|Current Distribution Rate 1, 2||14.84%|
|Quarterly Distribution Per Share2||$26.81250|
|Common Shares Outstanding||48,826|
|52 Week High/Low NAV||$863.53/$720.22|
|Total Managed Assets||$49,214,977|
|Investment Adviser||Guggenheim Funds Investment Advisors, LLC|
|Portfolio Manager/Sub-Adviser||Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC|
|Expense Ratio (Common Shares)4||2.62%|
|Portfolio Turnover Rate||26%|
|1940 Act Asset Coverage Ratio||352.14%|
|Since Inception (8/13/15)||7.23%|
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 2.54%.
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 Fund. Investors should be aware that in light of the current uncertainty, volatility and distress in economies, financial markets, and labor and public health conditions around 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 investment risk, including the possible loss of the entire principal amount invested. The fact that a particular risk below is not specifically identified as being heightened under current conditions does not mean that the risk is not greater than under normal conditions.
Not a Complete Investment Program
An investment in the Fund’s Common Shares should not be considered a complete investment program. The Fund is intended for long-term investors. An investment in the Fund is not meant to provide a vehicle for those who wish to play short-term swings in the market. Common Shareholders 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. Before making an investment decision, a prospective investor should consider (i) the suitability of this investment with respect to his or her investment objectives and personal situation and (ii) factors such as his or her personal net worth, income, age, risk tolerance and liquidity needs.
Investment and Market Risk
An investment in Common Shares of 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, natural/environmental disasters, cyber attacks, terrorism, governmental or quasi-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.
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. The 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.
Recent Market, Economic and Social 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. 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 and the current recovery underway is causing disruption to consumer demand and economic output and supply chains. There are still travel restrictions and quarantines, and adverse impacts on 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.
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 (“NAV”) 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 July 28, 2023 (the “Liquidity Event Date”). 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 Liquidity Event Date can be further extended beyond July 28, 2024 if approved by 75% of the trustees followed by approval by 75% of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund.
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, and such initial investors and any investors that purchase Common Shares after the completion of this offering may receive less than their original investment through any Shareholder Liquidity Event.
If the Fund anticipates that the Shareholder Liquidity Event will involve the termination and liquidation of the Fund, beginning one year before the Liquidity Event Date (the “wind-down period”) the Adviser may begin liquidating all or a portion of the Fund’s portfolio through opportunistic sales. However, the Fund may be required to sell portfolio securities when it otherwise would not, including at times when market conditions or tax consequences are not favorable, which may cause the Fund to lose money.
As the Fund approaches its termination date, the portfolio composition of the Fund may change as more of the Fund’s original fixed-income securities mature or are called or sold, which may cause the Fund’s returns to decrease and the NAV of the Common Shares to fall. The Fund may also shift its portfolio composition to securities that the Adviser believes will provide adequate liquidity upon termination of the Fund, which may also cause the Fund’s returns to decrease and the NAV of the Common Shares to fall. During the wind-down period, the Fund may invest all or a portion of its assets in non-energy company corporate debt securities, U.S. government securities or other fixed-income securities.
Rather than reinvesting the proceeds of its matured, called or sold fixed-income securities, the Fund may distribute the proceeds in one or more liquidating distributions prior to the final liquidation, which may cause the Fund’s fixed expenses to increase when expressed as a percentage of assets under management, or the Fund may invest the proceeds in lower yielding securities or hold the proceeds in cash, which may adversely affect the performance of the Fund. Upon its termination, it is anticipated that the Fund will have distributed substantially all of its net assets to shareholders, although securities for which no market exists or securities trading at depressed prices, if any, may be placed in a liquidating trust. Common Shareholders will bear the costs associated with establishing and maintaining a liquidating trust, if necessary. Securities placed in a liquidating trust may be held for an indefinite period of time until they can be sold or pay out all of their cash flows. The Fund cannot predict the amount, if any, of securities that will be required to be placed in a liquidating trust.
Tender Offer Risk
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 NAV per Common Share or a percentage of the Fund’s NAV per Common Share on the last day of the offer. In any given quarter, the Adviser may or may not recommend to the Board of Trustees that the Fund conduct a tender offer. For example, if adverse market conditions cause the Fund’s investments to become illiquid or trade at depressed prices or if the Adviser believes that conducting a tender offer for 2.5% or less of the Common Shares then outstanding would impose an undue burden on Common Shareholders who do not tender compared to the benefits of giving Common Shareholders the opportunity to sell all or a portion of their Common Shares at NAV, 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. 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 NAV. 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, although 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.
The Fund is subject to management risk because it has an actively managed portfolio. The Adviser will apply investment techniques and risk analysis in making investment decisions for the Fund, but there can be no guarantee that these will produce the desired results. The Fund’s allocation of its investments across various asset classes and sectors may vary significantly over time based on the Adviser’s analysis and judgment. As a result, the particular risks most relevant to an investment in the Fund, as well as the overall risk profile of the Fund’s portfolio, may vary over time.
The income investors receive from the Fund is based in part on the interest it earns from its investments, 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.
Because the Fund’s investments are focused in companies operating in the energy sector of the economy, the Fund will be more susceptible to risks associated with such sector. A downturn in the energy sector will 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
Under normal circumstances, the Fund concentrates its investments in the energy sector. Energy Companies are subject to certain risks, including, but not limited to, the following:
Commodity Price Risk. Energy companies 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 and uncertainty; changes in supply of and consumer demand for electricity, gas or other commodities; weather patterns; domestic production levels; volume of imports; the price and availability of alternative electric generation options, which may be effected by government subsidies, tax credits or other support; energy conservation; competitive position of electricity, ethanol/biodiesel, oil, gas or coal as a source of energy as compared with other energy sources; domestic and foreign governmental regulation; international politics; policies of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”); taxation; tariffs; the availability and costs of local, intrastate and interstate transportation methods, among others; the industry-wide and/or local refining, transportation or processing capacity; new technologies; catastrophic events or terrorist acts; speculation; and other factors that are beyond the control of the Fund and the Adviser. Certain energy companies may be directly or indirectly affected by fluctuations in commodity prices. In addition, the energy sector as a whole may be impacted by the perception that the performance of all energy sector companies is linked to commodity prices.
Supply and Demand Risk. Companies operating in the energy sector may be impacted by the levels of supply and 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. Alternatively, volatility or 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; or increased commodity prices.
Energy Sector Dislocation Risk. Recently, oil prices experienced significant volatility. This may adversely impact companies operating in the energy sector. If the prices for commodities experience a substantial downturn or heightened volatility 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.
Operational and Geological Risk. Energy, natural resources, basic materials companies and associated companies are subject to specific operational and geological risks in addition to normal business and management risks. Some examples of operational risks include mine rock falls, underground explosions and pit wall failures. Geological risk would include faulting of the ore body and misinterpretation of geotechnical data.
Regulatory Risk. The energy sector is highly regulated. Energy companies 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 companies that utilize such by-product on process and on energy companies that rely on a supply of the impacted energy commodity. Examples of governmental regulations which impact energy companies 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 companies. Such regulation can change rapidly or over time in both scope and intensity. Energy companies may be adversely affected by additional regulatory requirements enacted in response to environmental disasters, which may impose additional costs or limit certain operations. Governments have considerable discretion in implementing regulations that could impact a company’s business, and governments may be influenced by political considerations and may make decisions that adversely affect a company’s business.
Environmental Risk. There is an inherent risk that energy companies 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. This risk is heightened given the stated priorities of the new administration. Energy companies 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. Stricter environmental laws, regulations or enforcement policies could significantly increase the compliance costs of energy companies, and the cost of any remediation that may become necessary. Master limited partnership (“MLP”) 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 companies. The potential for the imposition of such measures may negatively impact energy companies generally.
Fracturing Risk. Certain energy companies may require the use of hydraulic fracturing to produce commercial quantities of oil and natural gas from reservoirs in which they operate. Changes in laws or government regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing could increase certain energy companies’ costs of doing business, limit the areas in which such companies can operate and reduce oil and natural gas production by such companies. Any such developments could adversely impact companies that provide fracturing services and materials. 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 as a result of federal legislation or regulatory initiatives by the EPA and other regulators in the United States and elsewhere fracturing activities could become subject to additional permitting requirements, and also to attendant permitting delays and potential increases in cost, certain drilling and injection activities could eliminated, and it could be more costly for a company to perform hydraulic fracturing, increase the company’s costs of compliance and doing business, and delay or prevent the development of unconventional hydrocarbon resources from shale and other formations that are not viable without the use of hydraulic fracturing.
Depletion Risk. Energy companies 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.
Acquisition Risk. Certain energy companies may depend on the ability of to make acquisitions. The ability of such companies 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 such companies are unable to make future acquisitions, or such future acquisitions fail to have the desired impact, their growth 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 companies 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 companies in which the Fund invests. Rising interest rates may also impact the price of the securities of energy companies as the yields on alternative investments increase.
Weather Risk. Weather plays a role in the seasonality of some energy companies’ cash flows. Although most energy companies can reasonably predict seasonal weather demand based on normal weather patterns, no amount of preparation can protect an energy company from the unpredictability of the weather, extreme weather conditions or possible climate change. The damage done by extreme weather also may serve to increase many energy companies’ insurance premiums and could adversely affect such companies’ financial condition. Certain energy companies may be particularly sensitive to weather and climate conditions.
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. Technological changes in the way a service or product is delivered may render existing technologies obsolete. Utility and infrastructure assets have very few alternative uses should they become obsolete. Some energy companies are focused on developing new technologies and are strongly influenced by technological changes. Product development efforts by these companies may not result in viable commercial products. 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. Issuers that engage in energy projects in undeveloped areas require significant capital initially. In addition, the demand, pricing and terms for oilfield services in an issuer’s existing or anticipated service areas largely depends upon the level of exploration and development activity for both crude oil and natural gas in the region of the issuer’s investment. The ability of an issuer to market its oil and natural gas may depend upon its ability to acquire capacity on pipelines that deliver oil and natural gas to commercial markets.
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”). Payments by power purchasers to such companies or projects pursuant to their respective PPAs may provide the majority of such companies’ or projects’ cash flows. 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. In addition, the grantor’s fee interests in the land which is the subject of such easements and leases are or may become subject to mortgages securing loans, other liens (such as tax liens) and other lease rights of third parties (such as leases of oil, gas, coal or other mineral rights). As a result, an energy company’s rights under such leases or easements are or may be subject and subordinate to the rights of third-parties.
Independent Contractors Risk. Independent contractors are typically used in operations in the energy industry to perform various operational tasks, including carrying out drilling activities and delivering raw commodities to processing or beneficiation plants. In periods of high commodity prices, demand for such contractors may exceed supply resulting in increased costs or lack of availability of key contractors. Disruptions of operations or increased costs also can occur as a result of disputes with contractors or a shortage of contractors with particular capabilities. Additionally, 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 and cyber 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. In general, losses related to terrorism are becoming harder and more expensive to insure against.
Industry Specific Risks. Energy companies are also subject to risks that are specific to the industry or industries in which they operate. Examples of industry specific risks are summarized below.
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. Demand for gasoline, which accounts for a substantial portion of refined product transportation, depends on price, prevailing economic conditions in the markets served, and demographic and seasonal factors.
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. Acquiring, developing and exploring for oil and natural gas involves many risks. These risks include encountering formations or pressures, premature declines of reservoirs, blow-outs, equipment failures and accidents in completing wells and otherwise, cratering, sour gas releases, uncontrollable flows of oil, natural gas or well fluids, adverse weather conditions, pollution, fires, spills and other risks that could lead to environmental damage, injury to persons and loss of life or the destruction of property, any of which could expose such energy companies to the risk of litigation and clean-up or other remedial costs, not all of which may be covered by insurance.
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. In addition, some gathering and processing contracts subject the gathering or processing company to direct commodities price risk.
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. They are also subject to supply variability based on geological conditions that reduce the productivity of mining operations, the availability of regulatory permits for mining activities and the availability of coal that meets the standards of the Clean Air Act.
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 (including the potential that costs incurred by the utility change more rapidly than the rate the utility is permitted to charge its 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.
In many regions, including the United States, the electric utility industry is experiencing increasing competitive pressures, primarily in wholesale markets, as a result of consumer demand, technological advances, greater availability of natural gas and other factors. A number of countries, including the United States, are considering or have implemented methods to introduce and promote retail competition. To the extent competitive pressures increase and the pricing and sale of electricity assume more characteristics of a commodity business, the economics of independent power generation projects may come under increasing pressure.
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, as amended (the “FPA”), other federal utility statutes, state and local public utility laws. These laws may require regulatory approval for the issuance of certain securities that the Fund may hold, as well as requiring regulatory approval before the Fund may exercise certain remedies, such as foreclosure, with respect to its investments in regulated entities. In addition, as regulated entities, certain energy companies may be invested may be restricted from earning additional revenues or recovering certain costs as a result of ratemaking decisions by their applicable federal or state regulators.
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. These regions may include, but are not limited to, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. 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. Renegotiation or nullification of pre-existing agreements, concessions, leases and permits held by an energy company, changes in fiscal policies (including increased tax or royalty rates) or currency restrictions could impact the value of the Fund’s investments. Commercial instability caused by bribery and corruption and more generally underdeveloped corporate governance policies can lead to similar consequences, any of which could have a material adverse effect on a such company’s profitability, ability to finance itself, or, in extreme cases, its viability.
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. In addition, any future commodity hedging arrangements could cause an energy company to suffer financial loss if it is unable to produce sufficient quantities of the commodity to fulfill its obligations, if it is required to pay a margin call on a hedge contract or if it is required to pay royalties based on a market or reference price that is higher than the company’s fixed ceiling price. To the extent that risk management activities and hedging strategies are employed to address commodity prices, exchange rates, interest rates or other risks, risks associated with such activities and strategies, including counterparty risk, settlement risk, basis risk, liquidity risk and market risk, could impact or negate such activities and strategies.
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 company’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 company 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 company. Oil and gas energy companies 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 companies 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 11 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 companies. Energy companies 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.
Below Investment Grade Securities Risk
The Fund may invest in 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 securities of below investment grade quality tend to be more volatile and such securities tend to be less liquid than investment grade debt securities.
The Fund may invest in securities rated in the lower rating categories (rated Caa1/CCC+ or below, or unrated but judged to be of comparable quality by the Adviser). For these securities, the risks associated with below investment grade instruments may be more pronounced. Investments in the securities of financially distressed issuers involve substantial risks. The Fund may purchase stressed or distressed securities, including securities that are in default or the issuers of which are in bankruptcy, which involve heightened risks. See “Risks-Distressed and Defaulted Securities Risk.”
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 economic 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 discontinued, disrupted, reversed or are ineffective in achieving their desired outcomes or lead to increases in inflation. 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. To the extent the Fund holds a debt instrument with a negative interest rate, the Fund would generate a negative return on that investment. If negative interest rates become more prevalent in the market, market participants may seek to reallocate their investments to other income-producing assets, which could further reduce the value of instruments held by the Fund with a negative yield. The current very low or negative interest rates are magnifying the Fund’s susceptibility to interest rate risk and diminishing yield and performance. Certain economic conditions and market environments will expose fixed-income and debt instruments to heightened volatility and reduced liquidity, which can impact the Fund’s investments.
Fixed-Income Securities Risks
Fixed-income securities are subject to certain risks, including:
Issuer Risk. The value of securities in which the Fund invests 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 credit security by an NRSRO may reduce the value of that security. To the extent the Fund invests in below investment grade securities, it will be exposed to a greater amount of credit risk than a fund which invests in investment grade securities. The prices of lower grade securities are more sensitive to negative developments, such as a decline in the issuer’s revenues or a general economic downturn, than are the prices of higher grade securities. 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. In addition, to the extent the Fund uses credit derivatives, such use will expose it to additional risks in the event that the bonds underlying the derivatives default.
Interest Rate Risk. Interest rate risk is the risk that fixed-income securities will decline in value because of changes in market interest rates. When market interest rates rise, the market value of fixed-income securities generally will fall. During periods of rising interest rates, the average life of certain types of fixed-income securities may be extended because of slower than expected prepayments. This may lock in a below market yield, increase the security’s duration and reduce the value of the security. Investments in fixed-income securities with long-term maturities may experience significant price declines if long-term interest rates increase. These risks may be greater in the current market environment because interest rates recently have declined significantly below historical average rates. Prevailing interest rates may be adversely impacted by market and economic factors. If interest rates rise the markets may experience increased volatility, which may adversely affect the value and/or liquidity of certain of the Fund’s investments. Increases in interest rates may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective.
If interest rates go up, the value of income securities in the Fund’s portfolio generally will decline. These risks may be greater in the current market environment because interest rates are near historically low levels.
During periods of declining interest rates, the issuer of an income security may exercise its option to prepay principal earlier than scheduled, forcing the Fund to reinvest in lower yielding income securities. This is known as call or prepayment risk. Lower grade income securities have call features that allow the issuer to repurchase the security prior to its stated maturity. An issuer may redeem a lower grade income security if the issuer can refinance the security at a lower cost due to declining interest rates or an improvement in the credit standing of the issuer.
The prices of longer-term securities fluctuate more than prices of shorter-term securities as interest rates change. The Fund’s use of Financial Leverage, as described below, will tend to increase Common Share interest rate risk. The Fund may utilize certain strategies, including taking positions in futures or interest rate swaps, for the purpose of reducing the interest rate sensitivity of credit securities held by the Fund and decreasing the Fund’s exposure to interest rate risk. The Fund is not required to hedge its exposure to interest rate risk and may choose not to do so. In addition, there is no assurance that any attempts by the Fund to reduce interest rate risk will be successful or that any hedges that the Fund may establish will perfectly correlate with movements in interest rates.
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 Fund 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. Below investment grade securities frequently have call features that allow the issuer to redeem the security at dates prior to its stated maturity at a specified price (typically greater than par) only if certain prescribed conditions are met (“call protection”). An issuer may redeem a below investment grade security if, for example, the issuer can refinance the debt at a lower cost due to declining interest rates or an improvement in the credit standing of the issuer. For premium bonds (bonds acquired at prices that exceed their par or principal value) purchased by the Fund, prepayment risk may be enhanced given that the Fund would lose the potential value of the yield-to-maturity of the bonds in the event they are redeemed at the stated principal amount. Senior Loans and Second Lien Loans typically do not have call protection. The degree to which borrowers prepay Senior Loans and Second Lien Loans, whether as a contractual requirement or at their election, may be affected by general business conditions, the financial condition of the borrower and competitive conditions among Senior Loan and Second Lien Loan investors, among others. For these reasons, prepayments cannot be predicted with accuracy. Upon a prepayment, either in part or in full, the outstanding debt from which the Fund derives interest income will be reduced. The Fund may not be able to reinvest the proceeds received on terms as favorable as the prepaid investment.
Because the secondary markets for certain investments may be limited, they may be difficult to value. Where market quotations are not readily available or deemed unreliable, the Fund will value such securities in accordance with fair value procedures adopted by the Board. Valuation of illiquid securities may require more research than for more liquid investments. In addition, elements of judgment may play a greater role in valuation in such cases than for investments with a more active secondary market because there is less reliable objective data available. A security that is fair valued may be valued at a price higher or lower than the value determined by other funds using their own fair valuation procedures. Prices obtained by the Fund upon the sale of such securities may not equal the value at which the Fund carried the investment on its books, which would adversely affect the NAV of the Fund.
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.
Senior Loans Risk. The Fund may invest in Senior Loans made to corporations and other non-governmental entities and issuers (a “Borrower”). The risks associated with such Senior Loans are similar to the risks of other lower grade securities, although Senior Loans are typically senior in payment priority and secured on a senior priority basis, in contrast to subordinated and unsecured debt securities. Senior Loans’ higher standing has historically resulted in generally higher recoveries in the event of a corporate reorganization.
Senior Loans typically hold the most senior position in the capital structure of a business entity, are typically secured with specific collateral and typically have a claim on the assets of the Borrower, including stock owned by the borrower in its subsidiaries, that is senior to that held by subordinated debt holders and stockholders of the Borrower. Senior Loans in which the Fund will invest are generally rated below investment grade or unrated but believed by the Adviser to be of below investment grade quality and are considered speculative because of the credit risk of the applicable issuer.
Many Senior Loans in which the Fund invests may not be rated by a NRSRO, will not be registered with the SEC or any state securities commission and will not be listed on any national securities exchange. There is less readily-available, reliable information about most Senior Loans than is the case for many other types of securities. In addition, there is rarely a minimum rating or other independent evaluation of a Borrower or its securities, and the Adviser relies primarily on its own evaluation of a Borrower’s credit quality rather than on any available independent sources. As a result, the Fund is particularly dependent on the analytical abilities of the Adviser with respect to investments in Senior Loans. The Adviser’s judgment about the credit quality of a Borrower may be wrong.
Issuers of below investment grade Senior Loans are more likely to default on their payments of interest and principal owed to the Fund than issuers of investment grade Senior Loans, and such defaults could reduce the Fund’s NAV and income distributions. Adverse market conditions may impair the liquidity of some actively traded Senior Loans, meaning that the Fund may not be able to sell them quickly at a desirable price. To the extent that a secondary market does exist for certain Senior Loans, the market may be subject to irregular trading activity, wide bid/ask spreads and extended trade settlement periods. Illiquid Senior Loans may also be difficult to value.
Although the Senior Loans in which the Fund will invest generally will be secured by specific collateral, there can be no assurance that liquidation of such collateral would satisfy the Borrower’s obligation in the event of non-payment of scheduled interest or principal or that such collateral could be readily liquidated.
Senior Loans are subject to legislative risk. If legislation or state or federal regulations impose additional requirements or restrictions on the ability of financial institutions to make loans, the availability of Senior Loans for investment by the Fund may be adversely affected. In addition, such requirements or restrictions could reduce or eliminate sources of financing for certain Borrowers. This could increase the risk of default.
The Fund’s investments in Senior Loans may be subject to lender liability risk. Lender liability refers to a variety of legal theories generally founded on the premise that a lender has violated a duty of good faith, commercial reasonableness and fair dealing, or a similar duty owed to the Borrower or has assumed an excessive degree of control over the Borrower resulting in the creation of a fiduciary duty owed to the Borrower or its other creditors or shareholders. Because of the nature of its investments, the Fund may be subject to allegations of lender liability. In addition, under common law principles that in some cases form the basis for lender liability claims, a court may elect to subordinate the claim of an offending lender or bondholder (or group of offending lenders or bondholders) to the claims of a disadvantaged creditor (or group of creditors).
Economic exposure to Senior Loans through the use of derivatives transactions may involve greater risks than if the Fund had invested in the Senior Loan interest directly during a primary distribution or through assignments or participations in a loan acquired in secondary markets since, in addition to the risks described above, derivatives transactions to gain exposure to Senior Loans may be subject to leverage risk and greater illiquidity risk, counterparty risk, valuation risk and other risks associated with derivatives discussed herein.
Second Lien Loans Risk. The Fund may invest in Second Lien Loans made to public and private corporations and other non-governmental entities and issuers for a variety of purposes. Second Lien Loans are second in right of payment to one or more Senior Loans of the related Borrower. Second Lien Loans are generally subject to similar risks associated with investment in Senior Loans and other lower grade debt securities. However, because Second Lien Loans are subordinated and thus lower in priority of payment to Senior Loans or other debt instruments with higher priority of the related Borrower, they are subject to the additional risk that the cash flow of the Borrower and property securing the loan or debt, if any, may be insufficient to meet scheduled payments and repayment of principal after giving effect to the senior secured obligations of the Borrower. This risk is generally higher for subordinated loans or debt which are not backed by a security interest in any specific collateral. Second Lien Loans generally have greater price volatility than Senior Loans and may be less liquid. Second Lien Loans share the same risks as other below investment grade securities.
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 Participation and Assignment 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. Unfunded commitments to purchase loan participations or assignments 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).
Other Risks Associated with Loans. Economic and other events (whether real or perceived) can reduce the demand for certain Loans or Loans generally, which may reduce market prices and cause the Fund’s NAV per share to fall. The frequency and magnitude of such changes cannot be predicted. No active trading market may exist for some loans and some Loans may be subject to restrictions on resale. During periods of limited supply and liquidity of Loans, the Fund’s yield may be lower. Other factors (including, but not limited to, rating downgrades, credit deterioration, a large downward movement in stock prices, a disparity in supply and demand of certain Loans and other securities or market conditions that reduce liquidity) can reduce the value of Loans, impairing the Fund’s NAV.
Terms of certain of the Loans in which the Fund may invest may provide the borrowers with substantial flexibility to incur additional indebtedness, pay dividends, make investments and other restricted payments, incur liens and engage in affiliate transactions, or may not obligate the borrowers to observe and maintain financial ratios or other financial maintenance covenants. The absence of such covenants or the flexibility in measuring compliance with such covenants could cause borrowers to experience a significant downturn in their results of operation without triggering any default that would permit holders of Loans (such as the Fund) to declare an event of default or accelerate indebtedness. Any such delay in the ability of holders of debt to exercise remedies may lower the ultimate recoveries received by the Fund in any insolvency or restructuring of indebtedness of the borrowers.
Mezzanine Investments Risk
The Fund may invest in certain lower grade securities known as “Mezzanine Investments,” which are subordinated, unsecured debt securities. Mezzanine Investments are often issued in private placements and are sometimes issued in connection with an equity security (e.g., with attached warrants) or otherwise 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 Securities Risk
In addition to equity securities risk, credit risk and below investment grade securities risk, with respect to preferred securities of below investment grade quality, there are special risks associated with investing in preferred securities:
Deferral. 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. If the Fund owns a preferred security that is deferring its distributions, the Fund may be required to report income for tax purposes although it has not yet received such income.
Subordination. Preferred securities are subordinated to bonds and other debt instruments in a company’s capital structure in terms of having priority to corporate income and liquidation payments, and therefore will be subject to greater credit risk than more senior debt instruments.
Liquidity. Preferred securities may be substantially less liquid than many other securities, such as common stocks or U.S. Government securities.
Limited Voting Rights. 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, at which time the preferred security holders may elect a number of directors to the issuer’s board. Generally, once all the arrearages have been paid, the preferred security holders no longer have voting rights. In the case of trust preferred securities, holders generally have no voting rights, except if (i) the issuer fails to pay dividends for a specified period of time or (ii) a declaration of default occurs and is continuing.
Special Redemption Rights. In certain varying circumstances, an issuer of preferred securities may redeem the securities prior to a specified date. For instance, for certain types of preferred securities, a redemption may be triggered by certain changes in U.S. federal income tax or securities laws. As with call provisions, a special redemption by the issuer may negatively impact the return of the security held by the Fund.
New Types of Securities. From time to time, preferred securities, including hybrid-preferred securities, have been, and may in the future be, offered having features other than those described herein. The Fund reserves the right to invest in these securities if the Adviser believes that doing so would be consistent with the Fund’s investment objectives and policies. Since the market for these instruments would be new, the Fund may have difficulty disposing of them at a suitable price and time. In addition to limited liquidity, these instruments may present other risks, such as high price volatility.
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. 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 stock in varying degrees, depending on the relationship of such market price to the conversion price in the 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, but are usually subordinated to comparable nonconvertible securities. In addition, the credit standing of the issuer and other factors also may have an effect on the convertible security’s investment value. Convertible securities may be subject to redemption at the option of the issuer at a price established in the convertible security’s governing instrument. If a convertible security held by the Fund is called for redemption, the Fund will be required to permit the issuer to redeem this security, convert it into the underlying common stock or sell it to a third party. Any of these actions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objectives.
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 experience much more price volatility, greater spreads between their bid and ask prices and significantly lower trading volumes than securities issued by large, more established companies. In addition, it may be difficult for the Fund to sell mid-cap or small-cap company securities at a desired time or price. Mid-cap and small-cap companies tend to have inexperienced management as well as limited product and market diversification and financial resources. Mid-cap and small-cap companies have more speculative prospects for future growth, sustained earnings and market share than large companies, and may be more vulnerable to adverse economic, market or industry developments than large capitalization companies.
Foreign Securities Risk
The Fund may invest in non-U.S. dollar denominated securities of foreign issuers, including issuers in emerging markets. Investing in foreign issuers may involve certain risks not typically associated with investing in securities of U.S. issuers due to increased exposure to foreign economic, political and legal developments, including favorable or unfavorable changes in currency exchange rates, exchange control regulations (including currency blockage), expropriation or nationalization of assets, imposition of withholding taxes on payments, and possible difficulty in obtaining and enforcing judgments against foreign entities. Furthermore, issuers of foreign securities and obligations are subject to different, often less comprehensive, accounting, reporting and disclosure requirements than domestic issuers. The securities and obligations of some foreign companies and foreign markets are less liquid and at times more volatile than comparable U.S. securities, obligations and markets. These risks may be more pronounced to the extent that the Fund invests a significant amount of its assets in companies located in one region and to the extent that the Fund invests in securities of issuers in emerging markets. The Fund may also invest in U.S. dollar-denominated securities of foreign issuers, which are subject to many of the risks described below regarding securities of foreign issuers denominated in foreign currencies.
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. The governments of certain countries may prohibit or impose substantial restrictions on foreign investments in their capital markets or in certain industries. 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.
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 may be more volatile than U.S. markets and offer less protection to investors. 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.
American Depository Receipts (“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. Although 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. These risks are heightened under the current conditions.
Emerging Markets Risk
The Fund may invest in securities in emerging markets. Investing in securities in emerging markets countries generally entails greater risks of loss or inability to achieve the Fund's investment objective than investing in securities in developed markets countries globally, such as increased economic, political, regulatory or other uncertainties. These risks are elevated under current conditions and include: (i) less social, political and economic stability and potentially more volatile currency exchange rates; (ii) the small current size of the markets for such securities, limited access to investments in the event of market closures (including due to local holidays), and the currently low or nonexistent volume of trading, which result in a lack of liquidity and in greater price volatility; (iii) certain national policies which may restrict a Fund’s investment opportunities, including restrictions on investment in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to national interests, and trade barriers; (iv) foreign taxation; (v) the absence of developed legal systems, including structures governing private or foreign investment or allowing for judicial redress (such as limits on rights and remedies available to the Fund) for investment losses and injury to private property; (vi) lower levels of government regulation, which could lead to market manipulation, and less extensive and transparent accounting, auditing, recordkeeping, financial reporting and other requirements which limit the quality and availability of financial information; (vii) high rates of inflation for prolonged periods; (viii) sensitivity to adverse political or social events affecting the region where an emerging market is located compared to developed market securities; and (ix) particular sensitivity to global economic conditions, including adverse effects stemming from recessions, depressions or other economic crises, or reliance on international or other forms of aid, including trade, taxation and development policies. Sovereign debt of emerging countries may be in default or present a greater risk of default, the risk of which is heightened given the current conditions. Frontier market countries generally have smaller economies and even less developed capital markets than traditional emerging market countries (which themselves have increased investment risk relative to developed market countries) and, as a result, the Fund's exposure to the risks associated with investing in emerging market countries are magnified if the Fund invests in frontier market countries.
Foreign Currency Risk
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. Foreign currency rates may fluctuate significantly over short periods of time for various reasons, including changes in interest rates, inflation, balance of payments, governmental surpluses or deficits, intervention or non-intervention by U.S. or foreign governments, central banks or supranational entities, the imposition of currency controls and political developments in the U.S. and abroad. The Adviser may, but is not required to, elect for the Fund to seek to protect itself from changes in currency exchange rates through hedging transactions depending on market conditions. There can be no assurance that such strategies will be available or will be used by the Fund or, if used, will be successful.
Certain countries, particularly emerging market countries, may impose foreign currency exchange controls or other restrictions on the repatriation, transferability or convertibility of currency.
Subordinated Securities Risk
Issuers of subordinated securities, such as subordinated Loans and other subordinated debt instruments, in which the Fund may invest usually will have, or may be permitted to incur, other debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, the subordinated Loans or other subordinated debt instruments. By their terms, such debt instruments may provide that the holders are entitled to receive payment of interest or principal on or before the dates on which the Fund is entitled to receive payments in respect of subordinated Loans or other subordinated debt instruments in which it invests. Also, in the event of insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of an issuer, holders of debt instruments ranking senior to the subordinated Loan or other debt instrument in which the Fund invests would typically be entitled to receive payment in full before the Fund receives any distribution in respect of its investment. After repaying such senior creditors, such issuer may not have any remaining assets to use for repaying its obligation to the Fund. In the case of debt ranking equally with subordinated Loans or other subordinated debt instruments in which the Fund invests, the Fund would have to share on an equal basis any distributions with other creditors holding such debt in the event of an insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of the relevant issuer. In addition, the Fund will likely not be in a position to control any issuer by investing in its debt securities. As a result, the Fund will be subject to the risk that an issuer in which it invests may make business decisions with which the Fund disagrees and the management of such issuer, as representatives of the holders of their common equity, may take risks or otherwise act in ways that do not serve the Fund’s interests as a debt investor.
Floating-Rate and Fixed-to-Floating-Rate Securities Risk
The market value of floating-rate securities is a reflection of discounted expected cash flows based on expectations for future interest rate resets. The market value of such securities may fall in a declining interest rate environment and may also fall in a rising interest rate environment if there is a lag between the rise in interest rates and the reset. This risk may also be present with respect to fixed-to-floating-rate securities in which the Fund may invest. A secondary risk associated with declining interest rates is the risk that income earned by the Fund on floating-rate and fixed-to-floating-rate securities will decline due to lower coupon payments on floating-rate securities.
Portfolio Liquidity Risk
The 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. The Fund may invest in privately issued securities of both public and private companies, which may be illiquid. The Fund may acquire its investments directly from the issuer in privately negotiated transactions. Substantially all of these securities may be subject to legal and other restrictions on resale or may otherwise be less liquid than publicly traded securities. Securities of below investment grade quality tend to be less liquid than investment grade debt securities, and securities of financial distressed or bankrupt issuers may be particularly illiquid. Loans typically are not registered with the SEC and are not listed on any securities exchange and may at times be illiquid. Loan investments through participations and assignments are typically illiquid.
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. The securities and obligations of foreign issuers, particular issuers in emerging markets, may be more likely to experience periods of illiquidity. Derivative instruments, particularly privately-negotiated or over-the-counter derivatives, may be illiquid, although can be no assurance that a liquid market will exist when the Fund seeks to close out an exchange traded derivative position. 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. The Fund may face other restrictions on its ability to liquidate an investment to the extent that the Adviser or the Fund has material non-public information regarding the issuer. 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 NAV and ability to make distributions. In addition, securities purchased by the Fund that are liquid at the time of purchase may subsequently become illiquid due to events relating to the issuer of the securities, market events, economic conditions or investor perceptions.
Financial Leverage Risk
The Fund may seek to enhance the level of its current distributions by utilizing financial leverage through the issuance of preferred shares, through borrowing or the issuance of commercial paper or other forms of debt, through reverse repurchase agreements, dollar rolls or similar transactions, derivatives transactions or through a combination of the foregoing (collectively “Financial Leverage”). 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. There can be no assurance that a leveraging strategy will be implemented or that it will be successful during any period during which it is employed. Financial Leverage is a speculative technique that exposes the Fund to greater risk and increased costs than if it were not implemented. Increases and decreases in the value of the Fund’s portfolio will be magnified when the Fund uses Financial Leverage. As a result, Financial Leverage may cause greater changes in the Fund’s NAV and returns than if Financial Leverage had not been used. The Fund will also have to pay interest on its indebtedness, if any, which may reduce the Fund’s return. This interest expense may be greater than the Fund’s return on the underlying investment, which would negatively affect the performance of the Fund. Financial Leverage involves risks and special considerations for shareholders, including the likelihood of greater volatility of NAV and market price of and dividends on the Common Shares than a comparable portfolio without leverage; the risk that fluctuations in interest rates on indebtedness or in the dividend rate on any preferred shares 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 NAV 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 (or at a gain which could give rise to corporate level tax), in order to redeem or meet payment obligations on any leverage. Such a sale would reduce the Fund’s NAV and also make it difficult for the NAV 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.
Because the fees received by the Adviser are based on the Managed Assets of the Fund (including the proceeds of any Financial Leverage), the Adviser has a financial incentive for the Fund to utilize Financial Leverage, which may create a conflict of interest between the Adviser and the Common Shareholders. Common Shareholders bear the portion of the investment advisory fee attributable to the assets purchased with the proceeds of Financial Leverage, which means that Common Shareholders effectively bear the entire advisory fee. In order to manage this conflict of interest, the Board receives regular reports from the Adviser regarding the Fund’s use of Financial Leverage and the effect of Financial Leverage on the management of the Fund’s portfolio and the performance of the Fund.
Indebtedness may subject the Fund to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage and portfolio composition requirements. Indebtedness 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 indebtedness. 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 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. The counterparty’s insolvency may result in a loss equal to the amount by which the value of the securities or other assets sold by the Fund exceeds the repurchase price payable by the Fund; if the value of the purchased securities or other assets increases during such a delay, that loss may also be increased. When the Fund enters into a reverse repurchase agreement, any fluctuations in the market value of either the securities or other assets transferred to another party or the securities or other assets in which the proceeds may be invested would affect the market value of the Fund’s assets. As a result, such transactions may increase fluctuations in the NAV of the Fund’s shares. Because reverse repurchase agreements may be considered to be the practical equivalent of borrowing funds, they constitute a form of leverage. If the Fund reinvests the proceeds of a reverse repurchase agreement at a rate lower than the cost of the agreement, entering into the agreement will lower the Fund’s yield and the amount of exempt-interest dividends that may be paid by the Fund.
The Fund may enter into dollar roll transactions, in which the Fund sells a mortgage-backed or other security for settlement on one date and buys back a substantially similar security (but not the same security) for settlement at a later date. The Fund gives up the principal and interest payments on the security, but may invest the sale proceeds, during the “roll period.” When a Fund enters into a dollar roll transaction, any fluctuation in the market value of the security transferred or the securities in which the sales proceeds are invested can affect the market value of the Fund’s assets, and therefore, the Fund’s NAV. Successful use of dollar rolls may depend upon the Adviser’s ability to correctly predict interest rates and prepayments. There is no assurance that dollar rolls can be successfully employed.
The Fund may engage in certain derivatives transactions that have economic characteristics similar to leverage. Under current regulatory requirements, to the extent the terms of any such transaction obligate the Fund to make payments, to mitigate leveraging risk and otherwise comply with regulatory requirements, the Fund must segregate or earmark liquid assets to meet its obligations under, or otherwise cover, the transactions that may give rise to this risk. Securities so segregated or designated as “cover” will be unavailable for sale by the Adviser (unless replaced by other securities qualifying for segregation or cover requirements), which may adversely affect the ability of the Fund to pursue its investment objective.
The Fund may have Financial Leverage outstanding during a short term period during which such Financial Leverage may not be beneficial to the Fund if the Fund believe that the long-term benefits to Common Shareholders of such Financial Leverage would outweigh the costs and portfolio disruptions associated with redeeming and reissuing such Financial Leverage. However, there can be no assurance that the Fund’s judgment in weighing such costs and benefits will be correct.
Recent economic and market events have contributed to severe market volatility and caused severe liquidity strains in the credit markets. If dislocations in the credit markets continue, the Fund’s Financial Leverage costs may increase and there is a risk that the Fund may not be able to renew or replace existing Financial Leverage on favorable terms or at all. If the cost of Financial Leverage is no longer favorable, or if the Fund is otherwise required to reduce its Financial 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’s total Financial Leverage may vary significantly over time. To the extent the Fund increases its amount of Financial Leverage outstanding, it will be more exposed to these risks.
The Fund is a non-diversified investment company under the 1940 Act. A fund classified as non-diversified under the 1940 Act can invest a greater portion of its assets in obligations of a single issuer than a “diversified” fund. An investment in the Fund may present greater risk to an investor than an investment in a diversified fund because changes in the financial condition or market assessment of a single issuer or small number of issuers may cause greater fluctuations in the value of the Common Shares or have a greater impact on the Fund’s returns.
Inflation risk is the risk that the value of assets or income from investments will be worth less in the future as inflation decreases the purchasing power and value of money. As inflation increases, the real value of the Common Shares and distributions can decline. Inflation rates may change frequently and significantly as a result of various factors, including unexpected shifts in the domestic or global economy and changes in monetary or economic policies (or expectations that these policies may change), and the Fund’s investments may not keep pace with inflation, which would adversely affect the Fund. This risk is significantly elevated compared to normal conditions because of recent monetary policy measures and the current low interest rate environment. 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
An adverse event, such as an unfavorable earnings report, may depress the value of a particular common stock held by the Fund. Also, the prices of equity securities are sensitive to general movements in the stock market, so a drop in the stock market may depress the prices of equity securities to which the Fund has exposure. Common equity securities’ prices fluctuate for a number of reasons, including changes in investors’ perceptions of the financial condition of an issuer, the general condition of the relevant stock market, and broader domestic and international political and economic events. The prices of common equity securities may also decline due to factors which affect a particular industry or industries, such as labor shortages or increased production costs and competitive conditions within an industry. The value of a particular common stock held by the Fund may decline for a number of other reasons which directly relate to the issuer, such as management performance, financial leverage, the issuer’s historical and prospective earnings, the value of its assets and reduced demand for its goods and services. In addition, common stock prices may be particularly sensitive to rising interest rates, as the cost of capital rises and borrowing costs increase. The prices of common equity securities are also sensitive to general movements in the stock market, so a drop in the stock market may depress the prices of common equity securities to which the Fund has exposure. At times, stock markets can be volatile and stock prices can change substantially. While broad market measures of common equity securities have historically generated higher average returns than income securities, common equity securities have also experienced significantly more volatility in those returns. Common equity securities in which the Fund may invest 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 than preferred stock or debt instruments of such issuers. Equity securities are currently experiencing heightened volatility and therefore, the Fund’s investments in equity securities are subject to heightened risks related to volatility. Dividends on common equity securities which the Fund may hold are not fixed but are declared at the discretion of the issuer’s board of directors. There is no guarantee that the issuers of the common equity securities in which the Fund invests will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, they will remain at current levels or increase over time.
An investment in MLP units involves some risks that differ from an investment in the common stock of a corporation. As compared to common stockholders of a corporation, holders of MLP units have more limited control and limited rights to vote on matters affecting the partnership. In addition, there are certain tax risks associated with an investment in MLP units and conflicts of interest may exist between common unit holders and the general partner, including those arising from incentive distribution payments.
A portion 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 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 have the effect of reducing the amount of cash available for distribution by the MLP and causing any 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, 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 decline in the value of the common shares.
To the extent that 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 credits 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 Fund will be allocated its allocable share of an MLP’s income, gains, deductions, losses and credits. The portion, if any, of a distribution received by the Fund from an MLP that is offset by the MLP’s tax deductions, losses or credits is essentially treated as a return of capital. However, those distributions will reduce the Fund’s adjusted tax 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 upon the sale of any such equity securities, and may increase the amount of income or gain that will be recognized by the Fund upon subsequent distributions in respect of such equity securities. The percentage of an MLP’s income and gains that is offset by tax deductions, losses and credits will fluctuate over time for various reasons. A significant slowdown in acquisition activity or capital spending by MLPs held in the Fund’s portfolio could result in a reduction of accelerated depreciation generated by new acquisitions, which may result in a decrease in the portion of the MLP’s distributions that is offset by tax deductions. In addition, changes in tax laws or regulations, or future interpretations of such laws or regulations, could adversely affect the Fund or the MLP investments in which the Fund invests.
In addition, sales of MLP units will result in the Fund being allocated income under Section 751 of the Internal Revenue Code, with such income potentially exceeding the overall gain on sale and being allocated even in the event of an overall loss on sale. The Fund will receive the tax reporting from its MLP investments on a substantially delayed basis, both with respect to current year in come and realized gains and with respect to Section 751 income reporting relating to MLP unit sales. Such delayed reporting may result in the Fund incurring excise tax or income tax liability, IRS penalties and interest charges, and revisions to previously-issued shareholder tax information reporting.
Risks Associated with an Investment in IPOs
Securities purchased in initial public offerings ("IPOs") are often subject to the general risks associated with investments in companies with small market capitalizations, and typically to a heightened degree. The Fund’s investments in IPOs may make it subject to more erratic price movements, greater risk of loss, lack of information about the issuer, limited operating and little public or no trading history, and higher transaction costs. Because of the price volatility of IPO shares, the Fund may choose to hold IPO shares for a very short period of time. This may increase the turnover of the Fund’s portfolio and may lead to increased expenses to the Fund, such as commissions and transaction costs, which decrease the value of investments and may result in additional taxable gains for the Fund and adversely affect the Fund’s performance. At any particular time or from time to time, the Fund may not be able to invest in securities issued in IPOs, or to invest to the extent desired, because, for example, only a small portion (if any) of the securities being offered in an IPO may be available to the Fund. In addition, under certain market conditions, a relatively small number of companies may issue securities in IPOs. The Fund's investment performance during periods when it is unable to invest significantly or at all in IPOs may be lower than during periods when it is able to do so. IPO securities may be volatile, and the Fund cannot predict whether investments in IPOs will be successful.
Risks Associated with an Investment in PIPE Transactions
PIPE investors purchase securities directly from a publicly traded company in a private placement transaction, typically at a discount to the market price of the company’s common stock. Because the sale of the securities is not registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), the securities are “restricted” and cannot be immediately resold by the investors into the public markets. Accordingly, the company typically agrees as part of the PIPE deal to register the restricted securities with the SEC. PIPE securities may be deemed illiquid.
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.
Other Investment Companies Risk
Investments in other investment companies present certain special considerations and risks not present in making direct investments in securities in which the Fund may invest. Investments in other investment companies 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 investments in other investment companies are borne indirectly by Common Shareholders. Accordingly, investment in such entities involves expense and fee layering. Investments in other investment companies may expose the Fund to an additional layer of financial leverage. To the extent management fees of other investment companies 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. Investments in other investment companies also expose the Fund to additional management risk; the success of the Fund’s investments in other investment companies will depend in large part on the investment skills and implementation abilities of the advisers or managers of such entities. Decisions made by the advisers or managers of such entities may cause the Fund to incur losses or to miss profit opportunities. To the extent the Fund invests in exchange-traded funds or other investment companies that seek to track a specified index, such investments will be subject to tracking error risk.
In October 2020, the SEC adopted certain regulatory changes and took other actions related to the ability of an investment company to invest in another investment company (which, in certain instances, may also limit a fund's ability to invest in certain types of structured finance vehicles). These changes include, among other things, amendments to the existing regulatory framework, the adoption of new Rule 12d1-4 under the 1940 Act, and the rescission of certain exemptive relief issued by the SEC permitting such investments in excess of statutory limits and the withdrawal of certain related SEC staff no-action letters. These changes and actions may adversely impact the Fund’s investment strategies and operations, as well as those of the underlying investment vehicles in which the Fund invests or other funds that invest in the Fund.
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. While traditional fixed-income securities typically pay a fixed rate of interest until maturity, when the entire principal amount is due, these investments represent an interest in a pool of residential or commercial real estate or assets such as automobile loans, credit card receivables or student loans that have been securitized and provide for monthly payments of interest and principal to the holder based from the cash flow of these assets. Holders of structured finance securities 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 issuer of the structured finance security, 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 securities generally pay their share of the structured finance security issuer’s administrative and other expenses. The prices of indices and securities underlying structured finance securities, and, therefore, the prices of structured finance securities, will be influenced by, and will rise and fall in response to, the same types of political and economic events that affect issuers of securities and capital markets generally. If the issuer of a structured finance security 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 securities owned by the Fund. Certain structured finance securities may be thinly traded or have a limited trading market.
The Fund may invest in structured finance securities collateralized by low grade or defaulted loans or securities. Investments in such structured finance securities 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 (“MBS”) represent an interest in a pool of mortgages. MBS are subject to certain risks: credit risk associated with the performance of the underlying mortgage properties and of the borrowers owning these properties; risks associated with their structure and execution (including the collateral, the process by which principal and interest payments are allocated and distributed to investors and how credit losses affect the return to investors in such MBS); risks associated with the servicer of the underlying mortgages; adverse changes in economic conditions and circumstances, which are more likely to have an adverse impact on MBS secured by loans on certain types of commercial properties than on those secured by loans on residential properties; prepayment risk, which can lead to significant fluctuations in the value of the MBS; loss of all or part of the premium, if any, paid; and 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 MBS may be substantially dependent on the servicing of the underlying pool of mortgages. In addition, the Fund’s level of investment in MBS of a particular type or in MBS issued or guaranteed by affiliated obligors, serviced by the same servicer or backed by underlying collateral located in a specific geographic region, may subject the Fund to additional risk.
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 MBS 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 MBS is usually more pronounced than it is for other types of debt securities and can cause the prices of MBS to be increasingly volatile. The Fund may invest in sub-prime mortgages or MBS that are backed by sub-prime mortgages or defaulted or nonperforming loans.
During periods of falling interest rates, 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, MBS’s total return and maturity may be difficult to predict precisely. To the extent that the Fund purchases MBS 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.
MBS 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 MBS. CMBS are subject to particular risks. CMBS are subject to risks associated with lack of standardized terms, shorter maturities than residential mortgage loans and 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 residential lending. Commercial lending typically involves larger loans to single borrowers or groups of related borrowers than residential 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 MBS 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.
MBS issued by the Federal National Mortgage Association (“FNMA”) or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“FHLMC”) are guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest by FNMA or FHLMC, but are not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.
Various proposals have been put forth to further reform the U.S. housing and mortgage markets. The Fund and the Adviser cannot predict the future political, regulatory or economic changes that could impact the FNMA, FHLMC and the Federal Home Loan Banks, and the values of their related securities or obligations, and the market for MBS generally.
Legal risks associated with RMBS can arise as a result of the procedures followed in connection with the origination of the mortgage loans or the servicing thereof, which may be subject to various federal and state laws (including, without limitation, predatory lending laws), public policies and principles of equity that regulate interest rates and other charges, require certain disclosures, require licensing of originators, prohibit discriminatory lending practices, regulate the use of consumer credit information and debt collection practices and may limit the servicer’s ability to collect all or part of the principal of or interest on a residential mortgage loan, entitle the borrower to a refund of amounts previously paid by it or subject the servicer to damages and sanctions.
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 MBS. Delinquencies and losses on residential mortgage loans (especially sub-prime and second-lien 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 MBS and increased investor yield requirements caused limited liquidity in the secondary market for certain MBS, which can adversely affect the market value of MBS. 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 MBS owned by the Fund.
Any increase in prevailing market interest rates, which are currently near historical lows, may result in increased payments for borrowers who have adjustable rate mortgages. Increases in payments for borrowers may result in increased rates of delinquencies and defaults on residential mortgage loans underlying the RMBS.
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. Asset-backed securities (“ABS”) are a form of structured debt obligation. In addition to the general risks associated with credit securities discussed herein and the risks discussed under “Structured Finance Investments Risk,” ABS are subject to additional risks. While traditional fixed-income securities typically pay a fixed rate of interest until maturity, when the entire principal amount is due, an ABS represents an interest in a pool of assets, such as automobile loans, credit card receivables, unsecured consumer loans or student loans, that has been securitized and provides for monthly payments of interest, at a fixed or floating rate, and principal from the cash flow of these assets. This pool of assets (and any related assets of the issuing entity) is the only source of payment for the ABS. The ability of an ABS issuer to make payments on the ABS, and the timing of such payments, is therefore dependent on collections on these underlying assets. The recoveries on the underlying collateral may not, in some cases, be sufficient to support payments on these securities, which may result in losses to investors in an ABS.
Generally, obligors may prepay the underlying assets in full or in part at any time, subjecting the Fund to prepayment risk related to the ABS it holds. While the expected repayment streams on ABS are determined by the contractual amortization schedules for the underlying assets, an investor’s yield to maturity on an ABS is uncertain and may be reduced by the rate and speed of prepayments of the underlying assets, which may be influenced by a variety of economic, social and other factors. Any prepayments, repurchases, purchases or liquidations of the underlying assets could shorten the average life of the ABS to an extent that cannot be fully predicted. Some ABS may be structured to include a period of rapid amortization triggered by events such as a significant rise in the default rate of the underlying collateral, a sharp drop in the credit enhancement level because of credit losses on the underlying assets, a specified regulatory event or the bankruptcy of the originator. A rapid amortization event will cause any revolving period to end earlier than expected and all collections on the underlying assets will be used to pay principal to investors earlier than expected. In general, the senior most securities will be paid prior to any payments being made on the subordinated securities, and if such payments are made earlier than expected, the Fund’s yield on such ABS may be negatively affected.
The collateral underlying ABS may constitute assets related to a wide range of industries, such as credit card and automobile receivables or other assets derived from consumer, commercial or corporate sectors, and these underlying assets may be secured or unsecured. The value of ABS held by the Fund also may be reduced because of actual or perceived changes in the creditworthiness of the obligors on the underlying assets, the originators, the servicers, any financial institutions providing credit support or hedging counterparties that are required to make payments on the ABS. Additionally, an obligor may seek protection under debtor relief laws and therefore the debtor may be able to avoid or delay payments. Economic factors, including unemployment, interest rates and the rate of inflation, may affect the rate of prepayments and defaults on the underlying receivables and may accelerate, delay or reduce expected payments on an ABS. During recessions or periods of economic contraction, factors such as elevated unemployment, decreased asset values or reductions in available credit may lead to increased delinquency and default rates on the underlying receivables.
In general, the value of the assets collateralizing an ABS will exceed the principal amount of the ABS issued in a transaction. This excess value is generally referred to as “overcollateralization.” The amount of overcollateralization varies based on the credit quality of the underlying collateral backing the ABS. In general, losses on the assets underlying the ABS will reduce the amount of overcollateralization on the ABS and increase the risk to holders of the ABS. Other forms of credit enhancement may be used, including letters of credit or monoline insurance policies. These forms of credit enhancement are subject to risk if the party obligated to make payments on the letter of credit or insurance policy defaults on the obligation to the ABS issuer.
Payments to holders of ABS may be subject to deferral. If the cash flow generated by the underlying assets is insufficient to make all payments required on a payment date, such payments may be deferred to the following payment date. If the cash flow remains insufficient to make payments on the ABS as a result of credit losses on the underlying assets, there may be no recourse by the Fund for any shortfall.
Financial market disruptions due to economic or natural disasters, political conflicts, public health emergencies or similar events may adversely affect the market value and liquidity of an ABS. Additionally, increased governmental regulation of the financial markets in the United States or elsewhere, may affect financial markets generally or ABS more specifically.
CDO, CLO, CBO Risk. The Fund may invest in collateralized debt obligations (“CDOs”), collateralized bond obligations (“CBOs”) and collateralized loan obligations (“CLO”). A CDO is an ABS whose underlying collateral is typically a portfolio of other structured finance debt securities or synthetic instruments issued by another ABS vehicle. A CBO is an ABS whose underlying collateral is a portfolio of bonds. A CLO is an ABS whose underlying collateral is a portfolio of bank loans.
In addition to the general risks associated with credit securities discussed herein and the risks discussed under “Structured Finance Investments Risk” and “Asset Backed Securities Risk,”¬ CLOs, CDOs and CBOs are subject to additional risks. CLOs, CDOs and CBOs are subject to risks because of the involvement of multiple transaction parties related to the underlying collateral and disruptions that may occur as a result of the restructuring or insolvency of the underlying obligors, which are generally corporate obligors. Unlike a consumer obligor that is generally obligated to make payments on the collateral backing an ABS, the obligor on the collateral backing a CLO, a CDO or a CBO may have more effective defenses or resources to cause a delay in payment or restructure the underlying obligation. If an obligor is permitted to restructure its obligations, distributions from collateral securities may not be adequate to make interest or other payments.
The performance of CLOs, CDOs and CBOs depends primarily upon the quality of the underlying assets and the level of credit support or enhancement in the structure and the relative priority of the interest in the issuer of the CLO, CDO or CBO purchased by the Fund. In general, CLOs, CDOs and CBOs actively managed by an asset manager that is responsible for evaluating and acquiring the assets that will collateralize the CLO, CDO or CBO. The asset manager may have difficulty in identifying assets that satisfy the eligibility criteria for the assets and may be restricted from trading the collateral. These criteria, restrictions and requirements, while reducing the overall risk to the Fund, may limit the ability of the investment manager to maximize returns on the CLOs, CDOs and CBOs if an opportunity is identified by the collateral manager. In addition, other parties involved in CLOs, CDOs and CBOs, such as credit enhancement providers and investors in senior obligations of the CLO, CDO or CBO may have the right to control the activities and discretion of the investment manager in a manner that is adverse to the interests of the Fund. A CLO, CDO or CBO generally includes provisions that alter the priority of payments if performance metrics related to the underlying collateral are not met. These provisions may cause delays in payments on the securities or an increase in prepayments depending on the relative priority of the securities owned by the Fund. The failure of a CLO, CDO or CBO to make timely payments on a particular tranche may have an adverse effect on the liquidity and market value of such tranche.
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 servicer of the assets, the originator of an asset in the pool, or the financial institution or fund providing credit support or enhancement; loan performance and prices; broader market sentiment, including expectations regarding future loan defaults, liquidity conditions and supply and demand for structured products.
Risks Associated with Risk-Linked Securities. 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.
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. Currently, the Standard & Poor’s Ratings Group (“S&P”) rating is “AA+” with a stable outlook; the Moody’s rating is “Aaa” with a stable outlook; and the Fitch Ratings (“Fitch”) rating is “AAA” with a stable outlook. Any 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.
Sovereign Debt Risk
Investments in sovereign debt involve special risks. Foreign governmental issuers of debt or the governmental authorities that control the repayment of the debt may be unable or unwilling to repay principal or pay interest when due. In the event of default, there may be limited or no legal recourse in that, generally, remedies for defaults must be pursued in the courts of the defaulting party. Political conditions, especially a sovereign entity’s willingness to meet the terms of its debt obligations, are of considerable significance. The ability of a foreign sovereign issuer, especially an emerging market country, to make timely payments on its debt obligations will also be strongly influenced by the sovereign issuer’s balance of payments, including export performance, its access to international credit facilities and investments, fluctuations of interest rates and the extent of its foreign reserves. The cost of servicing external debt will also generally be adversely affected by rising international interest rates, as many external debt obligations bear interest at rates which are adjusted based upon international interest rates. Also, there can be no assurance that the holders of commercial bank loans to the same sovereign entity may not contest payments to the holders of sovereign debt in the event of default under commercial bank loan agreements. Foreign investment in certain sovereign debt is restricted or controlled to varying degrees, including requiring governmental approval for the repatriation of income, capital or proceeds of sales by foreign investors. These restrictions or controls may at times limit or preclude foreign investment in certain sovereign debt and increase the costs and expenses of the Fund.
Derivatives Transactions Risk
The Fund may engage in various derivatives transactions for hedging and risk management purposes, to facilitate portfolio management and to earn income or enhance total return. The use of derivatives transactions to earn income or enhance total return may be particularly speculative. Derivatives transactions involve risks. There may be imperfect correlation between the value of derivative instruments and the underlying assets. Derivatives transactions may be subject to risks associated with the possible default of the other party to the transaction. Derivative instruments may be illiquid. Certain derivatives transactions may have economic characteristics similar to leverage, in that relatively small market movements may result in large changes in the value of an investment. Certain derivatives transactions that involve leverage can result in losses that greatly exceed the amount originally invested. Furthermore, the Fund’s ability to successfully use derivatives transactions depends on the Adviser’s ability to predict pertinent securities prices, interest rates, currency exchange rates and other economic factors, which cannot be assured. Derivatives transactions utilizing instruments denominated in foreign currencies will expose the Fund to foreign currency risk. To the extent the Fund enters into derivatives transactions to hedge exposure to foreign currencies, such transactions may not be successful and may eliminate any chance for the Fund to benefit from favorable fluctuations in relevant foreign currencies. The use of derivatives transactions may result in losses greater than if they had not been used, may require the Fund to sell or purchase portfolio securities at inopportune times or for prices other than current market values, may limit the amount of appreciation the Fund can realize on an investment or may cause the Fund to hold a security that it might otherwise sell. Derivatives transactions involve risks of mispricing or improper valuation. The documentation governing a derivative instrument or transaction may be unfavorable or ambiguous. Derivatives transactions may involve commissions and other costs, which may increase the Fund’s expenses and reduce its return. Various legislative and regulatory initiatives may impact the availability, liquidity and cost of derivative instruments, limit or restrict the ability of the Fund to use certain derivative instruments or transact with certain counterparties as a part of its investment strategy, increase the costs of using derivative instruments or make derivative instruments less effective.
In connection with certain derivatives transactions, under current regulatory requirements, to the extent the terms of any such transaction obligate the Fund to make payments, the Fund may be required to segregate liquid assets or otherwise cover such transactions. The Fund also may be required to deposit amounts as premiums or to be held in margin accounts. Such amounts may not otherwise be available to the Fund for investment purposes. The Fund may earn a lower return on its portfolio than it might otherwise earn if it did not have to segregate assets in respect of, or otherwise cover, its derivatives transactions positions. To the extent the Fund’s assets are segregated or committed as cover, it could limit the Fund’s investment flexibility. Segregating assets and covering positions will not limit or offset losses on related positions.
In October 2020, the SEC adopted a final rule related to the use of derivatives, reverse repurchase agreements and certain other transactions by registered investment companies that will rescind and withdraw the guidance of the SEC and its staff regarding asset segregation and cover transactions reflected in the Fund’s asset segregation and cover practices discussed herein. The final rule requires the Fund to trade derivatives and other transactions that create future payment or delivery obligations (except reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions) subject to value-at-risk (“VaR”) leverage limits and derivatives risk management program and board reporting requirements. Generally, these requirements apply unless a fund satisfies a “limited derivatives users” exception that is included in the final rule. Under the final rule, when the Fund trades reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions, including certain tender option bonds, it needs 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 or treat all such transactions as derivatives transactions. Reverse repurchase agreements or similar financing transactions aggregated with other indebtedness do not need to be included in the calculation of whether a fund satisfies the limited derivatives users exception, but for funds subject to the VaR testing requirement, reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions must be included for purposes of such testing whether treated as derivatives transactions or not. The SEC also provided guidance in connection with the new rule regarding the use of securities lending collateral that may limit the Fund’s securities lending activities. Compliance with these new requirements will be required after an eighteen-month transition period. Following the compliance date, these requirements may limit the ability of the Fund to use derivatives and reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions as part of its investment strategies. These requirements may increase the cost of the Fund’s investments and cost of doing business, which could adversely affect investors.Options Risk The ability of the Fund to achieve its investment objective is partially dependent on the successful implementation of its covered call option strategy. There are significant differences between the securities and options markets that could result in an imperfect correlation between these markets, causing a given transaction not to achieve its objectives. A decision as to whether, when and how to use options involves the exercise of skill and judgment, and even a well-conceived transaction may be unsuccessful to some degree because of market behavior or unexpected events.
The Fund may purchase and write call options on futures, individual securities, securities indices, currencies, ETFs and baskets of securities. The buyer of an option acquires the right, but not the obligation, to buy (a call option) or sell (a put option) a certain quantity of a security (the underlying security) or instrument, including a futures contract or swap, 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 under current regulatory requirements, cash or cash equivalents in such amount are segregated by the Fund’s custodian or earmarked on the Fund’s books and records). As a seller of 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. A call option is “uncovered” if the Fund does not own the instrument underlying the call and does not have an absolute right to acquire the security without additional cash consideration. 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.
The Fund may purchase and write exchange-listed and OTC options. Options written by the Fund with respect to non-U.S. securities, indices or sectors generally will be OTC options. OTC options differ from exchange-listed options in several respects. They are transacted directly with the dealers and not with a clearing corporation, and therefore entail the risk of non-performance by the dealer. OTC options are available for a greater variety of securities and for a wider range of expiration dates and exercise prices than are available for exchange-traded options. Because OTC options are not traded on an exchange, pricing is done normally by reference to information from a market maker. OTC options are subject to heightened counterparty, credit, liquidity and valuation risks. The Fund’s ability to terminate OTC options is more limited than with exchange-traded options and may involve the risk that broker-dealers participating in such transactions will not fulfill their obligations. The hours of trading for options may not conform to the hours during which the underlying securities are traded. The Fund’s options transactions will be subject to limitations established by each of the exchanges, boards of trade or other trading facilities on which such options are traded.
The Fund may purchase and write covered put options. A put option is “covered” if the fund segregates cash or cash equivalents in an amount equal to the exercise price with the Fund’s custodian. As a seller of covered put options, the Fund bears the risk of loss if the value of the underlying instrument declines below the exercise price minus the put premium. If the option is exercised, the Fund could incur a loss if it is required to purchase the instrument underlying the put option at a price greater than the market price of the instrument at the time of exercise plus the put premium the Fund received when it wrote the option. The Fund’s potential gain in writing a covered put option is limited to distributions earned on the liquid assets securing the put option plus the premium received from the purchaser of the put option; however, the Fund risks a loss equal to the entire exercise price of the option minus the put premium.
Futures Transactions Risk
The Fund may invest in futures contracts. Futures contracts are exchange-traded contracts that call for the future delivery of an asset at a certain price and date, or cash settlement (i.e., payment of the gain or loss on the contract). Futures are often used to manage or hedge risk because they enable an investor to buy or sell an asset in the future at an agreed-upon price. Futures also are used for other reasons, such as to manage exposure to changes in interest rates and bond prices; as an efficient means of adjusting overall exposure to certain markets; in an effort to enhance income; to protect the value of portfolio securities or other instruments; and to adjust portfolio duration.
Futures and options on futures entail certain risks, including but not limited to the following:
Successful use of futures contracts and options thereon by the Fund is subject to the ability of the Adviser to predict correctly movements in the direction of interest rates, securities prices or other underlying instruments. If the Adviser’s expectations are not met, the Fund will be in a worse position than if a strategy involving futures contracts and/or options thereon had not been pursued. In addition, in such situations, if the Fund has insufficient cash to meet daily variation margin requirements, it may have to sell securities to meet the requirements. These sales may, but will not necessarily, be at increased prices which reflect the rising market. The Fund may have to sell securities at a time when it is disadvantageous to do so.
Swap agreements are contracts for periods ranging from one day to more than one year and may be negotiated bilaterally and traded OTC between two parties or, for certain standardized swaps, must be exchange-traded through a futures commission merchant or swap execution facility and/or cleared through a clearinghouse that serves as a central counterparty. In a standard swap transaction, two parties agree to exchange the returns (or differentials in rates of return) earned or realized on particular predetermined investments or instruments. The Fund may enter into swap transactions, including credit default swaps, total return swaps, index swaps, currency swaps, commodity swaps and interest rate swaps, as well as options thereon, and may purchase or sell interest rate caps, floors and collars. The Fund may utilize swap agreements in an attempt to gain exposure to certain securities without purchasing those securities which is speculative, or to hedge a position.
Risks associated with the use of swap agreements are different from those associated with ordinary portfolio securities transactions, largely due to the fact they could be considered illiquid and many swaps currently trade on the OTC market. If the Adviser is incorrect in its forecasts of market values, interest rates or currency exchange rates, the investment performance of the Fund may be less favorable than it would have been if these investment techniques were not used. Such 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 such 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. Swaps are subject to valuation, liquidity and leveraging risks and could result in substantial losses to the Fund.
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.
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, and more difficult to accurately price than less complex securities and instruments or more traditional debt securities.
The Fund will be subject to risk with respect to the counterparties to the derivative contracts entered into by the Fund. If a counterparty becomes bankrupt or defaults on (or otherwise fails to perform) its payment or other obligations to the Fund the risk of which is particularly acute under current conditions, the Fund may not receive the full amount that it is entitled to receive or may experience delays in recovering the collateral or other assets held by, or on behalf of, the counterparty. If this occurs, or if exercising contractual rights involves delays or costs for the Fund, the value of your shares in the Fund may decrease. The Fund bears the risk that counterparties may be adversely affected by legislative or regulatory changes, adverse market conditions (such as the current conditions), increased competition, and/or wide scale credit losses resulting from financial difficulties of the counterparties’ other trading partners or borrowers.
Synthetic Investment Risk
The Fund may be exposed to certain additional risks should the Adviser uses derivatives transactions as a means to synthetically implement the Fund’s investment strategies. 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 materially adverse manner. Synthetic investments may be imperfectly correlated to the investment the Adviser is seeking to replicate. There can be no assurance that the Adviser’s judgments regarding the correlation of any particular synthetic investment will be correct. The Fund may be exposed to certain additional risks associated with derivatives transactions should the Adviser use derivatives as a means to synthetically implement the Fund’s investment strategies. The Fund would be subject to counterparty risk in connection with such transactions. 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. 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.
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. Extraordinary governmental and quasigovernmental responses to the current economic, market, labor and public health conditions are significantly increasing government and other public debt, which heighten these risks and the long term consequences of these actions are not known. 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 lead to increases in inflation or 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 period, during which period EU law continued to apply in the UK. The transition period ended on December 31, 2020. On December 30, 2020, the UK and the EU signed an agreement on the terms governing certain aspects of the EU’s and the United Kingdom’s relationship following the end of the transition period, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the “TCA”). Notwithstanding the TCA, there is likely to be considerable uncertainty as to the United Kingdom’s post-transition framework, and in particular as to the arrangements which will apply to the UK’s relationships with the EU and with other countries, which is likely to continue to develop 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.
Legislation and Regulation Risk
At any time after the date hereof, U.S. and non-U.S. governmental agencies and other regulators may implement additional regulations and legislators may pass new laws that affect the investments held by the Fund, the strategies used by the Fund or the level of regulation or taxation applying to the Fund. These regulations and laws impact the investment strategies, performance, costs and operations of the Fund, as well as the way investments in, and shareholders of, the Fund are taxed.
The terms of many investments, financings or other transactions in the U.S. and globally have been historically tied to interbank reference rates (referred to collectively as the “London Interbank Offered Rate” or “LIBOR”), which function as a reference rate or benchmark for such investments, financings or other transactions. LIBOR may be a significant factor in determining payment obligations under derivatives transactions, the cost of financing of Fund investments or the value or return on certain other Fund investments. As a result, LIBOR may be relevant to, and directly affect, the Fund’s performance.
On July 27, 2017, the Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”), the United Kingdom’s financial regulatory body and regulator of LIBOR, announced that after 2021 it will cease its active encouragement of banks to provide the quotations needed to sustain LIBOR due to the absence of an active market for interbank unsecured lending and other reasons. On March 5, 2021, the FCA and the LIBOR administrator announced that most tenors and settings of LIBOR will be officially discontinued on December 31, 2021 and the most widely used U.S. dollar LIBOR tenors will be discontinued on June 30, 2023 and that such LIBOR rates will no longer be sufficiently robust to be representative of their underlying markets around that time.
Various financial industry groups have begun planning for that transition and certain regulators and industry groups have taken actions to establish alternative reference rates (e.g., the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, which measures the cost of overnight borrowings through repurchase agreement transactions collateralized with U.S. Treasury securities and is intended to replace U.S. dollar LIBORs with certain adjustments). However, there are challenges to converting contracts and transactions to a new benchmark and neither the full effects of the transition process nor its ultimate outcome is known.
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 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. Instruments that include robust fallback provisions to facilitate the transition from LIBOR to an alternative reference rate may also include adjustments that do not adequately compensate the holder for the different characteristics of the alternative reference rate. The result may be that the fallback provision results in a value transfer from one party to the instrument to the counterparty. 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 some LIBOR settings in 2021 or the remaining LIBOR settings in mid-2023. There also remains uncertainty and risk regarding the willingness and ability of issuers to include enhanced provisions in new and existing contracts or instruments. 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. In many cases, in the event that an instrument falls back to an alternative reference rate, including the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”), the alternative reference rate will not perform the same as LIBOR because the alternative reference rates do not include a credit sensitive component in the calculation of the rate. The alternative reference rates are generally secured by U.S. treasury securities and will reflect the performance of the market for U.S. treasury securities and not the inter-bank lending markets. In the event of a credit crisis, floating rate instruments using alternative reference rates could therefore perform differently than those instruments using a rate indexed to the inter-bank lending market.
These developments could negatively affect financial markets in general and present heightened risks, including with respect to the Fund’s investments. As a result of this uncertainty and developments relating to the transition process, the Fund and its investments may be adversely affected.
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 create 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. Short selling a security involves selling a borrowed security with the expectation that the value of that security will decline, so that the security may be purchased at a lower price when returning the borrowed security. 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 and is greater than a direct investment in the security itself because the price of the borrowed or reference security may rise. A Fund may not always be able to close out a short position at a particular time or at an acceptable price. A lender may request that borrowed securities be returned to it on short notice, and a Fund may have to buy the borrowed securities at an unfavorable price, resulting in a loss. 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. Short sales also subject a Fund to risks related to the lender (such as bankruptcy risks) or the general risk that the lender does not comply with its obligations.
Repurchase Agreement Risk
A repurchase agreement exposes the Fund to the risk that the party that sells the security may default on its obligation to repurchase it. The Fund may lose money because it cannot sell the security at the agreed-upon time and price or the security loses value before it can be sold. In the event of the bankruptcy or other default of a seller of a repurchase agreement, the Fund could experience both delays in liquidating the underlying securities and losses. In addition, the exercise of the Fund’s right to liquidate the collateral underlying the repurchase agreement could involve certain costs or delays and, to the extent that proceeds from any sale upon a default of the obligation to repurchase were less than the repurchase price, the Fund could suffer a loss.
The Fund may accept a wide variety of underlying securities as collateral for repurchase agreements entered into by the Fund. Rule 5b-3 under the 1940 Act stipulates that if a repurchase agreement entered into by a fund is “collateralized fully,” the repurchase agreement is deemed a transaction in the underlying securities and not a separate security issued to the fund by the selling institution. In order for the repurchase agreement to qualify as “collateralized fully,” the collateral must consist solely of cash items, government securities, and certain other limited categories of securities. However, the Fund may accept collateral in respect of repurchase agreements which do not meet the above criteria, and in such event the repurchase agreement will not be considered “collateralized fully” for purposes of Rule 5b-3. In cases of market turmoil (which may be associated with a default or bankruptcy of a selling institution), the Fund may have more difficulty than anticipated in selling such securities and/or in avoiding a loss on the sale of such securities. This risk may be more acute in the case of a selling institution’s insolvency or bankruptcy, which may restrict the Fund’s ability to dispose of collateral received from the selling institution. The Adviser follows various procedures to monitor the liquidity and quality of any collateral received under a repurchase agreement (as well as the credit quality of each selling institution) designed to minimize these risks, but there can be no assurance that the procedures will be successful in doing so.
Securities Lending Risk
The Fund may lend its portfolio securities to banks or dealers which meet the creditworthiness standards established by the Board. Securities lending is subject to the risk that loaned securities may not be available to the Fund on a timely basis and the Fund may therefore lose the opportunity to sell the securities at a desirable price. Any loss in the market price of securities loaned by the Fund that occurs during the term of the loan would be borne by the Fund and would adversely affect the Fund’s performance. Also, there may be delays in recovery, or no recovery, of securities loaned or even a loss of rights in the collateral should the borrower of the securities fail financially while the loan is outstanding
Risk of Failure to Qualify as a RIC
To qualify for the favorable U.S. federal income tax treatment generally accorded to RICs, the Fund must, among other things, derive in each taxable year at least 90% of its gross income from certain prescribed sources, meet certain asset diversification tests and distribute for each taxable year at least 90% of its “investment company taxable income” (generally, ordinary income plus the excess, if any, of net short-term capital gain over net long-term capital loss). If for any taxable year the Fund does not qualify as a RIC, all of its taxable income for that year (including its net capital gain) would be subject to tax at regular corporate rates without any deduction for distributions to shareholders, and such distributions would be taxable as ordinary dividends to the extent of the Fund’s current and accumulated earnings and profits. If the Fund fails to qualify as a RIC for any reason and becomes subject to corporate-level tax, the resulting corporate-level income taxes could substantially reduce the Fund’s NAV, the amount of income available for distribution and the amount of the Fund’s distributions.
Certain of the Fund’s investments will cause the Fund to take into account taxable income in a taxable year in excess of the cash generated on those investments during that year. In particular, the Fund expects to invest in loans and other debt obligations that will be treated as having “market discount” and/or OID for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Because the Fund may be allocated taxable income in respect of these investments before, or without receiving, cash representing such income, the Fund may have difficulty satisfying the annual distribution requirements applicable to RICs and avoiding Fund-level U.S. federal income and/or excise taxes. Accordingly, the Fund may be required to sell assets, including at potentially disadvantageous times or prices, raise additional debt or equity capital or reduce new investments, to obtain the cash needed to make these income distributions. If the Fund liquidates assets to raise cash, the Fund may realize gain or loss on such liquidations.
The Fund may invest a portion of its net assets in below investment grade instruments. Investments in these types of instruments may present special tax issues for the Fund. These and other issues will be addressed by the Fund to the extent necessary in order to seek to ensure that it distributes sufficient income that it does not become subject to U.S. federal income or excise tax.
Investment Opportunity Risk
The Fund competes for investments with other closed-end funds and investment funds, as well as traditional financial services companies. Moreover, alternative investment vehicles have begun to invest in areas in which they have not traditionally invested. As a result of these new entrants, competition for investment opportunities may intensify. Many of the Fund’s competitors are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial, technical and marketing resources than it does. In addition, some of the Fund’s competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments than it has. These characteristics could allow the Fund’s competitors to consider a wider variety of investments, establish more relationships and pay more competitive prices for investments than it is able to do. The Fund may lose investment opportunities if it does not match its competitors’ pricing. If the Fund is forced to match its competitors’ pricing, it may not be able to achieve acceptable returns on its investments or may bear substantial risk of capital loss. A significant increase in the number and/or the size of the Fund’s competitors could force it to accept less attractive investment terms. Furthermore, many of the Fund’s competitors are not subject to the regulatory restrictions that the 1940 Act imposes on the Fund as a closed-end fund.
Potential Conflicts of Interest Risk
An investment in the Fund is subject to a number of actual or potential conflicts of interest. For example, the Adviser and its affiliates are engaged in a variety of business activities that are unrelated to managing the Fund, which may give rise to actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest in connection with making investment decisions for the Fund. The Fund and the Adviser (and its affiliates) have established various policies and procedures that are designed to minimize conflicts and prevent or limit the Fund from being disadvantaged. There can be no guarantee that these policies and procedures will be successful in every instance. In certain circumstances, these various activities may prevent the Fund from participating or restrict the Fund’s participation in an investment decision, disadvantage the Fund or benefit the Adviser or its affiliates.
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
As in other parts of the economy, the Fund and its service providers, as well as exchanges and market participants through or with which the Fund trades and other infrastructures and services on which the Fund or its service providers rely, are susceptible to ongoing risks related to cyber incidents and the risks associated with financial, economic, public health, labor and other global market developments and disruptions. Cyber incidents, which can be perpetrated by a variety of means, may result in actual or potential adverse consequences for critical information and communications technology, systems and networks that are vital to the operations of the Fund or its service providers. A cyber incident or sudden market disruption could adversely impact the Fund, its service providers or its shareholders by, among other things, interfering with the processing of shareholder transactions or other operational functionality, impacting the Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV or other data, causing the release of private or confidential information, impeding trading, causing reputational damage, and subjecting the Fund to fines, penalties or financial losses or otherwise adversely affecting the operations, systems and activities of the Fund, its service providers and market intermediaries. These types of adverse consequences could also result from other operational disruptions or failures arising from, for example, processing errors, human errors, and other technological issues. The Fund and its service providers may directly bear these risks and related costs. The risks described above are heightened under current conditions.
Confidential Information Risk
The Fund or the Adviser may frequently may possess material non-public information about an issuer as a result of its ownership of a fixed-income security of an issuer. Because of prohibitions on trading in securities while in possession of material non-public information, the Fund might be unable to enter into a transaction in a security of the issuer when it would otherwise be advantageous to do so.
Anti-Takeover Provisions in the Fund’s Governing Documents Risk
The Fund’s Amended and Restated Agreement and Declaration of Trust and Amended and Restated Bylaws include provisions that could limit the ability of other entities or persons to acquire control of the Fund or convert the Fund to an open-end fund. These provisions could have the effect of depriving the Common Shareholders of opportunities to sell their Common Shares at a premium over the then-current market price of the Common Shares.
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 PIPE Transactions,” “Structured Notes Risk,” “Sovereign Debt Risk,” “Eurozone Risk,” “Repurchase Agreements Risk,” “Securities Lending Risk,” “Investment Opportunity Risk,” “Confidential Information Risk,” and Anti-Takeover 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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