|Current Distribution Rate 1, 2||14.33%|
|Quarterly Distribution Per Share2||$26.81250|
|Common Shares Outstanding||58,625|
|52 Week High/Low NAV||$957.97/$590.80|
|Total Managed Assets||$51,531,567|
|Investment Adviser||Guggenheim Funds Investment Advisors, LLC|
|Portfolio Manager/Sub-Adviser||Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC|
|Expense Ratio (Common Shares)4||3.07%|
|Portfolio Turnover Rate||10%|
|1940 Act Asset Coverage Ratio||673.34%|
|Since Inception (8/13/15)||-0.41%|
Performance data quoted represents past performance, which is no guarantee of future results, and current performance may be lower or higher than the figures shown. Since Inception returns assume a purchase of common shares at each Fund’s initial offering price for market price returns or the Fund’s initial net asset value (NAV) for NAV returns. Returns for periods of less than one year are not annualized. All distributions are assumed to be reinvested either in accordance with the dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) for market price returns or NAV for NAV returns. Until the DRIP price is available from the Plan Agent, the market price returns reflect the reinvestment at the closing market price on the last business day of the month. Once the DRIP is available around mid-month, the market price returns are updated to reflect reinvestment at the DRIP price. All returns include the deduction of management fees, operating expenses and all other fund expenses, and do not reflect the deduction of brokerage commissions or taxes that investors may pay on distributions or the sale of shares. Please refer to the most recent annual or semi-annual report for additional information.
Distributions are not guaranteed and are subject to change.
1 Latest declared distribution per share annualized and divided by the current NAV.
2 Distributions may be paid from sources of income other than ordinary income, such as short term capital gains, long term capital gains or return of capital. If a distribution consists of something other than ordinary income, a 19(a) notice detailing the anticipated source(s) of the distribution will be made available. The 19(a) notice will be posted to the Fund’s website and to the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation so that brokers can distribute such notices to Shareholders of the Fund. Section 19(a) notices are provided for informational purposes only and not for tax reporting purposes. The final determination of the source and tax characteristics of all distributions in a particular year will be made after the end of the year. This information is not legal or tax advice. Consult a professional regarding your specific legal or tax matters.
3 Represents the amount of financial leverage the Fund currently employs as a percentage of total Fund assets.
4 Expense ratios are annualized and reflect the Fund’s operating expense, including interest expense, or in the case of a fund with a fee waiver, net operating expense, as of the most recent annual or semi-annual report. The expense ratio, based on common assets, excluding interest expense was 2.49%.
The Fund’s primary investment objective is to provide high income. As a secondary investment objective, the Fund will seek capital appreciation. There can be no assurance the Fund will achieve its investment objectives.
Under normal market conditions, the Fund will invest at least 80% of its Managed Assets in (i) securities of energy companies and (ii) income producing securities of other issuers. Energy companies include companies that have at least 50% of their assets, income, sales or profits committed to, or derived from, (i) production, exploration, development, mining, extraction, transportation (including marine transportation), refining, processing, storage, distribution, management, marketing and/or trading of oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined petroleum products, coal, biofuels, or other natural resources used to produce energy, or ethanol, (ii) generation, transmission, distribution, marketing, sale and/or trading of all forms of electrical power (including through clean and renewable resources, such as solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy or hydropower) or gas, (iii) manufacturing, marketing, management, sale and/or trading of equipment, products or other supplies predominantly used by entities engaged in such businesses and (iv) provision of services to entities engaged in such businesses. Under normal market conditions, the Fund will invest at least 70% of its Managed Assets in securities of energy companies. The Fund intends to focus its energy company investments in debt securities, including bonds, debentures, notes, loans and loan participations, mezzanine and preferred securities, convertible securities and structured products.
The Fund may invest in debt securities of any credit quality, and may invest without limitation in securities of below investment grade quality (also known as “high yield securities” or “junk bonds”).5
For periodic shareholder reports and recent fund-specific filings, please visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) website via the following: XGEIX SEC Filings
The Adviser believes that rigorous credit research, deep industry expertise and valuation conviction are critical to identifying superior investment opportunities and managing downside risk. The Adviser believes that its broad relationships with management teams, financial sponsors and capital markets professionals creates opportunities for unique investment opportunities and its deep understanding of underfollowed companies and complex capital structures creates opportunities to drive better investment outcomes. The Adviser’s investment process is structured around its core beliefs:
The Adviser operates on the thesis that a disciplined, research-intensive process can uncover compelling investment opportunities. By analyzing a broad set of opportunities up and down the capital structure, as well as overlaying macroeconomic research, the Adviser gains better insight into the dynamics of the business, enterprise value and where it may seek to deliver the best packages of risk and return. The Adviser’s rigorous research process is described below:
The Adviser divides the energy sector into five distinct subsectors, which include: Upstream (exploration and production), Energy Services (provide equipment and services to energy companies), Midstream (pipeline companies), Downstream (refiners), and Power and Chemical (produce and distribute to end users). The Adviser believes that each of these subsectors exhibits different levels of energy price sensitivity. In addition to considering the unique dynamics of each subsector, it is also important to understand each company’s cash liquidity, commodity exposures, basin exposures and capital spending requirements when evaluating their ability to service their debt. The Adviser applies its macroeconomic and credit expertise to the unique characteristics of the energy sector, subsectors and individual companies. In doing so, the investment team seeks to identify those high yielding debt instruments that it believes represent compelling investment opportunities.
Mr. Hauser joined Guggenheim in 2002 and is a member of Guggenheim’s Corporate Credit Group. He is also a member of the Investment Committee overseeing Guggenheim’s corporate credit investing activities. Prior to his role as a portfolio manager, Mr. Hauser led a team covering a variety of sectors including technology, media and telecom, education, metals and mining, homebuilding, healthcare, and energy and power. He has substantial experience in the high yield and leverage loan class. During his career at the firm, Mr. Hauser has been an analyst covering a variety of sectors, including the energy, power, transportation and chemical sectors. Mr. Hauser received his B.S. in Finance from St. Johns University.
Mr. Brown joined Guggenheim in 2010 and is a part of the Portfolio Management team for Guggenheim’s Active Fixed Income and Total Return mandates. Mr. Brown is involved in all facets of portfolio management including working with the senior Portfolio Managers and CIOs to develop and apply the macro and sector level views at the individual portfolio level. Additionally he works closely with the sector teams and portfolio construction to implement trades and optimize portfolios. Prior to joining the portfolio management team in 2012 Mr. Brown worked in the non-mortgage asset backed securities group. His responsibilities on that team included trading, sourcing and evaluating investment opportunities and monitoring credits. Prior to joining Guggenheim Mr. Brown held roles within treasury services and structured products at ABN AMRO and Bank of America in Chicago and London. Mr. Brown earned a BS in Finance from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. He has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation and is a member of the CFA Institute.
Mr. Bloch joined Guggenheim in 2012 and is a portfolio manager for Guggenheim’s Active Fixed Income and Total Return Mandates. Mr. Bloch works with the CIOs and other portfolio managers to develop portfolio strategy in line with the firm’s views. He oversees strategy implementation, working with research analysts and traders to generate trade ideas, hedge portfolios, and manage day-to-day risk. Prior to joining Guggenheim, he worked in Leveraged Finance at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York where he structured high-yield bonds and leveraged loans for leveraged buyouts, restructurings, and corporate refinancings across multiple industries. Mr. Bloch graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. de Wet joined Guggenheim Partners in March 2013 from PIMCO where he spent 6 years and was part of the team that established PIMCO’s New York Portfolio Management presence. He has more than 10 years of Investment Management experience across Multi-Sector Credit, Emerging Markets and Equities. Previously Mr. de Wet worked in Investment Banking at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital in Mergers and Acquisitions and Restructuring Advisory, and as an Assistant Vice President at the TCW Group. Mr. de Wet received a BBA in Finance and International Business from George Washington University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Investors should consider the following risk factors and special considerations associated with investing in the Trust. Investors should be aware that in light of the current uncertainty, volatility and distress in economies, financial markets, and labor and health conditions over the world, the risks below are heightened significantly compared to normal conditions and therefore subject the Fund’s investments and a shareholder’s investment in the Fund to elevated investment risk, including the possible loss of the entire principal amount invested.
No Operating History
The Fund is a newly-organized, non-diversified, closed-end management investment company with no operating history. As a result, prospective investors have no track record or history on which to base their investment decision.
Not a Complete Investment Program
The Fund is intended for investors seeking a high level of after-tax total return, with an emphasis on current distributions paid to shareholders, over the long term. The Fund is not meant to provide a vehicle for those who wish to play short-term swings in the stock market. An investment in the Common Shares of the Fund should not be considered a complete investment program. Each Common Shareholder should take into account the Fund's investment objective as well as the Common Shareholder's other investments when considering an investment in the Fund.
Investment and Market Risk
An investment in the Fund is subject to investment risk, particularly under current economic, financial, labor and health conditions, including the possible loss of the entire principal amount that you invest. An investment in the Common Shares of the Fund represents an indirect investment in the securities owned by the Fund. The value of, or income generated by, the investments held by the Fund are subject to the possibility of rapid and unpredictable fluctuation. These movements may result from factors affecting individual companies, or from broader influences, including real or perceived changes in prevailing interest rates, changes in inflation or expectations about inflation, investor confidence or economic, political, social or financial market conditions, environmental disasters, governmental actions, public health emergencies (such as the spread of infectious diseases, pandemics and epidemics) and other similar events, that each of which may be temporary or last for extended periods. For example, the risks of a borrower’s default or bankruptcy or non-payment of scheduled interest or principal payments from senior floating rate interests held by the Fund are especially acute under these conditions. Furthermore, interest rates and bond yields may fall as a result of types of events, including responses by governmental entities to such events, which would magnify the Fund’s fixed-income instruments’ susceptibility to interest rate risk and diminish their yield and performance. Moreover, the Fund’s investments in asset-backed securities are subject to many of the same risks that are applicable to investments in securities generally, including interest rate risk, credit risk, foreign currency risk, below-investment grade securities risk, financial leverage risk, prepayment and regulatory risk, which would be elevated under the foregoing circumstances.
Different sectors, industries and security types may react differently to such developments and, when the market performs well, there is no assurance that the Fund’s investments will increase in value along with the broader markets. Volatility of financial markets, including potentially extreme volatility caused by the events described above, can expose the Fund to greater market risk than normal, possibly resulting in greatly reduced liquidity. Moreover, changing economic, political, social or financial market conditions in one country or geographic region could adversely affect the value, yield and return of the investments held by the Fund in a different country or geographic region because of the increasingly interconnected global economies and financial markets. The Adviser and Sub-Adviser potentially could be prevented from considering, managing and executing investment decisions at an advantageous time or price or at all as a result of any domestic or global market or other disruptions, particularly disruptions causing heightened market volatility and reduced market liquidity, such as the current conditions, which have also resulted in impediments to the normal functioning of workforces, including personnel and systems of the Fund’s service providers and market intermediaries.
At any point in time, your Common Shares may be worth less than your original investment, including the reinvestment of Fund dividends and distributions.
Non-Listed Closed-End Fund Risk
The Fund is designed for long-term investors who are prepared to hold the Common Shares of the Fund until the end of the Fund’s term and not as a trading vehicle. An investment in the Common Shares, unlike an investment in a traditional listed closed-end fund, should be considered illiquid. The Common Shares are appropriate only for investors who are seeking an investment in less liquid portfolio investments within an illiquid fund. An investment in Common Shares is not suitable for investors who need access to the money they invest. Unlike shares of open-end funds (commonly known as mutual funds), which generally are redeemable on a daily basis, the Common Shares will not be redeemable at an investor’s option. Unlike traditional listed closed-end funds, the Fund does not intend to list the Common Shares for trading on any securities exchange, and the Fund does not expect any secondary market to develop for the Common Shares in the foreseeable future. The net asset value of the Common Shares may be volatile and the Fund’s use of leverage will increase this volatility. As the Common Shares are not traded, investors may not be able to dispose of their investment in the Fund no matter how poorly the Fund performs.
Shareholder Liquidity Event Risk
The Fund intends to complete a Shareholder Liquidity Event on or before the Liquidity Event Date, July 28, 2023. If the Board of Trustees determines that under then current market conditions it is in the best interests of the Fund to do so, the Fund may extend the Liquidity Event Date for one year, to July 28, 2024, without a shareholder vote. The Fund’s investment objectives and policies are not designed to seek to return to investors that purchase Common Shares in this offering their initial investment on the Liquidity Event Date or any other date.
Tender Offer Risk
Beginning 18 months after the completion of the offering, the Fund intends, but is not obligated, to conduct quarterly tender offers for up to 2.5% of the Common Shares then outstanding in the sole discretion of the Board of Trustees. In a tender offer, the Fund will offer to repurchase Common Shares at the Fund’s net asset value per Common Share or a percentage of the Fund’s net asset value per Common Share on the last day of the offer. In any given quarter, the Fund may choose not to conduct a tender offer or may choose to conduct a tender offer for less than 2.5% of the Common Shares then outstanding. Accordingly, there may be periods during which no tender offer is made, and it is possible that no tender offers will be conducted during the term of the Fund. If a tender offer is not made, Common Shareholders may not be able to sell their Common Shares as it is unlikely that a secondary market for the Common Shares will develop or, if a secondary market does develop, Common Shareholders may be able to sell their Common Shares only at substantial discounts from net asset value. If the Fund does conduct tender offers, it may be required to sell its more liquid, higher quality portfolio securities to purchase Common Shares that are tendered, which may increase risks for remaining Common Shareholders and increase fund expenses as a percentage of net assets. In addition, while the Fund is permitted to borrow money to finance the repurchase of Common Shares pursuant to tender offers, there can be no assurance that the Fund will be able to obtain such financing if it attempts to do so. Moreover, if the Fund’s portfolio does not provide adequate liquidity to fund tender offers, the Fund may extend the last day of any tender offer or choose to pay tendering Common Shareholders with a promissory note, which will cause the Common Shareholders to be paid at a later date than if the tender offer were not extended or if the promissory note were not issued.
Best-Efforts Offering Risk
This offering is being made on a best efforts basis. There is no minimum number of Common Shares (by all Common Shareholders in aggregate) required to be sold. There is no assurance that the Fund will raise sufficient proceeds in this offering to allow the Fund to purchase a portfolio of investments allocated in accordance with the Adviser’s investment strategy. The Distributor is an affiliate of the Fund. As a result, its due diligence review and investigation of the Fund and this prospectus cannot be considered to be an independent review.
The Fund is subject to management risk because it is an actively managed portfolio. In acting as the Fund's sub-adviser, responsible for management of the Fund's portfolio securities, the Sub-Adviser will apply investment techniques and risk analyses in making investment decisions for the Fund, but there can be no guarantee that these will produce the desired results.
The income investors receive from the Fund is based primarily on the interest it earns from its investments in income securities, which can vary widely over the short-and long-term. If prevailing market interest rates drop, investors’ income from the Fund could drop as well. The Fund’s income could also be affected adversely when prevailing short-term interest rates increase and the Fund is utilizing leverage, although this risk is mitigated to the extent the Fund invests in floating-rate obligations.
Because the Fund is focused in energy infrastructure entities in the energy sector of the economy, the Fund may be more susceptible to risks associated with such sector. The Fund will concentrate its investments in the industry or group of industries that make up the energy sector. A downturn in the energy sector could have a larger impact on the Fund than on an investment company that does not concentrate in such sector. At times, the performance of securities of companies in the energy sector may lag the performance of other sectors or the broader market as a whole.
Energy Companies Risks
Commodity Price Risk. Energy infrastructure entities may be affected by fluctuations in the prices of energy commodities, including, for example, natural gas, natural gas liquids, crude oil and coal, in the short- and long-term. Fluctuations in energy commodity prices may be influenced by changes in general economic conditions or political circumstances (especially of key energy producing and consuming countries), market conditions, weather patterns, domestic production levels, volume of imports, energy conservation, domestic and foreign governmental regulation, international politics, policies of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”), taxation, tariffs, and the availability and costs of local, intrastate and interstate transportation methods, among others. Companies engaged in crude oil and natural gas exploration, development or production, natural gas gathering and processing, crude oil refining and transportation and coal mining or sales may be directly affected by their respective natural resources commodity prices. The volatility of commodity prices may also indirectly affect certain companies engaged in the transportation, processing, storage or distribution of such commodities. Some companies that own the underlying commodities may be unable to effectively mitigate or manage direct margin exposure to commodity price levels. The energy sector as a whole may also be impacted by the perception that the performance of energy sector companies is directly linked to commodity prices. High commodity prices may drive further energy conservation efforts, and a slowing economy may adversely impact energy consumption, which may adversely affect the performance of energy infrastructure entities. Recently, oil prices have declined significantly and experienced greater volatility. This may adversely impact energy infrastructure entities. Such companies growth prospects and ability to pay high dividends may be negatively impacted, would could adversely impact the net asset value of the Common Shares and the ability of the Fund to continue to pay dividends at current levels. See “Recent Developments Regarding the Energy Sector.”
Supply and Demand Risk. Energy infrastructure entities may be impacted by the levels of supply and demand for energy commodities. Energy infrastructure entities and other companies operating in the energy sector could be adversely affected by reductions in the supply of or demand for energy commodities. The volume of production of energy commodities and the volume of energy commodities available for transportation, storage, processing or distribution could be affected by a variety of factors, including depletion of resources, depressed commodity prices, catastrophic events, labor relations, increased environmental or other governmental regulation, equipment malfunctions and maintenance difficulties, import volumes, international politics, policies of OPEC, and increased competition from alternative energy sources, among others. Alternatively, a decline in demand for energy commodities could result from factors such as adverse economic conditions (especially in key energy-consuming countries); increased taxation; increased environmental or other governmental regulation; increased fuel economy; increased energy conservation or use of alternative energy sources, legislation intended to promote the use of alternative energy sources; and increased commodity prices, among others. Demand for energy commodities has recently declined. Reductions in production of oil and other energy commodities may lag decreases in demand or declines in commodity prices, resulting in global oversupply in such commodities. See “Recent Developments Regarding the Energy Sector.”
Energy Sector Dislocation Risk. Recently, oil prices declined significantly and experienced significant volatility. This may adversely impact companies operating in the energy sector. If the prices for commodities experience a substantial downturn or remain relatively weak for the medium to long term, the ability of businesses whose financial performance depends in part on commodity prices to grow or maintain revenues in future years may be adversely affected, and at certain long term price levels for a given commodity, extractive operations with respect to that commodity may not be economically viable. There can be no assurance as to the duration of any perceived market dislocation.
Depletion Risk. Energy infrastructure entities engaged in the exploration, development, management or production of energy commodities face the risk that commodity reserves are depleted over time. Such companies seek to increase their reserves through expansion of their current businesses, acquisitions, further development of their existing sources of energy commodities, exploration of new sources of energy commodities or by entering into long-term contracts for additional reserves; however, there are risks associated with each of these potential strategies. If such companies fail to acquire additional reserves in a cost-effective manner and at a rate at least equal to the rate at which their existing reserves decline, their financial performance may suffer. Additionally, failure to replenish reserves could reduce the amount and affect the tax characterization of the distributions paid by such companies.
Regulatory Risk. The energy sector is highly regulated. Energy infrastructure entities are subject to significant regulation of nearly every aspect of their operations by federal, state and local governmental agencies. Such regulation can change rapidly or over time in both scope and intensity. For example, a particular by-product or process, including hydraulic fracturing, may become subject to additional regulation or be declared hazardous sometimes retroactively, by a regulatory agency. Such actions could increase production costs and reduce supply, which may have an adverse impact on energy infrastructure entities that utilize such by-product or process and on other energy infrastructure entities that rely on a supply of the impacted energy commodity. Examples of governmental regulations which impact energy infrastructure entities include regulation of the construction, maintenance and operation of facilities, environmental regulation, safety regulation, labor regulation, trade regulation and the regulation of the prices charged for products and services. Compliance with these regulations and the permits issued under them is enforced by numerous governmental agencies and authorities through administrative, civil and criminal penalties including civil fines, injunctions or both. Stricter laws or regulations or stricter enforcement policies with respect to existing regulations would likely increase the costs of regulatory compliance and could have an adverse effect on the financial performance of energy infrastructure entities. Energy infrastructure entities may be adversely affected by additional regulatory requirements enacted in response to environmental disasters, which may impose additional costs or limit certain operations by energy infrastructure entities operating in various sectors.
Environmental Risk. There is an inherent risk that energy infrastructure entities may incur environmental costs and liabilities due to the nature of their businesses and the substances they handle. For example, an accidental release from wells or gathering pipelines could subject them to substantial liabilities for environmental cleanup and restoration costs, claims made by neighboring landowners and other third parties for personal injury and property damage, and fines or penalties for related violations of environmental laws or regulations. Moreover, the possibility exists that stricter laws, regulations or enforcement policies could significantly increase the compliance costs of energy infrastructure entities, and the cost of any remediation that may become necessary. Energy infrastructure entities may not be able to recover these costs from insurance. Specifically, the operations of wells, gathering systems, pipelines, refineries and other facilities are subject to stringent and complex federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations. These include, for example: (i) the federal Clean Air Act and comparable state laws and regulations that impose obligations related to air emissions, (ii) the federal Clean Water Act and comparable state laws and regulations that impose obligations related to discharges of pollutants into regulated bodies of water, (iii) the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) and comparable state laws and regulations that impose requirements for the handling and disposal of waste from facilities; and (iv) the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (“CERCLA”), also known as “Superfund,” and comparable state laws and regulations that regulate the cleanup of hazardous substances that may have been released at properties currently or previously owned or operated by energy infrastructure entities or at locations to which they have sent waste for disposal.
Failure to comply with these laws and regulations may trigger a variety of administrative, civil and criminal enforcement measures, including the assessment of monetary penalties, the imposition of remedial requirements, and the issuance of orders enjoining future operations. Certain environmental statutes, including RCRA, CERCLA, the federal Oil Pollution Act and analogous state laws and regulations, impose strict, joint and several liability for costs required to clean up and restore sites where hazardous substances have been disposed of or otherwise released. Moreover, it is not uncommon for neighboring landowners and other third parties to file claims for personal injury and property damage allegedly caused by the release of hazardous substances or other waste products into the environment. There is an inherent risk that energy infrastructure entities may incur environmental costs and liabilities due to the nature of their businesses and the substances they handle. For example, an accidental release from wells or gathering pipelines could subject them to substantial liabilities for environmental cleanup and restoration costs, claims made by neighboring landowners and other third parties for personal injury and property damage, and fines or penalties for related violations of environmental laws or regulations. Moreover, the possibility exists that stricter laws, regulations or enforcement policies could significantly increase the compliance costs of energy infrastructure entities. For example, hydraulic fracturing, a technique used in the completion of certain oil and gas wells, has become a subject of increasing regulatory scrutiny and may be subject in the future to more stringent, and more costly to comply with, requirements. Similarly, the implementation of more stringent environmental requirements could significantly increase the cost of any remediation that may become necessary. Energy infrastructure entities may not be able to recover these costs from insurance.
Voluntary initiatives and mandatory controls have been adopted or are being discussed both in the United States and worldwide to reduce emissions of “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide, a by-product of burning fossil fuels, and methane, the major constituent of natural gas, which many scientists and policymakers believe contribute to global climate change. Such measures, including carbon taxes or further emission restrictions or regulations, could result in increased costs to certain companies in which the Fund may invest to operate and maintain facilities and administer and manage a greenhouse gas emissions program and may reduce demand for fuels that generate greenhouse gases and that are managed or produced by energy infrastructure entities. The potential for the imposition of such measures may negatively impact energy infrastructure entities generally. In the wake of a Supreme Court decision holding that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has some legal authority to deal with climate change under the Clean Air Act, the EPA and the Department of Transportation jointly wrote regulations to cut gasoline use and control greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. The EPA has also taken action to require certain entities to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions and certain facilities may be required to control emissions of greenhouse gases pursuant to EPA air permitting and other regulatory programs. These measures, and other programs addressing greenhouse gas emissions, could reduce demand for energy or raise prices, which may adversely affect the total return of certain of the Fund’s investments.
Fracturing Risk. Changes in laws or government regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing could increase a company’s costs of doing business, limit the areas in which it can operate and reduce oil and natural gas production by the company. Congress has in recent legislative sessions considered legislation to amend the Safe Water Drinking Act, including legislation that would repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing from the definition of “underground injection” and require federal permitting and regulatory control of hydraulic fracturing, as well as legislative proposals to require disclosure of the chemical constituents of the fluids used in the fracturing process, were proposed in recent sessions of Congress. In addition, the EPA has asserted federal regulatory authority over certain hydraulic fracturing activities. If hydraulic fracturing becomes regulated at the federal level as a result of federal legislation or regulatory initiatives by the EPA, fracturing activities could become subject to additional permitting requirements, and also to attendant permitting delays and potential increases in cost, which could adversely affect a company’s business.
Acquisition Risk. Energy infrastructure entities in which the Fund invests may depend on the ability of such entities to make acquisitions that increase adjusted operating surplus per unit in order to increase distributions to unit holders. The ability of such energy infrastructure entities to make future acquisitions is dependent on their ability to identify suitable targets, negotiate favorable purchase contracts, obtain acceptable financing and outbid competing potential acquirers. To the extent that energy infrastructure entities are unable to make future acquisitions, or such future acquisitions fail to increase the adjusted operating surplus per unit, their growth and ability to make distributions to unit holders will be limited. There are risks inherent in any acquisition, including erroneous assumptions regarding revenues, acquisition expenses, operating expenses, cost savings and synergies, assumption of liabilities, indemnification, customer losses, key employee defections, distraction from other business operations, and unanticipated difficulties in operating or integrating new product areas and geographic regions, among others.
Interest Rate Risk. Rising interest rates could increase the costs of capital thereby increasing operating costs and reducing the ability of energy infrastructure entities to carry out acquisitions or expansions in a cost-effective manner. As a result, rising interest rates could negatively affect the financial performance of energy infrastructure entities in which the Fund invests. Rising interest rates may also impact the price of the securities of energy infrastructure entities as the yields on alternative investments increase.
Weather Risk. Weather plays a role in the seasonality of some energy infrastructure entities' cash flows. Energy infrastructure entities in the propane industry, for example, rely on the winter season to generate almost all of their earnings. In an unusually warm winter season, propane energy infrastructure entities experience decreased demand for their product. Although most energy infrastructure entities can reasonably predict seasonal weather demand based on normal weather patterns, extreme weather conditions, such as the hurricanes that severely damaged cities along the U.S. Gulf Coast in recent years, demonstrate that no amount of preparation can protect an energy infrastructure entity from the unpredictability of the weather or possible climate change. The damage done by extreme weather also may serve to increase many energy infrastructure entities' insurance premiums and could adversely affect such companies’ financial condition and ability to pay distributions to shareholders.
Technology Risk. Energy companies may be subject to technology risks, including the risk of mechanical breakdown, spare parts shortages, failure to perform according to design specifications and other unanticipated events which adversely affect operations. Some energy companies are focused on developing new technologies and are strongly influenced by technological changes. These companies may bear high research and development costs, which can limit their ability to maintain operations during periods of organizational growth or instability.
Infrastructure Risk. Energy companies may rely heavily on infrastructure assets for the storage and transportation of energy and power outputs. Infrastructure intensive energy companies may be susceptible to a variety of factors that may adversely affect their business and operations, including high interest costs in connection with capital construction programs; high leverage; costs associated with environmental and other regulations; surplus capacity costs; and reduced investment in public and private infrastructure projects.
Power Purchase Agreement Risk. Certain energy companies may enter into power purchase agreements (“PPAs”). There can be no assurance that any or all of the power purchasers will fulfill their obligations under their PPAs or that a power purchaser will not become bankrupt or that upon any such bankruptcy its obligations under its respective PPA will not be rejected by a bankruptcy trustee.
Land Title Risk. Certain energy companies may require large areas of land to install and operate their equipment and associated infrastructure. The rights to use the necessary land may be obtained through freehold title, easements, leases and other rights of use. Different jurisdictions adopt different systems of land title, and in some jurisdictions it may not be possible to ascertain definitively who has the legal right to enter into land tenure arrangements.
Independent Contractors Risk. Independent contractors are typically used in operations in the energy industry to perform various operational tasks. In periods of high commodity prices, demand for such contractors may exceed supply resulting in increased costs or lack of availability of key contractors. Since an energy company may not have the same control over independent contractors as they may have over their own employees, there is a risk that such contractors will not operate in accordance with its own safety standards or other policies.
Insurance Risk. Certain losses of a catastrophic nature, such as wars, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or other similar events, may be either uninsurable or insurable at such high rates that to maintain such coverage would cause an adverse impact on the energy companies’ operations or profitability.
Industry Specific Risks. Among such risks, pipeline companies are subject to the demand for natural gas, natural gas liquids, crude oil or refined products in the markets they serve, changes in the availability of products for gathering, transportation, processing or sale due to natural declines in reserves and production in the supply areas serviced by the companies’ facilities, sharp decreases in crude oil or natural gas prices that cause producers to curtail production or reduce capital spending for exploration activities, and environmental regulation. Businesses that engage in oil and gas exploration and development are speculative and involve a high degree of risk and the use of new technologies. Exploration, development and production companies are particularly vulnerable to declines in the demand for and prices of crude oil and natural gas. Gathering and processing companies are subject to natural declines in the production of oil and natural gas fields, which utilize their gathering and processing facilities as a way to market their production, prolonged declines in the price of natural gas or crude oil, which curtails drilling activity and therefore production, and declines in the prices of natural gas liquids and refined petroleum products, which cause lower processing margins. Energy companies with coal assets are subject to supply and demand fluctuations in the markets they serve which may be impacted by a wide range of factors including fluctuating commodity prices, the level of their customers’ coal stockpiles, weather, increased conservation or use of alternative fuel sources, increased governmental or environmental regulation, depletion, rising interest rates, declines in domestic or foreign production, mining accidents or catastrophic events and health claims and economic conditions, among others.
Utilities Companies Risk. A variety of factors may adversely affect the business or operations of utilities, including: high interest costs in connection with capital construction and improvement programs; governmental regulation of rates charged to customers; costs associated with compliance with and changes in environmental and other regulations; effects of economic slowdowns and surplus capacity; increased competition from other providers of utilities services; inexperience with and potential losses resulting from a developing deregulatory environment; costs associated with reduced availability of certain types of fuel; the effects of energy conservation policies; effects of a national energy policy; technological innovations; potential impact of terrorist activities; the impact of natural or man-made disasters; regulation by various governmental authorities, including the imposition of special tariffs; and changes in tax laws, regulatory policies and accounting standards.
Federal Power Act; Natural Gas Act; State Regulations Risk. Companies owning or operating electric generation and transmission assets may be subject to regulatory requirements under the Federal Power Act, other federal utility statutes, state and local public utility laws.
Regulatory Approvals Risk. The energy sector is highly regulated. Energy infrastructure entities are subject to significant regulation of nearly every aspect of their operations by federal, state and local governmental agencies. Such regulation can change rapidly or over time in both scope and intensity. For example, a particular by-product or process, including hydraulic fracturing, may become subject to additional regulation or be declared hazardous sometimes retroactively, by a regulatory agency. Such actions could increase production costs and reduce supply, which may have an adverse impact on energy infrastructure entities that utilize such by-product on process and on energy infrastructure entities that rely on a supply of the impacted energy commodity. Examples of governmental regulations which impact energy infrastructure entities include regulation of the construction, maintenance and operation of facilities, environmental regulation, safety regulation, labor regulation, trade regulation and the regulation of the prices charged for products and services. Compliance with these regulations and the permits issued under them is enforced by numerous governmental agencies and authorities through administrative, civil and criminal penalties including civil fines, injunctions or both. Stricter laws or regulations or stricter enforcement policies with respect to existing regulations would likely increase the costs of regulatory compliance and could have an adverse effect on the financial performance of energy infrastructure entities. Energy infrastructure entities may be adversely affected by additional regulatory requirements enacted in response to environmental disasters, which may impose additional costs or limit certain operations by energy infrastructure entities operating in various sectors.
Siting Challenges Risk. Energy and energy-related infrastructure projects may be subject to siting requirements. Siting of energy projects is also frequently subject to regulation by applicable state, county and local authorities. Proposals to site an energy project may be challenged by a number of parties, including special interest groups based on alleged security concerns, disturbances to natural habitats for wildlife and adverse aesthetic impacts.
Tax Risk. It is possible that new U.S. or non-U.S. taxes on the energy industry could be implemented and/or U.S. or non-U.S. tax benefits could be eliminated or reduced, reducing the profitability of energy companies and their available cash flow. Certain federal income tax deductions currently available with respect to oil and natural gas exploration and development may be eliminated as a result of future legislation.
Political, Legal and Commercial Instability Risk. The Fund may invest globally and may invest in businesses that have operations in regions with varying degrees of political, legal and commercial stability. Political, civil and social pressures may result in administrative change, policy reform and/or changes in law or governmental regulations, which in turn can result in expropriation or nationalization of the investments of a company in which the Fund invests and/or adversely affect the value or liquidity of such company’s investments or such company’s underlying business.
Sovereign Risk. The right of certain energy companies to extract mineral resources, generate, deliver or sell energy or related services and equipment may be granted by, or derive from approval by, governmental entities and are subject to special risks, including the risk that the relevant governmental entity will exercise sovereign rights and take actions contrary to the rights of company. There can be no assurance that the relevant governmental entity will not legislate, impose regulations or change applicable laws or act contrary to the law in a way that would materially and adversely affect the business of any energy company in which the Fund invests.
Strategic Asset Risk. Energy companies may control significant strategic assets. Strategic assets are assets that have a national or regional profile, and may have monopolistic characteristics. Given the national or regional profile and/or their irreplaceable nature, strategic assets may constitute a higher risk target for terrorist acts or adverse political actions.
Hedging Policies and Commodities Price Risk. Energy companies may employ hedging techniques designed to reduce currency, commodity price, interest rate exposure or other investment risks or as a means of structuring an investment in a company in light of applicable legal, tax or regulatory considerations. If an energy company engages in any such hedging activities, it may be exposed to credit-related losses in the event of non-performance by counterparties to the physical or financial instruments. Additionally, if commodity prices, interest rates or exchange rates increase above or decrease below those levels specified in any future hedging agreements, such hedging arrangements may prevent an energy company from realizing the full benefit of such increases or decreases.
Cyclical Industry Risk. The energy industry is cyclical and from time to time may experience a shortage of drilling rigs, equipment, supplies, or qualified personnel, or due to significant demand, such services may not be available on commercially reasonable terms. An energy infrastructure entity’s ability to successfully and timely complete capital improvements to existing or other capital projects is contingent upon many variables. Should any such efforts be unsuccessful, an energy infrastructure entity could be subject to additional costs and/or the write-off of its investment in the project or improvement. The marketability of oil and gas production depends in large part on the availability, proximity and capacity of pipeline systems owned by third parties. Oil and gas properties are subject to royalty interests, liens and other burdens, encumbrances, easements or restrictions, all of which could impact the production of a particular energy infrastructure entity. Oil and gas energy infrastructure entities operate in a highly competitive and cyclical industry, with intense price competition. A significant portion of their revenues may depend on a relatively small number of customers, including governmental entities and utilities.
Catastrophic Event Risk. Energy infrastructure entities are subject to many dangers inherent in the production, exploration, management, transportation, processing and distribution of natural gas, natural gas liquids, crude oil, refined petroleum and petroleum products and other hydrocarbons. These dangers include leaks, fires, explosions, damage to facilities and equipment resulting from natural disasters, inadvertent damage to facilities and equipment and terrorist acts. Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, the U.S. government has issued warnings that energy assets, specifically U.S. pipeline infrastructure, may be targeted in future terrorist attacks. These dangers give rise to risks of substantial losses as a result of loss or destruction of commodity reserves; damage to or destruction of property, facilities and equipment; pollution and environmental damage; and personal injury or loss of life. Any occurrence of such catastrophic events could bring about a limitation, suspension or discontinuation of the operations of energy infrastructure entities. Energy infrastructure entities may not be fully insured against all risks inherent in their business operations and therefore accidents and catastrophic events could adversely affect such companies' financial conditions and ability to pay distributions to shareholders.
Recent Developments Regarding the Energy Sector.
Recent Developments Regarding Commodity Prices. Prices of oil and other energy commodities have declined significantly and experienced significant volatility during recent years and oil prices have recently approached ten year lows. Companies engaged in crude oil and natural gas exploration, development or production, natural gas gathering and processing, crude oil refining and transportation and coal mining or sales may be directly affected by their respective natural resources commodity prices. The volatility of commodity prices may also indirectly affect certain companies engaged in the transportation, processing, storage or distribution of such commodities. Some companies that own the underlying commodities may be unable to effectively mitigate or manage direct margin exposure to commodity price levels. The energy sector as a whole may also be impacted by the perception that the performance of energy sector companies is directly linked to commodity prices. As a result, many companies in which the Fund may invest have been and may continue to be adversely impacted by declines in, and volatility of, prices of energy commodities. Demand for energy commodities has recently declined. Reductions in production of oil and other energy commodities may lag decreases in demand or declines in commodity prices, resulting in global oversupply in such commodities. Slower global growth may lower demand for oil and other energy commodities and increased exports by Iran with the end of sanctions may increase supply, exacerbating oversupply of such commodities and further reducing commodity prices. Continued low prices for energy commodities, or continued volatility of such prices, could further erode such companies’ growth prospects and negatively impact such companies’ ability to sustain attractive distribution levels, which could adversely impact the net asset value of the Common Shares and the ability of the Fund to continue to pay distributions on the Common Shares at current levels. Because the Fund is focused in energy infrastructure entities operating in the industry or group of industries that make up the energy sector of the economy, the Fund may be more susceptible to risks associated with energy commodity prices than an investment company that does not concentrate in such sector.
Recent Developments Regarding Energy Infrastructure Entity Distributions. The Fund expects that a substantial portion of the cash flow it receives will be derived from its investments in equity securities of energy infrastructure entities. The amount and tax characterization of cash available for distribution will depend upon the amount of cash generated by such entity’s operations. Cash available for distribution may vary widely from quarter to quarter and is affected by various factors affecting the entity’s operations. Recently, a number of energy infrastructure entities have reduced, suspended or eliminated their distributions. Such distribution reductions could adversely impact the ability of the Fund to continue to pay distributions on the Common Shares at current levels.
Recent Developments Regarding MLP Debt Restructurings. Adverse developments in the energy sector may result in MLPs seeking to restructure debt or file for bankruptcy. Limited partners in such MLPs, such as the Fund, may owe taxes on debt that is forgiven in a bankruptcy or an out-of-court restructuring, as cancellation of debt income, which creates a tax liability for investors without an associated cash distribution. While an MLP facing a debt restructuring may seek to implement structures that would limit the tax liability associated with the debt restructuring, there can be no assurance that such structures could be successfully implemented or would not have other adverse impacts on the Fund as an investor in the MLP.
Lower Grade Securities Risk
The Fund may invest in fixed-income securities rated below investment grade (that is, rated Ba or lower by Moody's; BB or lower by S&P; comparably rated by another statistical rating organization; or, if unrated, as determined by the Sub-Adviser to be of comparable credit quality), which are commonly referred to as "junk bonds." Investment in securities of below-investment grade quality involves substantial risk of loss, the risk of which is particularly acute under current conditions. Securities of below investment grade quality are predominantly speculative with respect to the issuer's capacity to pay interest and repay principal when due and therefore involve a greater risk of default or decline in market value due to adverse economic and issuer-specific developments. Securities of below investment grade quality display increased price sensitivity to changing interest rates and to a deteriorating economic environment. The market values for debt securities of below-investment grade quality tend to be more volatile and such securities tend to be less liquid than investment grade debt securities.
Fixed Income Securities Risks
Issuer Risk. The value of fixed income securities may decline for a number of reasons which directly relate to the issuer, such as management performance, financial leverage, reduced demand for the issuer’s goods and services, historical and projected earnings, and the value of its assets.
Credit Risk. Credit risk is the risk that one or more debt obligations in the Fund’s portfolio will decline in price, or fail to pay interest or principal when due, because the issuer of the obligation experiences a decline in its financial status, the risk of which is heightened under current conditions. A downgrade of the rating assigned to a fixed-income security by an NRSRO may reduce the value of that security.
Interest Rate Risk. Interest rate risk is the risk that fixed income securities, such as preferred and debt securities and certain equity securities will decline in value because of a rise in market interest rates. When market interest rates rise, the market value of such securities generally will fall. The net asset value and market price of the Common Shares will tend to decline as a result of the Fund's investment in such securities if market interest rates rise.
During periods of rising interest rates, the average life of certain types of securities may be extended because of a lower likelihood of prepayments. This may lock in a below market interest rate, increase the security's duration and reduce the value of the security. This is known as extension risk. The likelihood that payments on principal will occur at a slower rate or later than expected is heightened under the current conditions.
In typical interest rate environments, prices of fixed income securities with longer maturities generally fluctuate more in response to changes in interest rates than do the prices of fixed income securities with shorter-term maturities. Because the Fund may invest a portion of its assets in fixed-income securities without regard to their maturities, to the extent the Fund invests in fixed income securities with longer maturities, the net asset value and market price of the Common Shares would fluctuate more in response to changes in interest rates than if the Fund were to invest such portion of its assets in shorter-term fixed income securities.
Market interest rates for investment grade fixed income securities in which the Fund may invest are significantly below historical average rates for such securities. Interest rates below historical average rates may result in increased risk that these rates will rise in the future (which would cause the value of the Fund's net assets to decline) and may increase the degree to which asset values may decline in such events.
During periods of declining interest rates, the issuer of a fixed-income security may exercise its option to prepay principal earlier than scheduled, forcing the Fund to reinvest in lower yielding securities. This is known as call or prepayment risk. Preferred and debt securities frequently have call features that allow the issuer to repurchase the security prior to its stated maturity. An issuer may redeem such a security if the issuer can refinance it at a lower cost due to declining interest rates or an improvement in the credit standing of the issuer.
Current Fixed-Income and Debt Market Conditions. Fixed-income and debt market conditions are highly unpredictable and some parts of the market are subject to dislocations. In response to the crisis initially caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, as with other serious economic disruptions, governmental authorities and regulators are enacting significant fiscal and monetary policy changes, including providing direct capital infusions into companies, creating new monetary programs and lowering interest rates considerably. These actions present heightened risks to fixed-income and debt instruments, and such risks could be even further heightened if these actions are unexpectedly or suddenly reversed or are ineffective in achieving their desired outcomes. In light of these actions and current conditions, interest rates and bond yields in the United States and many other countries are at or near historic lows, and in some cases, such rates and yields are negative. The current very low or negative interest rates are magnifying the Fund’s susceptibility to interest rate risk and diminishing yield and performance. In addition, the current environment is exposing fixed-income and debt markets to significant volatility and reduced liquidity for Fund investments.
Reinvestment Risk. Reinvestment risk is the risk that income from the Fund’s portfolio will decline if the Fund invests the proceeds from matured, traded or called securities at market interest rates that are below the portfolio’s current earnings rate. A decline in income could affect the Common Shares’ market price or the overall return of the Fund.
Prepayment Risk. During periods of declining interest rates, borrowers may exercise their option to prepay principal earlier than scheduled, forcing the Fund to reinvest in lower yielding securities. This is known as call or prepayment risk.
Market prices generally will be unavailable for some of the Fund's investments, including MLP subordinated units, direct ownership of general partner interests and restricted or unregistered securities of certain energy infrastructure entities and private companies. The value of such securities will be determined by fair valuations determined by the Board of Trustees or its designee in accordance with procedures governing the valuation of portfolio securities adopted by the Board of Trustees. Proper valuation of such securities may require more reliance on the judgment of the Sub-Adviser than for valuation of securities for which an active trading market exists.
Corporate Bond Risk
The market value of a corporate bond may be affected by factors directly related to the issuer, such as investors’ perceptions of the creditworthiness of the issuer, the issuer’s financial performance, perceptions of the issuer in the market place, performance of management of the issuer, the issuer’s capital structure and use of financial leverage and demand for the issuer’s goods and services. There is a risk that the issuers of corporate bonds may not be able to meet their obligations on interest or principal payments at the time called for by an instrument. Corporate bonds of below investment grade quality are often high risk and have speculative characteristics and may be particularly susceptible to adverse issuer-specific developments. Corporate bonds of below investment grade quality are subject to the risks described herein under “Lower Grade Securities Risk.”
Senior Loans Risk. The Fund may invest in senior secured floating rate Loans made to corporations and other non-governmental entities and issuers (“Senior Loans”). Senior Loans typically hold the most senior position in the capital structure of the issuing entity, are typically secured with specific collateral and typically have a claim on the assets and/or stock of the borrower that is senior to that held by subordinated debt holders and stockholders of the borrower. The Fund’s investments in Senior Loans are typically below-investment grade and are considered speculative because of the credit risk of their issuers. The risks associated with Senior Loans of below-investment grade quality are similar to the risks of other lower grade income securities, although Senior Loans are typically senior and secured in contrast to subordinated and unsecured Income Securities. Senior Loans’ higher standing has historically resulted in generally higher recoveries in the event of a corporate reorganization. In addition, because their interest payments are adjusted for changes in short-term interest rates, investments in Senior Loans generally have less interest rate risk than other lower grade Income Securities, which may have fixed interest rates.
Second Lien Loans Risk. The Fund may invest in “second lien” secured floating rate Loans made by public and private corporations and other non-governmental entities and issuers for a variety of purposes (“Second Lien Loans”). Second Lien Loans are second in right of payment to one or more Senior Loans of the related borrower. Second Lien Loans are subject to the same risks associated with investment in Senior Loans and other lower grade income securities. However, Second Lien Loans are second in right of payment to Senior Loans and therefore are subject to the additional risk that the cash flow of the borrower and any property securing the Loan may be insufficient to meet scheduled payments after giving effect to the senior secured obligations of the borrower. Second Lien Loans are expected to have greater price volatility and exposure to losses upon default than Senior Loans and may be less liquid.
Subordinated Secured Loans Risk. Subordinated secured Loans generally are subject to similar risks as those associated with investment in Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans and below investment grade securities. However, such loans may rank lower in right of payment than any outstanding Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans or other debt instruments with higher priority of the Borrower and therefore are subject to additional risk that the cash flow of the Borrower and any property securing the loan may be insufficient to meet scheduled payments and repayment of principal in the event of default or bankruptcy after giving effect to the higher ranking secured obligations of the Borrower. Subordinated secured Loans are expected to have greater price volatility than Senior Loans and Second Lien Loans and may be less liquid.
Unsecured Loans Risk. Unsecured Loans generally are subject to similar risks as those associated with investment in Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans, subordinated secured Loans and below investment grade securities. However, because unsecured Loans have lower priority in right of payment to any higher ranking obligations of the Borrower and are not backed by a security interest in any specific collateral, they are subject to additional risk that the cash flow of the Borrower and available assets may be insufficient to meet scheduled payments and repayment of principal after giving effect to any higher ranking obligations of the Borrower. Unsecured Loans are expected to have greater price volatility than Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans and subordinated secured Loans and may be less liquid.
Loan Participations and Assignments Risk. The Fund may purchase Loans on a direct assignment basis from a participant in the original syndicate of lenders or from subsequent assignees of such interests. The Fund may also purchase, without limitation, participations in Loans. The purchaser of an assignment typically succeeds to all the rights and obligations of the assigning institution and becomes a lender under the credit agreement with respect to the debt obligation; however, the purchaser’s rights can be more restricted than those of the assigning institution, and, in any event, the Fund may not be able to unilaterally enforce all rights and remedies under the loan and with regard to any associated collateral. A participation typically results in a contractual relationship only with the institution participating out the interest, not with the Borrower. In purchasing participations, the Fund generally will have no right to enforce compliance by the Borrower with the terms of the loan agreement against the Borrower, and the Fund may not directly benefit from the collateral supporting the debt obligation in which it has purchased the participation. As a result, the Fund will be exposed to the credit risk of both the Borrower and the institution selling the participation. Further, in purchasing participations in lending syndicates, the Fund may not be able to conduct the same due diligence on the Borrower with respect to a Senior Loan that the Fund would otherwise conduct. In addition, as a holder of the participations, the Fund may not have voting rights or inspection rights that the Fund would otherwise have if it were investing directly in the Senior Loan, which may result in the Fund being exposed to greater credit or fraud risk with respect to the Borrower or the Senior Loan. Lenders selling a participation and other persons interpositioned between the lender and the Fund with respect to a participation will likely conduct their principal business activities in the banking, finance and financial services industries. Because the Fund may invest in participations, the Fund may be more susceptible to economic, political or regulatory occurrences affecting such industries.
Certain of the loan participations or assignments acquired by the Fund may involve unfunded commitments of the lenders, revolving credit facilities, delayed draw credit facilities or other investments under which a borrower may from time to time borrow and repay amounts up to the maximum amount of the facility. In such cases, the Fund would have an obligation to advance its portion of such additional borrowings upon the terms specified in the loan documentation. Such an obligation may have the effect of requiring the Fund to increase its investment in a company at a time when it might not be desirable to do so (including at a time when the company’s financial condition makes it unlikely that such amounts will be repaid). These commitments are generally subject to the borrowers meeting certain criteria such as compliance with covenants and certain operational metrics. The terms of the borrowings and financings subject to commitment are comparable to the terms of other loans and related investments in the Fund’s portfolio.
The Fund invests in or is exposed to loans and other similar debt obligations that are sometimes referred to as “covenant-lite” loans or obligations, which are generally subject to more risk than investments that contain traditional financial maintenance covenants and financial reporting requirements.
Mezzanine Investments Risk
The Fund may invest in certain lower grade securities known as “Mezzanine Investments,” which are subordinated debt securities that are generally issued in private placements in connection with an equity security (e.g., with attached warrants) or may be convertible into equity securities. Mezzanine Investments are generally subject to similar risks associated with investment in Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans and other below investment grade securities. However, Mezzanine Investments may rank lower in right of payment than any outstanding Senior Loans, Second Lien Loans and other debt instruments with higher priority of the borrower, or may be unsecured (i.e., not backed by a security interest in any specific collateral), and are subject to the additional risk that the cash flow of the borrower and available assets may be insufficient to meet scheduled payments and repayment of principal after giving effect to any higher ranking obligations of the borrower. Mezzanine Investments are expected to have greater price volatility and exposure to losses upon default than Senior Loans and Second Lien Loans and may be less liquid.
Preferred Stock Risks
The Fund may invest in preferred stock, which represents the senior residual interest in the assets of an issuer after meeting all claims, with priority to corporate income and liquidation payments over the issuer’s common stock. As such, preferred stock is inherently more risky than the bonds and other debt instruments of the issuer, but less risky than its common stock. Preferred stocks may be significantly less liquid than many other securities, such as U.S. Government securities, corporate debt and common stock. Preferred securities may contain provisions that permit the issuer, at its discretion, to defer distributions for a stated period without any adverse consequences to the issuer, which may require the Fund to report income for tax purposes although it has not yet received such income. Generally, preferred security holders (such as the Fund) have no voting rights with respect to the issuing company unless preferred dividends have been in arrears for a specified number of periods, and in some cases, an issuer of preferred securities may redeem the securities prior to a specified date.
Convertible Securities Risk
The Fund may invest in convertible securities, which include bonds, debentures, notes, preferred stocks and other securities that entitle the holder to acquire common stock or other equity securities of the issuer. Convertible securities generally offer lower interest or dividend yields than non-convertible securities of similar quality. As with all income securities, the market values of convertible securities tend to decline as interest rates increase and, conversely, to increase as interest rates decline. Convertible securities also tend to reflect the market price of the underlying common stock in varying degrees, depending on the relationship of such market price to the conversion price in terms of the convertible security. Convertible securities rank senior to common stock in an issuer’s capital structure and consequently entail less risk than the issuer’s common stock.
Distressed and Defaulted Securities Risk
Investments in the securities of financially distressed issuers involve substantial risks. These securities may present a substantial risk of default or may be in default at the time of investment. The Fund may incur additional expenses to the extent it is required to seek recovery upon a default in the payment of principal or interest on its portfolio holdings. In any reorganization or liquidation proceeding relating to a portfolio company, the Fund may lose its entire investment or may be required to accept cash or securities with a value less than its original investment. Among the risks inherent in investments in a troubled entity is the fact that it frequently may be difficult to obtain information as to the true financial condition of such issuer. The Adviser’s judgment about the credit quality of the issuer and the relative value and liquidity of its securities may prove to be wrong.
Mid-Cap and Small-Cap Company Risk
Investing in the securities of medium-sized or small market capitalizations (“mid-cap” and “small-cap” companies, respectively) presents some particular investment risks. Mid-cap and small-cap companies may have limited product lines and markets, as well as shorter operating histories, less experienced management and more limited financial resources than larger companies, and may be more vulnerable to adverse general market or economic developments. Securities of mid-cap and small-cap companies may be less liquid than those of larger companies, and may experience greater price fluctuations than larger companies. In addition, mid-cap or small-cap company securities may not be widely followed by investors, which may result in reduced demand.
Middle Market Company Risk
Middle market issuers may have limited financial resources and may be unable to meet their obligations under their debt securities that the Fund may hold. Middle market issuers typically have shorter operating histories, narrower product lines, limited distribution channels and smaller market shares than larger businesses, which tend to render them more vulnerable to competitors’ actions and changing market conditions, as well as general economic downturns. There is generally little public information about privately held middle market issuers. Privately held middle market issuers and their financial information generally are not subject to the reporting requirements and other regulations that govern public companies. Middle market issuers are more likely to depend on the management talents and efforts of a small group of persons. Middle market issuers generally have less predictable operating results. Middle market issuers may have difficulty accessing the capital markets to meet future capital needs, which may limit their ability to grow or to repay their outstanding indebtedness upon maturity.
Foreign Securities Risk
The Fund may invest without limitation in securities of non-U.S. issuers, including issuers in emerging markets. Investments in the securities of foreign issuers involve certain considerations and risks not ordinarily associated with investments in securities of domestic issuers. Foreign companies are not generally subject to uniform accounting, auditing and financial standards and requirements comparable to those applicable to U.S. companies. Foreign securities exchanges, brokers and listed companies may be subject to less government supervision and regulation that exists in the United States. Dividend and interest income may be subject to withholding and other foreign taxes, which may adversely affect the net return on such investments. There may be difficulty in obtaining or enforcing a court judgment abroad. In addition, it may be difficult to effect repatriation of capital invested in certain countries. In addition, with respect to certain countries, there are risks of expropriation, confiscatory taxation, political or social instability or diplomatic developments that could affect assets of the Fund held in foreign countries. These risks are heightened under the current conditions.
There may be less publicly available information about a foreign company than a U.S. company. Foreign securities markets may have substantially less volume than U.S. securities markets and some foreign company securities are less liquid than securities of otherwise comparable U.S. companies. Foreign markets also have different clearance and settlement procedures that could cause the Fund to encounter difficulties in purchasing and selling securities on such markets and may result in the Fund missing attractive investment opportunities or experiencing a loss. In addition, a portfolio that includes foreign securities can expect to have a higher expense ratio because of the increased transaction costs on non-U.S. securities markets and the increased costs of maintaining the custody of foreign securities.
ADRs are receipts issued by United States banks or trust companies in respect of securities of foreign issuers held on deposit for use in the United States securities markets. While ADRs may not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as the securities into which they may be converted, many of the risks associated with foreign securities may also apply to ADRs. In addition, the underlying issuers of certain depositary receipts, particularly unsponsored or unregistered depositary receipts, are under no obligation to distribute shareholder communications to the holders of such receipts, or to pass through to them any voting rights with respect to the deposited securities.
Emerging Markets Risk
Investments in securities the issuers of which are located in countries considered to be emerging markets are subject to heightened risks relative to foreign investing generally and are considered speculative. Heightened risks of investing in emerging markets, which are elevated under current conditions, include: smaller market capitalization of securities markets, which may suffer periods of relative illiquidity; significant price volatility; restrictions on foreign investment; and potential restrictions on repatriation of investment income and capital.
Foreign Currency Risk
The value of securities denominated or quoted in foreign currencies may be adversely affected by fluctuations in the relative currency exchange rates and by exchange control regulations. The Fund’s investment performance may be negatively affected by a devaluation of a currency in which the Fund’s investments are denominated or quoted. Further, the Fund’s investment performance may be significantly affected, either positively or negatively, by currency exchange rates because the U.S. dollar value of securities denominated or quoted in another currency will increase or decrease in response to changes in the value of such currency in relation to the U.S. dollar.
Portfolio Liquidity RiskThe Fund may invest without limitation in unregistered securities, restricted securities, and securities for which there is no readily available trading market or which are otherwise illiquid. Securities within any of the types of credit securities in which the Fund may invest may be unregistered, restricted or illiquid. The Fund may not be able to readily dispose of illiquid securities and obligations at prices that approximate those at which the Fund could sell such securities and obligations if they were more widely traded and, as a result of such illiquidity, the Fund may have to sell other investments or engage in borrowing transactions if necessary to raise cash to meet its obligations. In addition, market, credit and other events may affect the prices of securities with limited liquidity held by the Fund to a greater extent than such events affect more liquid securities, thereby adversely affecting the Fund’s net asset value and ability to make distributions. Dislocations in certain parts of markets are resulting in reduced liquidity for certain investments. It is uncertain when financial markets will improve. Liquidity of financial markets may also be affected by government intervention.
Financial Leverage Risk
Although the use of Financial Leverage by the Fund may create an opportunity for increased after-tax total return for the Common Shares, it also results in additional risks and can magnify the effect of any losses. If the income and gains earned on securities purchased with Financial Leverage proceeds are greater than the cost of Financial Leverage, the Fund’s return will be greater than if Financial Leverage had not been used. Conversely, if the income or gains from the securities purchased with such proceeds does not cover the cost of Financial Leverage, the return to the Fund will be less than if Financial Leverage had not been used.
Financial Leverage involves risks and special considerations for shareholders, including the likelihood of greater volatility of net asset value, market price and dividends on the Common Shares than a comparable portfolio without leverage; the risk that fluctuations in interest rates on borrowings and short-term debt or in the dividend rates on any Financial Leverage that the Fund must pay will reduce the return to the Common Shareholders; and the effect of Financial Leverage in a declining market, which is likely to cause a greater decline in the net asset value of the Common Shares than if the Fund were not leveraged, which may result in a greater decline in the market price of the Common Shares.
It is also possible that the Fund will be required to sell assets, possibly at a loss, in order to redeem or meet payment obligations on any leverage. Such a sale would reduce the Fund's net asset value and also make it difficult for the net asset value to recover. The Fund in its best judgment nevertheless may determine to continue to use Financial Leverage if it expects that the benefits to the Fund's shareholders of maintaining the leveraged position will outweigh the current reduced return.
Certain types of Borrowings subject the Fund to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage and portfolio composition requirements. Certain Borrowings issued by the Fund also may subject the Fund to certain restrictions on investments imposed by guidelines of one or more rating agencies, which may issue ratings for such Borrowings. Such guidelines may impose asset coverage or portfolio composition requirements that are more stringent than those imposed by the 1940 Act. It is not anticipated that these covenants or guidelines will impede the Sub-Adviser from managing the Fund’s portfolio in accordance with the Fund’s investment objective and policies.
Reverse repurchase agreements involve the risks that the interest income earned on the investment of the proceeds will be less than the interest expense and Fund expenses associated with the repurchase agreement, that the market value of the securities sold by the Fund may decline below the price at which the Fund is obligated to repurchase such securities and that the securities may not be returned to the Fund. There is no assurance that reverse repurchase agreements can be successfully employed. In connection with reverse repurchase agreements, the Fund will also be subject to counterparty risk with respect to the purchaser of the securities. If the broker/dealer to whom the Fund sells securities becomes insolvent, the Fund’s right to purchase or repurchase securities may be restricted.
Because the fees received by the Adviser and Sub-Adviser are based on the Managed Assets of the Fund (including the proceeds of any Financial Leverage), the Adviser and Sub-Adviser have a financial incentive for the Fund to utilize Financial Leverage, which may create a conflict of interest between the Adviser and the Sub-Adviser and the Common Shareholders. There can be no assurance that a leveraging strategy will be successful during any period during which it is employed.
If the cost of leverage is no longer favorable, or if the Fund is otherwise required to reduce its leverage, the Fund may not be able to maintain distributions on Common Shares at historical levels and Common Shareholders will bear any costs associated with selling portfolio securities.
The Fund is a non-diversified investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the "1940 Act") and will not elect to be treated as a regulated investment company under the Code. As a result, there are no regulatory requirements under the 1940 Act or the Code that limit the proportion of the Fund's assets that may be invested in securities of a single issue. Accordingly, the Fund may invest a greater portion of its assets in a more limited number of issuers than a diversified fund. There are a limited number of publicly traded MLPs. The Fund will select its investments in MLPs from this small pool of issuers together with securities issued by any newly public MLPs, and will invest in securities of other energy infrastructure entities and securities of issuers other than energy infrastructure entities, consistent with its investment objective and policies. An investment in the Fund may present greater risk to an investor than an investment in a diversified portfolio because changes in the financial condition or market assessment of a single issuer may cause greater fluctuations in the value of the Fund's Common Shares.
Inflation risk is the risk that the value of assets or income from investment will be worth less in the future, as inflation decreases the value of money. As inflation increases, the real value of the Common Shares and distributions on those shares can decline. In addition, during any periods of rising inflation, interest rates on any borrowings by the Fund would likely increase, which would tend to further reduce returns to the holders of Common Shares. Deflation risk is the risk that prices throughout the economy decline over time, which may have an adverse effect on the market valuation of companies, their assets and revenues. In addition, deflation may have an adverse effect on the creditworthiness of issuers and may make issuer default more likely, which may result in a decline in the value of the Fund’s portfolio.
Common Equity Securities Risk
A substantial percentage of the Fund's assets will be invested in equity securities, including MLP common units, MLP subordinated units, MLP preferred units, equity securities of MLP affiliates, including I-Shares, and common stocks and other equity securities of other energy infrastructure companies and other issuers. Equity risk is the risk that MLP units or other equity securities held by the Fund will fall due to general market or economic conditions, perceptions regarding the industries in which the issuers of securities held by the Fund participate, changes in interest rates, and the particular circumstances and performance of particular companies whose securities the Fund holds. The price of an equity security of an issuer may be particularly sensitive to general movements in the stock market; or a drop in the stock market may depress the price of most or all of the equity securities held by the Fund. Equity securities are currently experiencing heightened volatility and therefore, the Fund’s investments in equity securities are subject to heightened risks related to volatility. In addition, MLP units or other equity securities held by the Fund may decline in price if the issuer fails to make anticipated distributions or dividend payments because, among other reasons, the issuer experiences a decline in its financial condition.
MLP subordinated units typically are convertible to MLP common units at a one-to-one ratio. The price of MLP subordinated units is typically tied to the price of the corresponding MLP common unit, less a discount. The size of the discount depends upon a variety of factors, including the likelihood of conversion, the length of time remaining until conversion and the size of the block of subordinated units being purchased or sold.
The Fund may invest in equity securities issued by MLP affiliates, including general partners of MLPs. Such issuers may be organized and/or taxed as corporations and therefore may not offer the advantageous tax characteristics of MLP units. Investments in the MLP affiliates would be expected by the Sub-Adviser to provide economic exposure to the MLP asset class; however, such investments may not exhibit precise price correlation to any particular MLP or the MLP asset class generally.
I-Shares represent an indirect investment in MLP I-units. Prices and volatilities of IShares tend to correlate to the price of common units, although the price correlation is not precise. I-Shares differ from MLP common units primarily in that instead of receiving cash distributions, holders of I-Shares will receive distributions of additional I-Shares, in an amount equal to the cash distributions received by common unit holders. I-Shares have limited voting rights. Holders of I-Shares are subject to the same risks as holders of MLP common units.
The Fund may invest in equity securities of other energy infrastructure companies. Non-MLP energy infrastructure companies in which the Fund invests are generally taxed as corporations. Such companies thus pay corporate-level taxes on their net taxable income and may not offer certain other advantageous tax characteristics of MLP investments. The prices of equity securities are also sensitive to general movements in the stock market, so a drop in the stock market may depress the prices of equity securities in which the Fund invests. Equity securities are structurally subordinated to preferred stock, bonds and other debt instruments in a company’s capital structure in terms of priority to corporate income and are therefore inherently more risky and more experience significantly greater price volatility than preferred stock or debt instruments of such issuers.
Risk of Investing in MLP Units
The Fund’s investments in MLP units expose the Fund to risks that differ from a similar investment in equity securities, such as common stock, of a corporation. Holders of MLP units have the rights typically afforded to limited partners in a limited partnership. As compared to common shareholders of a corporation, holders of MLP units have more limited control and limited rights to vote on matters affecting the partnership. There are certain tax risks associated with an investment in MLP units. To the extent a distribution received by the Fund from an MLP is treated as a return of capital, the Fund’s adjusted tax basis in the interests of the MLP may be reduced, which will result in an increase in an amount of income or gain (or decrease in the amount of loss) that will be recognized by the Fund for tax purposes upon the sale of any such interests or upon subsequent distributions in respect of such interests. Furthermore, any return of capital distribution received from the MLP may require the Fund to restate the character of its distributions and amend any shareholder tax reporting previously issued. Additionally, conflicts of interest may exist between common unit holders, subordinated unit holders and the general partner of an MLP; for example a conflict may arise as a result of incentive distribution payments.
Much of the benefit the Fund derives from its investment in equity securities of MLPs is a result of MLPs generally being treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Partnerships generally do not pay U.S. federal income tax at the partnership level. Rather, each partner of a partnership, in computing its U.S. federal income tax liability, will include its allocable share of the partnership's income, gains, losses, deductions and expenses. A change in current tax law, or a change in the business of a given MLP, could result in an MLP being treated as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, which would result in such MLP being required to pay U.S. federal income tax on its taxable income. The classification of an MLP as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes would also have the effect of reducing the amount of cash available for distribution by the MLP and causing such distributions received by the Fund to be taxed as dividend income to the extent of the MLP's current or accumulated earnings and profits (thus accelerating the recognition of taxable income). Thus, if any of the MLPs owned by the Fund were treated as corporations for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the after-tax return to the Fund with respect to its investment in such MLPs would be materially reduced, which could cause a substantial decline in the value of the Common Shares.
It is generally required that taxes, penalties, and interest associated with an audit of a partnership be assessed and collected at the partnership level. Accordingly, even if an MLP in which we invest were to remain classified as a partnership, it could be required to pay additional taxes, interest and penalties as a result of an audit adjustment, and we, as a direct or indirect partner of such MLP, could be required to bear the economic burden of those taxes, interest and penalties, which would reduce the value of the Common Shares.
If the Fund invests in the equity securities of an MLP, the Fund will be a partner in such MLP. Accordingly, the Fund will be required to include in its taxable income the Fund's allocable share of the income, gains, losses, deductions and expenses recognized by each such MLP, regardless of whether the MLP distributes cash to the Fund. Historically, MLPs have been able to offset a significant portion of their income with tax deductions. The portion, if any, of a distribution received by the Fund from an MLP that exceeds the Fund's allocable share of the MLP's taxable income is essentially treated as return of capital. However, any such return of capital will decrease the Fund's adjusted basis in the equity securities of the MLP, which will result in an increase in the amount of gain (or decrease in the amount of loss) that will be recognized by the Fund for tax purposes on the sale of any such equity securities. In addition, the Fund will incur a current income tax liability on its allocable share of the portion of the MLP's income that is not offset by the MLP's tax deductions. The percentage of an MLP's income that is offset by the MLP's tax deductions will fluctuate over time. For example, new acquisitions by MLPs generate accelerated depreciation and other tax deductions, and therefore a decline in acquisition activity by the MLPs owned by the Fund could increase the Fund's current tax liability. A decline in the percentage of the MLPs' income that is offset by tax deductions or an increase in the Fund's portfolio turnover could increase the Fund's tax liability and reduce the portion of the distributions paid by the Fund that is treated as return of capital and/or capital gain, as the case may be, and increase the portion treated as taxable dividend income. This generally would result in lower after-tax distributions to shareholders.
Changes in tax laws or regulations, or future interpretations of such laws or regulations, could adversely affect the Fund or the MLP entities in which the Fund invests.
Common Shareholders will receive a single Form 1099, while the Fund will receive Schedule K-1s from each MLP in which it is invested. However, the MLPs in which the Fund invests generally will not deliver their Schedule K-1s to the Fund until after the Fund must deliver Form 1099s to its Common Shareholders. If the Schedule K-1s received by the Fund show that the Fund’s estimates regarding its income attributable to such MLPs were incorrect, the Fund may have to send corrected Form 1099s to its Common Shareholders, which may result in a Common Shareholder being required to request an extension to file its tax return or to amend a previously filed tax return.
Privately Issued Securities Risk
The Fund may invest in privately issued securities of both public and private companies. Privately issued securities have additional risk considerations than investments in comparable public investments. Whenever the Fund invests in companies that do not publicly report financial and other material information, it assumes a greater degree of investment risk and reliance upon the Adviser’s ability to obtain and evaluate applicable information concerning such companies’ creditworthiness and other investment considerations. Certain privately issued securities may be illiquid. If there is no readily available trading market for privately issued securities, the Fund may not be able to readily dispose of such investments at prices that approximate those at which the Fund could sell them if they were more widely traded. Privately issued securities are also more difficult to value. Privately issued debt securities are often of below investment grade quality, frequently are unrated and present many of the same risks as investing in below investment grade public debt securities.
Investment Funds Risk
The Fund may invest in securities of other open- or closed-end investment companies, including exchange traded funds (collectively, “Investment Funds”). Investments in Investment Funds present certain special considerations and risks not present in making direct investments in income securities and Common Equity Securities. Investments in Investment Funds involve operating expenses and fees that are in addition to the expenses and fees borne by the Fund. Such expenses and fees attributable to the Fund’s investment in another Investment Fund are borne indirectly by Common Shareholders. Accordingly, investment in such entities involves expense and fee layering. To the extent management fees of Investment Funds are based on total gross assets, it may create an incentive for such entities’ managers to employ financial leverage, thereby adding additional expense and increasing volatility and risk. A performance-based fee arrangement may create incentives for an adviser or manager to take greater investment risks in the hope of earning a higher profit participation. Investments in Investment Funds frequently expose the Fund to an additional layer of financial leverage.
On December 19, 2018, the SEC published a proposed rule that, if adopted, would change the regulation of fund of funds arrangements. The SEC is currently seeking public comments on numerous aspects of the proposed rule, and as a result the nature of any final regulations is uncertain at this time. Such regulations could permit closed-end funds to invest in other investment companies in excess of the limits of section 12(d)(1), including those described above. The Adviser cannot predict the effects of these regulations on the Fund’s portfolio. The Adviser intends to monitor developments and seeks to manage the Fund’s portfolio in a manner consistent with achieving the Fund’s investment objective, but there can be no assurance that they will be successful in doing so.
Structured Finance Investments Risk
The Fund’s structured finance investments may include residential and commercial mortgage-related and other asset-backed securities issued by governmental entities and private issuers. Holders of structured finance investments bear risks of the underlying investments, index or reference obligation and are subject to counterparty risk. The Fund may have the right to receive payments only from the structured product, and generally does not have direct rights against the issuer or the entity that sold the assets to be securitized. While certain structured finance investments enable the investor to acquire interests in a pool of securities without the brokerage and other expenses associated with directly holding the same securities, investors in structured finance investments generally pay their share of the structured product’s administrative and other expenses. Although it is difficult to predict whether the prices of indices and securities underlying structured finance investments will rise or fall, these prices (and, therefore, the prices of structured finance investments) will be influenced by the same types of political and economic events that affect issuers of securities and capital markets generally. If the issuer of a structured product uses shorter term financing to purchase longer term securities, the issuer may be forced to sell its securities at below market prices if it experiences difficulty in obtaining short-term financing, which may adversely affect the value of the structured finance investment owned by the Fund.
The Fund may invest in structured finance products collateralized by low grade or defaulted loans or securities. Investments in such structured finance products are subject to the risks associated with below investment grade securities. Such securities are characterized by high risk. It is likely that an economic recession could severely disrupt the market for such securities and may have an adverse impact on the value of such securities.
The Fund may invest in senior and subordinated classes issued by structured finance vehicles. The payment of cash flows from the underlying assets to senior classes take precedence over those of subordinated classes, and therefore subordinated classes are subject to greater risk. Furthermore, the leveraged nature of subordinated classes may magnify the adverse impact on such class of changes in the value of the assets, changes in the distributions on the assets, defaults and recoveries on the assets, capital gains and losses on the assets, prepayment on assets and availability, price and interest rates of assets.
Structured finance securities are typically privately offered and sold, and thus are not registered under the securities laws. As a result, investments in structured finance securities may be characterized by the Fund as illiquid securities; however, an active dealer market may exist which would allow such securities to be considered liquid in some circumstances.
Mortgage-Backed Securities Risk. Mortgage-backed securities represent an interest in a pool of mortgages. The risks associated with mortgage-backed securities include: (1) credit risk associated with the performance of the underlying mortgage properties and of the borrowers owning these properties; (2) adverse changes in economic conditions and circumstances, which are more likely to have an adverse impact on mortgage-backed securities secured by loans on certain types of commercial properties than on those secured by loans on residential properties; (3) prepayment risk, which can lead to significant fluctuations in the value of the mortgage-backed security; (4) loss of all or part of the premium, if any, paid; and (5) decline in the market value of the security, whether resulting from changes in interest rates, prepayments on the underlying mortgage collateral or perceptions of the credit risk associated with the underlying mortgage collateral. The value of mortgage-backed securities may be substantially dependent on the servicing of the underlying pool of mortgages.
When market interest rates decline, more mortgages are refinanced and the securities are paid off earlier than expected. Prepayments may also occur on a scheduled basis or due to foreclosure. When market interest rates increase, the market values of mortgage-backed securities decline. At the same time, however, mortgage refinancings and prepayments slow, which lengthens the effective maturities of these securities. As a result, the negative effect of the rate increase on the market value of mortgage-backed securities is usually more pronounced than it is for other types of debt securities. In addition, due to increased instability in the credit markets, the market for some mortgage-backed securities has experienced reduced liquidity and greater volatility with respect to the value of such securities, making it more difficult to value such securities. The Fund may invest in sub-prime mortgages or mortgage-backed securities that are backed by sub-prime mortgages.
Moreover, the relationship between prepayments and interest rates may give some high-yielding mortgage-related and asset-backed securities less potential for growth in value than conventional bonds with comparable maturities. In addition, in periods of falling interest rates, the rate of prepayments tends to increase. During such periods, the reinvestment of prepayment proceeds by the Fund will generally be at lower rates than the rates that were carried by the obligations that have been prepaid. Because of these and other reasons, mortgage-related and asset-backed securities’ total return and maturity may be difficult to predict precisely. To the extent that the Fund purchases mortgage-related and asset-backed securities at a premium, prepayments (which may be made without penalty) may result in loss of the Fund’s principal investment to the extent of premium paid.
Mortgage-backed securities generally are classified as either commercial mortgage-backed securities (“CMBS”) or residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”), each of which are subject to certain specific risks.
Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities Risk. The market for CMBS developed more recently and, in terms of total outstanding principal amount of issues, is relatively small compared to the market for residential single-family mortgage-related securities. CMBS are subject to particular risks, including lack of standardized terms, have shorter maturities than residential mortgage loans and provide for payment of all or substantially all of the principal only at maturity rather than regular amortization of principal. In addition, commercial lending generally is viewed as exposing the lender to a greater risk of loss than one-to-four family residential lending. Commercial lending typically involves larger loans to single borrowers or groups of related borrowers than residential one-to-four family mortgage loans. In addition, the repayment of loans secured by income producing properties typically is dependent upon the successful operation of the related real estate project and the cash flow generated therefrom. Net operating income of an income-producing property can be affected by, among other things: tenant mix, success of tenant businesses, property management decisions, property location and condition, competition from comparable types of properties, changes in laws that increase operating expense or limit rents that may be charged, any need to address environmental contamination at the property, the occurrence of any uninsured casualty at the property, changes in national, regional or local economic conditions and/or specific industry segments, 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, change in governmental rules, regulations and fiscal policies, including environmental legislation, acts of God, terrorism, social unrest and civil disturbances. Consequently, adverse changes in economic conditions and circumstances are more likely to have an adverse impact on mortgage-related securities secured by loans on commercial properties than on those secured by loans on residential properties. Economic downturns and other events that limit the activities of and demand for commercial retail and office spaces (such as the current crisis) adversely impact the value of such securities. Additional risks may be presented by the type and use of a particular commercial property. Special risks are presented by hospitals, nursing homes, hospitality properties and certain other property types. Commercial property values and net operating income are subject to volatility, which may result in net operating income becoming insufficient to cover debt service on the related mortgage loan. The exercise of remedies and successful realization of liquidation proceeds relating to CMBS may be highly dependent on the performance of the servicer or special servicer. There may be a limited number of special servicers available, particularly those that do not have conflicts of interest.
Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Risk. Credit-related risk on RMBS arises from losses due to delinquencies and defaults by the borrowers in payments on the underlying mortgage loans and breaches by originators and servicers of their obligations under the underlying documentation pursuant to which the RMBS are issued. The rate of delinquencies and defaults on residential mortgage loans and the aggregate amount of the resulting losses will be affected by a number of factors, including general economic conditions, particularly those in the area where the related mortgaged property is located, the level of the borrower’s equity in the mortgaged property and the individual financial circumstances of the borrower. If a residential mortgage loan is in default, foreclosure on the related residential property may be a lengthy and difficult process involving significant legal and other expenses. The net proceeds obtained by the holder on a residential mortgage loan following the foreclosure on the related property may be less than the total amount that remains due on the loan. The prospect of incurring a loss upon the foreclosure of the related property may lead the holder of the residential mortgage loan to restructure the residential mortgage loan or otherwise delay the foreclosure process. These risks are elevated given the current distressed economic, market, health and labor conditions, notably, increased levels of unemployment, delays and delinquencies in payments of mortgage and rent obligations, and uncertainty regarding the effects and extent of government intervention with respect to mortgage payments and other economic matters.
Sub-Prime Mortgage Market Risk. The residential mortgage market in the United States has experienced difficulties that may adversely affect the performance and market value of certain mortgages and mortgage-related securities. Delinquencies and losses on residential mortgage loans (especially sub-prime and second-line mortgage loans) generally have increased recently and may continue to increase, and a decline in or flattening of housing values (as has recently been experienced and may continue to be experienced in many housing markets) may exacerbate such delinquencies and losses. Borrowers with adjustable rate mortgage loans are more sensitive to changes in interest rates, which affect their monthly mortgage payments, and may be unable to secure replacement mortgages at comparably low interest rates. Also, a number of residential mortgage loan originators have experienced serious financial difficulties or bankruptcy. Largely due to the foregoing, reduced investor demand for mortgage loans and mortgage-related securities and increased investor yield requirements have caused limited liquidity in the secondary market for mortgage-related securities, which can adversely affect the market value of mortgage-related securities. It is possible that such limited liquidity in such secondary markets could continue or worsen. If the economy of the United States deteriorates further, the incidence of mortgage foreclosures, especially sub-prime mortgages, may increase, which may adversely affect the value of any mortgage-backed securities owned by the Fund.
The significance of the mortgage crisis and loan defaults in residential mortgage loan sectors led to the enactment of numerous pieces of legislation relating to the mortgage and housing markets. These actions, along with future legislation or regulation, may have significant impacts on the mortgage market generally and may result in a reduction of available transactional opportunities for the Fund or an increase in the cost associated with such transactions and may adversely impact the value of RMBS.
During the mortgage crisis, a number of originators and servicers of residential and commercial mortgage loans, including some of the largest originators and servicers in the residential and commercial mortgage loan market, experienced serious financial difficulties. Such difficulties may affect the performance of non-agency RMBS and CMBS. There can be no assurance that originators and servicers of mortgage loans will not continue to experience serious financial difficulties or experience such difficulties in the future, including becoming subject to bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings, or that underwriting procedures and policies and protections against fraud will be sufficient in the future to prevent such financial difficulties or significant levels of default or delinquency on mortgage loans.
Asset-Backed Securities Risk. In addition to the general risks associated with credit securities discussed herein and the risks discussed under “Structured Finance Investments Risks,” ABS are subject to additional risks. ABS involve certain risks in addition to those presented by MBS. ABS do not have the benefit of the same security interest in the underlying collateral as MBS and are more dependent on the borrower’s ability to pay and may provide the Fund with a less effective security interest in the related collateral than do MBS. There is the possibility that recoveries on the underlying collateral may not, in some cases, be available to support payments on these securities. The collateral underlying ABS may constitute assets related to a wide range of industries and sectors, such as credit card and automobile receivables or other assets derived from consumer, commercial or corporate sectors. For example, ABS can be collateralized with credit card and automobile receivables. Credit card receivables are generally unsecured, and the debtors are entitled to the protection of a number of state and federal consumer credit laws, many of which give debtors the right to set off certain amounts owed on the credit cards, thereby reducing the balance due. These risks are elevated given the currently distressed economic, market, labor and health conditions.
Most issuers of automobile receivables permit the servicers to retain possession of the underlying obligations. If the servicer were to sell these obligations to another party, there is a risk that the purchaser would acquire an interest superior to that of the holders of the related automobile receivables. In addition, because of the large number of vehicles involved in a typical issuance and technical requirements under state laws, the trustee for the holders of the automobile receivables may not have an effective security interest in all of the obligations backing such receivables. If the economy of the United States deteriorates, defaults on securities backed by credit card, automobile and other receivables may increase, which may adversely affect the value of any ABS owned by the Fund. In recent years, certain automobile manufacturers have been granted access to emergency loans from the U.S. Government and have experienced bankruptcy. As a result of these events, the value of securities backed by receivables from the sale or lease of automobiles may be adversely affected.
If the economy of the United States deteriorates, defaults on securities backed by credit card, automobile and other receivables may increase, which may adversely affect the value of any ABS owned by the Fund. In addition, these securities may provide the Fund with a less effective security interest in the related collateral than do mortgage-related securities. Therefore, there is the possibility that recoveries on the underlying collateral may not, in some cases, be available to support payments on these securities.
ABS collateralized by other types of assets are subject to risks associated with the underlying collateral.
CLO, CDO and CBO Risk. In addition to the general risks associated with debt securities discussed herein, CLOs, collateralized debt obligations (“CDOs”), and collateralized bond obligations (“CBOs”) are subject to additional risks. CLOs, CDOs and CBOs are subject to risks associated with the possibility that distributions from collateral securities will not be adequate to make interest or other payments; the quality of the collateral may decline in value or default; and the complex structure of the security may not be fully understood at the time of investment and may produce disputes with the issuer or unexpected investment results. The credit quality of CLOs, CDOs, and CBOs depends primarily upon the quality of the underlying assets and the level of credit support and/or enhancement provided. The underlying assets (e.g., debt obligations) of CLOs, CDOs and CBOs are subject to prepayments, which shorten the weighted average maturity and may lower the return of the securities issued by the CLOs, CDOs, and CBOs. If the credit support or enhancement is exhausted, losses or delays in payment may result if the required payments of principal and interest are not made. The value of securities issued by CLOs, CDOs, and CBOs also may change because of changes in market value; changes in the market’s perception of the creditworthiness of the servicing agent for the pool, the originator of the pool, or the financial institution or fund providing the credit support or enhancement; loan performance and prices; broader sentiment and standing in the economic cycle, including expectations regarding future loan defaults; liquidity conditions; and supply and demand at the various tranche levels. Finally, CLOs, CDOs and CBOs are limited recourse and may not be paid in full and may be subject to up to 100% loss.
The Fund may invest in any portion of the capital structure of CLOs (including the subordinated, residual and deep mezzanine debt tranches). Investment in the subordinated tranche is subject to special risks. The subordinated tranche does not receive ratings and is considered the riskiest portion of the capital structure of a CLO. The subordinated tranche is junior in priority of payment to the more senior tranches of the CLO and is subject to certain payment restrictions. As a result, the subordinated tranche bears the bulk of defaults from the loans in the CLO. In addition, the subordinated tranche generally has only limited voting rights and generally does not benefit from any creditors’ rights or ability to exercise remedies under the indenture governing the CLO notes. Certain mezzanine tranches in which the Fund may invest may also be subject to certain risks similar to risks associated with investment in the subordinated tranche.
The subordinated tranche is unsecured and ranks behind all of the secured creditors, known or unknown, of the CLO issuer, including the holders of the secured notes it has issued. Consequently, to the extent that the value of the issuer’s portfolio of loan investments has been reduced as a result of conditions in the credit markets, defaulted loans, capital gains and losses on the underlying assets, prepayment or changes in interest rates, the value of the subordinated tranche realized at redemption could be reduced. Accordingly, the subordinated tranche may not be paid in full and may be subject to up to 100% loss. The leveraged nature of subordinated notes may magnify the adverse impact on the subordinated notes of changes in the market value of the investments held by the issuer, changes in the distributions on those investments, defaults and recoveries on those investments, capital gains and losses on those investments, prepayments on those investments and availability, prices and interest rates of those investments. Investments in the subordinated tranche of a CLO are generally less liquid than CLO debt tranches and subject to extensive transfer restrictions, and there may be no market for subordinated notes. Certain mezzanine tranches in which the Fund may invest may also be subject to certain risks similar to risks associated with investment in the subordinated tranche.
Risks Associated with Risk-Linked Securities. RLS are a form of derivative issued by insurance companies and insurance-related special purpose vehicles that apply securitization techniques to catastrophic property and casualty damages. Unlike other insurable low-severity, high-probability events (such as auto collision coverage), the insurance risk of which can be diversified by writing large numbers of similar policies, the holders of a typical RLS are exposed to the risks from high-severity, low-probability events such as that posed by major earthquakes or hurricanes. RLS represent a method of reinsurance, by which insurance companies transfer their own portfolio risk to other reinsurance companies and, in the case of RLS, to the capital markets. A typical RLS provides for income and return of capital similar to other fixed-income investments, but involves full or partial default if losses resulting from a certain catastrophe exceeded a predetermined amount. In essence, investors invest funds in RLS and if a catastrophe occurs that “triggers” the RLS, investors may lose some or all of the capital invested. In the case of an event, the funds are paid to the bond sponsor — an insurer, reinsurer or corporation — to cover losses. In return, the bond sponsors pay interest to investors for this catastrophe protection. RLS can be structured to pay-off on three types of variables—insurance-industry catastrophe loss indices, insure-specific catastrophe losses and parametric indices based on the physical characteristics of catastrophic events. Such variables are difficult to predict or model, and the risk and potential return profiles of RLS may be difficult to assess. Catastrophe-related RLS have been in use since the 1990s, and the securitization and risk-transfer aspects of such RLS are beginning to be employed in other insurance and risk-related areas. No active trading market may exist for certain RLS, which may impair the ability of the Fund to realize full value in the event of the need to liquidate such assets.
Risks Associated with Structured Notes. Investments in structured notes involve risks associated with the issuer of the note and the reference instrument. Where the Fund’s investments in structured notes are based upon the movement of one or more factors, including currency exchange rates, interest rates, referenced bonds and stock indices, depending on the factor used and the use of multipliers or deflators, changes in interest rates and movement of the factor may cause significant price fluctuations. Additionally, changes in the reference instrument or security may cause the interest rate on the structured note to be reduced to zero, and any further changes in the reference instrument may then reduce the principal amount payable on maturity. Structured notes may be less liquid than other types of securities and more volatile than the reference instrument or security underlying the note.
Derivatives Transactions Risk
The Fund may, but is not required to, utilize derivatives, including futures contracts and other strategic transactions, to seek to earn income, facilitate portfolio management and mitigate risks. Participation in derivatives markets transactions involves investment risks and transaction costs to which the Fund would not be subject absent the use of these strategies. If the Sub-Adviser is incorrect about its expectations of market conditions, the use of derivatives could also result in a loss, which in some cases may be unlimited. Risks inherent in the use of derivatives, including options and futures contracts, include:
The Fund may write call options on individual securities, securities indices, exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) and baskets of securities. The buyer of an option acquires the right to buy (a call option) or sell (a put option) a certain quantity of a security (the underlying security) or instrument, at a certain price up to a specified point in time or on expiration, depending on the terms. The seller or writer of an option is obligated to sell (a call option) or buy (a put option) the underlying instrument. A call option is “covered” if the Fund owns the security underlying the call or has an absolute right to acquire the security without additional cash consideration (or, if additional cash consideration is required, cash or cash equivalents in such amount are segregated by the Fund’s custodian). To the extent that the Fund writes covered call options, the Fund faces the risk that it will forgo the opportunity to profit from increases in the market value of the security covering the call option during an option’s life. As the Fund writes covered calls over more of its portfolio, its ability to benefit from capital appreciation becomes more limited. For certain types of options, the writer of the option will have no control over the time when it may be required to fulfill its obligation under the option. There can be no assurance that a liquid market will exist if and when the Fund seeks to close out an option position. Once an option writer has received an exercise notice, it cannot effect a closing purchase transaction in order to terminate its obligation under the option and must deliver the underlying security at the exercise price.
Swap transactions are subject to market risk, risk of default by the other party to the transaction and risk of imperfect correlation between the value of derivative instruments and the underlying assets and may involve commissions or other costs. Swaps generally do not involve the delivery of securities, other underlying assets or principal. Accordingly, the risk of loss with respect to swaps generally is limited to the net amount of payments that the Fund is contractually obligated to make, or in the case of the other party to a swap defaulting, the net amount of payments that the Fund is contractually entitled to receive. Total return swaps may effectively add leverage to the Fund’s portfolio because the Fund would be subject to investment exposure on the full notional amount of the swap. Total return swaps are subject to the risk that a counterparty will default on its payment obligations to the Fund thereunder.
The Fund will be subject to credit risk with respect to the counterparties to the derivative contracts purchased by the Fund. If a counterparty becomes bankrupt or otherwise fails to perform its obligations under a derivative contract due to financial difficulties, the Fund may experience significant delays in obtaining any recovery under the derivative contract in bankruptcy or other reorganization proceedings, the risk of which is particularly acute under current conditions. The Fund may obtain only a limited recovery or may obtain no recovery in such circumstances.
Synthetic Investment Risk
As an alternative to holding investments directly, the Fund may also obtain investment exposure to Income Securities and Common Equity Securities through the use of customized derivative instruments (including swaps, options, forwards, notional principal contracts or other financial instruments) to replicate, modify or replace the economic attributes associated with an investment in Income Securities and Common Equity Securities (including interests in Investment Funds). The Fund may be exposed to certain additional risks to the extent the Sub-Adviser uses derivatives as a means to synthetically implement the Fund’s investment strategies. If the Fund enters into a derivative instrument whereby it agrees to receive the return of a security or financial instrument or a basket of securities or financial instruments, it will typically contract to receive such returns for a predetermined period of time. During such period, the Fund may not have the ability to increase or decrease its exposure. In addition, such customized derivative instruments will likely be highly illiquid, and it is possible that the Fund will not be able to terminate such derivative instruments prior to their expiration date or that the penalties associated with such a termination might impact the Fund’s performance in a material adverse manner. Furthermore, derivative instruments typically contain provisions giving the counterparty the right to terminate the contract upon the occurrence of certain events. If a termination were to occur, the Fund’s return could be adversely affected as it would lose the benefit of the indirect exposure to the reference securities and it may incur significant termination expenses.
Portfolio Turnover Risk
The Fund’s annual portfolio turnover rate may vary greatly from year to year. Portfolio turnover rate is not considered a limiting factor in the execution of investment decisions for the Fund. A higher portfolio turnover rate results in correspondingly greater brokerage commissions and other transactional expenses that are borne by the Fund. High portfolio turnover may result in an increased realization of net short-term capital gains by the Fund which, when distributed to Common Shareholders, will be taxable as ordinary income. Additionally, in a declining market, portfolio turnover may result in realized capital losses.
When-Issued and Delayed Delivery Transactions Risk
Securities purchased on a when-issued or delayed delivery basis may expose the Fund to counterparty risk of default as well as the risk that securities may experience fluctuations in value prior to their actual delivery. The Fund generally will not accrue income with respect to a when-issued or delayed delivery security prior to its stated delivery date. Purchasing securities on a when-issued or delayed delivery basis can involve the additional risk that the price or yield available in the market when the delivery takes place may not be as favorable as that obtained in the transaction itself.
Short Sales Risk
The Fund may make short sales of securities. A short sale is a transaction in which the Fund sells a security it does not own. If the price of the security sold short increases between the time of the short sale and the time the Fund replaces the borrowed security, the Fund will incur a loss; conversely, if the price declines, the Fund will realize a capital gain. Any gain will be decreased, and any loss will be increased, by the transaction costs incurred by the Fund, including the costs associated with providing collateral to the broker-dealer (usually cash and liquid securities) and the maintenance of collateral with its custodian. Although the Fund’s gain is limited to the price at which it sold the security short, its potential loss is theoretically unlimited. The Fund may have to pay a premium to borrow the securities and must pay any dividends or interest payable on the securities until they are replaced, which will be expenses of the Fund.
Conflicts of Interest Risk
uggenheim Partners is a global asset management and investment advisory organization. Guggenheim Partners and its affiliates advise clients in various markets and transactions and purchase, sell, hold and recommend a broad array of investments for their own accounts and the accounts of clients and of their personnel and the relationships and products they sponsor, manage and advise. Accordingly, Guggenheim Partners and its affiliates may have direct and indirect interests in a variety of global markets and the securities of issuers in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. These interests may cause the Fund to be subject to regulatory limits, and in certain circumstances, these various activities may prevent the Fund from participating in an investment decision. As a result, activities and dealings of Guggenheim Partners and its affiliates may affect the Fund in ways that may disadvantage or restrict the Fund or be deemed to benefit Guggenheim Partners and its affiliates. From time to time, conflicts of interest may arise between a portfolio manager’s management of the investments of the Fund on the one hand and the management of other registered investment companies, pooled investment vehicles and other accounts (collectively, “other accounts”) on the other. The other accounts might have similar investment objectives or strategies as the Fund or otherwise hold, purchase, or sell securities that are eligible to be held, purchased or sold by the Fund. In certain circumstances, and subject to its fiduciary obligations under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”) and the requirements of the 1940 Act, the Adviser may have to allocate a limited investment opportunity among its clients. The other accounts might also have different investment objectives or strategies than the Fund. In addition, the Fund may be limited in its ability to invest in, or hold securities of, any companies that the Adviser or its affiliates (or other accounts managed by the Adviser or its affiliates) control, or companies in which the Adviser or its affiliates have interests or with whom they do business. For example, affiliates of the Adviser may act as underwriter, lead agent or administrative agent for loans or otherwise participate in the market for loans. Because of limitations imposed by applicable law, the presence of the Adviser’s affiliates in the markets for loans may restrict the Fund’s ability to acquire some loans or affect the timing or price of such acquisitions. To address these conflicts, the Fund and Guggenheim Partners and its affiliates have established various policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to detect and prevent such conflicts and prevent the Fund from being disadvantaged.
Recent Market Developments Risk
Periods of market volatility remain, and may continue to occur in the future, in response to various political, social and economic events both within and outside of the United States. These conditions have resulted in, and in many cases continue to result in, greater price volatility, less liquidity, widening credit spreads and a lack of price transparency, with many securities remaining illiquid and of uncertain value. Such market conditions may adversely affect the Fund, including by making valuation of some of the Fund’s securities uncertain and/or result in sudden and significant valuation increases or declines in the Fund’s holdings. If there is a significant decline in the value of the Fund’s portfolio, this may impact the asset coverage levels for the Fund’s outstanding leverage.
Risks resulting from any future debt or other economic crisis could also have a detrimental impact on the global economic recovery, the financial condition of financial institutions and the Fund’s business, financial condition and results of operation. Market and economic disruptions have affected, and may in the future affect, consumer confidence levels and spending, personal bankruptcy rates, levels of incurrence and default on consumer debt and home prices, among other factors. To the extent uncertainty regarding the U.S. or global economy negatively impacts consumer confidence and consumer credit factors, the Fund’s business, financial condition and results of operations could be significantly and adversely affected. Downgrades to the credit ratings of major banks could result in increased borrowing costs for such banks and negatively affect the broader economy. Moreover, Federal Reserve policy, including with respect to certain interest rates, may also adversely affect the value, volatility and liquidity of dividend- and interest-paying securities. Market volatility, rising interest rates and/or unfavorable economic conditions could impair the Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective.
The outbreak of COVID-19 is causing materially reduced consumer demand and economic output, disrupting supply chains, resulting in market closures, travel restrictions and quarantines, and adversely impacting local and global economies. As with other serious economic disruptions, governmental authorities and regulators are responding to this crisis with significant fiscal and monetary policy changes, including by providing direct capital infusions into companies, introducing new monetary programs and considerably lowering interest rates, which, in some cases resulted in negative interest rates. These actions, including their possible unexpected or sudden reversal or potential ineffectiveness, could further increase volatility in securities and other financial markets, reduce market liquidity, heighten investor uncertainty and adversely affect the value of the Fund’s investments and the performance of the Fund.
Increasing Government and other Public Debt Risk
Government and other public debt, including municipal obligations in which the Fund invests, can be adversely affected by large and sudden changes in local and global economic conditions that result in increased debt levels. Although high levels of government and other public debt do not necessarily indicate or cause economic problems, high levels of debt may create certain systemic risks if sound debt management practices are not implemented. A high debt level may increase market pressures to meet an issuer’s funding needs, which may increase borrowing costs and cause a government or public or municipal entity to issue additional debt, thereby increasing the risk of refinancing. A high debt level also raises concerns that the issuer may be unable or unwilling to repay the principal or interest on its debt, which may adversely impact instruments held by the Fund that rely on such payments. Governmental and quasigovernmental responses to the current economic situation are increasing government and other public debt, which heighten these risks. Unsustainable debt levels can decline the valuation of currencies, and can prevent a government from implementing effective counter-cyclical fiscal policy during economic downturns or can generate or contribute to an economic downturn.
UK Departure from EU (“Brexit”) Risk
On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom officially withdrew from the European Union (“EU”) and the two sides entered into a transition phase, scheduled to conclude on December 31, 2020, where the United Kingdom effectively remains in the EU from an economic perspective, but no longer has any political representation in the EU parliament. During this transition phase, which could be extended beyond December of 2020, the United Kingdom is expected to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU. Due to political uncertainty, it is not possible to anticipate whether the United Kingdom and the EU will be able to agree and implement a new trade agreement or what the nature of such trade arrangement will be. Throughout the withdrawal process and afterward, the impact on the United Kingdom and Economic and Monetary Union and the broader global economy is unknown but could be significant and could result in increased volatility and illiquidity and potentially lower economic growth. The political divisions surrounding Brexit within the United Kingdom, as well as those between the UK and the EU, may also have a destabilizing impact on the economy and currency of the United Kingdom and the EU. Any further exits from member states of the EU, or the possibility of such exits, would likely cause additional market disruption globally and introduce new legal and regulatory uncertainties. In addition to the effects on the Fund's investments in European issuers, the unavoidable uncertainties and events related to Brexit could negatively affect the value and liquidity of the Fund's other investments, increase taxes and costs of business and cause volatility in currency exchange rates and interest rates. Brexit could adversely affect the performance of contracts in existence at the date of Brexit and European, UK or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets. Brexit could also lead to legal uncertainty and politically divergent national laws and regulations as a new relationship between the UK and EU is defined and as the UK determines which EU laws to replace or replicate. In addition, Brexit could lead to further disintegration of the EU and related political stresses (including those related to sentiment against cross border capital movements and activities of investors like the Fund), prejudice to financial services businesses that are conducting business in the EU and which are based in the UK, legal uncertainty regarding achievement of compliance with applicable financial and commercial laws and regulations in view of the expected steps to be taken pursuant to or in contemplation of Brexit. Any of these effects of Brexit, and others that cannot be anticipated, could adversely affect the Fund's business, results of operations and financial condition.
The result of Brexit, the progression of the European debt crisis and the possibility of one or more Eurozone countries exiting the EMU, or even the collapse of the euro as a common currency, has created significant volatility in currency and financial markets generally. The effects of the collapse of the euro, or of the exit of one or more countries from the EMU, on the U.S. and global economies and securities markets are impossible to predict and any such events could have a significant adverse impact on the value and risk profile of the Fund’s portfolio. Any partial or complete dissolution of the EMU could have significant adverse effects on currency and financial markets, and on the values of the Fund’s portfolio investments. If one or more EMU countries were to stop using the euro as its primary currency, the Fund’s investments in such countries may be redenominated into a different or newly adopted currency. As a result, the value of those investments could decline significantly and unpredictably. In addition, securities or other investments that are redenominated may be subject to foreign currency risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk to a greater extent than similar investments currently denominated in euros. To the extent a currency used for redenomination purposes is not specified in respect of certain EMU-related investments, or should the euro cease to be used entirely, the currency in which such investments are denominated may be unclear, making such investments particularly difficult to value or dispose of. The Fund may incur additional expenses to the extent it is required to seek judicial or other clarification of the denomination or value of such securities.
U.S. Government Securities Risk
U.S. Government securities historically have not involved the credit risks associated with investments in other types of debt securities, although, as a result, the yields available from U.S. Government debt securities are generally lower than the yields available from other securities. Like other debt securities, however, the values of U.S. Government securities change as interest rates fluctuate. In 2011, each of S&P, Moody’s and Fitch lowered its long-term sovereign credit rating on the U.S. to “AA+” from “AAA.” Any further downgrades of the U.S. credit rating could increase volatility in both stock and bond markets, result in higher interest rates and higher Treasury yields and increase the costs of all kinds of debt.
Legislation and Regulation Risk
At any time after the date hereof, legislation may be enacted that could negatively affect the issuers in which the Fund invests. Changing approaches to regulation may also have a negative impact on issuers in which the Fund invests. In addition, legislation or regulation may change the way in which the Fund is regulated. There can be no assurance that future legislation, regulation or deregulation will not have a material adverse effect on the Fund or will not impair the ability of the Fund to achieve its investment objective.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), which was signed into law in July 2010, has resulted in significant revisions to the U.S. financial regulatory framework. The Dodd-Frank Act covers a broad range of topics, including, among many others: a reorganization of federal financial regulators; the creation of a process designed to ensure financial system stability and the resolution of potentially insolvent financial firms; the enactment of new rules for derivatives trading; the creation of a consumer financial protection watchdog; the registration and regulation of managers of private funds; the regulation of rating agencies; and the enactment of new federal requirements for residential mortgage loans. The regulation of various types of derivative instruments pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act may adversely affect the Fund or its counterparties.
In late November 2019, the SEC published a proposed rulemaking related to the use of derivatives and certain other transactions by registered investment companies that would, if adopted, for the most part rescind the SEC’s asset segregation and coverage rules and guidance. Instead of complying with current requirements, funds would need to trade derivatives and other transactions that potentially create senior securities (except reverse repurchase agreements) subject to a value-at-risk (“VaR”) leverage limit, certain other testing requirements and requirements related to board reporting. These new requirements would apply unless a fund qualified as a “limited derivatives user,” as defined in the SEC’s proposal. Reverse repurchase agreements would be subject to asset coverage requirements, and a fund trading reverse repurchase agreements would need to aggregate the amount of indebtedness associated with the reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions with the aggregate amount of any other senior securities representing indebtedness when calculating the fund’s asset coverage ratio. Reverse repurchase agreements would not be included in the calculation of whether a fund is a limited derivatives user, but for funds subject to the VaR testing, reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions would be included for purposes of such testing. The Adviser and the Sub-Adviser cannot predict the effects of these regulations on the Fund's portfolio. The Adviser and the Sub-Adviser intend to monitor developments and seek to manage the Fund's portfolio in a manner consistent with achieving the Fund's investment objective, but there can be no assurance that they will be successful in doing so.
The current presidential administration has called for, and in certain instances has begun to implement, significant changes to U.S. fiscal, tax, trade, healthcare, immigration, foreign, and government regulatory policy. In this regard, there is significant uncertainty with respect to legislation, regulation and government policy at the federal level, as well as the state and local levels. Recent events have created a climate of heightened uncertainty and introduced new and difficult-to-quantify macroeconomic and political risks with potentially far-reaching implications. There has been a corresponding meaningful increase in the uncertainty surrounding interest rates, inflation, foreign exchange rates, trade volumes and fiscal and monetary policy. To the extent the U.S. Congress or the current presidential administration implements changes to U.S. policy, those changes may impact, among other things, the U.S. and global economy, international trade and relations, unemployment, immigration, corporate taxes, healthcare, the U.S. regulatory environment, inflation and other areas. Some particular areas identified as subject to potential change, amendment or repeal include the Dodd-Frank Act, including the Volcker Rule and various swaps and derivatives regulations, credit risk retention requirements and the authorities of the Federal Reserve, the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the SEC. Although the Fund cannot predict the impact, if any, of these changes to the Fund's business, they could adversely affect the Fund's business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows. Until the Fund knows what policy changes are made and how those changes impact the Fund's business and the business of the Fund's competitors over the long term, the Fund will not know if, overall, the Fund will benefit from them or be negatively affected by them.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “TCJA”) made substantial changes to the Code, most of which went into effect on January 1, 2018. Among those changes were a significant permanent reduction in the generally applicable corporate tax rate, changes in the taxation of individuals and other non-corporate taxpayers that generally but not universally reduce their taxes on a temporary basis subject to “sunset” provisions, the elimination or modification of various previously allowed deductions (including changes to the manner in which depreciation deductions are calculated and substantial limitations on the deductibility of interest and, in the case of individuals, the deduction for personal state and local taxes), certain additional limitations on the deduction of net operating losses, changes that affect the timing of the recognition of certain items of income and significant changes to the international tax rules. The effect of these, and the many other, changes made in the TCJA remains uncertain, both in terms of their direct effect on the taxation of an investment in our Common Shares and their indirect effect on the value of our Common Shares or market conditions generally. Future legislation amending these changes also may be proposed, the effect of which cannot be predicted.
The Fund's investments and payment obligations may be based on floating rates, such as London Interbank Offer Rate (“LIBOR”), Euro Interbank Offered Rate and other similar types of reference rates (each, a “Reference Rate”). On July 27, 2017, the Chief Executive of the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”), which regulates LIBOR, announced that the FCA will no longer persuade nor require banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR and certain other Reference Rates after 2021. Such announcement indicates that the continuation of LIBOR and other Reference Rates on the current basis cannot and will not be guaranteed after 2021. This announcement and any additional regulatory or market changes may have an adverse impact on a Fund or its investments.
In advance of 2021, regulators and market participants will work together to identify or develop successor Reference Rates. Additionally, prior to 2021, it is expected that market participants will focus on the transition mechanisms by which the Reference Rates in existing contracts or instruments may be amended, whether through market wide protocols, fallback contractual provisions, bespoke negotiations or amendments or otherwise. The transition process might lead to increased volatility and illiquidity in markets for instruments with terms tied to LIBOR. It could also lead to a reduction in the interest rates on, and the value of, some LIBOR-based investments and reduce the effectiveness of hedges mitigating risk in connection with LIBOR-based investments. Although some LIBOR-based instruments may contemplate a scenario where LIBOR is no longer available by providing for an alternative rate-setting methodology and/or increased costs for certain LIBOR-related instruments or financing transactions, others may not have such provisions and there may be significant uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of any such alternative methodologies. Additionally, because such provisions may differ across instruments (e.g., hedges versus cash positions hedged), LIBOR’s cessation may give rise to basis risk and render hedges less effective. As the usefulness of LIBOR as a benchmark could deteriorate during the transition period, these effects and related adverse conditions could occur prior to the end of 2021. There also remains uncertainty and risk regarding the willingness and ability of issuers to include enhanced provisions in new and existing contracts or instruments, notwithstanding significant efforts by the industry to develop robust LIBOR replacement clauses. The effect of any changes to, or discontinuation of, LIBOR on the Fund will vary depending, among other things, on (1) existing fallback or termination provisions in individual contracts and the possible renegotiation of existing contracts and (2) whether, how, and when industry participants develop and adopt new reference rates and fallbacks for both legacy and new products and instruments. Fund investments may also be tied to other interbank offered rates and currencies, which also will face similar issues.
Certain classes of instruments invested in by the Fund may be more sensitive to LIBOR cessation than others. For example, certain asset classes such as floating rate notes may not contemplate a LIBOR cessation and/or might freeze a last-published or last-used LIBOR rate for all future payment dates upon a discontinuation of LIBOR. Also, for example, syndicated and other business loans tied to LIBOR may not provide a clear roadmap for LIBOR’s replacement, leaving any future adjustments to the determination of a quantum of lenders. Securitizations and other asset-backed transactions may experience disruption as a result of inconsistencies between when collateral assets shift from LIBOR and what rate those assets replace LIBOR with, on the one hand, and when the securitization notes shift from LIBOR and what rate the securitization notes replace LIBOR with.
At this time, it is not possible to completely identify or predict the effect of any such changes, any establishment of alternative Reference Rates or any other reforms to Reference Rates that may be enacted in the UK or elsewhere. The elimination of a Reference Rate or any other changes or reforms to the determination or supervision of Reference Rates could have an adverse impact on the market for or value of any securities or payments linked to those Reference Rates and other financial obligations held by the Fund or on its overall financial condition or results of operations. In addition, any substitute Reference Rate and any pricing adjustments imposed by a regulator or by counterparties or otherwise may adversely affect the Fund's performance and/or NAV.
Geopolitical and Market Disruption Risk
The aftermath of the war in Iraq, instability in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Russia, Ukraine and the Middle East, possible terrorist attacks in the United States and around the world, growing social and political discord in the United States, the European debt crisis, the response of the international community—through economic sanctions and otherwise—to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and posture vis-a-vis Ukraine, increasingly strained relations between the United States and a number of foreign countries, including traditional allies, such as certain European countries, and historical adversaries, such as North Korea, Iran, China and Russia, and the international community generally, new and continued political unrest in various countries, such as Venezuela and Spain, the United Kingdom’s pending withdrawal from the European Union (the “EU”) and the resulting profound and uncertain impacts on the economic and political future of the United Kingdom, the exit or potential exit of one or more countries from the EU or the European Monetary Union (the “EMU”), the EU and global financial markets, further downgrade of U.S. Government securities, the change in the U.S. president and the new administration and other similar events, may have long-term effects on the United States and worldwide financial markets and may cause further economic uncertainties in the United States and worldwide. The Fund does not know and cannot predict how long the securities markets may be affected by these events and the effects of these and similar events in the future on the U.S. economy and securities markets. The Fund may be adversely affected by abrogation of international agreements and national laws which have created the market instruments in which the Fund may invest, failure of the designated national and international authorities to enforce compliance with the same laws and agreements, failure of local, national and international organization to carry out their duties prescribed to them under the relevant agreements, revisions of these laws and agreements which dilute their effectiveness or conflicting interpretation of provisions of the same laws and agreements. The Fund may be adversely affected by uncertainties such as terrorism, international political developments, and changes in government policies, taxation, restrictions on foreign investment and currency repatriation, currency fluctuations and other developments in the laws and regulations of the countries in which it is invested and the risks associated with financial, economic, health, labor and other global market developments and disruptions.
The Fund and its service providers are currently impacted by quarantines and similar measures being enacted by governments in response to COVID-19, which are obstructing the regular functioning of business workforces (including requiring employees to work from external locations and their homes). Accordingly, certain risks described above are heightened under current conditions.
As the use of Internet technology has become more prevalent, the Fund and its service providers and markets generally have become more susceptible to potential operational risks related to intentional and unintentional events that may cause the Fund or a service provider to lose proprietary information, suffer data corruption or lose operational capacity. There can be no guarantee that any risk management systems established by the Fund, its service providers, or issuers of the securities in which the Fund invests to reduce technology and cyber security risks will succeed, and the Fund cannot control such systems put in place by service providers, issuers or other third parties whose operations may affect the Fund.
Cyber Security Risk
The Fund and its service providers are susceptible to cyber security risks that include, among other things, theft, unauthorized monitoring, release, misuse, loss, destruction or corruption of confidential and highly restricted data; denial of service attacks; unauthorized access to relevant systems, compromises to networks or devices that the Fund and its service providers use to service the Fund’s operations; or operational disruption or failures in the physical infrastructure or operating systems that support the Fund and its service providers. Cyber-attacks against or security breakdowns of the Fund or its service providers may adversely impact the Fund and its stockholders, potentially resulting in, among other things, financial losses; the inability of Fund stockholders to transact business and the Fund to process transactions; inability to calculate the Fund’s net asset value; violations of applicable privacy and other laws; regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs; and/or additional compliance costs. The Fund may incur additional costs for cyber security risk management and remediation purposes. In addition, cyber security risks may also impact issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, which may cause the Fund’s investment in such issuers to lose value. There can be no assurance that the Fund or its service providers will not suffer losses relating to cyber-attacks or other information security breaches in the future.
Additional risks relating to investments in the Fund include “Subordinated Securities Risk,” “Floating-Rate and Fixed-to-Floating-Rate Securities Risk,” “Risks Associated with an Investment in IPOs,” “Risks Associated with an Investment in PIPE Transactions,” “Structured Notes Risk,” “Sovereign Debt Risk,” “Eurozone Risk,” “Repurchase Agreements Risk,” “Securities Lending Risk,” “Risk of Failure to Qualify as a RIC,” “Investment Opportunity Risk,” “Confidential Information Risk,” and Anti-Takover Provisions in the Fund's "Governing Documents Risk."
Guggenheim Investments represents the investment management business of Guggenheim Partners, LLC ("Guggenheim"). Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC is an affiliate of Guggenheim.
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