Articles Tagged with Nontraded REITs

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is ordering Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments (PKS) to pay almost $3.4M in restitution to a Native American tribe. The tribe had paid excessive sales fees for the purchase of Business Development Companies (BDCs) and non-traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

Gopi Vungarala was the Purshe Kaplan Sterling registered representative for the tribe from 7/2011 through at least 1/15/15. He was also the tribe’s Treasury Investment Manager at the same time. It was his job was to oversee the group’s investment portfolio.

FINRA’s case against Vungarala in this matter has yet to be resolved. However, Purshe Kaplan Sterling must also pay $750K for its purportedly inadequate supervision of nontraded REIT and BDC sales.

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In a recent Investor Alert, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said that it wants investors to be aware of the risks involved in investing in non-traded real estate investment trusts that are publicly registered. The regulator is also recommending that investors ask the right questions regarding benefits, fees, and features.

Nontraded REITS invest in real estate, must be registered with the SEC, and are required to make regulatory disclosures. Unlike exchange-traded REITs, nontraded REITs don’t trade on a national securities exchange and they usually are illiquid for at least eight years.

High fees may come along with Nontraded REITS. These fees can eat away at returns. Fees could include front-end fees as high as 15% of the per share price.

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Texas-Based Brokerage Firm Accused of Inadequate Supervision Involving VA Exchanges
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is ordering IMS Securities Inc. to pay a $100K fine. The Texas-based brokerage firm is accused of failures related to its monitoring of variable annuity exchanges. By settling, however, it is not denying or admitting to the allegations. 
 
According to the self-regulatory authority, the firm exhibited inadequate supervisory procedures for “problematic rates of exchange” in transactions involving variable annuities. FINRA claims that from 7/ 15/13 through 7/8/14, IMS Securities depended on its CFO to review annuity exchanges but did not provide tools or guidance to help look for “problematic rates of exchange.”  The broker-dealer is accused of not probing possibly “problematic patterns” of VA exchanges and not enforcing written supervisory procedures related to consolidated reports. 

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is accusing VFG Securities of failing to supervise brokers to make sure that clients’ portfolios did not become overly concentrated in illiquid investments. In its complaint against the brokerage firm, the regulator said that from 11/10 to 6/12, VFG made nearly 95% of revenue from the sale of nontraded real estate investment trusts and direct participation programs. An audited financial statement with the SEC said that by 6/30/12, the broker-dealer had nearly $4M in revenues for that past year.

The self-regulatory organization said that VFG Securities owner Jason Vanclef wrote a “The Wealth Code,” which he used as sales literature to market investments in direct participation programs and nontraded REITs, in order to bring potential investors. He purportedly claimed in the book that nontraded REITs and nontraded direct participation programs provide capital preservation and high returns—a claim that is misleading, inaccurate, and not in line with information in the prospectuses for the instruments sold by VFG Securities. Such investments are typically high risk to the extent that an investor may end up losing a substantial part of if not all of his/her investment.

Vanclef also wrote in the book that by investing in the instruments that he recommended, investors stood to earn 8-12% results and consistent returns. FINRA said that he and the firm did not give readers a “sound basis” upon which to assess such claims.

In an interview with Vanclef, InvestmentNews said that FINRA has been “persecuting” him, ever since VFG underwent an exam in 2012. That is the year when the self-regulatory organization started concentrating more of its attention on illiquid alternative investment sales. Vanclef is accusing the regulator of “character assassination.”

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Even though the commercial real estate industry has recently rallied, shares of the nontraded real estate investment trust CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc. continue to plummet. According to the nontraded REIT’s filing with the SEC, as of the end of 2014 its board of directors approved a $5.20/share valuation—that’s a 24% decline from a year before when the share valuation had been modified to $6.85/share. Launched more than 10 years ago, CNL Lifestyle Properties original price was $10/per share.

Now the nontraded REIT has retained investment bank Jefferies LLC (JEF) to look at whether it makes sense to sell more of its properties or list on an exchange. Already, CNL Lifestyle Properties reached a deal in December to sell its senior housing assets portfolio to the Senior Housing Properties Trust for $790M. Proceeds from the sale will go toward paying debt, and possibly to shareholder distributions or strategic costs for enhancing properties in the CNL Lifestyle Properties portfolio.

The nontraded REIT is also considering whether to sell over a dozen ski resorts located all over the United States. Collectively, the properties are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. CNL Financial Group’s senior managing director, quoted on ABCNews.com, has said that the company is also looking at its theme parks and marinas as it explores its options.

Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. (IARE) has lowered its estimated share value by 42.4%, because the company sold or spun off different assets over the last year. Among these were its hotel portfolios, now a listed real estate investment trust known as Xenia Hotels & Resorts Incorporated.

Inland American submitted a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, stating that $4 was its most current estimated share value. Prior to that, concluding 2013, the nontraded REIT said that its most recent valuation was at $6.94/per share value. Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. said it was reducing its yearly distribution from 50 cents to 13 cents.

Inland American president and chief executive Thomas P. McGuinness noted that Xenia constituted a significant chunk of its assets, with each stockholder getting one share of Xenia common stock for every eight Inland American common stock shares held at end of business on January 20. That was the spin-off date. Because of this, stockholders of Inland American now own common stock shares in both Xenia and Inland.

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