public Notes was $50.0 million.

 

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As of December 31, 2018, the weighted average stated interest rates for our SBA debentures, the Public Notes and the Credit Facility were 3.344%, 5.875% and 6.000%, respectively. As of December 31, 2018, we had $53.5 million of unutilized commitment under our Credit Facility, and we were subject to a 0.500% fee on such amount. As of December 31, 2018, the weighted average stated interest rate on total debt outstanding was 4.149%.

As a BDC, we are generally required to meet a coverage ratio of total assets to total senior securities, which include borrowings and any preferred stock we may issue in the future, of at least 200.0%. This requirement limits the amount that we may borrow. We have received exemptive relief from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), to allow us to exclude any indebtedness guaranteed by the SBA and issued by the Funds from the 200.0% asset coverage requirements, which, in turn, will enable us to fund more investments with debt capital. Recent legislation, however, modifies the required minimum asset coverage ratio from 200.0% to 150.0%, if certain requirements are met. Under the legislation, we are allowed to increase our leverage capacity if stockholders representing at least a majority of the votes cast, when a quorum is present, approve a proposal to do so. If we receive stockholder approval, we would be allowed to increase our leverage capacity on the first day after such approval. Alternatively, the legislation allows the majority of our independent directors to approve an increase in our leverage capacity, and such approval would become effective after the one-year anniversary of such approval.

As a BDC, we are generally not permitted to issue and sell our common stock at a price below net asset value per share. We may, however, sell our common stock, or warrants, options or rights to acquire our common stock, at a price below the then-current net asset value per share of our common stock if our board of directors, including Independent Directors, determines that such sale is in the best interests of us and our stockholders, and if our stockholders approve such sale. On June 7, 2018, our stockholders voted to allow us to sell or otherwise issue common stock at a price below net asset value per share for a period of one year ending on the earlier of June 7, 2019 or the date of our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. We expect to present to our stockholders a similar proposal at our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. Our stockholders specified that the cumulative number of shares sold in each offering during the one-year period ending on the earlier of June 7, 2019 or the date of our 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders may not exceed 25.0% of our outstanding common stock immediately prior to each such sale.