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Section 1: 10-K (10-K)

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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10‑K

 

 

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

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015

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 001‑34436

Starwood Property Trust, Inc.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Maryland
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)

27‑0247747
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification Number)

591 West Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Connecticut
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

06830
(Zip Code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (203) 422‑7700

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

 

Title of each class

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $0.01 par value per share

New York Stock Exchange

 

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 Section 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 and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S‑T (§232.405) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes   No 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S‑K (§229.405) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the 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, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer, and smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b‑2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

 

 

 

Large accelerated filer 

Accelerated filer 

Non‑accelerated filer 
(Do not check if a
smaller reporting company)

Smaller reporting company 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b‑2 of the Act). Yes   No 

As of June 30, 2015, the aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non‑affiliates was $5,022,364,171 based on the reported last sale price of our common stock on June 30, 2015. Shares of our common stock held by affiliates, which includes officers and directors of the registrant, have been excluded from this calculation. This calculation does not reflect a determination that persons are affiliates for any other purposes.

The number of shares of the issuer’s common stock, $0.01 par value, outstanding as of February 19, 2016 was 237,031,645.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Documents Incorporated By Reference: The information required by Part III of this Form 10‑K, to the extent not set forth herein or by amendment, is incorporated by reference from the registrant’s definitive proxy statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A on or prior to April 29, 2016.

 

 

 


 

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

Page

Part I 

Item 1. 

Business

Item 1A. 

Risk Factors

15 

Item 1B. 

Unresolved Staff Comments

51 

Item 2. 

Properties

51 

Item 3. 

Legal Proceedings

52 

Item 4. 

Mine Safety Disclosures

52 

Part II 

52 

Item 5. 

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

52 

Item 6. 

Selected Financial Data

55 

Item 7. 

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

56 

Item 7A. 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

83 

Item 8. 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

87 

Item 9. 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

166 

Item 9A. 

Controls and Procedures

166 

Item 9B. 

Other Information

166 

Part III 

167 

Item 10. 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

167 

Item 11. 

Executive Compensation

167 

Item 12. 

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

167 

Item 13. 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

167 

Item 14. 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

168 

Part IV 

169 

Item 15. 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

169 

Signatures 

173 

 

 

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Special Note Regarding Forward‑Looking Statements

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains certain forward-looking statements, including without limitation, statements concerning our operations, economic performance and financial condition. These forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are developed by combining currently available information with our beliefs and assumptions and are generally identified by the words “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate” and other similar expressions. Forward-looking statements do not guarantee future performance, which may be materially different from that expressed in, or implied by, any such statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their respective dates.

 

These forward-looking statements are based largely on our current beliefs, assumptions and expectations of our future performance taking into account all information currently available to us. These beliefs, assumptions and expectations can change as a result of many possible events or factors, not all of which are known to us or within our control, and which could materially affect actual results, performance or achievements. Factors that may cause actual results to vary from our forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:

 

·

factors described in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K, including those set forth under the captions “Risk Factors” and “Business”;

·

defaults by borrowers in paying debt service on outstanding indebtedness;

·

impairment in the value of real estate property securing our loans or in which we invest;

·

availability of mortgage origination and acquisition opportunities acceptable to us;

·

potential mismatches in the timing of asset repayments and the maturity of the associated financing agreements;

·

national and local economic and business conditions;

·

general and local commercial and residential real estate property conditions;

·

changes in federal government policies;

·

changes in federal, state and local governmental laws and regulations;

·

increased competition from entities engaged in mortgage lending and securities investing activities;

·

changes in interest rates; and

·

the availability of, and costs associated with, sources of liquidity.

In light of these risks and uncertainties, there can be no assurances that the results referred to in the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K will in fact occur. Except to the extent required by applicable law or regulation, we undertake no obligation to, and expressly disclaim any such obligation to, update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect changed assumptions, the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events, changes to future results over time or otherwise.

 

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PART I

Item 1.  Business.

The following description of our business should be read in conjunction with the information included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K for the year ended December 31, 2015. This discussion contains forward‑looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ significantly from the results discussed in the forward‑looking statements due to the factors set forth in “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K. References in this Annual Report on Form 10‑K to “we,” “our,” “us,” or the “Company” refer to Starwood Property Trust, Inc. and its subsidiaries.

General

Starwood Property Trust, Inc. (“STWD” and, together with its subsidiaries, “we” or the “Company”) is a Maryland corporation that commenced operations in August 2009, upon the completion of our initial public offering (“IPO”). We are focused primarily on originating, acquiring, financing and managing commercial mortgage loans and other commercial real estate debt investments, commercial mortgage‑backed securities (“CMBS”), and other commercial real estate investments in both the U.S. and Europe. We refer to the following as our target assets: commercial real estate mortgage loans, preferred equity interests, CMBS and other commercial real estate‑related debt investments. Our target assets may also include residential mortgage‑backed securities (“RMBS”), certain residential mortgage loans, distressed or non‑performing commercial loans, commercial properties subject to net leases and equity interests in commercial real estate. As market conditions change over time, we may adjust our strategy to take advantage of changes in interest rates and credit spreads as well as economic and credit conditions.

We have three reportable business segments as of December 31, 2015:

·

Real estate lending (the “Lending Segment”)—engages primarily in originating, acquiring, financing and managing commercial first mortgages, subordinated mortgages, mezzanine loans, preferred equity, CMBS, RMBS and other real estate and real estate-related debt investments in both the U.S. and Europe that are held-for-investment.

·

Real estate investing and servicing (the “Investing and Servicing Segment”) —includes (i) servicing businesses in both the U.S. and Europe that manage and work out problem assets, (ii) an investment business that selectively acquires and manages unrated, investment grade and non-investment grade rated CMBS, including subordinated interests of securitization and resecuritization transactions, (iii) a mortgage loan business which originates conduit loans for the primary purpose of selling these loans into securitization transactions, and (iv) an investment business that selectively acquires commercial real estate assets, including properties acquired from CMBS trusts. This segment excludes the consolidation of securitization variable interest entities (“VIEs”).

·

Real estate property (the “Property Segment”)—engages primarily in acquiring and managing equity interests in stabilized commercial real estate properties, including multi-family properties, that are held for investment.

On January 31, 2014, we completed the spin‑off of our former single family residential (“SFR”) segment to our stockholders as discussed further in Note 3 of our consolidated financial statements included herein (our “Consolidated Financial Statements”).

On April 19, 2013, we acquired the equity of LNR Property LLC (“LNR”) and certain of its subsidiaries as discussed further in Note 3 of our Consolidated Financial Statements.

We are organized and conduct our operations to qualify as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). As such, we will generally not be subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax on that portion of our net income that is distributed to stockholders if we distribute at least 90% of our taxable income to our stockholders by prescribed dates and comply with various other requirements. We also operate

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our business in a manner that will permit us to maintain our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act of 1940 as amended (the “Investment Company Act” or “1940 Act”).

We are organized as a holding company and conduct our business primarily through our various wholly‑owned subsidiaries. We are externally managed and advised by SPT Management, LLC (our “Manager”) pursuant to the terms of a management agreement. Our Manager is controlled by Barry Sternlicht, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Our Manager is an affiliate of Starwood Capital Group, a privately‑held private equity firm founded and controlled by Mr. Sternlicht.

Our corporate headquarters office is located at 591 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, Connecticut, and our telephone number is (203) 422‑7700.

Investment Strategy

We seek to attain attractive risk‑adjusted returns for our investors over the long term by sourcing and managing a diversified portfolio of target assets, financed in a manner that is designed to deliver attractive returns across a variety of market conditions and economic cycles. Our investment strategy focuses on a few fundamental themes:

·

origination and acquisition of real estate debt assets with an implied basis sufficiently low to weather declines in asset values;

·

focus on real estate markets and asset classes with strong supply and demand fundamentals and/or barriers to entry;

·

structuring and financing each transaction in a manner that reflects the risk of the underlying asset’s cash flow stream and credit risk profile, and efficiently managing and maintaining the transaction’s interest rate and currency exposures at levels consistent with management’s risk objectives;

·

seeking situations where our size, scale, speed, and sophistication allow us to position ourselves as a “one‑stop” lending solution for real estate owner/operators;

·

utilizing the skills, expertise, and contacts developed by our Manager over the past 20 plus years as one of the premier global real estate investment managers to correctly anticipate trends and identify attractive risk‑adjusted investment opportunities in U.S. and European real estate markets; and

·

utilizing the skills, expertise, and infrastructure we acquired through our acquisition of LNR, a market leading diversified real estate investment management and loan servicing company, to expand and diversify our presence in various segments of real estate, including:

·

origination of small and medium sized loan transactions ($10 million to $50 million) for both investment and securitization/gain‑on‑sale;

·

investment in CMBS;

·

investment in commercial real estate; and

·

special servicing of commercial real estate loans in commercial real estate securitization transactions.

In order to capitalize on the changing sets of investment opportunities that may be present in the various points of an economic cycle, we may expand or refocus our investment strategy by emphasizing investments in different parts of the capital structure and different sectors of real estate. Our investment strategy may be amended from time to time, if recommended by our Manager and approved by our board of directors, without the approval of our stockholders. In

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addition to our Manager making direct investments on our behalf, we may enter into joint venture, management or other agreements with persons that have special expertise or sourcing capabilities.

Financing Strategy

Subject to maintaining our qualification as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes and our exemption from registering under the 1940 Act, we may finance the acquisition of our target assets, to the extent available to us, through the following methods:

·

sources of private and government sponsored financing, including long and short‑term repurchase agreements, warehouse and bank credit facilities, and mortgage loans on equity interests in commercial real estate properties;

·

loan sales, syndications, and/or securitizations; and

·

public or private offerings of our equity and/or debt securities.

We may also utilize other sources of financing to the extent available to us.

Our Target Assets

We invest in target assets secured primarily by U.S. or European collateral. We focus primarily on originating or opportunistically acquiring commercial mortgage whole loans, B‑Notes, mezzanine loans, preferred equity and mortgage‑backed securities. We may invest in performing and non‑performing mortgage loans and other real estate‑related loans and debt investments. We may acquire target assets through portfolio or other acquisitions. Our Manager targets desirable markets where it has expertise in the real estate collateral underlying the assets being acquired. Our target assets include the following types of loans and other investments with respect to commercial real estate:

·

Whole mortgage loans:  loans secured by a first mortgage lien on a commercial property that provide mortgage financing to commercial property developers or owners generally having maturity dates ranging from three to 10 years;

·

B‑Notes:  typically a privately negotiated loan that is secured by a first mortgage on a single large commercial property or group of related properties and subordinated to an A Note secured by the same first mortgage on the same property or group;

·

Mezzanine loans:  loans made to commercial property owners that are secured by pledges of the borrower’s ownership interests in the property and/or the property owner, subordinate to whole mortgage loans secured by first or second mortgage liens on the property and senior to the borrower’s equity in the property;

·

Construction or rehabilitation loans:  mortgage loans and mezzanine loans to finance the cost of construction or rehabilitation of a commercial property;

·

CMBS:  securities that are collateralized by commercial mortgage loans, including:

·

senior and subordinated investment grade CMBS,

·

below investment grade CMBS, and

·

unrated CMBS;

·

Corporate bank debt:  term loans and revolving credit facilities of commercial real estate operating or finance companies, each of which are generally secured by such companies’ assets;

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·

Corporate bonds:  debt securities issued by commercial real estate operating or finance companies that may or may not be secured by such companies’ assets, including:

·

investment grade corporate bonds,

·

below investment grade corporate bonds, and

·

unrated corporate bonds;

·

Equity:  equity interests in commercial real estate properties.

We have also invested in the following types of loans and other debt investments relating to residential real estate:

·

Non‑Agency RMBS:  securities collateralized by residential mortgage loans that are not guaranteed by any U.S. Government agency or federally chartered corporation; and

·

Residential mortgage loans:  loans secured by a first mortgage lien on residential property.

In addition, we may invest in the following real estate-related investments:

·

Net leases:  commercial properties subject to net leases, which leases typically have longer terms than gross leases, require tenants to pay substantially all of the operating costs associated with the properties and often have contractually specified rent increases throughout their terms;

·

Agency RMBS:  RMBS for which a U.S. government agency or a federally chartered corporation guarantees payments of principal and interest on the securities;

·

Commercial real estate owned (“REO”):  commercial properties purchased from CMBS trusts; and

·

Commercial non‑performing loans (“NPLs”):  as part of our efforts to attain additional servicing rights in Europe, we may acquire a minority interest in portfolios of NPLs, alongside other majority investors.

Business Segments

We currently operate our business in three reportable segments: the Lending Segment, the Investing and Servicing Segment and the Property Segment. Refer to Note 23 of our Consolidated Financial Statements for our results of operations and financial position by business segment.

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Lending Segment

The following table sets forth the amount of each category of investments we owned across various property types within our Lending Segment as of December 31, 2015 and 2014 (amounts in thousands):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Face

    

Carrying

    

Asset Specific

    

Net

    

 

    

Unlevered

 

 

 

Amount

 

Value

 

Financing

 

Investment

 

Vintage

 

Return on Asset

 

December 31, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First mortgages (1)

 

$

4,776,576

 

$

4,723,852

 

$

2,174,232

 

$

2,549,620

 

1989-2015

 

6.9

%

Subordinated mortgages

 

 

416,713

 

 

392,563

 

 

6,021

 

 

386,542

 

1998-2015

 

11.2

%

Mezzanine loans (1)

 

 

850,024

 

 

862,693

 

 

 —

 

 

862,693

 

2006-2015

 

10.9

%

Loans transferred as secured borrowings

 

 

88,000

 

 

86,573

 

 

88,000

 

 

(1,427)

 

N/A

 

 

 

Loan loss allowance

 

 

 —

 

 

(6,029)

 

 

 —

 

 

(6,029)

 

N/A

 

 

 

RMBS—AFS (2)

 

 

233,976

 

 

176,224

 

 

2,000

 

 

174,224

 

2003-2007

 

11.9

%

HTM securities (3)

 

 

321,193

 

 

321,244

 

 

179,589

 

 

141,655

 

2013-2015

 

6.5

%

Equity security

 

 

13,471

 

 

14,498

 

 

 —

 

 

14,498

 

N/A

 

 

 

Investments in unconsolidated entities

 

 

N/A

 

 

30,827

 

 

 —

 

 

30,827

 

N/A

 

 

 

 

 

$

6,699,953

 

$

6,602,445

 

$

2,449,842

 

$

4,152,603

 

 

 

 

 

December 31, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First mortgages (1)

 

$

4,599,841

 

$

4,531,030

 

$

2,051,504

 

$

2,479,526

 

1989-2014

 

6.9

%

Subordinated mortgages

 

 

374,859

 

 

345,091

 

 

2,000

 

 

343,091

 

1998-2014

 

11.0

%

Mezzanine loans (1)

 

 

889,948

 

 

901,217

 

 

 —

 

 

901,217

 

2006-2014

 

11.4

%

Loans transferred as secured borrowings

 

 

129,570

 

 

129,427

 

 

129,441

 

 

(14)

 

N/A

 

 

 

Loan loss allowance

 

 

 —

 

 

(6,031)

 

 

 —

 

 

(6,031)

 

N/A

 

 

 

RMBS—AFS (2)

 

 

270,783

 

 

207,053

 

 

101,886

 

 

105,167

 

2003-2007

 

12.3

%

CMBS—AFS (2)

 

 

93,686

 

 

100,349

 

 

 —

 

 

100,349

 

2012-2013

 

12.1

%

HTM securities (3)

 

 

440,253

 

 

441,995

 

 

97,103

 

 

344,892

 

2013-2014

 

8.6

%

Equity security

 

 

14,237

 

 

15,120

 

 

 —

 

 

15,120

 

N/A

 

 

 

Investments in unconsolidated entities (4)

 

 

N/A

 

 

22,537

 

 

 —

 

 

22,537

 

N/A

 

 

 

 

 

$

6,813,177

 

$

6,687,788

 

$

2,381,934

 

$

4,305,854

 

 

 

 

 


(1)

First mortgages include first mortgage loans and any contiguous mezzanine loan components because as a whole, the expected credit quality of these loans is more similar to that of a first mortgage loan.  The application of this methodology resulted in mezzanine loans with carrying values of $930.0 million and $704.2 million being classified as first mortgages as of December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively.

(2)

RMBS and CMBS available-for-sale (“AFS”) securities.

(3)

Mandatorily redeemable preferred equity interests in commercial real estate entities and CMBS held-to-maturity (“HTM”).

(4)

Retrospectively reclassified our $129.5 million investment in four regional shopping malls (the “Retail Fund”) to our newly established Property Segment.

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As of December 31, 2015 and 2014, our Lending Segment’s investment portfolio, excluding RMBS and other investments, had the following characteristics based on carrying values:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

Collateral Property Type

    

2015

    

2014

 

Office

 

39.4

%  

42.1

%

Hospitality

 

28.2

%  

24.7

%

Mixed Use

 

12.8

%  

8.8

%

Multi-family

 

9.0

%  

13.1

%

Retail

 

6.4

%  

8.3

%

Residential

 

2.3

%  

1.1

%

Industrial

 

1.9

%  

1.9

%

 

 

100.0

%  

100.0

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

Geographic Location

    

2015

    

2014

 

North East

 

28.8

%  

26.8

%

West

 

23.2

%  

25.6

%

South East

 

17.3

%  

12.4

%

International

 

13.1

%  

14.2

%

South West

 

7.1

%  

6.1

%

Midwest

 

6.4

%  

8.5

%

Mid Atlantic

 

4.1

%  

6.4

%

 

 

100.0

%  

100.0

%

Our investment process includes sourcing and screening of investment opportunities, assessing investment suitability, conducting interest rate and prepayment analysis, evaluating cash flow and collateral performance, and reviewing legal structure and servicer and originator information and investment structuring, as appropriate, to seek an attractive return commensurate with the risk we are bearing. Upon identification of an investment opportunity, the investment will be screened and monitored by us to determine its impact on maintaining our REIT qualification and our exemption from registration under the 1940 Act. We will seek to make investments in sectors where we have strong core competencies and believe market risk and expected performance can be reasonably quantified.

We evaluate each one of our investment opportunities based on its expected risk‑adjusted return relative to the returns available from other, comparable investments. In addition, we evaluate new opportunities based on their relative expected returns compared to comparable positions held in our portfolio. The terms of any leverage available to us for use in funding an investment purchase are also taken into consideration, as are any risks posed by illiquidity or correlations with other securities in the portfolio. We also develop a macro outlook with respect to each target asset class by examining factors in the broader economy such as gross domestic product, interest rates, unemployment rates and availability of credit, among other things. We also analyze fundamental trends in the relevant target asset class sector to adjust/maintain our outlook for that particular target asset class.

Our primary focus has been to build a portfolio of commercial mortgage and mezzanine loans with attractive risk‑adjusted returns by focusing on the underlying real estate fundamentals and credit analysis of the borrowers. We continually monitor borrower performance and complete a detailed, loanby‑loan formal credit review on a quarterly basis. The results of this review are incorporated into our quarterly assessment of the adequacy of the allowance for loan losses.

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The weighted average coupon for first mortgages, subordinated mortgages and mezzanine loans originated and acquired by the Lending Segment during the year ended December 31, 2015 was 4.4%, 8.3% and 10.5%, respectively. The following table summarizes the activity in the Lending Segment’s loan portfolio and the associated changes in future funding commitments associated with these loans during the year ended December 31, 2015 (amounts in thousands):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrying

 

Future Funding

 

 

 

Value

 

Commitments

 

Balance at January 1, 2015

 

$

5,900,734

 

$

2,101,003

 

Acquisitions/originations

 

 

1,832,499

 

 

418,752

 

Additional funding and expired commitments

 

 

541,801

 

 

(548,811)

 

Capitalized interest (1)

 

 

70,675

 

 

 —

 

Basis of loans sold

 

 

(632,285)

 

 

(351,868)

 

Loan maturities/principal repayments

 

 

(1,642,500)

 

 

(90,849)

 

Discount accretion/premium amortization

 

 

36,862

 

 

 —

 

Unrealized foreign currency remeasurement (loss) gain

 

 

(51,278)

 

 

(24,338)

 

Change in loan loss allowance, net

 

 

2

 

 

 —

 

Transfer to/from other asset classifications

 

 

3,142

 

 

 —

 

Balance at December 31, 2015

 

$

6,059,652

 

$

1,503,889

 


(1)

Represents accrued interest income on loans whose terms do not require current payment of interest.

As of December 31, 2015, the Lending Segment’s loans held‑for‑investment and HTM securities had a weighted‑average maturity of 2.7 years, inclusive of extension options that management believes are probable of exercise. The table below shows the carrying value expected to mature annually for our loans held‑for‑investment and HTM securities (amounts in thousands, except number of investments maturing).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Number of

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

Investments

 

Carrying

 

 

 

Year of Maturity

 

Maturing (1)

 

Value (1)

 

% of Total

 

2016

 

35

 

$

801,121

 

12.7

%

2017

 

60

 

 

993,016

 

15.8

%

2018

 

94

 

 

2,316,591

 

36.8

%

2019

 

84

 

 

1,624,514

 

25.8

%

2020

 

15

 

 

245,592

 

3.9

%

2021

 

1

 

 

4,582

 

0.1

%

2022

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 —

%

2023

 

4

 

 

52,987

 

0.8

%

2024

 

17

 

 

220,055

 

3.5

%

2025 and thereafter

 

1

 

 

41,894

 

0.6

%

Total

 

311

 

$

6,300,352

 

100.0

%


(1)

Excludes loans transferred as secured borrowings, RMBS, equity security and investments in unconsolidated entities. Carrying value also excludes loan loss allowance.

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Investing and Servicing Segment

The following table sets forth the amount of each category of investments we owned within our Investing and Servicing Segment as of December 31, 2015 and 2014 (amounts in thousands):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

Asset

    

 

 

 

 

 

Face

 

Carrying

 

Specific

 

Net

 

 

 

Amount

 

Value

 

Financing

 

Investment

 

December 31, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CMBS, fair value option

 

$

4,704,136

 

$

1,038,200

(1)  

$

193,944

 

$

844,256

 

Intangible assets - servicing rights

 

 

N/A

 

 

134,153

(2)

 

 —

 

 

134,153

 

Lease intangibles, net

 

 

N/A

 

 

14,621

 

 

 —

 

 

14,621

 

Loans held-for-sale, fair value option

 

 

203,710

 

 

203,865

 

 

146,783

 

 

57,082

 

Investment in unconsolidated entities

 

 

N/A

 

 

53,145

 

 

 —

 

 

53,145

 

Properties, net

 

 

N/A

 

 

150,497

 

 

82,964

 

 

67,533

 

 

 

$

4,907,846

 

$

1,594,481

 

$

423,691

 

$

1,170,790

 

December 31, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CMBS, fair value option

 

$

4,281,364

 

$

753,553

(1)

$

 —

 

$

753,553

 

Intangible assets - servicing rights

 

 

N/A

 

 

190,207

(2)

 

 —

 

 

190,207

 

Loans held-for-sale, fair value option

 

 

390,342

 

 

391,620

 

 

208,363

 

 

183,257

 

Loans held-for-investment

 

 

9,685

 

 

7,931

 

 

 —

 

 

7,931

 

Investment in unconsolidated entities

 

 

N/A

 

 

48,693

 

 

 —

 

 

48,693

 

Properties, net

 

 

N/A

 

 

39,854

 

 

14,000

 

 

25,854

 

 

 

$

4,681,391

 

$

1,431,858

 

$

222,363

 

$

1,209,495

 


(1)

Includes $825.2 million and $519.8 million of CMBS reflected in “VIE liabilities” in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 810 as of December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively.

(2)

Includes $11.8 million and $46.1 million of servicing rights intangibles reflected in “VIE assets” in accordance with ASC 810 as of December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively.

As of December 31, 2015, the Investing and Servicing Segment’s CMBS had a weighted‑average expected maturity of 8.2 years. The table below shows the CMBS carrying value expected to mature annually over the next 10 years and thereafter (amounts in thousands, except number of investments maturing).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Number of

    

 

    

 

 

 

 

Investments

 

Carrying

 

 

 

Year of Maturity

 

Maturing

 

Value

 

% of Total

 

2016

 

69

 

$

25,960

 

2.5

%

2017

 

24

 

 

37,318

 

3.6

%

2018

 

17

 

 

70,454

 

6.8

%

2019

 

16

 

 

33,544

 

3.2

%

2020

 

6

 

 

21,124

 

2.0

%

2021

 

8

 

 

34,764

 

3.4

%

2022

 

3

 

 

3,023

 

0.3

%

2023

 

18

 

 

115,369

 

11.1

%

2024

 

24

 

 

139,060

 

13.4

%

2025 and thereafter

 

158

 

 

557,584

 

53.7

%

Total

 

343

 

$

1,038,200

 

100.0

%

 

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Property Segment

 

The following table sets forth the amount of each category of investments, which are comprised of properties, the Retail Fund and intangible lease assets and liabilities, held within our Property Segment as of December 31, 2015 and 2014 (amounts in thousands):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

As of December 31,

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

Properties, net

 

$

768,728

 

$

 —

Lease intangibles, net

 

 

58,658

 

 

 —

Investment in unconsolidated entities

 

 

122,454

 

 

129,475

 

 

$

949,840

 

$

129,475

 

The following table sets forth our net investment and other information regarding the Property Segment’s properties and intangible lease assets and liabilities as of December 31, 2015 (dollar amounts in thousands):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Net

    

Asset

    

 

    

 

    

Weighted Average

 

 

Carrying

 

Specific

 

Net

 

Occupancy

 

Remaining

 

 

Value

 

Financing

 

Investment

 

Rate

 

Lease Term

Office—Ireland Portfolio

 

$

464,528

 

$

308,268

 

$

156,260

 

98.4

%

 

10.6 years

Multi-family residential—Ireland Portfolio

 

 

16,824

 

 

11,054

 

 

5,770

 

97.0

%

 

0.6 years

Multi-family residential—Woodstar Portfolio

 

 

346,034

 

 

257,612

 

 

88,422

 

96.8

%

 

0.5 years

 

 

$

827,386

 

$

576,934

 

$

250,452

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refer to Schedule III included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10‑K for a detailed listing of the properties held by the Company, including their respective geographic locations.

Regulation

Our operations are subject, in certain instances, to supervision and regulation by state and federal governmental authorities and may be subject to various laws and judicial and administrative decisions imposing various requirements and restrictions, which, among other things: (1) regulate credit granting activities; (2) establish maximum interest rates, finance charges and other charges; (3) require disclosures to customers; (4) govern secured transactions; (5) set collection, foreclosure, repossession and claims handling procedures and other trade practices; and (6) regulate affordable housing rental activities. Although most states do not regulate commercial finance, certain states impose limitations on interest rates and other charges and on certain collection practices and creditor remedies, and require licensing of lenders and financiers and adequate disclosure of certain contract terms. We are also required to comply with certain provisions of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act that are applicable to commercial loans and the Fair Housing Act. We intend to conduct our business so that neither we nor any of our subsidiaries are required to register as an investment company under the 1940 Act.

Competition

We are engaged in a competitive business. In our investment activities, we compete for opportunities with numerous public and private investment vehicles, including financial institutions, specialty finance companies, mortgage banks, pension funds, opportunity funds, hedge funds, insurance companies, REITs and other institutional investors, as well as individuals. Many competitors are significantly larger than we are, have well established operating histories and may have greater access to capital, more resources and other advantages over us. These competitors may be willing to accept lower returns on their investments or to compromise underwriting standards and, as a result, our origination volume and profit margins could be adversely affected.

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Our Manager

We are externally managed and advised by our Manager and benefit from the personnel, relationships and experience of our Manager’s executive team and other personnel of Starwood Capital Group. Pursuant to the terms of a management agreement between our Manager and us, our Manager provides us with our management team and appropriate support personnel. Pursuant to an investment advisory agreement between our Manager and Starwood Capital Group Management, LLC, our Manager has access to the personnel and resources of Starwood Capital Group necessary for the implementation and execution of our business strategy.

Our Manager is an affiliate of Starwood Capital Group, a privately‑held private equity firm founded and controlled by Mr. Sternlicht. Starwood Capital Group has invested in most major classes of real estate, directly and indirectly, through operating companies, portfolios of properties and single assets, including multifamily, office, retail, hotel, residential entitled land and communities, senior housing, mixed‑use and golf courses. Starwood Capital Group invests at different levels of the capital structure, including equity, preferred equity, mezzanine debt and senior debt, depending on the asset risk profile and return expectation.

Our Manager draws upon the experience and expertise of Starwood Capital Group’s team of professionals and support personnel operating in 12 cities across six countries. Our Manager also benefits from Starwood Capital Group’s dedicated asset management group operating in offices located in the U.S. and abroad. We also benefit from Starwood Capital Group’s portfolio management, finance and administration functions, which address legal, compliance, investor relations and operational matters, asset valuation, risk management and information technologies in connection with the performance of our Manager’s duties.

Employees

As of December 31, 2015, the Company has 450 full‑time employees, the majority of which are real estate professionals located throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Taxation of the Company

We have elected to be taxed as a REIT under the Code, for federal income tax purposes. We generally must distribute annually at least 90% of our taxable income, subject to certain adjustments and excluding any net capital gain, in order for federal corporate income tax not to apply to our earnings that we distribute. To the extent that we satisfy this distribution requirement, but distribute less than 100% of our taxable income, we will be subject to federal corporate income tax on our undistributed taxable income. In addition, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax if the actual amount that we pay out to our stockholders in a calendar year is less than a minimum amount specified under federal tax laws. Our qualification as a REIT also depends on our ability to meet various other requirements imposed by the Code, which relate to organizational structure, diversity of stock ownership and certain restrictions with regard to owned assets and categories of income. If we qualify for taxation as a REIT, we will generally not be subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax on our taxable income that is currently distributed to stockholders.

Even if we qualify as a REIT, we may be subject to certain federal excise taxes and state and local taxes on our income and property. If we fail to qualify as a REIT in any taxable year, we will be subject to federal income taxes at regular corporate rates (including any applicable alternative minimum tax) and will not be able to qualify as a REIT for four subsequent taxable years. REITs are subject to a number of organizational and operational requirements under the Code.

We utilize taxable REIT subsidiaries (“TRSs”) to reduce the impact of the prohibited transaction tax and to avoid penalty for the holding of assets not qualifying as real estate assets for purposes of the REIT asset tests. Any income associated with a TRS is fully taxable because a TRS is subject to federal and state income taxes as a domestic C corporation based upon its net income.

See Item 1A—“Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Taxation as a REIT” for additional tax status information.

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Leverage Policies

Refer to Item 7—“Management Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Leverage Policies.”

Investment Guidelines

Our board of directors has adopted the following investment guidelines:

·

our investments will be in our target assets unless otherwise approved by our board of directors;

·

no investment shall be made that would cause us to fail to qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes;

·

no investment shall be made that would cause us or any of our subsidiaries to be required to be registered as an investment company under the 1940 Act;

·

not more than 25% of our equity will be invested in any individual asset without the consent of a majority of our independent directors; and

·

any investment of up to $50 million requires the approval of our Manager’s Investment Committee; any investment in excess of $50 million also requires the approval of our Chief Executive Officer; any investment from $150 million to $250 million also requires the approval of the Investment Committee of our board of directors; and any investment in excess of $250 million also requires the approval of our board of directors.

These investment guidelines may be changed from time to time by our board of directors without the approval of our stockholders. In addition, both our Manager and our board of directors must approve any change in our investment guidelines that would modify or expand the types of assets in which we invest.

Available Information

Our website address is www.starwoodpropertytrust.com. We make available free of charge through our website our Annual Reports on Form 10‑K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10‑Q, Current Reports on Form 8‑K, all amendments to those reports and other filings as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), and also make available on our website the charters for the Audit, Compensation and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committees of our board of directors and our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and Code of Ethics for Principal Executive Officer and Senior Financial Officers, as well as our corporate governance guidelines. Copies in print of these documents are available upon request to our Corporate Secretary at the address indicated on the cover of this report. The information on our website is not a part of, nor is it incorporated by reference into, this Annual Report on Form 10‑K.

We intend to post on our website any amendment to, or waiver of, a provision of our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics or Code of Ethics for Principal Executive Officer and Senior Financial Officers that applies to our Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer or persons performing similar functions and that relates to any element of the code of ethics definition set forth in Item 406 of Regulation S‑K of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

To communicate with our board of directors electronically, we have established an e‑mail address, BoardofDirectors@stwdreit.com, to which stockholders may send correspondence to our board of directors or any such individual directors or group or committee of directors.

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Item 1A.  Risk Factors.

Risks Related to Our Relationship with Our Manager

We are dependent on Starwood Capital Group, including our Manager, and their key personnel, who provide services to us through the management agreement, and we may not find a suitable replacement for our Manager and Starwood Capital Group if the management agreement is terminated, or for these key personnel if they leave Starwood Capital Group or otherwise become unavailable to us.

Our Manager has significant discretion as to the implementation of our investment and operating policies and strategies. Accordingly, we believe that our success depends to a significant extent upon the efforts, experience, diligence, skill and network of business contacts of the officers and key personnel of our Manager. The officers and key personnel of our Manager evaluate, negotiate, close and monitor a substantial portion of our investments; therefore, our success depends on their continued service. The departure of any of the officers or key personnel of our Manager could have a material adverse effect on our performance.

We offer no assurance that our Manager will remain our investment manager or that we will continue to have access to our Manager’s officers and key personnel. The initial term of our management agreement with our Manager, and the initial term of the investment advisory agreement between our Manager and Starwood Capital Group Management, LLC, expired on August 17, 2012, with automatic one‑year renewals thereafter; provided, however, that our Manager may terminate the management agreement annually upon 180 days prior notice. If the management agreement and the investment advisory agreement are terminated and no suitable replacement is found to manage us, we may not be able to continue to execute our business plan.

There are various conflicts of interest in our relationship with Starwood Capital Group, including our Manager, which could result in decisions that are not in the best interests of our stockholders.

We are subject to conflicts of interest arising out of our relationship with Starwood Capital Group, including our Manager. Specifically, Mr. Sternlicht, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey G. Dishner, one of our directors, and certain of our executive officers are executives of Starwood Capital Group.

Our Manager and executive officers may have conflicts between their duties to us and their duties to, and interests in, Starwood Capital Group and its other investment funds. Currently, Starwood Global Opportunity Fund X (the “Starwood Private Real Estate Fund”) has a right to invest 25% of the equity capital proposed to be invested by any investment vehicle managed by an entity controlled by Starwood Capital Group in debt interests relating to real estate. Our co‑investment rights are subject to, among other things, (i) the determination by our Manager that the proposed investment is suitable for us and (ii) our Manager’s sole discretion as to whether or not to exclude from our investment portfolio at any time any “medium‑term loan to own” investment, which our Manager considers to be mortgage loans or other real estate‑related loan or debt investments where the proposed originator or acquirer of any such investment has the intent and/or expectation of foreclosing on, or otherwise acquiring the real property securing the loan or investment at any time between 18 and 48 months of its origination or acquisition of the loan or investment. In addition, in the case of opportunities to invest in a portfolio of assets including both equity and debt real estate-related investments, we would not have the co‑investment rights described above if our Manager determines that less than 50% of the aggregate anticipated investment returns from the portfolio is expected to come from our target assets. Since we are subject to the judgment of our Manager in the application of our co‑investment rights, we may not always be allocated 75% of each co‑investment opportunity in our target asset classes. Our independent directors periodically review our Manager’s and Starwood Capital Group’s compliance with the co‑investment provisions described above, but they do not approve each co‑investment by the Starwood Private Real Estate Fund and us unless the amount of capital we invest in the proposed co‑investment otherwise requires the review and approval of our independent directors pursuant to our investment guidelines. Pursuant to the exclusivity provisions of the Starwood Private Real Estate Fund, our investment strategy may not include either (i) equity interests in real estate or (ii) “near‑term loan to own” investments, in each case (of both (i) and (ii)) if such investments are expected, at the time such investment is made, to produce an internal rate of return (“IRR”) in excess of 14%. Therefore, our board of directors does not have the flexibility to expand our investment strategy to include equity interests in real estate or “near‑ term loan to own” investments with such an IRR expectation.

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Our Manager, Starwood Capital Group and their respective affiliates may sponsor or manage a U.S. publicly traded investment vehicle that invests generally in real estate assets but not primarily in our target assets, or a potential competing vehicle. Our Manager and Starwood Capital Group have also agreed that for so long as the management agreement is in effect and our Manager and Starwood Capital Group are under common control, no entity controlled by Starwood Capital Group will sponsor or manage a potential competing vehicle or private or foreign competing vehicle unless Starwood Capital Group adopts a policy that either (i) provides for the fair and equitable allocation of investment opportunities among all such vehicles and us or (ii) provides us the right to co‑invest with such vehicles, in each case subject to the suitability of each investment opportunity for the particular vehicle and us and each such vehicle’s and our availability of cash for investment. To the extent that we have co‑investment rights with these vehicles in the future, there can be no assurance that these future rights will entitle us to a similar percentage allocation as we currently have with respect to the Starwood Private Real Estate Fund.

To the extent that our Manager and Starwood Capital Group adopt the investment allocation policy described in the preceding paragraph in the future, we may nonetheless compete with one or more of these vehicles for investment opportunities sourced by our Manager and Starwood Capital Group. As a result, we may either not be presented with the opportunity or may have to compete with these vehicles to acquire these investments. Some or all of our executive officers, the members of the investment committee of our Manager and other key personnel of our Manager would likely be responsible for selecting investments for these vehicles and they may choose to allocate favorable investments to one or more of these vehicles instead of to us.

Our board of directors has adopted a policy with respect to any proposed investments by our directors or officers or the officers of our Manager, which we refer to as the covered persons, in any of our target asset classes. This policy provides that any proposed investment by a covered person for his or her own account in any of our target asset classes will be permitted if the capital required for the investment does not exceed the personal investment limit. To the extent that a proposed investment exceeds the personal investment limit, we expect that our board of directors will only permit the covered person to make the investment (i) upon the approval of the disinterested directors or (ii) if the proposed investment otherwise complies with terms of any other related party transaction policy our board of directors has adopted. Subject to compliance with all applicable laws, these individuals may make investments for their own account in our target assets which may present certain conflicts of interest not addressed by our current policies.

We pay our Manager substantial base management fees regardless of the performance of our portfolio. Our Manager’s entitlement to a base management fee, which is not based upon performance metrics or goals, might reduce its incentive to devote its time and effort to seeking investments that provide attractive risk‑adjusted returns for our portfolio. This in turn could hurt both our ability to make distributions to our stockholders and the market price of our common stock.

Excluding our operating subsidiaries, we do not have any employees except for Andrew Sossen, our Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, and Rina Paniry, our Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Chief Accounting Officer, whom Starwood Capital Group has seconded to us exclusively. Mr. Sossen and Ms. Paniry are also employees of other entities affiliated with our Manager and, as a result, are subject to potential conflicts of interest in service as our employees and as employees of such entities.

The management agreement with our Manager was not negotiated on an arm’s‑length basis and may not be as favorable to us as if it had been negotiated with an unaffiliated third party and may be costly and difficult to terminate.

Certain of our executive officers and two of our six directors are executives of Starwood Capital Group. Our management agreement with our Manager was negotiated between related parties and its terms, including fees payable, may not be as favorable to us as if it had been negotiated with an unaffiliated third party.

Termination of the management agreement with our Manager without cause is difficult and costly. Our independent directors will review our Manager’s performance and the management fees annually and the management agreement may be terminated annually upon the affirmative vote of at least two‑thirds of our independent directors based upon: (i) our Manager’s unsatisfactory performance that is materially detrimental to us, or (ii) a determination that the

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management fees payable to our Manager are not fair, subject to our Manager’s right to prevent termination based on unfair fees by accepting a reduction of management fees agreed to by at least two‑thirds of our independent directors. Our Manager will be provided 180 days prior notice of any such a termination. Additionally, upon such a termination, the management agreement provides that we will pay our Manager a termination fee equal to three times the sum of the average annual base management fee and incentive fee received by our Manager during the prior 24‑month period before such termination, calculated as of the end of the most recently completed fiscal quarter. These provisions may increase the cost to us of terminating the management agreement and adversely affect our ability to terminate our Manager without cause.

The initial term of our management agreement with our Manager, and the initial term of the investment advisory agreement between our Manager and Starwood Capital Group Management, LLC, expired on August 17, 2012, with automatic one‑year renewals thereafter; provided, however, that our Manager may terminate the management agreement annually upon 180 days prior notice. If the management agreement is terminated and no suitable replacement is found to manage us, we may not be able to continue to execute our business plan.

Pursuant to the management agreement, our Manager does not assume any responsibility other than to render the services called for thereunder and is not responsible for any action of our board of directors in following or declining to follow its advice or recommendations. Our Manager maintains a contractual as opposed to a fiduciary relationship with us. Under the terms of the management agreement, our Manager, its officers, members, personnel, any person controlling or controlled by our Manager and any person providing sub‑advisory services to our Manager will not be 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 management agreement, except because of acts constituting bad faith, willful misconduct, gross negligence, or reckless disregard of their duties under the management agreement. In addition, we have agreed to indemnify our Manager, its officers, stockholders, members, managers, directors, personnel, any person controlling or controlled by our Manager and any person providing sub‑advisory services to our Manager with respect to all expenses, losses, damages, liabilities, demands, charges and claims arising from acts or omissions of our Manager not constituting bad faith, willful misconduct, gross negligence, or reckless disregard of duties, performed in good faith in accordance with and pursuant to the management agreement.

The incentive fee payable to our Manager under the management agreement is payable quarterly and is based on our core earnings and, therefore, may cause our Manager to select investments in more risky assets to increase its incentive compensation.

Our Manager is entitled to receive incentive compensation based upon our achievement of targeted levels of core earnings. In evaluating investments and other management strategies, the opportunity to earn incentive compensation based on core earnings may lead our Manager to place undue emphasis on the maximization of core earnings at the expense of other criteria, such as preservation of capital, in order to achieve higher incentive compensation. Investments with higher yield potential are generally riskier or more speculative. This could result in increased risk to the value of our investment portfolio.

Core earnings is not a measure calculated in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“GAAP”) and is defined within Item 7 – Non-GAAP Financial Measures in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. 

Certain agreements with Colony Starwood Homes (formerly known as Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust) may not reflect terms that would have resulted from arm’s‑length negotiations among unaffiliated third parties.

As described above, on January 31, 2014, we distributed all of the common shares of Colony Starwood Homes (formerly known as Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust), our former wholly-owned subsidiary, to our stockholders of record on January 24, 2014, which completed the spin-off of our former SFR segment.  The terms of the agreements related to the separation, including a separation and distribution agreement, dated January 16, 2014 (the “Separation Agreement”), were negotiated in the context of the separation while Colony Starwood Homes was still a part of us and, accordingly, may not reflect terms that would have resulted from arm’s‑length negotiations among unaffiliated third parties. 

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In the Separation Agreement, we agreed to indemnify Colony Starwood Homes and its affiliates and representatives against losses arising from: (a) any liability of ours or our subsidiaries (excluding any liabilities related to Colony Starwood Homes); (b) any failure of us and our subsidiaries (other than Colony Starwood Homes and its subsidiaries) (collectively, the “Starwood Group”) to pay, perform or otherwise promptly discharge any liability listed under (a) above in accordance with their respective terms, whether prior to, at or after the time of effectiveness of the Separation Agreement; (c) any breach by any member of the Starwood Group of any provision of the Separation Agreement and any agreements ancillary thereto (if any), subject to any limitations of liability provisions and other provisions applicable to any such breach set forth therein; and (d) any untrue statement or alleged untrue statement of a material fact or omission or alleged omission to state a material fact required to be stated therein or necessary to make the statements therein not misleading, with respect to all information contained in Colony Starwood Homes’ information statement or the registration statement of which Colony Starwood Homes’ information statement is a part that relates solely to any assets owned, directly or indirectly by us, other than Colony Starwood Homes’ initial portfolio of assets, which included all of our single‑family rental homes and distressed and non‑performing residential mortgage loans and certain cash transferred to Colony Starwood Homes or its subsidiaries by us. Any indemnification payments that we may be required to make could have a significantly negative effect on our liquidity and results of operations.

Our conflicts of interest policy may not adequately address all of the conflicts of interest that may arise with respect to our investment activities and also may limit the allocation of investments to us.

In order to avoid any actual or perceived conflicts of interest with our Manager, Starwood Capital Group, any of their affiliates or any investment vehicle sponsored or managed by Starwood Capital Group or any of its affiliates, which we refer to as the Starwood parties, we have adopted a conflicts of interest policy to specifically address some of the conflicts relating to our investment opportunities. Although under this policy the approval of a majority of our independent directors is required to approve (i) any purchase of our assets by any of the Starwood parties and (ii) any purchase by us of any assets of any of the Starwood parties, there is no assurance that this policy will be adequate to address all of the conflicts that may arise or will address such conflicts in a manner that results in the allocation of a particular investment opportunity to us or is otherwise favorable to us. In addition, the Starwood Private Real Estate Fund currently, and additional competing vehicles may in the future, participate in some of our investments, possibly at a more senior level in the capital structure of the underlying borrower and related real estate than our investment. Our interests in such investments may also conflict with the interests of these entities in the event of a default or restructuring of the investment. Participating investments will not be the result of arm’s length negotiations and will involve potential conflicts between our interests and those of the other participating entities in obtaining favorable terms. Since certain of our executives are also executives of Starwood Capital Group, the same personnel may determine the price and terms for the investments for both us and these entities and there can be no assurance that any procedural protections, such as obtaining market prices or other reliable indicators of fair value, will prevent the consideration we pay for these investments from exceeding their fair value or ensure that we receive terms for a particular investment opportunity that are as favorable as those available from an independent third party.

Our board of directors has approved very broad investment guidelines for our Manager and does not approve each investment and financing decision made by our Manager unless required by our investment guidelines.

Our Manager is authorized to follow very broad investment guidelines which enable our Manager to make investments on our behalf in a wide array of assets. Our board of directors will periodically review our investment guidelines and our investment portfolio but will not, and will not be required to, review all of our proposed investments, except if the investment requires us to commit either at least $150 million of capital or 25% of our equity in any individual asset. In addition, in conducting periodic reviews, our board of directors may rely and may make investments through affiliates primarily on information provided to them by our Manager. Furthermore, our Manager may use complex strategies, and transactions entered into by our Manager may be costly, difficult or impossible to unwind by the time they are reviewed by our board of directors. Our Manager (or such affiliates) has great latitude within the broad parameters of our investment guidelines in determining the types and amounts of target assets it decides are attractive investments for us, which could result in investment returns that are substantially below expectations or that result in losses, which would materially and adversely affect our business operations and results. Further, decisions made and investments and financing arrangements entered into by our Manager may not fully reflect the best interests of our stockholders.

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New investments may not be profitable (or as profitable as we expect), may increase our exposure to certain industries, may increase our exposure to interest rate, foreign currency, real estate market or credit market fluctuations, may divert managerial attention from more profitable opportunities, and may require significant financial resources. A change in our investment strategy may also increase any guarantee obligations we agree to incur or increase the number of transactions we enter into with affiliates. Moreover, new investments may present risks that are difficult for us to adequately assess, given our lack of familiarity with a particular type of investment or other reasons. The risks related to new investments or the financing risks associated with such investments could adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, and could impair our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

Risks Related to Our Company

Our board of directors has in the past and may in the future at any time change one or more of our investment strategy or guidelines, financing strategy or leverage policies without stockholder consent.

Our board of directors has in the past and may in the future at any time change one or more of our investment strategy or guidelines, financing strategy or leverage policies with respect to investments, acquisitions, growth, operations, indebtedness, capitalization and distributions without the consent of our stockholders, which could result in an investment portfolio with a different risk profile. Any change in our investment strategy may increase our exposure to interest rate risk, default risk and real estate market fluctuations. These changes could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations, the market price of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

We are highly dependent on information systems and systems failures could significantly disrupt our business, which may, in turn, negatively affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

Our business is highly dependent on communications and information systems of Starwood Capital Group. Any failure or interruption of Starwood Capital Group’s systems could cause delays or other problems, which could have a material adverse effect on our operating results and negatively affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war may affect the real estate industry and our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 disrupted the U.S. financial markets, including the real estate capital markets, and negatively impacted the U.S. economy in general. Any future terrorist attacks, the anticipation of any such attacks, the consequences of any military or other response by the U.S. and its allies, and other armed conflicts could cause consumer confidence and spending to decrease or result in increased volatility in the U.S. and worldwide financial markets and economy. The economic impact of these events could also adversely affect the credit quality of some of our loans and investments and the properties underlying our interests.

We may suffer losses as a result of the adverse impact of any future attacks and these losses may adversely impact our performance and may cause the market value of our common stock to decline or be more volatile. A prolonged economic slowdown, a recession or declining real estate values could impair the performance of our investments and harm our financial condition and results of operations, increase our funding costs, limit our access to the capital markets or result in a decision by lenders not to extend credit to us. We cannot predict the severity of the effect that potential future terrorist attacks would have on us. Losses resulting from these types of events may not be fully insurable.

We have not established a minimum distribution payment level and no assurance can be given that we will be able to make distributions to our stockholders in the future at current levels or at all.

We are generally required to distribute to our stockholders at least 90% of our taxable income each year for us to qualify as a REIT under the Code, which requirement we currently intend to satisfy through quarterly distributions of

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all or substantially all of our REIT taxable income in such year, subject to certain adjustments. We have not established a minimum distribution payment level, and our ability to pay distributions may be adversely affected by a number of factors, including the risk factors contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Although we have made, and anticipate continuing to make, quarterly distributions to our stockholders, our board of directors has the sole discretion to determine the timing, form and amount of any future distributions to our stockholders, and such determination will depend on our earnings, our financial condition, debt covenants, maintenance of our REIT qualification and other factors as our board of directors may deem relevant from time to time. We believe that a change in any one of the following factors could adversely affect our results of operations and impair our ability to continue to pay distributions to our stockholders:

the profitability of the investment of the net proceeds from our equity offerings;

our ability to make profitable investments;

margin calls or other expenses that reduce our cash flow;

defaults in our asset portfolio or decreases in the value of our portfolio; and

the fact that anticipated operating expense levels may not prove accurate, as actual results may vary from estimates.

As a result, no assurance can be given that we will be able to continue to make distributions to our stockholders in the future or that the level of any future distributions we do make to our stockholders will achieve a market yield or increase or even be maintained over time, any of which could materially and adversely affect us.

In addition, distributions that we make to our stockholders are generally taxable to our stockholders as ordinary income. However, a portion of our distributions may be designated by us as long‑term capital gains to the extent that they are attributable to capital gain income recognized by us or may constitute a return of capital to the extent that they exceed our earnings and profits as determined for tax purposes. A return of capital is not taxable, but has the effect of reducing the basis of a stockholder’s investment in our common stock.

Changes in accounting rules could occur at any time and could impact us in significantly negative ways that we are unable to predict or protect against.

As has been widely publicized, the SEC, the Financial Accounting Standards Board and other regulatory bodies that establish the accounting rules applicable to us have proposed or enacted a wide array of changes to accounting rules over the last several years. Moreover, in the future these regulators may propose additional changes that we do not currently anticipate. Changes to accounting rules that apply to us could significantly impact our business or our reported financial performance in negative ways that we cannot predict or protect against. We cannot predict whether any changes to current accounting rules will occur or what impact any codified changes will have on our business, results of operations, liquidity or financial condition.

Failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes‑Oxley Act could have a material adverse effect on our business and stock price.

As a public company, we are required to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes‑Oxley Act of 2002. Internal control over financial reporting is complex and may be revised over time to adapt to changes in our business or changes in applicable accounting rules. We cannot assure you that our internal control over financial reporting will be effective in the future or that a material weakness will not be discovered with respect to a prior period for which we believe that internal controls were effective. If we are not able to maintain or document effective internal control over financial reporting, our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to certify as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of the required dates. Matters impacting our internal controls may cause us to be unable to report our financial information on a timely basis, or may cause us to restate previously issued financial information, and thereby subject us to adverse

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regulatory consequences, including sanctions or investigations by the SEC, or violations of applicable stock exchange listing rules. There could also be a negative reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of investor confidence in us and the reliability of our financial statements. Confidence in the reliability of our financial statements is also likely to suffer if we or our independent registered public accounting firm reports a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. This could materially and adversely affect us by, for example, leading to a decline in our stock price and impairing our ability to raise capital.

Risks Related to Sources of Financing

Our access to sources of financing may be limited and thus our ability to maximize our returns may be adversely affected.

Our financing sources currently include our credit agreements, our master repurchase agreements, our convertible senior notes, our mortgage debt on certain investment properties and common stock offerings. Subject to market conditions and availability, we may seek additional sources of financing in the form of bank credit facilities (including term loans and revolving facilities), repurchase agreements, warehouse facilities, structured financing arrangements, public and private equity and debt issuances and derivative instruments, in addition to transaction or asset specific funding arrangements.

Our access to additional sources of financing will depend upon a number of factors, over which we have little or no control, including:

general market conditions;

the market’s view of the quality of our assets;

the market’s perception of our growth potential;

our current and potential future earnings and cash distributions; and

the market price of the shares of our common stock.

A dislocation and/or weakness in the capital and credit markets could adversely affect one or more private lenders and could cause one or more of our private lenders to be unwilling or unable to provide us with financing or to increase the costs of that financing. In addition, if regulatory capital requirements imposed on our private lenders change, they may be required to limit, or increase the cost of, financing they provide to us. In general, this could potentially increase our financing costs and reduce our liquidity or require us to sell assets at an inopportune time or price.

To the extent structured financing arrangements are unavailable, we may have to rely more heavily on additional equity issuances, which may be dilutive to our stockholders, or on less efficient forms of debt financing that require a larger portion of our cash flow from operations, thereby reducing funds available for our operations, future business opportunities, cash distributions to our stockholders and other purposes. We cannot assure you that we will have access to such equity or debt capital on favorable terms (including, without limitation, cost and term) at the desired times, or at all, which may cause us to curtail our asset acquisition activities and/or dispose of assets, which could negatively affect our results of operations.

Our significant indebtedness subjects us to increased risk of loss and may reduce cash available for distributions to our stockholders.

We currently have a significant amount of indebtedness outstanding.  As of December 31, 2015, our total consolidated indebtedness was $5.4 billion. Our outstanding indebtedness currently includes our credit agreements, our repurchase agreements, our convertible senior notes and mortgage debt on certain investment properties. Subject to market conditions and availability, we may incur additional debt through bank credit facilities (including term loans and

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revolving facilities), repurchase agreements, warehouse facilities and structured financing arrangements, public and private debt issuances and derivative instruments, in addition to transaction or asset specific funding arrangements. The percentage of leverage we employ will vary depending on our available capital, our ability to obtain and access financing arrangements with lenders and the lenders’ and rating agencies’ estimate of the stability of our investment portfolio’s cash flow. Our governing documents contain no limitation on the amount of debt we may incur. We may significantly increase the amount of leverage we utilize at any time without approval of our board of directors. However, under our current repurchase agreements and bank credit facility, our total leverage may not exceed 75% of total assets (as defined therein), as adjusted to remove the impact of bona‑fide loan sales that are accounted for as financings and the consolidation of VIEs pursuant to GAAP. In addition, we may leverage individual assets at substantially higher levels. Incurring substantial debt subjects us to many risks that, if realized, would materially and adversely affect us, including the risk that:

our cash flow from operations may be insufficient to make required payments of principal of and interest on the debt or we may fail to comply with all of the other covenants contained in the debt, which is likely to result in (i) acceleration of such debt (and any other debt containing a cross‑default or cross‑acceleration provision) that we may be unable to repay from internal funds or to refinance on favorable terms, or at all, (ii) our inability to borrow unused amounts under our financing arrangements, even if we are current in payments on borrowings under those arrangements and/or (iii) the loss of some or all of our assets to foreclosure or sale;

our debt may increase our vulnerability to adverse economic and industry conditions with no assurance that investment yields will increase with higher financing costs;

we may be required to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our debt, thereby reducing funds available for operations, future business opportunities, stockholder distributions or other purposes; and

we may not be able to refinance debt that matures prior to the investment it was used to finance on favorable terms, or at all.

We are subject to margin calls from our lenders under our financing facilities.

Subject to certain conditions, our credit facility lenders retain the sole discretion over the market value of loans and/or securities that serve as collateral for the borrowings under our financing facilities for purposes of determining whether we are required to pay margin to such lenders.

Interest rate fluctuations could significantly decrease our results of operations and cash flows and the market value of our investments.

Our primary interest rate exposures relate to the following:

changes in interest rates may affect the yield on our investments and the financing cost of our debt, as well as the performance of our interest rate swaps that we utilize for hedging purposes, which could result in operating losses for us should interest expense exceed interest income;

declines in interest rates may reduce the yield on existing floating rate assets and/or the yield on prospective investments;

changes in the level of interest rates may affect our ability to source investments;

increases in the level of interest rates may negatively impact the value of our investments and our ability to realize gains from the disposition of assets;

increases in the level of interest rates may (x) increase the credit risk of our assets by negatively impacting the ability of our borrowers to pay debt service on our floating rate loan assets or our ability to refinance our assets

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upon maturity, and (y) negatively impact the value of the real estate collateral supporting our investments through the impact such increases can have on property valuation capitalization rates; and

changes in interest rates and/or the differential between U.S. dollar interest rates and those of non‑dollar currencies in which we invest can adversely affect the value of our non‑dollar assets and/or associated currency hedging transactions.

Our warehouse facilities may limit our ability to acquire assets, and we may incur losses if the collateral is liquidated.

We utilize warehouse facilities pursuant to which we accumulate mortgage loans in anticipation of a securitization financing, which assets are pledged as collateral for such facilities until the securitization transaction is consummated. In order to borrow funds to acquire assets under any additional warehouse facilities, we expect that our lenders thereunder would have the right to review the potential assets for which we are seeking financing. We may be unable to obtain the consent of a lender to acquire assets that we believe would be beneficial to us and we may be unable to obtain alternate financing for such assets. In addition, no assurance can be given that a securitization transaction would be consummated with respect to the assets being warehoused. If the securitization is not consummated, the lender could liquidate the warehoused collateral and we would then have to pay any amount by which the original purchase price of the collateral assets exceeds its sale price, subject to negotiated caps, if any, on our exposure. In addition, regardless of whether the securitization is consummated, if any of the warehoused collateral is sold before the consummation, we would have to bear any resulting loss on the sale. No assurance can be given that we will be able to obtain additional warehouse facilities on favorable terms, or at all.

The utilization of any of our repurchase facilities is subject to the pre‑approval of the lender.

We utilize repurchase agreements to finance the purchase of certain investments. In order for us to borrow funds under a repurchase agreement, our lender must have the right to review the potential assets for which we are seeking financing and approve such assets in its sole discretion. Accordingly, we may be unable to obtain the consent of a lender to finance an investment and alternate sources of financing for such asset may not exist.

A failure to comply with restrictive covenants in our repurchase agreements and financing facilities would have a material adverse effect on us, and any future financings may require us to provide additional collateral or pay down debt.

We are subject to various restrictive covenants contained in our existing financing arrangements and may become subject to additional covenants in connection with future financings. Our credit agreement contains covenants that restrict our ability to incur additional debt or liens, make certain investments or acquisitions, merge, consolidate or transfer or dispose of substantially all of our assets or otherwise dispose of property and assets, pay dividends and make certain other restricted payments, change the nature of our business, or enter into transactions with affiliates. The credit agreement, as well as our master repurchase agreements, each requires us to maintain compliance with various financial covenants, including a minimum tangible net worth and cash liquidity, and specified financial ratios, such as total debt to total assets and EBITDA to fixed charges. These covenants may limit our flexibility to pursue certain investments or incur additional debt. If we fail to meet or satisfy any of these covenants, we would be in default under these agreements, and our lenders could elect to declare outstanding amounts due and payable, terminate their commitments, require the posting of additional collateral and enforce their interests against existing collateral. We may also be subject to cross‑default and acceleration rights and, with respect to collateralized debt, the posting of additional collateral and foreclosure rights upon default. Further, this could also make it difficult for us to satisfy the distribution requirements necessary to maintain our status as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

These types of financing arrangements also involve the risk that the market value of the loans pledged or sold by us to the repurchase agreement counterparty or provider of the bank credit facility may decline in value, in which case the lender may require us to provide additional collateral or to repay all or a portion of the funds advanced. We may not have the funds available to repay our debt at that time, which would likely result in defaults unless we are able to raise the funds from alternative sources, which we may not be able to achieve on favorable terms or at all. Posting additional collateral would reduce our liquidity and limit our ability to leverage our assets. If we cannot meet these requirements,

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the lender could accelerate our indebtedness, increase the interest rate on advanced funds and terminate our ability to borrow funds from them, which could materially and adversely affect our financial condition and ability to continue to implement our business plan. In addition, in the event that the lender files for bankruptcy or becomes insolvent, our loans may become subject to bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings, thus depriving us, at least temporarily, of the benefit of these assets. Such an event could restrict our access to bank credit facilities and increase our cost of capital.

If one or more of our Manager’s executive officers are no longer employed by our Manager, the financial institutions providing us financing may not provide future financing to us, which could materially and adversely affect us.

If financial institutions with whom we seek to finance our investments require that one or more of our Manager’s executives continue to serve in such capacity and if one or more of our Manager’s executives are no longer employed by our Manager, it may constitute an event of default and the financial institution providing the arrangement may have acceleration rights with respect to outstanding borrowings and termination rights with respect to our ability to finance our future investments with that institution. If we are unable to obtain financing for our accelerated borrowings and for our future investments under such circumstances, we could be materially and adversely affected.

We directly or indirectly utilize non‑recourse securitizations, and such structures expose us to risks that could result in losses to us.

We utilize non‑recourse securitizations of our investments in mortgage loans to the extent consistent with the maintenance of our REIT qualification and exemption from the Investment Company Act in order to generate cash for funding new investments and/or to leverage existing assets. In most instances, this involves us transferring our loans to a special purpose securitization entity in exchange for cash. In some sale transactions, we also retain a subordinated interest in the loans sold. The securitization of our portfolio investments might magnify our exposure to losses on those portfolio investments because the subordinated interest we retain in the loans sold would be subordinate to the senior interest in the loans sold, and we would, therefore, absorb all of the losses sustained with respect to a loan sold before the owners of the senior interest experience any losses. Moreover, we cannot be assured that we will be able to access the securitization market in the future, or be able to do so at favorable rates. The inability to consummate securitizations of our portfolio investments to finance our investments on a long‑term basis could require us to seek other forms of potentially less attractive financing or to liquidate assets at an inopportune time or price, which could adversely affect our performance and our ability to continue to grow our business.

We may not have the ability to raise funds on acceptable terms necessary to settle conversions of our outstanding convertible senior notes or to purchase our outstanding convertible senior notes upon a fundamental change.

       As of December 31, 2015, we had $1.4 billion in principal amount of convertible senior notes outstanding. If a fundamental change within the meaning of our outstanding convertible senior notes occurs, holders of those notes will have the right to require us to purchase for cash any or all of their notes. The fundamental change purchase price will equal 100% of the principal amount of the notes to be purchased, plus accrued and unpaid interest thereon. In addition, upon conversion of the convertible senior notes, we will be required to make cash payments in respect of the notes being converted, unless we elect to settle the conversion entirely in shares of our common stock. However, we may not have sufficient funds at the time we are required to purchase the notes surrendered therefor or to make cash payments on the notes being converted, and we may not be able to arrange necessary financing on acceptable terms. If we were unable to raise necessary funding on acceptable terms, our operating results and financial position could be negatively impacted if we were required to repurchase the notes or to pay cash upon conversion.

Risks Related to Hedging

We enter into hedging transactions that could expose us to contingent liabilities in the future.

Subject to maintaining our qualification as a REIT, part of our investment strategy involves entering into hedging transactions that require us to fund cash payments in certain circumstances (such as the early termination of the hedging instrument caused by an event of default or other early termination event, or the decision by a counterparty to request margin securities it is contractually owed under the terms of the hedging instrument). The amount due would be

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equal to the unrealized loss of the open swap positions with the respective counterparty and could also include other fees and charges. These economic losses will be reflected in our results of operations, and our ability to fund these obligations will depend on the liquidity of our assets and access to capital at the time, and the need to fund these obligations could adversely impact our financial condition.

Hedging may adversely affect our earnings, which could reduce our cash available for distribution to our stockholders.

Subject to maintaining our qualification as a REIT, we pursue various hedging strategies to seek to reduce our exposure to adverse changes in interest rates. Our hedging activity varies in scope based on the level and volatility of interest rates, exchange rates, the types of assets held and other changing market conditions. Hedging may fail to protect or could adversely affect us because, among other things:

interest rate, currency and/or credit hedging can be expensive and may result in us receiving less interest income;

available interest rate hedges may not correspond directly with the interest rate risk for which protection is sought;

due to a credit loss, prepayment or asset sale, the duration of the hedge may not match the duration of the related asset or liability;

the amount of income that a REIT may earn from hedging transactions (other than hedging transactions that satisfy certain requirements of the Code or that are done through a TRS) to offset losses is limited by U.S. federal tax provisions governing REITs;

the credit quality of the hedging counterparty owing money on the hedge may be downgraded to such an extent that it impairs our ability to sell or assign our side of the hedging transaction; and

the hedging counterparty owing money in the hedging transaction may default on its obligation to pay.

In addition, we may fail to recalculate, readjust or execute hedges in an efficient manner.

Any hedging activity in which we engage may materially and adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows. Therefore, while we may enter into such transactions seeking to reduce risks, unanticipated changes in interest rates, credit spreads or currencies may result in poorer overall investment performance than if we had not engaged in any such hedging transactions. In addition, the degree of correlation between price movements of the instruments used in a hedging strategy and price movements in the portfolio positions or liabilities being hedged may vary materially. Moreover, for a variety of reasons, we may not seek to establish a perfect correlation between such hedging instruments and the portfolio positions or liabilities being hedged. Any such imperfect correlation may prevent us from achieving the intended hedge and expose us to risk of loss.

Hedging instruments often are not traded on regulated exchanges, guaranteed by an exchange or its clearing house, or regulated by any U.S. or foreign governmental authorities and involve risks and costs that could result in material losses.

The cost of using hedging instruments increases as the period covered by the instrument increases and during periods of rising and volatile interest rates. In addition, some hedging instruments involve risk because they often are not traded on regulated exchanges, guaranteed by an exchange or its clearing house, or regulated by any U.S. or foreign governmental authorities. Consequently, in many cases, there are no requirements with respect to record keeping, financial responsibility or segregation of customer funds and positions. Furthermore, the enforceability of agreements underlying hedging transactions may depend on compliance with applicable securities, commodity and other regulatory requirements and, depending on the identity of the counterparty, applicable international requirements. The business failure of a hedging counterparty with whom we enter into a hedging transaction that is not cleared on a regulated

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centralized clearing house will most likely result in its default. Default by a party with whom we enter into a hedging transaction may result in the loss of unrealized profits and force us to cover our commitments, if any, at the then current market price. Although generally we will seek to reserve the right to terminate our hedging positions, it may not always be possible to dispose of or close out a hedging position without the consent of the hedging counterparty and we may not be able to enter into an offsetting contract in order to cover our risk. We cannot assure you that a liquid secondary market will exist for hedging instruments purchased or sold, and we may be required to maintain a position until exercise or expiration, which could result in significant losses.

We may fail to qualify for, or choose not to elect, hedge accounting treatment.

We record derivative and hedging transactions in accordance with GAAP. Under these standards, we may fail to qualify for, or choose not to elect, hedge accounting treatment for a number of reasons, including if we use instruments that do not meet the definition of a derivative (such as short sales), we fail to satisfy hedge documentation and hedge effectiveness assessment requirements or our instruments are not highly effective. If we fail to qualify for, or choose not to elect, hedge accounting treatment, our operating results may be volatile because changes in the fair value of the derivatives that we enter into may not be offset by a change in the fair value of the related hedged transaction or item.

We enter into derivative contracts that could expose us to contingent liabilities in the future.

Subject to maintaining our qualification as a REIT, we enter into derivative contracts that could require us to fund cash payments in the future under certain circumstances (e.g., the early termination of the derivative agreement caused by an event of default or other early termination event, or the decision by a counterparty to request margin securities it is contractually owed under the terms of the derivative contract). The amount due would be equal to the unrealized loss of the open swap positions with the respective counterparty and could also include other fees and charges. These economic losses may materially and adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows.

Risks Related to Our Investments

We may not be able to identify additional assets that meet our investment objective.

We cannot assure you that we will be able to identify additional assets that meet our investment objective, that we will be successful in consummating any investment opportunities we identify or that one or more investments we may make will yield attractive risk‑adjusted returns. Our inability to do any of the foregoing likely would materially and adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

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

The lack of liquidity of our investments in real estate loans and investments, other than certain of our investments in mortgage‑backed securities (“MBS”), may make it difficult for us to sell such investments if the need or desire arises. Many of the securities we purchase are not registered under the relevant securities laws, resulting in a prohibition against their transfer, sale, pledge or their disposition except in a transaction that is exempt from the registration requirements of, or otherwise in accordance with, those laws. In addition, certain investments such as B‑Notes, mezzanine loans and bridge and other loans are also particularly illiquid investments due to their short life, their potential unsuitability for securitization and/or the greater difficulty of recovery in the event of a borrower default. As a result, many of our current investments are, and our future investments will be, illiquid and 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 our investments. Further, we may face other restrictions on our ability to liquidate an investment in a business entity to the extent that we or our Manager has or could be attributed with material non‑public information regarding such business entity. As a result, our ability to vary our portfolio in response to changes in economic and other conditions may be relatively limited, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

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Our investments may be concentrated and are subject to risk of default.

While we seek to diversify our portfolio of investments, we are not required to observe specific diversification criteria, except as may be set forth in the investment guidelines adopted by our board of directors. Therefore, our investments in our target assets may at times be concentrated in certain property types that are subject to higher risk of foreclosure, or secured by properties concentrated in a limited number of geographic locations. To the extent that our portfolio is concentrated in any one region or type of asset, downturns relating generally to such region or type of asset may result in defaults on a number of our investments within a short time period, which may reduce our net income and the value of our common stock and accordingly reduce our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

Difficult conditions in the mortgage, commercial and residential real estate markets may cause us to experience market losses related to our holdings.

Our results of operations are materially affected by conditions in the real estate markets, the financial markets and the economy generally. Concerns about the real estate market, as well as inflation, energy costs, geopolitical issues and the availability and cost of credit, have contributed to increased volatility and diminished expectations for the economy and markets going forward. The residential mortgage market has been affected by changes in the lending landscape and there is no assurance that these conditions have stabilized or that they will not worsen. The disruption in the residential mortgage market has an impact on new demand for homes, which weigh on future home price performance. There is a strong correlation between home price growth rates and mortgage loan delinquencies. Deterioration in the real estate market may cause us to experience losses related to our assets and to sell assets at a loss. Declines in the market values of our investments may adversely affect our results of operations and credit availability, which may reduce earnings and, in turn, cash available for distribution to our stockholders.

Our preferred equity investments involve a greater risk of loss than conventional debt financing.

We make preferred equity investments. These investments involve a higher degree of risk than conventional debt financing due to a variety of factors, including their non‑collateralized nature and subordinated ranking to other loans and liabilities of the entity in which such preferred equity is held. Accordingly, if the issuer defaults on our investment, we would only be able to proceed against such entity in accordance with the terms of the preferred security, and not against any property owned by such entity. Furthermore, in the event of bankruptcy or foreclosure, we would only be able to recoup our investment after all lenders to, and other creditors of, such entity are paid in full. As a result, we may lose all or a significant part of our investment, which could result in significant losses.

Our commercial construction lending may expose us to increased lending risks.

Our commercial construction lending may expose us to increased lending risks. At December 31, 2015, our loan portfolio consisted of $1.3 billion of commercial real estate construction loans. Construction loans generally expose a lender to greater risk of non‑payment and loss than permanent commercial mortgage loans because repayment of the loans often depends on the borrower’s ability to secure permanent “take‑out” financing, which requires the successful completion of construction and stabilization of the project, or operation of the property with an income stream sufficient to meet operating expenses, including debt service on such replacement financing. For construction loans, increased risks include the accuracy of the estimate of the property’s value at completion of construction and the estimated cost of construction—all of which may be affected by unanticipated construction delays and cost over‑runs. Such loans typically involve an expectation that the borrower’s sponsors will contribute sufficient equity funds in order to keep the loan “in balance,” and the sponsors’ failure or inability to meet this obligation could result in delays in construction or an inability to complete construction. Commercial construction loans also expose the lender to additional risks of contractor non‑performance, or borrower disputes with contractors resulting in mechanic’s or materialmen’s liens on the property and possible further delay in construction. In addition, since such loans generally entail greater risk than mortgage loans on income producing property, we may need to increase our allowance for loan losses in the future to account for the likely increase in probable incurred credit losses associated with such loans. Further, as the lender under a construction loan, we may be obligated to fund all or a significant portion of the loan at one or more future dates. We may not have the funds available at such future date(s) to meet our funding obligations under the loan. In that event, we would likely be in breach of the loan unless we are able to raise the funds from alternative sources, which we may not be able to

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achieve on favorable terms or at all. In addition, many of our construction loans have multiple lenders and if another lender fails to fund we could be faced with the choice of either funding for that defaulting lender or suffering a delay or protracted interruption in the progress of construction.

We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities and competition may limit our ability to acquire desirable investments in our target assets and could also affect the pricing of these securities.

We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities. Our profitability depends, in large part, on our ability to acquire our target assets at attractive prices. In acquiring our target assets, we compete with a variety of institutional investors, including other REITs, commercial and investment banks, specialty finance companies, public and private funds (including other funds managed by Starwood Capital Group), commercial finance and insurance companies and other financial institutions. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we do. Several other REITs have recently raised significant amounts of capital and may have investment objectives that overlap with ours, which may create additional competition for investment opportunities. Some competitors may have a lower cost of funds and access to funding sources that may not be available to us, such as funding from the U.S. government, if we are not eligible to participate in programs established by the U.S. government. Many of our competitors are not subject to the operating constraints associated with REIT tax compliance or maintenance of an exemption from the Investment Company Act. 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, competition for investments in our target assets may lead to the price of such assets increasing, which may further limit our ability to generate desired returns. We cannot assure you that the competitive pressures we face will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Also, as a result of this competition, desirable investments in our target assets may be limited in the future and we may not be able to continue to take advantage of attractive investment opportunities from time to time, as we can provide no assurance that we will be able to identify and make additional investments that are consistent with our investment objectives.

The commercial mortgage loans we originate or acquire and the mortgage loans underlying our CMBS investments are subject to the ability of the commercial property owner to generate net income from operating the property as well as the risks of delinquency and foreclosure.

Commercial mortgage loans are secured by multifamily or commercial property and are subject to risks of delinquency and foreclosure, and risks of loss that may be greater than similar risks associated with loans made on the security of single‑family residential property. The ability of a borrower to repay a loan secured by an income‑producing property typically is dependent primarily upon the successful operation of such property rather than upon the existence of independent income or assets of the borrower. If the net operating income of the property is reduced, the borrower’s ability to repay the loan may be impaired. Net operating income of an income‑producing property can be adversely affected by, among other things,

tenant mix;

success of tenant businesses;

property management decisions;

property location, condition and design;

competition from comparable types of properties;

changes in laws that increase operating expenses or limit rents that may be charged;

changes in national, regional or local economic conditions and/or specific industry segments, including the credit and securitization markets;

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declines in regional or local real estate values;

declines in regional or local rental or occupancy rates;

increases in interest rates, real estate tax rates and other operating expenses;

costs of remediation and liabilities associated with environmental conditions;

the potential for uninsured or underinsured property losses;

changes in governmental laws and regulations, including fiscal policies, zoning ordinances and environmental legislation and the related costs of compliance; and

acts of God, terrorist attacks, social unrest and civil disturbances.

In the event of any default under a mortgage loan held directly by us, we will bear a risk of loss of principal to the extent of any deficiency between the value of the collateral and the principal and accrued interest of the mortgage loan, which could have a material adverse effect on our cash flow from operations and limit amounts available for distribution to our stockholders. In the event of the bankruptcy of a mortgage loan borrower, the mortgage loan to such borrower will be deemed to be secured only to the extent of the value of the underlying collateral at the time of bankruptcy (as determined by the bankruptcy court), and the lien securing the mortgage loan will be subject to the avoidance powers of the bankruptcy trustee or debtor‑in‑possession to the extent the lien is unenforceable under state law. Foreclosure of a mortgage loan can be an expensive and lengthy process, which could have a substantial negative effect on our anticipated return on the foreclosed mortgage loan.

Our investments in CMBS are generally subject to losses.

Our investments in CMBS are subject to losses. In general, losses on a mortgaged property securing a mortgage loan included in a securitization will be borne first by the equity holder of the property, then by a cash reserve fund or letter of credit, if any, then by the holder of a mezzanine loan or B‑Note, if any, then by the “first loss” subordinated security holder (generally, the “B‑Piece” buyer) and then by the holder of a higher‑rated security. In the event of default and the exhaustion of any equity support, reserve fund, letter of credit, mezzanine loans or B‑Notes, and any classes of securities junior to those in which we invest, we will not be able to recover all of our investment in the securities we purchase. In addition, if the underlying mortgage portfolio has been overvalued by the originator, or if the values subsequently decline and, as a result, less collateral is available to satisfy interest and principal payments due on the related CMBS, there would be an increased risk of loss. The prices of lower credit quality securities are generally less sensitive to interest rate changes than more highly rated investments, but more sensitive to adverse economic downturns or individual issuer developments.

Dislocations, illiquidity and volatility in the market for commercial real estate as well as the broader financial markets could adversely affect the performance and value of commercial mortgage loans, the demand for CMBS and the value of CMBS investments.

In past years, the real estate and securitization markets, as well as global financial markets and the economy generally, have experienced significant dislocations, illiquidity and volatility. While the United States economy may technically be out of the recession, any recovery could be fragile and may not be sustainable for any specific period of time. In particular, the pace of progress, or the lack of progress, of federal deficit reduction talks in the United States may cause continued volatility. Furthermore, many state and local governments in the United States are experiencing, and are expected to continue to experience, severe budgetary constraints. Recently enacted financial reform legislation in the United States, including associated risk retention rules, could also adversely affect the availability of credit for commercial real estate. Further, the global financial markets have recently experienced increased volatility due to uncertainty surrounding the level and sustainability of the sovereign debt of various countries. We cannot assure you that dislocations in the commercial mortgage loan market will not occur in the future.

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Challenging economic conditions have affected the financial strength of many commercial, multi‑family and other tenants and have resulted in increased rent delinquencies and decreased occupancy. Continuing economic challenges may lead to decreased occupancy, decreased rents or other declines in income from, or the value of, commercial, multi‑family and manufactured housing community real estate.

In past years, declining commercial real estate values, coupled with tighter underwriting standards for commercial real estate loans, prevented many commercial borrowers from refinancing their mortgages, which resulted in increased delinquencies and defaults on commercial, multi‑family and other mortgage loans. Past declines in commercial real estate values have also resulted in reduced borrower equity, further hindering borrowers’ ability to refinance in an environment of increasingly restrictive lending standards and giving them less incentive to cure delinquencies and avoid foreclosure. The lack of refinancing opportunities in past years has impacted and could impact in the future, in particular, mortgage loans that do not fully amortize and on which there is a substantial balloon payment due at maturity, because borrowers generally expect to refinance these types of loans on or prior to their maturity date. There are substantial amounts of U.S. mortgage loans with balloon payment obligations in excess of their respective current property values that are maturing over the next two years. Finally, declining commercial real estate values and the associated increases in loan‑to‑value ratios would result in lower recoveries on foreclosure and an increase in losses above those that would have been realized had commercial property values remained the same or increased. Continuing defaults, delinquencies and losses would further decrease property values, thereby resulting in additional defaults by commercial mortgage borrowers, further credit constraints and further declines in property values.

In addition to credit factors previously affecting CMBS, the fallout from the downturn in the RMBS market and markets for other asset‑backed and structured products in past years could re-emerge and affect the CMBS market by contributing to a decline in the market value and liquidity of securitized investments such as CMBS, even if such CMBS are performing as expected. All of these factors may impact the demand for CMBS and the value of CMBS investments, especially subordinated classes of CMBS.

If our Manager overestimates the yields or incorrectly prices the risks of our investments, we may experience losses.

Our Manager values our potential investments based on yields and risks, taking into account estimated future losses on the mortgage loans and the underlying collateral included in the securitization’s pools, and the estimated impact of these losses on expected future cash flows and returns. Our Manager’s loss estimates may not prove accurate, as actual results may vary from estimates. In the event that our Manager underestimates the asset level losses relative to the price we pay for a particular investment, we may experience losses with respect to such investment.

Real estate valuation is inherently subjective and uncertain.

The valuation of real estate and therefore the valuation of any underlying security relating to loans made by us is inherently subjective due to, among other factors, the individual nature of each property, its location, the expected future rental revenues from that particular property and the valuation methodology adopted. In addition, where we invest in construction loans, initial valuations will assume completion of the project. As a result, the valuations of the real estate assets against which we will make loans are subject to a degree of uncertainty and are made on the basis of assumptions and methodologies that may not prove to be accurate, particularly in periods of volatility, low transaction flow or restricted debt availability in the commercial or residential real estate markets.

Any investments in corporate bank debt and debt securities of commercial real estate operating or finance companies are subject to the specific risks relating to the particular companies and to the general risks of investing in real estate‑related loans and securities, which may result in significant losses.

We may invest in corporate bank debt and in debt securities of commercial real estate operating or finance companies. These investments involve special risks relating to the particular company, including its financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, business and prospects. In particular, the debt securities are often non‑collateralized and may also be subordinated to its other obligations. We also invest in debt securities of companies that are not rated or are rated non‑investment grade by one or more rating agencies. Investments that are not rated or are rated non‑investment grade have a higher risk of default than investment grade rated assets and therefore may result in losses to us. We have

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not adopted any limit on such investments.

These investments also subject us to the risks inherent with real estate‑related investments, including:

risks of delinquency and foreclosure, and risks of loss in the event thereof;

the dependence upon the successful operation of, and net income from, real property;

risks generally incident to interests in real property; and

risks specific to the type and use of a particular property.

These risks may adversely affect the value of our investments in commercial real estate operating and finance companies and the ability of the issuers thereof to make principal and interest payments in a timely manner, or at all, and could result in significant losses.

Investments in non‑conforming and non‑investment grade rated loans or securities involve increased risk of loss.

Many of our investments do not conform to conventional loan standards applied by traditional lenders and either are not rated or rated as non‑investment grade by the rating agencies. The non‑investment grade ratings for these assets typically result from the overall leverage of the loans, the lack of a strong operating history for the properties underlying the loans, the borrowers’ credit history, the properties’ underlying cash flow or other factors. As a result, these investments have a higher risk of default and loss than investment grade rated assets. Any loss we incur may be significant and may reduce distributions to our stockholders and adversely affect the market value of our common stock. There are no limits on the percentage of unrated or non‑investment grade rated assets we may hold in our investment portfolio.

Any credit ratings assigned to our investments are subject to ongoing evaluations and revisions and we cannot assure you that those ratings will not be downgraded.

Some of our investments are rated by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Fitch Ratings, Inc., Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, DBRS, Inc., Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Inc. or Morningstar Credit Ratings, LLC. Any credit ratings on our investments are subject to ongoing evaluation by credit rating agencies, and we cannot assure you that any such ratings will not be changed or withdrawn by a rating agency in the future if, in its judgment, circumstances warrant. If rating agencies assign a lower‑than‑expected rating or reduce or withdraw, or indicate that they may reduce or withdraw, their ratings of our investments in the future, the value of these investments could significantly decline, which would adversely affect the value of our investment portfolio and could result in losses upon disposition or the failure of borrowers to satisfy their debt service obligations to us.

The B‑Notes that we acquire may be subject to additional risks related to the privately negotiated structure and terms of the transaction, which may result in losses to us.

We invest in B‑Notes. A B‑Note is a mortgage loan typically (i) secured by a first mortgage on a single large commercial property or group of related properties and (ii) subordinated to an A‑Note secured by the same first mortgage on the same collateral. As a result, if a borrower defaults, there may not be sufficient funds remaining for a B‑Note holder after payment to the A‑Note holder. However, because each transaction is privately negotiated, B‑Notes can vary in their structural characteristics and risks. For example, the rights of holders of B‑Notes to control the process following a borrower default may vary from transaction to transaction. Further, B‑Notes typically are secured by a single property and so reflect the risks associated with significant concentration. Significant losses related to our B‑Notes would result in operating losses for us and may limit our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

Our mezzanine loans involve greater risks of loss than senior loans secured by income‑producing properties.

We invest in mezzanine loans, which sometimes take the form of subordinated loans secured by second

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mortgages on the underlying property or more commonly take the form of loans secured by a pledge of the ownership interests of either the entity owning the property or a pledge of the ownership interests of the entity that owns the interest in the entity owning the property. These types of assets involve a higher degree of risk than long‑term senior mortgage lending secured by income‑producing real property because the loan may become unsecured as a result of foreclosure by the senior lender. In the event of a bankruptcy of the entity providing the pledge of its ownership interests as security, we may not have full recourse to the assets of such entity, or the assets of the entity may not be sufficient to satisfy our mezzanine loan. If a borrower defaults on our mezzanine loan or debt senior to our loan, or in the event of a borrower bankruptcy, our mezzanine loan will be satisfied only after the senior debt. As a result, we may not recover some or all of our investment. In addition, mezzanine loans may have higher loan‑to‑value ratios than conventional mortgage loans, resulting in less equity in the property and increasing the risk of loss of principal. Significant losses related to our mezzanine loans would result in operating losses for us and may limit our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

Bridge loans involve a greater risk of loss than traditional investment‑grade mortgage loans with fully insured borrowers.

We may acquire bridge loans secured by first lien mortgages on a property to borrowers who are typically seeking short‑term capital to be used in an acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of a property, or other short‑term liquidity needs. The typical borrower under a bridge loan has usually identified an undervalued asset that has been under‑managed and/or is located in a recovering market. If the market in which the asset is located fails to recover according to the borrower’s projections, or if the borrower fails to improve the quality of the asset’s management and/or the value of the asset, the borrower may not receive a sufficient return on the asset to satisfy the bridge loan, and we bear the risk that we may not recover some or all of our initial expenditure.

In addition, borrowers usually use the proceeds of a conventional mortgage to repay a bridge loan. A bridge loan therefore is subject to the risk of a borrower’s inability to obtain permanent financing to repay the bridge loan. Bridge loans are also subject to risks of borrower defaults, bankruptcies, fraud, losses and special hazard losses that are not covered by standard hazard insurance. In the event of any default under bridge loans held by us, we bear the risk of loss of principal and non‑payment of interest and fees to the extent of any deficiency between the value of the mortgage collateral and the principal amount and unpaid interest of the bridge loan. To the extent we suffer such losses with respect to our bridge loans, the value of our company and the price of our shares of common stock may be adversely affected.

We purchase securities backed by subprime or alternative documentation residential mortgage loans, which are subject to increased risks.

We own non‑agency RMBS backed by collateral pools of mortgage loans that have been originated using underwriting standards that are less restrictive than those used in underwriting “prime” mortgage loans. These lower standards include mortgage loans made to borrowers having imperfect or impaired credit histories, mortgage loans where the amount of the loan at origination is 80% or more of the value of the mortgaged property, mortgage loans made to borrowers with low credit scores, mortgage loans made to borrowers who have other debt that represents a large portion of their income and mortgage loans made to borrowers whose income is not required to be disclosed or verified. Due to economic conditions, including increased interest rates and lower home prices, as well as aggressive lending practices, subprime mortgage loans have in recent periods experienced increased rates of delinquency, foreclosure, bankruptcy and loss, and they are likely to continue to experience delinquency, foreclosure, bankruptcy and loss rates that are higher, and that may be substantially higher, than those experienced by mortgage loans underwritten in a more traditional manner. Thus, because of the higher delinquency rates and losses associated with subprime mortgage loans and alternative documentation, or Alt-A, mortgage loans, the performance of non‑agency RMBS backed by subprime mortgage loans and Alt-A mortgage loans that we acquire could be correspondingly adversely affected, which could adversely impact our results of operations, financial condition and business.

The residential mortgage loans that underlie the RMBS we acquire, are subject to risks particular to investments secured by mortgage loans on residential property.

Residential mortgage loans are secured by single family residential property and are subject to risks of delinquency and foreclosure and risks of loss. The ability of a borrower to repay a loan secured by a residential property

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typically is dependent upon the income and/or assets of the borrower. A number of factors may impair borrowers’ abilities to repay their loans, including:

changes in the borrowers’ income or assets;

acts of God, which may result in uninsured losses;

acts of war or terrorism, including the consequences of such events;

adverse changes in national and local economic and market conditions;

changes in governmental laws and regulations, including fiscal policies, zoning ordinances and environmental legislation and the related costs of compliance;

costs of remediation and liabilities associated with environmental conditions; and

the potential for uninsured or under‑insured property losses.

In the event of the bankruptcy of a mortgage loan borrower, the mortgage loan to such borrower will be deemed to be secured only to the extent of the value of the underlying collateral at the time of bankruptcy (as determined by the bankruptcy court), and the lien securing the mortgage loan will be subject to the avoidance powers of the bankruptcy trustee or debtor‑in‑possession to the extent the lien is unenforceable under state law.

We may acquire non‑agency RMBS, which are backed by residential property but, in contrast to agency RMBS, their principal and interest are not guaranteed by federally chartered entities such as the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and, in the case of the Government National Mortgage Association, the U.S. government. Our investments in RMBS are subject to the risks of defaults, foreclosure timeline extension, fraud, home price depreciation and unfavorable modification of loan principal amount, interest rate and amortization of principal, accompanying the underlying residential mortgage loans. To the extent that assets underlying our investments are concentrated geographically, by property type or in certain other respects, we may be subject to certain of the foregoing risks to a greater extent. In the event of defaults on the residential mortgage loans that underlie our investments in agency RMBS and the exhaustion of any underlying or any additional credit support, we may not realize our anticipated return on our investments and we may incur a loss on these investments.

Prepayment rates may adversely affect the value of our investment portfolio.

The value of our investment portfolio is affected by prepayment rates on our mortgage assets. In many cases, borrowers are not prohibited from making prepayments on their mortgage loans. Prepayment rates are influenced by changes in interest rates and a variety of economic, geographic and other factors beyond our control, including, without limitation, housing and financial markets and relative interest rates on fixed rate mortgage loans, and adjustable rate mortgage loans, or ARMs, and consequently prepayment rates cannot be predicted.

We generally receive payments from principal payments that are made on our mortgage assets, including residential mortgage loans underlying the agency RMBS or the non‑agency RMBS that we acquire. When borrowers prepay their mortgage loans faster than expected, it results in prepayments that are faster than expected. Faster than expected prepayments could adversely affect our profitability and our ability to recoup our cost of certain investments purchased at a premium over par value, including in the following ways:

We may purchase RMBS that have a higher interest rate than the prevailing market interest rate at the time. In exchange for this higher interest rate, we may pay a premium over the par value to acquire our mortgage asset. In accordance with GAAP, we may amortize this premium over the estimated term of our mortgage asset. If our mortgage asset is prepaid in whole or in part prior to its maturity date, however, we may be required to expense the allocable portion of the premium at the time of the prepayment.

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Prepayment rates generally increase when interest rates fall and decrease when interest rates rise, making it unlikely that we would be able to reinvest the proceeds of any prepayment in mortgage assets of similar quality and terms (including yield). If we are unable to invest in similar mortgage assets, we would be adversely affected.

While we seek to minimize prepayment risk to the extent practical, in selecting investments we must balance prepayment risk against other risks and the potential returns of each investment. No strategy can completely insulate us from prepayment risk.

Interest rate mismatches between our agency RMBS backed by ARMs and our borrowings used to fund our purchases of these assets may reduce our net interest income and cause us to suffer a loss during periods of rising interest rates.

To the extent that we invest in agency RMBS backed by ARMs, we may finance these investments with borrowings that have interest rates that adjust more frequently than the interest rates of those agency RMBS or the ARMs that back those RMBS. Accordingly, if short‑term interest rates increase, our borrowing costs may increase faster than the interest rates on agency RMBS backed by ARMs adjust. As a result, in a period of rising interest rates, we could experience a decrease in net income or a net loss. In most cases, the interest rates on our agency RMBS and on our borrowings will not be identical, thereby potentially creating an interest rate mismatch between our investments and our borrowings. While the historical spread between relevant short‑term interest rate indices has been relatively stable, there have been periods when the spread between these indices was volatile. During periods of changing interest rates, these interest rate index mismatches could reduce our net income or produce a net loss, and adversely affect our ability to make distributions and the market price of our common stock.

In addition, agency RMBS backed by ARMs are typically subject to lifetime interest rate caps which limit the amount that interest rates can increase through the maturity of the agency RMBS. However, our borrowings under repurchase agreements typically are not subject to similar restrictions. Accordingly, in a period of rapidly increasing interest rates, the interest rates paid on our borrowings could increase without limitation while caps could limit the interest rates on these types of agency RMBS. This problem is magnified for agency RMBS backed by ARMs that are not fully indexed. Further, some agency RMBS backed by ARMs may be subject to periodic payment caps that result in a portion of the interest being deferred and added to the principal outstanding. As a result, we may receive less cash income on these types of agency RMBS than we need to pay interest on our related borrowings. These factors could reduce our net interest income and cause us to suffer a loss during periods of rising interest rates.

Risks of cost overruns and noncompletion of renovation of the properties underlying rehabilitation loans may result in significant losses.

The renovation, refurbishment or expansion by a borrower under a mortgaged property involves risks of cost overruns and noncompletion. Estimates of the costs of improvements to bring an acquired property up to standards established for the market position intended for that property may prove inaccurate. Other risks may include rehabilitation costs exceeding original estimates, possibly making a project uneconomical, environmental risks and rehabilitation and subsequent leasing of the property not being completed on schedule. If such renovation is not completed in a timely manner, or if it costs more than expected, the borrower may experience a prolonged impairment of net operating income and may not be able to make payments on our investment, which could result in significant losses.

Interest rate fluctuations could reduce our ability to generate income on our investments and may cause losses.

Changes in interest rates affect our net interest income, which is the difference between the interest income we earn on our interest‑earning investments and the interest expense we incur in financing these investments. Changes in the level of interest rates also may affect our ability to originate and acquire assets, the value of our assets and our ability to realize gains from the disposition of assets. Changes in interest rates may also affect borrower default rates. In a period of rising interest rates, our interest expense could increase, while the interest we earn on our fixed‑rate debt investments would not change, adversely affecting our profitability. Our operating results depend in large part on differences between the income from our assets, net of credit losses, and our financing costs. We anticipate that for any period

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during which our assets are not match‑funded, the income from such assets will respond more slowly to interest rate fluctuations than the cost of our borrowings. Consequently, changes in interest rates may significantly influence our net income. Interest rate fluctuations resulting in our interest expense exceeding interest income would result in operating losses for us.

We may invest in distressed and non-performing commercial loans which could subject us to increased risks relative to performing loans, which may result in losses to us.  

We may invest in distressed and non-performing commercial mortgage loans, which are subject to increased risks of loss. Such loans may be or become non-performing for a variety of reasons, including, without limitation, because the underlying property is too highly leveraged or the borrower falls upon financial distress, in either case, resulting in the borrower being unable to meet its debt service obligations. Such loans may require a substantial amount of workout negotiations and/or restructuring, which may divert the attention of our Manager from other activities and may entail, among other things, a substantial reduction in the interest rate and a substantial write-down of the principal of the loan. Moreover, the ability to implement a successful restructuring entails a high degree of uncertainty, and there can be no assurance that our Manager would be able to implement any such restructuring on favorable terms or at all.

The financial or operating difficulties relating to the distressed or non-performing loan may never be overcome and may cause the borrower to become subject to bankruptcy or other similar administrative proceedings. In connection with any such proceeding, we may incur substantial or total losses on our investments and may become subject to certain additional potential liabilities that may exceed the value of our original investment therein. For example, under certain circumstances, a lender that has inappropriately exercised control over the management and policies of a debtor may have its claims subordinated or disallowed or may be found liable for damages suffered by parties as a result of such actions. In addition, under certain circumstances, payments to us may be reclaimed if any such payment is later determined to have been a fraudulent conveyance, preferential payment, or similar transaction under applicable bankruptcy and insolvency laws.

Alternatively, in the future, we may find it necessary or desirable to foreclose on one of these loans, and the foreclosure process may be lengthy and expensive. Borrowers or junior lenders may resist mortgage foreclosure actions by asserting numerous claims, counterclaims and defenses against us. Any costs or delays involved in the effectuation of a foreclosure of the loan or a liquidation of the underlying property, or defending challenges brought after the completion of a foreclosure, will further reduce the proceeds and thus increase our loss.

We may experience a decline in the fair value of our assets.

A decline in the fair value of our assets may require us to recognize an “other‑than‑temporary” impairment against such assets under GAAP if we were to determine that, with respect to any assets in unrealized loss positions, we do not have the ability and intent to hold such assets to maturity or for a period of time sufficient to allow for recovery to the amortized cost of such assets. If such a determination were to be made, we would recognize unrealized losses through earnings and write down the amortized cost of such assets to a new cost basis, based on the fair value of such assets on the date they are considered to be other‑than‑temporarily impaired. Such impairment charges reflect non‑cash losses at the time of recognition; subsequent disposition or sale of such assets could further affect our future losses or gains, as they are based on the difference between the sale price received and adjusted amortized cost of such assets at the time of sale.

Some of our portfolio investments are recorded at fair value and, as a result, there is uncertainty as to the value of these investments.

Some of our portfolio investments are in the form of positions or securities that are not publicly traded. The fair value of securities and other investments that are not publicly traded may not be readily determinable. We value these investments quarterly at fair value, as determined in accordance with GAAP, which include consideration of unobservable inputs. Because such valuations are subjective, the fair value of certain of our assets may fluctuate over short periods of time and our determinations of fair value may differ materially from the values that would have been used if a ready market for these securities existed. The value of our common stock could be adversely affected if our

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determinations regarding the fair value of these investments were materially higher than the values that we ultimately realize upon their disposal.

Liability relating to environmental matters may impact the value of properties that we may purchase or acquire.

We may be subject to environmental liabilities arising from properties we own. Under various U.S. federal, state and local laws, an owner or operator of real property may become liable for the costs of removal of certain hazardous substances released on its property. These laws often impose liability without regard to whether the owner or operator knew of, or was responsible for, the release of such hazardous substances.

The presence of hazardous substances may adversely affect an owner’s ability to sell real estate or borrow using real estate as collateral. To the extent that an owner of a property underlying one of our debt investments becomes liable for removal costs, the ability of the owner to make payments to us may be reduced, which in turn may adversely affect the value of the relevant mortgage asset held by us and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

The presence of hazardous substances on a property we own may adversely affect our ability to sell the property and we may incur substantial remediation costs, thus harming our financial condition. The discovery of material environmental liabilities attached to such properties could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

We invest in commercial properties subject to net leases, which could subject us to losses.

We invest in commercial properties subject to net leases. Typically, net leases require the tenants to pay substantially all of the operating costs associated with the properties.  As a result, the value of, and income from, investments in commercial properties subject to net leases will depend, in part, upon the ability of the applicable tenant to meet its obligations to maintain the property under the terms of the net lease. If a tenant fails or becomes unable to so maintain a property, we will be subject to all risks associated with owning the underlying real estate. Under many net leases, however, the owner of the property retains certain obligations with respect to the property, including, among other things, the responsibility for maintenance and repair of the property, to provide adequate parking, maintenance of common areas and compliance with other affirmative covenants in the lease. If we were to fail to meet any such obligations, the applicable tenant could abate rent or terminate the applicable lease, which could result in a loss of our capital invested in, and anticipated profits from, the property.

We expect that some commercial properties subject to net leases in which we invest generally will be occupied by a single tenant and, therefore, the success of these investments will be materially dependent on the financial stability of each such tenant. A default of any such tenant on its lease payments to us would cause us to lose the revenue from the property and cause us to have to find an alternative source of revenue to meet any mortgage payment and prevent a foreclosure if the property is subject to a mortgage. In the event of a default, we may experience delays in enforcing our rights as landlord and may incur substantial costs in protecting our investment and re-letting our property. If a lease is terminated, we may also incur significant losses to make the leased premises ready for another tenant and experience difficulty or a significant delay in re-leasing such property.

In addition, net leases typically have longer lease terms and, thus, there is an increased risk that contractual rental increases in future years will fail to result in fair market rental rates during those years.

We may acquire these investments through sale-leaseback transactions, which involve the purchase of a property and the leasing of such property back to the seller thereof. If we enter into a sale-leaseback transaction, our Manager will seek to structure any such sale-leaseback transaction such that the lease will be characterized as a “true lease” for U.S. federal income tax purposes, thereby allowing us to be treated as the owner of the property for U.S. federal income tax purposes. However, we cannot assure you that the Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, will not challenge such characterization. In the event that any such sale-leaseback transaction is challenged and recharacterized as a financing transaction or loan for U.S. federal income tax purposes, deductions for depreciation and cost recovery relating to such property would be disallowed. If a sale-leaseback transaction were so recharacterized, we might fail to satisfy the REIT qualification “asset tests” or “income tests” and, consequently, lose our REIT status effective with the

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year of recharacterization. Alternatively, the amount of our REIT taxable income could be recalculated, which might also cause us to fail to meet the REIT distribution requirement for a taxable year.

Investments outside the U.S. that are denominated in foreign currencies subject us to foreign currency risks and to the uncertainty of foreign laws and markets, which may adversely affect our distributions and our REIT status.

Our investments outside the U.S. denominated in foreign currencies subject us to foreign currency risk due to potential fluctuations in exchange rates between foreign currencies and the U.S. dollar. As a result, changes in exchange rates of any such foreign currency to U.S. dollars may affect our income and distributions and may also affect the book value of our assets and the amount of stockholders’ equity.  In addition, these investments subject us to risks of multiple and conflicting tax laws and regulations, and other laws and regulations that may make foreclosure and the exercise of other remedies in the case of default more difficult or costly compared to U.S. assets, and political and economic instability abroad, any of which factors could adversely affect our receipt of returns on and distributions from these investments.

Changes in foreign currency exchange rates used to value a REIT’s foreign assets may be considered changes in the value of the REIT’s assets. These changes may adversely affect our status as a REIT. Further, bank accounts in foreign currency which are not considered cash or cash equivalents may adversely affect our status as a REIT.

The ongoing Eurozone crisis may have an adverse effect on investments in Europe, and the break-up of the Eurozone, or the exit of any member state, would create uncertainty and could affect our investments directly.

Certain of our investments are secured by European collateral. The ongoing situation relating to the high levels of sovereign debt of several countries, including Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal, the relatively low levels of economic growth in these countries and the undercapitalization and liquidity problems of many banks in the Eurozone, together with the risk of contagion to other, more financially stable countries, has continued to negatively impact the global financial markets. The situation has also raised a number of uncertainties regarding the stability and overall standing of the European Union. Any further deterioration in the global or Eurozone economy could have a significant adverse effect on our activities and the value of our European collateral.

In addition, we currently hold, and may acquire additional, assets that are denominated in Euros (including loans secured by such assets), such as assets in continental Europe. Any further deterioration in the Eurozone economy could have a material adverse effect on the value of our investment in such assets and amplify the currency risks faced by us.

If any country were to leave the Eurozone, or if the Eurozone were to break up entirely, the treatment of debt obligations previously denominated in Euros is uncertain. A number of issues would be raised, such as whether obligations which are expressed to be payable in Euros would be re‑denominated into a new currency. The answer to this and other questions is uncertain and would depend on the way in which the break‑up occurred and also on the nature of the transaction; the law governing it; which courts have jurisdiction in relation to it; the place of payment; and the place of incorporation of the payor. If we were to hold any investments in Euros at the time of any Eurozone exit or break‑up, this uncertainty and potential re‑denomination could have a material adverse effect on the value of our investments and the income from them.

We invest in equity interests in commercial real estate assets, which subjects us to the general risks of owning commercial real estate.

We acquire and manage equity interests in commercial real estate assets. The economic performance and value of these investments can be adversely affected by many factors that are generally applicable to most real estate, including the following:

·

changes in the national, regional, local and international economic climate;

·

local conditions, such as oversupply of space or a reduction in demand for real estate in the areas in which they are located;

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·

competition from other available space;

·

the attractiveness of the real estate to tenants;

·

increases in operating costs if these costs cannot be passed through to tenants;

·

the financial condition of tenants and the ability to collect rent from tenants;

·

vacancies, changes in market rental rates and the need to periodically renovate, repair and re-let space;

·

changes in interest rates and the availability of financing;

·

changes in zoning laws and taxation, government regulation and potential liability under environmental or other laws or regulations;

·

acts of God, including, without limitation, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters, or acts of war or terrorism, in each case which may result in uninsured or underinsured losses; and

·

decreases in the underlying value of real estate.

 

Certain significant expenditures associated with an investment in commercial real estate assets (such as mortgage payments, real estate taxes and maintenance costs) generally do not decline when circumstances cause a reduction in income from the asset. Because real estate investments are relatively illiquid, our ability to vary any investments in commercial real estate assets promptly in response to economic or other conditions would be limited. This relative illiquidity could impede our ability to respond to adverse changes in the performance of such investments. No assurances can be given that the value of our equity investments in commercial real estate assets will not decrease in the future.

 

We face risks associated with acquisitions of commercial real estate assets.

 

Our acquisition of equity interests in commercial real estate assets is subject to, and the success of those assets may be adversely affected by, various risks, including those described below:

·

we and our Manager may be unable to meet required closing conditions;

·

we may be unable to finance acquisitions on favorable terms or at all;

·

acquired assets may fail to perform as expected;

·

our Manager’s estimates of the costs of repositioning or renovating acquired commercial real estate assets may be inaccurate;

·

we may not be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage for acquired commercial real estate assets;

·

acquisitions may be located in markets where we and our Manager have a lack of market knowledge or understanding of the local economy, lack of business relationships in the area and unfamiliarity with local governmental and permitting procedures;

·

our Manager may be unable to quickly and efficiently integrate new acquisitions of commercial real estate assets into our existing operations and, therefore, our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected; and

·

we may acquire equity interests in commercial real estate assets through a joint venture, and such investments could be adversely affected by our lack of sole decision-making authority and reliance upon a co-venturer’s financial condition.  In addition, if we co-invest with affiliates of our Manager, we may be obligated to pay fees to such affiliates and would be subject to a variety of conflicts of interest with such affiliates, including conflicts similar to those described under the section captioned “—Risks Related to Our Relationship with Our Manager.”

 

We make equity investments in commercial real estate assets subject to both known and unknown liabilities and without any recourse, or with only limited recourse to the seller thereof. As a result, if a liability were asserted against us arising from our ownership of those assets, we might have to pay substantial sums to settle it, which could adversely affect us. Unknown liabilities with respect to commercial real estate assets may include:

·

claims by tenants, vendors or other persons arising from dealing with the former owners of the assets;

·

liabilities incurred in the ordinary course of business;

·

claims for indemnification by general partners, directors, officers and others indemnified by the former owners of the assets; and

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·

liabilities for clean-up of undisclosed environmental contamination.

 

Risks Related to Our Investing and Servicing Segment and Our Acquisition of LNR

The business activities of our Investing and Servicing Segment, particularly our special servicing business, expose us to risks that we did not face prior to our acquisition of LNR.

Our Investing and Servicing Segment includes all business activities that we obtained in connection with our acquisition of LNR in April 2013 (excluding the consolidation of securitization VIEs).  In our Investing and Servicing Segment, we derive a substantial portion of our cash flows from the special servicing of pools of commercial mortgage loans. As special servicer, we typically receive fees based upon the outstanding balance of the loans that are being specially serviced by us. The balance of loans in special servicing where we act as special servicer could decline significantly and as such our servicing fees could likewise decline materially. The special servicing industry is highly competitive, and our inability to compete successfully with other firms to maintain our existing servicing portfolio and obtain future servicing opportunities could have a material and adverse impact on our future cash flows and results of operations. Because the right to appoint the special servicer for securitized mortgage loans generally resides with the holder of the “controlling class” position in the relevant trust and may migrate to holders of different classes of securities as additional losses are realized, our ability to maintain our existing servicing rights and obtain future servicing opportunities may require, in many cases, the acquisition of additional CMBS. Accordingly, our ability to compete effectively may depend, in part, on the availability of additional debt or equity capital to fund these purchases. Additionally, our existing servicing portfolio is subject to “run off,” meaning that mortgage loans serviced by us may be prepaid prior to maturity, refinanced with a mortgage not serviced by us, or liquidated through foreclosure, deed‑in‑lieu of foreclosure or other liquidation processes, or repaid through standard amortization of principal, resulting in lower servicing fees and/or lower returns on the subordinated securities owned by us. Improving economic conditions and property prices and declines in interest rates and greater availability of mortgage financing could reduce the incidence of assets going into special servicing and reduce our revenues from special servicing, including as a result of lower fees under new arrangements. The fair value of our servicing rights may decrease under the foregoing circumstances, resulting in losses.

The conduit operations in our Investing and Servicing Segment are subject to volatile market conditions and significant competition. In addition, the conduit business may suffer losses as a result of ineffective or inadequate hedges and credit issues.

The business activities in our Investing and Servicing Segment outside the United States subject us to currency risks. Most of the European investments and liabilities are denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars, and we generally do not hedge currency risk with respect to our Investing and Servicing Segment. As a result, unfavorable changes in exchange rates could result in losses independent of the performance of the underlying business.

We operate a special servicing business, which has certain unique risks.

In connection with the special servicing of mortgage loans, a special servicer may, at the direction of the directing certificateholder, generally take actions with respect to the specially serviced mortgage loans that could adversely affect the holders of some or all of the more senior classes of CMBS. We may hold subordinated CMBS and we may or may not be the directing holder in any CMBS transaction in which we also act as special servicer. We may have conflicts of interest in exercising our rights as holder of subordinated classes of CMBS and in owning the entity that also acts as the special servicer for such transactions. It is possible that we, acting as the directing certificateholder for a CMBS transaction, may direct special servicer actions that conflict with the interests of certain other classes of the CMBS issued in that transaction. The special servicer is not permitted to take actions that are prohibited by law or that violate the applicable servicing standard or the terms of the applicable CMBS documentation or the applicable mortgage loan documentation, and we are subject to the risk of claims asserted by mortgage loan borrowers and the holders of other classes of CMBS that we have violated applicable law or, if applicable, the servicing standard and our other obligations under such CMBS documentation or mortgage loan documentation, as a result of actions we may take.

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The business activities in our Investing and Servicing Segment are subject to an evolving regulatory environment that may affect certain aspects of these activities.

In our Investing and Servicing Segment, we acquire subordinated securities issued by and act as special servicer for securitizations. As a result of the dislocation of the credit markets, the securitization industry has become subject to additional regulation. In particular, pursuant to the Dodd‑Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd‑Frank Act”), various federal agencies have promulgated a rule that generally requires issuers in securitizations to retain 5% of the risk associated with the securities. While the rule as adopted generally allows the purchase of the CMBS “B‑Piece” by a party not affiliated with the issuer to satisfy the risk retention requirement, current CMBS B‑Pieces are generally not large enough to fully satisfy the 5% requirement. The CMBS industry is currently in negotiations with those federal agencies to allow additional third parties to partner with traditional B‑Piece buyers and purchase the securities immediately senior to the B‑Piece in order to satisfy the 5% requirement in the rule. No assurance can be given that the agencies will permit such an arrangement. Accordingly, buyers of B‑Pieces such as us may be required to purchase larger B‑Pieces, potentially reducing returns on such investments. Additionally, the SEC recently promulgated additional regulations with respect to securitizations, which regulations generally include additional disclosure and reporting requirements. The additional regulations took effect in late November 2014, and certain compliance dates for the additional regulations occurred in late November 2015, with the remaining compliance dates set to occur in late November 2016. Certain of the regulations could pose additional risks to our participation in future securitizations or could reduce the economic incentives of participating in future securitizations.

One of the business activities in our Investing and Servicing Segment is investment in subordinated CMBS. The risks of investment in CMBS are magnified in the case of our Investing and Servicing Segment, where the principal payments received by the CMBS trust are made in priority to the higher rated securities.

CMBS are subject to the various risks that relate to the pool of underlying commercial mortgage loans and any other assets in which the CMBS represents an interest. In addition, CMBS are subject to additional risks arising from the geographic, property type and other types of concentrations in the pool of underlying commercial mortgage loans, which risks are magnified by the subordinated nature of the CMBS in which we invest in our Investing and Servicing Segment. In the event of defaults on the mortgage loans in the CMBS trusts, we bear a risk of loss on our related subordinated CMBS to the extent of deficiencies between the value of the collateral and the principal, accrued interest and unpaid fees and expenses on the mortgage loans, which may be offset to some extent by the special servicing fees received by us on those mortgage loans. The yield to maturity on the CMBS depends largely upon the price paid for the CMBS, which are generally sold at a discount at issuance and trade at even steeper discounts in the secondary markets. Further, the yield to maturity on CMBS depends, in significant part, upon the rate and timing of principal payments on the underlying mortgage loans, including both voluntary prepayments, if permitted, and involuntary prepayments, such as prepayments resulting from casualty or condemnation, defaults and liquidations or repurchases upon breaches of representations and warranties or document defects. Any changes in the weighted average lives of CMBS may adversely affect yield on the CMBS. Prepayments resulting in a shortening of weighted average lives of CMBS may be made at a time of low interest rates when we may be unable to reinvest the resulting payment of principal on the CMBS at a rate comparable to that being earned on the CMBS, while delays and extensions resulting in a lengthening of those weighted average lives may occur at a time of high interest rates when we may have been able to reinvest scheduled principal payments at higher rates.

The exercise of remedies and successful realization of liquidation proceeds relating to commercial mortgage loans underlying CMBS may be highly dependent on our performance as special servicer. We attempt to underwrite investments on a “loss‑adjusted” basis, which projects a certain level of performance. However, there can be no assurance that this underwriting accurately predicts the timing or magnitude of such losses. To the extent that this underwriting has incorrectly anticipated the timing or magnitude of losses, our business may be adversely affected. Some of the mortgage loans underlying the CMBS are already in default and additional loans may default in the future. In the case of such defaults, cash flows of CMBS investments held by us may be adversely affected as any reduction in the mortgage payments or principal losses on liquidation of any mortgage loan may be applied to the class of CMBS securities relating to such defaulted loans that we hold.

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The market value of CMBS could fluctuate materially as a result of various risks that are out of our control and may result in significant losses.

The market value of CMBS investments could fluctuate materially over time as the result of changes in mortgage spreads, treasury bond interest rates, capital market supply and demand factors, and many other factors that affect high‑yield fixed income products. These factors are out of our control and could impair our ability to obtain short‑term financing on the CMBS. CMBS investments, especially subordinated classes of CMBS, may have no, or only a limited, trading market. The financial markets in the past have experienced and could in the future experience a period of volatility and reduced liquidity, which may reoccur or continue and reduce the market value of CMBS. Some or all of the CMBS, especially subordinated classes of CMBS, may be subject to restrictions on transfer and may be considered illiquid.

Mortgage loan servicing is an increasingly regulated business.

 

The mortgage loan servicing activities of our Investing and Servicing Segment are subject to a still evolving set of regulations, including regulations being promulgated under the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition, various governmental authorities have recently increased their investigative focus on the activities of mortgage loan servicers.  As a result, we may have to spend additional resources and devote additional management time to address any regulatory concerns, which may reduce the resources available to grow our business.  In addition, if we fail to operate the servicing activities of our Investing and Servicing Segment in compliance with existing and future regulations, our business, reputation, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

Many of the assets in our Investing and Servicing Segment are held through, or are ownership interests in, entities subject to entity level or foreign taxes, which cannot be passed through to, or used by, our stockholders to reduce taxes they owe.

Most of the assets in our Investing and Servicing Segment are held through a TRS, which is subject to entity level taxes on income that it earns. Such taxes have materially increased the taxes paid by our TRSs. In addition, certain of the assets in our Investing and Servicing Segment include entities organized or assets located in foreign jurisdictions. Taxes that we or such entities pay in foreign jurisdictions may not be passed through to, or used by, our stockholders as a foreign tax credit or otherwise.

In connection with our prior acquisition of LNR, we may have to bear the costs of certain pre‑closing taxes.

The acquisition of LNR involved the purchase of the LNR companies, a significant portion of which were historically C-corporations for U.S. federal income tax purposes. While the sellers of LNR generally agreed to pay (or indemnify us) for any pre‑closing tax liabilities, such indemnity obligations are generally limited to the amount of the purchase price for LNR and, in certain situations, limited to certain maximum amounts with respect to certain LNR entities, as agreed upon by the sellers and us. Furthermore, there can be no assurance that we would be able to enforce payment or indemnification by the sellers of or with respect to any such pre‑closing tax liabilities. While the sponsors of the sellers provided a limited guarantee on certain pre‑closing tax liabilities, such guarantee is limited to certain specified entities and certain specified amounts, as agreed to between us, the sellers and such sponsors. Accordingly, such LNR companies may become liable for pre‑closing taxes, which pre‑closing taxes may, in the event of an inability to enforce the indemnity or in the event of a tax liability in excess of the agreed upon caps on such liabilities, be borne by us.

Our Consolidated Financial Statements changed materially following our acquisition of LNR, as we became required to consolidate the assets and liabilities of CMBS pools in which we own the controlling class of subordinated securities and are considered the “primary beneficiary.”

Following our acquisition of LNR, we became required to consolidate the assets and liabilities of certain CMBS pools in which we own the controlling class of subordinated securities into our financial statements, even though the value of the subordinated securities may represent a small interest relative to the size of the pool. Under GAAP, companies are required to consolidate VIEs in which they are determined to be the primary beneficiary. A VIE must be consolidated only by its primary beneficiary, which is defined as the party who, along with its affiliates and agents, has a

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potentially significant interest in the entity and controls the entity’s significant decisions. As a result of the foregoing, our financial statements are more complex and may be more difficult to understand than if we did not consolidate the CMBS pools.

Risks Related to Our Organization and Structure

Certain provisions of Maryland law could inhibit changes in control.

Certain provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law, or the MGCL, may have the effect of deterring a third party from making a proposal to acquire us or of impeding a change in control under circumstances that otherwise could provide the holders of our common stock with the opportunity to realize a premium over the then‑prevailing market price of our common stock. We are subject to the “business combination” provisions of the MGCL that, subject to limitations, prohibit certain business combinations (including a merger, consolidation, share exchange, or, in circumstances specified in the statute, an asset transfer or issuance or reclassification of equity securities) between us and an “interested stockholder” (defined generally as any person who beneficially owns 10% or more of our then outstanding voting capital stock or an affiliate or associate of ours who, at any time within the two‑year period prior to the date in question, was the beneficial owner of 10% or more of our then outstanding voting capital stock) or an affiliate thereof for five years after the most recent date on which the stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. After the five‑year prohibition, any business combination between us and an interested stockholder generally must be recommended by our board of directors and approved by the affirmative vote of at least (i) 80% of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of outstanding shares of our voting capital stock and (ii) two‑thirds of the votes entitled to be cast by holders of voting capital stock of the corporation other than shares held by the interested stockholder with whom or with whose affiliate the business combination is to be effected or held by an affiliate or associate of the interested stockholder. These super‑majority voting requirements do not apply if our common stockholders receive a minimum price, as defined under Maryland law, for their shares in the form of cash or other consideration in the same form as previously paid by the interested stockholder for its shares. These provisions of the MGCL also do not apply to business combinations that are approved or exempted by a board of directors prior to the time that the interested stockholder becomes an interested stockholder. Pursuant to the statute, our board of directors has by resolution exempted business combinations between us and any other person, provided that such business combination is first approved by our board of directors (including a majority of our directors who are not affiliates or associates of such person).

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The “control share” provisions of the MGCL provide that “control shares” of a Maryland corporation (defined as shares which, when aggregated with other shares controlled by the stockholder (except solely by virtue of a revocable proxy), entitle the stockholder to exercise one of three increasing ranges of voting power in electing directors) acquired in a “control share acquisition” (defined as the direct or indirect acquisition of ownership or control of “control shares”) have no voting rights except to the extent approved by our stockholders by the affirmative vote of at least two‑thirds of all the votes entitled to be cast on the matter, excluding votes entitled to be cast by the acquirer of control shares, our officers and our personnel who are also our directors. Our bylaws contain a provision exempting from the control share acquisition statute any and all acquisitions by any person of shares of our stock. There can be no assurance that this provision will not be amended or eliminated at any time in the future.

The “unsolicited takeover” provisions of the MGCL permit our board of directors, without stockholder approval and regardless of what is currently provided in our charter or bylaws, to implement takeover defenses, some of which (for example, a classified board) we do not yet have. These provisions may have the effect of inhibiting a third party from making an acquisition proposal for us or of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control of us under the circumstances that otherwise could provide the holders of shares of common stock with the opportunity to realize a premium over the then current market price.

Our authorized but unissued shares of common and preferred stock may prevent a change in control.

Our charter authorizes us to issue additional authorized but unissued shares of common or preferred stock. In addition, our board of directors may, without stockholder approval, amend our charter to increase the aggregate number of our shares of stock or the number of shares of stock of any class or series that we have authority to issue and classify or reclassify any unissued shares of common or preferred stock and set the preferences, rights and other terms of the classified or reclassified shares. As a result, our board of directors may establish a series of shares of common or preferred stock that could delay or prevent a transaction or a change in control that might involve a premium price for our shares of common stock or otherwise be in the best interest of our stockholders.

Maintenance of our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act imposes significant limits on our operations.

We intend to continue to conduct our operations so that neither we nor any of our subsidiaries are required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act. Because we are a holding company that conducts our businesses primarily through wholly‑owned subsidiaries, the securities issued by these subsidiaries that are excepted from the definition of “investment company” under Section 3(c)(1) or Section 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act, together with any other investment securities we own, may not have a combined value in excess of 40% of the value of our adjusted total assets on an unconsolidated basis. This requirement limits the types of businesses in which we may engage through our subsidiaries. In addition, the assets we and our subsidiaries may acquire are limited by the provisions of the Investment Company Act and the rules and regulations promulgated under the Investment Company Act, which may adversely affect our performance.

If the value of securities issued by our subsidiaries that are excepted from the definition of “investment company” by Section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act, together with any other investment securities we own, exceeds 40% of our adjusted total assets on an unconsolidated basis, or if one or more of such subsidiaries fail to maintain an exception or exemption from the Investment Company Act, we could, among other things, be required either (i) to substantially change the manner in which we conduct our operations to avoid being required to register as an investment company or (ii) to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act, either of which could have an adverse effect on us and the market price of our securities. If we were required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act, we would become subject to substantial regulation with respect to our capital structure (including our ability to use leverage), management, operations, transactions with affiliated persons (as defined in the Investment Company Act), portfolio composition, including restrictions with respect to diversification and industry concentration, and other matters.

In August 2011, the SEC solicited public comment on a wide range of issues relating to Section 3(c)(5)(C) of the Investment Company Act, including the nature of the assets that qualify for purposes of the exemption and whether

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mortgage REITs should be regulated in a manner similar to investment companies. There can be no assurance that the laws and regulations governing the Investment Company Act status of REITs, including the Division of Investment Management of the SEC providing more specific or different guidance regarding these exemptions, will not change in a manner that adversely affects our operations. If we or our subsidiaries fail to maintain an exception or exemption from the Investment Company Act, we could, among other things, be required to (i) change the manner in which we conduct our operations to avoid being required to register as an investment company, (ii) effect sales of our assets in a manner that, or at a time when, we would not otherwise choose to do so, or (iii) register as an investment company (which, among other things, would require us to comply with the leverage constraints applicable to investment companies), any of which could negatively affect the value of our common stock, the sustainability of our business model, and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders, which could, in turn, materially and adversely affect us and the market price of our common stock.

Rapid changes in the values of our real estate‑related investments may make it more difficult for us to maintain our qualification as a REIT or exemption from the Investment Company Act.

If the market value or income potential of real estate‑related investments declines as a result of increased interest rates, prepayment rates or other factors, we may need to increase our real estate investments and income and/or liquidate our non‑qualifying assets in order to maintain our REIT qualification or exemption from the Investment Company Act. If the decline in real estate asset values and/or income occurs quickly, this may be especially difficult to accomplish. This difficulty may be exacerbated by the illiquid nature of any non‑qualifying assets that we may own. We may have to make investment decisions that we otherwise would not make absent the REIT and Investment Company Act considerations.

Our rights and the rights of our stockholders to take action against our directors and officers are limited, which could limit your recourse in the event of actions not in your best interests.

Under Maryland law generally, a director’s actions will be upheld if he or she performs his or her duties in good faith, in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in our best interests and with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances. In addition, our charter limits the liability of our directors and officers to us and our stockholders for money damages, except for liability resulting from:

actual receipt of an improper benefit or profit in money, property or services; or

active and deliberate dishonesty by the director or officer that was established by a final judgment as being material to the cause of action adjudicated.

Our charter authorizes us to indemnify our directors and officers for actions taken by them in those capacities to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law. Our bylaws require us to indemnify each director or officer, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law, in the defense of any proceeding to which he or she is made, or threatened to be made, a party by reason of his or her service to us. In addition, we may be obligated to fund the defense costs incurred by our directors and officers. As a result, we and our stockholders may have more limited rights against our directors and officers than might otherwise exist absent the current provisions in our charter and bylaws or that might exist with other companies.

Our charter contains provisions that make removal of our directors difficult, which could make it difficult for our stockholders to effect changes to our management.

Our charter provides that a director may only be removed for cause upon the affirmative vote of holders of two‑thirds of the votes entitled to be cast in the election of directors. Vacancies may be filled only by a majority of the remaining directors in office, even if less than a quorum. These requirements make it more difficult to change our management by removing and replacing directors and may prevent a change in control of our company that is in the best interests of our stockholders.

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Ownership limitations may restrict change of control or business combination opportunities in which our stockholders might receive a premium for their shares.

In order for us to qualify as a REIT, no more than 50% in value of our outstanding capital stock may be owned, directly or indirectly, by five or fewer individuals during the last half of any calendar year. “Individuals” for this purpose include natural persons, private foundations, some employee benefit plans and trusts, and some charitable trusts. To preserve our REIT qualification, our charter generally prohibits any person from directly or indirectly owning more than 9.8% in value or in number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of the outstanding shares of our capital stock or more than 9.8% in value or in number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of the outstanding shares of our common stock. This ownership limitation could have the effect of discouraging a takeover or other transaction in which holders of our common stock might receive a premium for their shares over the then prevailing market price or which holders might believe to be otherwise in their best interests.

Risks Related to Our Taxation as a REIT

If we do not qualify as a REIT or fail to remain qualified as a REIT, we will be subject to tax as a regular corporation and could face a substantial tax liability, which would reduce the amount of cash available for distribution to our stockholders.

We intend to continue to operate in a manner that will allow us to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. We have not requested nor obtained a ruling from the IRS as to our REIT qualification. Qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex Code provisions for which only limited judicial and administrative authorities exist. Even a technical or inadvertent violation could jeopardize our REIT qualification.  Our qualification as a REIT depends on our satisfaction of certain asset, income, organizational, distribution, stockholder ownership and other requirements on a continuing basis. Our ability to satisfy the asset tests depends upon our analysis of the characterization and fair values of our assets, some of which are not susceptible to a precise determination, and for which we will not obtain independent appraisals. Our compliance with the REIT income and quarterly asset requirements also depends upon our ability to successfully manage the composition of our income and assets on an ongoing basis. Moreover, the proper classification of an instrument as debt or equity for U.S. federal income tax purposes may be uncertain in some circumstances, which could affect the application of the REIT qualification requirements as described below. In addition, our ability to satisfy the requirements to qualify as a REIT depends in part on the actions of third parties over which we have no control or only limited influence, including in cases where we own an equity interest in an entity that is classified as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes.  Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the IRS will not contend that our interests in subsidiaries or in securities of other issuers will not cause a violation of the REIT requirements.

If we were to fail to qualify as a REIT in any taxable year, we would be subject to U.S. federal income tax, including any applicable alternative minimum tax, on our taxable income at regular corporate rates, and distributions made to our stockholders would not be deductible by us in computing our taxable income. Any resulting corporate tax liability could be substantial and would reduce the amount of cash available for distribution to our stockholders, which in turn could have an adverse impact on the value of our common stock. Unless we were entitled to relief under certain Code provisions, we also would be disqualified from taxation as a REIT for the four taxable years following the year in which we failed to qualify as a REIT.

Dividends payable by REITs do not qualify for the reduced tax rates available for some dividends.

The maximum tax rate applicable to income from “qualified dividends” payable to domestic stockholders that are individuals, trusts and estates is currently 20%. Dividends payable by REITs, however, generally are not eligible for the reduced rates. Although this legislation does not adversely affect the taxation of REITs or dividends payable by REITs, the more favorable rates applicable to regular corporate qualified dividends could cause investors who are individuals, trusts and estates to perceive investments in REITs to be relatively less attractive than investments in the stocks of non‑REIT corporations that pay dividends, which could adversely affect the value of the stock of REITs, including our common stock.

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REIT distribution requirements could adversely affect our ability to continue to execute our business plan.

We generally must distribute annually at least 90% of our taxable income, subject to certain adjustments and excluding any net capital gain, in order for U.S. federal corporate income tax not to apply to earnings that we distribute. To the extent that we satisfy this distribution requirement, but distribute less than 100% of our taxable income, we will be subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax on our undistributed taxable income. In addition, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax if the actual amount that we pay out to our stockholders in a calendar year is less than a minimum amount specified under U.S. federal tax laws. We intend to continue to make distributions to our stockholders to comply with the REIT requirements of the Code.

From time to time, we may generate taxable income greater than our income for financial reporting purposes prepared in accordance with GAAP, or differences in timing between the recognition of taxable income and the actual receipt of cash may occur. For example, we may be required to accrue income from mortgage loans, MBS, and other types of debt securities or interests in debt securities before we receive any payments of interest or principal on such assets. We may also acquire distressed debt investments that are subsequently modified by agreement with the borrower. If the amendments to the outstanding debt are “significant modifications” under the applicable U.S. Treasury regulations, the modified debt may be considered to have been reissued to us at a gain in a debt‑for‑debt exchange with the borrower, with gain recognized by us to the extent that the principal amount of the modified debt exceeds our cost of purchasing it prior to modification.

We may also be required under the terms of indebtedness that we incur to use cash received from interest payments to make principal payments on that indebtedness, with the effect of recognizing income but not having a corresponding amount of cash available for distribution to our stockholders.

As a result, we may find it difficult or impossible to meet distribution requirements from our ordinary operations in certain circumstances. In particular, where we experience differences in timing between the recognition of taxable income and the actual receipt of cash, the requirement to distribute a substantial portion of our taxable income could cause us to: (i) sell assets in adverse market conditions, (ii) borrow on unfavorable terms, (iii) distribute amounts that would otherwise be invested in future acquisitions, capital expenditures or repayment of debt or (iv) make a taxable distribution of our shares, as part of a distribution in which stockholders may elect to receive shares (subject to a limit measured as a percentage of the total distribution), in order to comply with REIT requirements. These alternatives could increase our costs or reduce our equity. Thus, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our ability to grow, which could adversely affect the value of our common stock.

We may choose to make distributions to our stockholders in our own stock, or make a distribution of a subsidiary’s common stock, in which case our stockholders could be required to pay income taxes in excess of the cash dividends they receive.

We may in the future distribute taxable dividends that are payable in cash and shares of our common stock at the election of each stockholder. We may also determine to distribute a taxable dividend in the stock of a subsidiary in connection with a spin‑off or other transaction, as in the case of our spin-off of our former SFR segment on January 31, 2014. Taxable stockholders receiving such distributions will be required to include the full amount of the distribution as ordinary income to the extent of our current and accumulated earnings and profits for U.S. federal income tax purposes. As a result, stockholders may be required to pay income taxes with respect to such dividends in excess of the cash dividends received. If a U.S. stockholder sells the stock that it receives as a dividend in order to pay this tax, the sale proceeds may be less than the amount included in income with respect to the dividend, depending on the market price of our stock at the time of the sale. Furthermore, with respect to certain non‑U.S. stockholders, we may be required to withhold U.S. tax with respect to such dividends, including in respect of all or a portion of such dividend that is payable in stock. In addition, if a significant number of our stockholders determine to sell shares of our common stock in order to pay taxes owed on dividends, it may put downward pressure on the trading price of our common stock.

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It is unclear whether and to what extent we will be able to pay taxable dividends in cash and stock. Moreover, various aspects of such a taxable cash/stock dividend are uncertain and have not yet been addressed by the IRS. No assurance can be given that the IRS will not impose additional requirements in the future with respect to taxable cash/stock dividends, including on a retroactive basis, or assert that the requirements for such taxable cash/stock dividends have not been met.

The stock ownership limit imposed by the Code for REITs and our charter may restrict our business combination opportunities.

In order for us to maintain our qualification as a REIT under the Code, not more than 50% in value of our outstanding stock may be owned, directly or indirectly, by five or fewer individuals (as defined in the Code to include certain entities) at any time during the last half of each taxable year following our first year. Our charter, with certain exceptions, authorizes our board of directors to take the actions that are necessary and desirable to preserve our qualification as a REIT. Unless exempted by our board of directors, no person may own more than 9.8% of the aggregate value of our outstanding capital stock. Our board may grant an exemption in its sole discretion, subject to such conditions, representations and undertakings as it may determine. The ownership limits imposed by the tax law are based upon direct or indirect ownership by “individuals,” but only during the last half of a tax year. The ownership limits contained in our charter key off the ownership at any time by any “person,” which term includes entities. These ownership limitations in our charter are common in REIT charters and are intended to provide added assurance of compliance with the tax law requirements, and to minimize administrative burdens. However, these ownership limits might also delay or prevent a transaction or a change in our control that might involve a premium price for our common stock or otherwise be in the best interest of our stockholders.

Even if we remain qualified as a REIT, we may face other tax liabilities that reduce our cash flow.

Even if we remain qualified for taxation as a REIT, we may be subject to certain U.S. federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income, tax on income from some activities conducted as a result of a foreclosure, and state or local income, property and transfer taxes, such as mortgage recording taxes. In addition, in order to continue to meet the REIT qualification requirements, prevent the recognition of certain types of non‑cash income, or to avert the imposition of a 100% tax that applies to certain gains derived by a REIT from dealer property or inventory, we may hold a significant amount of our assets through our TRSs or other subsidiary corporations that will be subject to corporate‑level income tax at regular rates. In addition, if we lend money to a TRS, the TRS may be unable to deduct all or a portion of the interest paid to us, which could result in an even higher corporate‑level tax liability. Any of these taxes would decrease cash available for distribution to our stockholders.

Complying with REIT requirements may cause us to forgo otherwise attractive opportunities.

To qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we must satisfy ongoing tests concerning, among other things, the sources of our income, the nature and diversification of our assets, the amounts that we distribute to our stockholders and the ownership of our stock. We may be required to make distributions to stockholders at disadvantageous times or when we do not have funds readily available for distribution, and may be unable to pursue investments that would be otherwise advantageous to us in order to satisfy the source‑of‑income or asset‑diversification requirements for qualifying as a REIT. In addition, in certain cases, the modification of a debt instrument could result in the conversion of the instrument from a qualifying real estate asset to a wholly or partially non‑qualifying asset that must be contributed to a TRS or disposed of in order for us to maintain our REIT status. Compliance with the source‑of‑income requirements may also limit our ability to acquire debt instruments at a discount from their face amount. Thus, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our ability to make, and in certain cases to maintain ownership of, certain attractive investments.

Complying with REIT requirements may force us to liquidate otherwise attractive investments.

To qualify as a REIT, we must ensure that at the end of each calendar quarter, at least 75% of the value of our assets consists of cash, cash items, government securities and qualified REIT real estate assets, including certain mortgage loans and certain kinds of MBS. The remainder of our investment in securities (other than government

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securities and qualified real estate assets) generally cannot include more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any one issuer or more than 10% of the total value of the outstanding securities of any one issuer. In addition, in general, no more than 5% of the value of our assets (other than government securities and qualified real estate assets) can consist of the securities of any one issuer, and no more than 25% of the value (20% for taxable years beginning after 2017) of our total securities can be represented by securities of one or more TRSs. If we fail to comply with these requirements at the end of any calendar quarter, we must correct the failure within 30 days after the end of the calendar quarter or qualify for certain statutory relief provisions to avoid losing our REIT qualification and suffering adverse tax consequences. As a result, we may be required to liquidate from our portfolio otherwise attractive investments. These actions could have the effect of reducing our income and amounts available for distribution to our stockholders.

The failure of assets subject to repurchase agreements to qualify as real estate assets could adversely affect our ability to qualify as a REIT.

We have entered into financing arrangements that are structured as sale and repurchase agreements pursuant to which we would nominally sell certain of our assets to a counterparty and simultaneously enter into an agreement to repurchase these assets at a later date in exchange for a purchase price. Economically, these agreements are financings which are secured by the assets sold pursuant thereto. We believe that we would be treated for REIT asset and income test purposes as the owner of the assets that are the subject of any such sale and repurchase agreement notwithstanding that such agreement may transfer record ownership of the assets to the counterparty during the term of the agreement. It is possible, however, that the IRS could assert that we did not own the assets during the term of the sale and repurchase agreement, in which case we could fail to qualify as a REIT.

We may be required to report taxable income for certain investments in excess of the economic income we ultimately realize from them.

We may acquire debt instruments in the secondary market for less than their face amount. The discount at which such debt instruments are acquired may reflect doubts about their ultimate collectability rather than current market interest rates. The amount of such discount will nevertheless generally be treated as “market discount” for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Accrued market discount is reported as income when, and to the extent that, any payment of principal of the debt instrument is made. Payments on residential mortgage loans are ordinarily made monthly, and consequently accrued market discount may have to be included in income each month as if the debt instrument were assured of ultimately being collected in full. If we collect less on the debt instrument than our purchase price plus the market discount we had previously reported as income, we may not be able to benefit from any offsetting loss deductions. In addition, we may acquire distressed debt investments that are subsequently modified by agreement with the borrower. If the amendments to the outstanding debt are “significant modifications” under applicable U.S. Treasury regulations, the modified debt may be considered to have been reissued to us at a gain in a debt‑for‑debt exchange with the borrower. In that event, we may be required to recognize taxable gain to the extent the principal amount of the modified debt exceeds our adjusted tax basis in the unmodified debt, even if the value of the debt or the payment expectations have not changed.

Moreover, some of the MBS that we acquire may have been issued with original issue discount. We will be required to report such original issue discount based on a constant yield method and will be taxed based on the assumption that all future projected payments due on such MBS will be made. If such MBS turns out not to be fully collectible, an offsetting loss deduction will become available only in the later year that collectability is provable.

Finally, in the event that any debt instruments or MBS acquired by us are delinquent as to mandatory principal and interest payments, or in the event payments with respect to a particular debt instrument are not made when due, we may nonetheless be required to continue to recognize the unpaid interest as taxable income as it accrues, despite doubt as to its ultimate collectability. Similarly, we may be required to accrue interest income with respect to subordinate MBS at its stated rate regardless of whether corresponding cash payments are received or are ultimately collectible. In each case, while we would in general ultimately have an offsetting loss deduction available to us when such interest was determined to be uncollectible, the utility of that deduction could depend on our having taxable income in that later year or thereafter.

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The “taxable mortgage pool” rules may increase the taxes that we or our stockholders may incur, and may limit the manner in which we effect future securitizations.

Securitizations could result in the creation of taxable mortgage pools for U.S. federal income tax purposes. As a REIT, so long as we own 100% of the equity interests in a taxable mortgage pool, we generally would not be adversely affected by the characterization of the securitization as a taxable mortgage pool. Certain categories of stockholders, however, such as foreign stockholders eligible for treaty or other benefits, stockholders with net operating losses, and certain tax‑exempt stockholders that are subject to unrelated business income tax, could be subject to increased taxes on a portion of their dividend income from us that is attributable to the taxable mortgage pool. In addition, to the extent that our stock is owned by tax‑exempt “disqualified organizations,” such as certain government‑related entities and charitable remainder trusts that are not subject to tax on unrelated business income, we may incur a corporate level tax on a portion of our income from the taxable mortgage pool. In that case, we may reduce the amount of our distributions to any disqualified organization whose stock ownership gave rise to the tax. Moreover, we would be precluded from selling equity interests in these securitizations to outside investors, or selling any debt securities issued in connection with these securitizations that might be considered to be equity interests for tax purposes. These limitations may prevent us from using certain techniques to maximize our returns from securitization transactions.

The tax on prohibited transactions will limit our ability to engage in transactions, including certain methods of securitizing mortgage loans, which would be treated as sales for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

A REIT’s net income from prohibited transactions is subject to a 100% tax. In general, prohibited transactions are sales or other dispositions of property, other than foreclosure property, but including mortgage loans, held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business. We might be subject to this tax if we were to dispose of or securitize loans in a manner that was treated as a sale of the loans for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Therefore, in order to avoid the prohibited transactions tax, we may choose not to engage in certain sales of loans at the REIT level, and may limit the structures we utilize for our securitization transactions, even though the sales or structures might otherwise be beneficial to us.

Our investments in construction loans require us to make estimates about the fair value of land improvements that may be challenged by the IRS.

We invest in construction loans, the interest from which is qualifying income for purposes of the REIT income tests, provided that the loan value of the real property securing the construction loan is equal to or greater than the highest outstanding principal amount of the construction loan during any taxable year. For purposes of construction loans, the loan value of the real property is the fair value of the land plus the reasonably estimated cost of the improvements or developments (other than personal property) that secure the loan and that are to be constructed from the proceeds of the loan. There can be no assurance that the IRS would not challenge our estimate of the loan value of the real property.

The failure of a mezzanine loan to qualify as a real estate asset could adversely affect our ability to qualify as a REIT.

We invest in mezzanine loans, for which the IRS has provided a safe harbor but not rules of substantive law. Pursuant to the safe harbor, if a mezzanine loan meets certain requirements, it will be treated by the IRS as a real estate asset for purposes of the REIT asset tests, and interest derived from the mezzanine loan will be treated as qualifying mortgage interest for purposes of the REIT 75% income test. We may acquire mezzanine loans that do not meet all of the requirements of this safe harbor. In the event we own a mezzanine loan that does not meet the safe harbor, the IRS could challenge such loan’s treatment as a real estate asset for purposes of the REIT asset and income tests and, if such a challenge were sustained, we could fail to qualify as a REIT.

Liquidation of assets may jeopardize our REIT qualification.

To qualify as a REIT, we must comply with requirements regarding our assets and our sources of income. If we are compelled to liquidate our investments to repay obligations to our lenders, we may be unable to comply with these requirements, ultimately jeopardizing our qualification as a REIT, or we may be subject to a 100% tax on any resultant

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gain if we sell assets that are treated as dealer property or inventory.

Complying with REIT requirements may limit our ability to hedge effectively and may cause us to incur tax liabilities.

The REIT provisions of the Code substantially limit our ability to hedge our liabilities. Any income from a hedging transaction we enter into to manage risk of interest rate changes with respect to borrowings made or to be made to acquire or carry real estate assets does not constitute “gross income” for purposes of the 75% or 95% gross income tests. To the extent that we enter into other types of hedging transactions, the income from those transactions is likely to be treated as non‑qualifying income for purposes of both of the gross income tests. As a result of these rules, we intend to limit our use of advantageous hedging techniques or implement those hedges through a domestic TRS. This could increase the cost of our hedging activities because our TRS would be subject to tax on gains or expose us to greater risks associated with changes in interest rates than we would otherwise want to bear. In addition, losses in our TRS will generally not provide any tax benefit, except for being carried forward against future taxable income in the TRS.

Newly enacted legislation with respect to partnership tax audits could increase the tax liability borne by us in the event of a U.S. federal income tax audit of a subsidiary partnership. 

 

Recent legislation may alter who bears the liability in the event any subsidiary partnership is audited and an adjustment is assessed.  Congress recently revised the rules applicable to U.S. federal income tax audits of partnerships (such as certain of our subsidiaries) and the collection of any tax resulting from any such audits or other tax proceedings, generally for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. Under the new rules, the partnership itself may be liable for a hypothetical increase in partner-level taxes (including interest and penalties) resulting from an adjustment of partnership tax items on audit, regardless of changes in the composition of the partners (or their relative ownership) between the year under audit and the year of the adjustment.  The new rules also include an elective alternative method under which the additional taxes resulting from the adjustment are assessed from the affected partners, subject to a higher rate of interest than otherwise would apply.  Many questions remain as to how the new rules will apply, especially with respect to partners that are REITs, and it is not clear at this time what effect this new legislation will have on us.  However, these changes could increase the U.S. federal income tax, interest, and/or penalties otherwise borne by us in the event of a U.S. federal income tax audit of a subsidiary partnership. 

Risks Related to Our Common Stock

The market price and trading volume of our common stock could be volatile and the market price of our common stock could decline, resulting in a substantial or complete loss of your investment.

The stock markets, including the NYSE, which is the exchange on which our common stock is listed, have experienced significant price and volume fluctuations. Overall weakness in the economy and other factors have recently contributed to extreme volatility of the equity markets generally, including the market price of our common stock. As a result, the market price of our common stock has been and may continue to be volatile, and investors in our common stock may experience a decrease in the value of their shares, including decreases unrelated to our operating performance or prospects. Some of the factors that could negatively affect our stock price or result in fluctuations in the price or trading volume of our common stock include:

our actual or projected operating results, financial condition, cash flows and liquidity, or changes in business strategy or prospects;

actual or perceived conflicts of interest with our Manager or Starwood Capital Group and individuals, including our executives;

equity issuances by us, or share resales by our stockholders, or the perception that such issuances or resales may occur;

actual or anticipated accounting problems;

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publication of research reports about us or the real estate industry;

changes in market valuations of similar companies;

adverse market reaction to the level of leverage we employ;

additions to or departures of our Manager’s or Starwood Capital Group’s key personnel;

speculation in the press or investment community;

our failure to meet, or the lowering of, our earnings estimates or those of any securities analysts;

increases in market interest rates, which may lead investors to demand a higher distribution yield for our common stock and would result in increased interest expenses on our debt;

failure to maintain our REIT qualification;

uncertainty regarding our exemption from the Investment Company Act;

price and volume fluctuations in the stock market generally; and

general market and economic conditions, including the current state of the credit and capital markets.

In the past, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against companies following periods of volatility in their share price. This type of litigation could result in substantial costs and divert our Manager’s attention and resources.

There may be future dilution of our common stock as a result of additional issuances of our securities, which could adversely impact our stock price.

Our board of directors is authorized under our charter to, among other things, authorize the issuance of additional shares of our common stock or the issuance of shares of preferred stock or additional securities convertible or exchangeable into equity securities, without stockholder approval. Future issuances of our common stock or shares of preferred stock or securities convertible or exchangeable into equity securities may dilute the ownership interest of our existing stockholders. Because our decision to issue additional equity or convertible or exchangeable securities in any future offering will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing or nature of our future issuances. Additionally, any convertible or exchangeable securities that we issue may have rights, preferences and privileges more favorable than those of our common stock. Also, we cannot predict the effect, if any, of future sales of our common stock, or the availability of shares for future sales, on the market price of our common stock. Sales of substantial amounts of common stock or the perception that such sales could occur may adversely affect the prevailing market price for our common stock.

Item 1B.  Unresolved Staff Comments.

None.

Item 2.  Properties.

The Company occupies office space in Greenwich, CT; Miami Beach, FL; San Francisco, CA; New York, NY; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; Charlotte, NC; London, UK and Frankfurt, DE. Our headquarters is located in Greenwich, CT in office space leased by our Manager. Refer to Schedule III included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10‑K for a listing of investment properties owned as of December 31, 2015. 

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Item 3.  Legal Proceedings.

Currently, no material legal proceedings are pending or, to our knowledge, threatened against us.

Item 4.  Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.

PART II

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

Market Information and Dividends

The Company’s common stock has been listed on the NYSE and is traded under the symbol “STWD” since its IPO in August 2009. The table below sets forth the quarterly high and low prices for our common stock as reported by the NYSE, and dividends made by the Company to holders of the Company’s common stock for each quarter for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015

    

High

    

Low

    

Dividend

 

First quarter

 

$

24.79

 

$

23.12

 

$

0.48

 

Second quarter

 

$

24.70

 

$

21.54

 

$

0.48

 

Third quarter

 

$

22.74

 

$

20.01

 

$

0.48

 

Fourth quarter

 

$

21.44

 

$

19.30

 

$

0.48

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

    

High

    

Low

    

Dividend

 

First quarter (1)

 

$

30.67

 

$

22.92

 

$

0.48

 

Second quarter

 

$

24.60

 

$

22.18

 

$

0.48

 

Third quarter

 

$

24.06

 

$

21.79

 

$

0.48

 

Fourth quarter

 

$

24.06

 

$

21.53

 

$

0.48

 


(1)

On January 31, 2014, we completed the spin‑off of our SFR segment and our stockholders received one common share of Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust (now Colony Starwood Homes following its January 2016 merger with Colony American Homes) for every five shares of our common stock held at the close of business on January 24, 2014, effectively a non‑cash dividend of $5.77 per share. On the date of the spin‑off, the book value of SWAY’s assets was estimated to be $1.1 billion.

On February 25, 2016, our board of directors declared a dividend of $0.48 per share for the period ended March 31, 2016, which dividend is payable on April 15, 2016 to common stockholders of record as of March 31, 2016.

On February 19, 2016, the closing price of our common stock, as reported by the NYSE, was $17.63 per share.

We intend to make regular quarterly distributions to holders of our common stock and distribution equivalents to holders of restricted stock units which are settled in shares of common stock. U.S. federal income tax law generally requires that a REIT distribute annually at least 90% of its REIT taxable income, without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and excluding net capital gains, and that it pay tax at regular corporate rates to the extent that it annually distributes less than 100% of its net taxable income. We generally intend over time to pay quarterly distributions in an amount equal to our taxable income.

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Holders

As of February 19, 2016, there were 155 holders of record of the Company’s 237,031,645 shares of common stock outstanding. One of the holders of record is Cede & Co., which holds shares as nominee for The Depository Trust Company which itself holds shares on behalf of other beneficial owners of our common stock.

Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans

The information required by this item is set forth under Item 12 of this Annual Report on Form 10‑K and is incorporated herein by reference.

Stock Performance Graph

CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN

Based upon initial investment of $100 on January 1, 2011(1)

Picture 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Starwood Property

    

 

    

Bloomberg REIT

 

 

 

Trust