Annual Report (10-k)

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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549


FORM 10-K

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

FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED:  December 31, 2019
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM _______________ TO _________________
COMMISSION FILE NUMBER:  1-13447

LOGO10417A19.JPG
ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT INC
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)
Maryland
22-3479661
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(IRS Employer Identification No.)
 
 
 
1211 Avenue of the Americas
 
New York,
New York
10036
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Zip Code)
(212) 696-0100
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
Trading Symbol(s)
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
 
 
 
Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share
NLY
New York Stock Exchange
7.50% Series D Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock
NLY.D
New York Stock Exchange
6.95% Series F Fixed-to-Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock
NLY.F
New York Stock Exchange
6.50% Series G Fixed-to-Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock
NLY.G
New York Stock Exchange
6.75% Series I Fixed-to-Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock
NLY.I
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:  None



Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. 
Yes     No

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.  
Yes    No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes     No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes     No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
 
Accelerated filer
 
Non-accelerated filer
 
Smaller reporting company
 
Emerging growth company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).  Yes    No 
At June 30, 2019, the aggregate market value of the voting common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $13.3 billion, based on the closing sales price of the registrant’s common stock on such date as reported on the New York Stock Exchange.
The number of shares of the registrant’s Common Stock outstanding on January 31, 2020 was 1,430,324,298.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
The registrant intends to file a definitive proxy statement pursuant to Regulation 14A within 120 days of the end of the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019.  Portions of such proxy statement are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.




 
ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC.
2019 FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT
TABLE OF CONTENTS 
 
 
Page
1
12
47
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48
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95
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97
 
97
100
101
 



ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


PART I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS
 
“Annaly,” “we,” “us,” or “our” refers to Annaly Capital Management, Inc. and our wholly-owned subsidiaries, except where it is made clear that the term means only the parent company. Unless the context indicates otherwise, references to the internalization of our management or the “Internalization” are forward-looking statements and should not be assumed to have happened, or likely to happen, on any terms indicated or at all.
Refer to the section titled “Glossary of Terms” located at the end of Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” for definitions of certain of the commonly used terms in this annual report on Form 10-K.
The following description of our business should be read in conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements and the related Notes thereto, and the information set forth under the heading “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” in Item 7.  “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

INDEX TO ITEM 1. BUSINESS
 
  
Page
2
Introduction
2

2
2
2
3
3
4
5
5
6
7
7
8
8
8
9
10
10
11
 

1

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


Business Overview
Introduction
We are a leading diversified capital manager that invests in and finances residential and commercial assets. Our principal business objective is to generate net income for distribution to our stockholders and optimize our returns through prudent management of our diversified investment strategies. We are a Maryland corporation founded in 1997 that has elected to be taxed as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”). Until the closing of the Internalization (as defined below), we will continue to be externally managed by Annaly Management Company LLC (“Manager”). Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NLY.”
We use our capital coupled with borrowed funds to invest primarily in real estate related investments, earning the spread between the yield on our assets and the cost of our borrowings and hedging activities.
We believe that our business objectives are supported by our size and conservative financial posture relative to the industry, the extensive experience of our employees, the diversity of our investment strategy, a comprehensive risk management approach, the availability and diversification of financing sources and our operational efficiencies.
Investment Groups
We have made significant investments in our business as part of the diversification of our investment strategy, including the expansion and scaling of our four investment groups, which are comprised of the following: 
Investment Groups
Description
Annaly Agency Group
Invests in Agency mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) collateralized by residential mortgages which are guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae.
Annaly Residential Credit Group
Invests in non-Agency residential mortgage assets within the securitized product and residential mortgage loan markets.
Annaly Commercial Real Estate Group
Originates and invests in commercial mortgage loans, securities and other commercial real estate debt and equity investments.
Annaly Middle Market Lending Group
Provides debt financing to private equity-backed middle market businesses across the capital structure.
Operating Platform
Our operating platform has expanded in support of our diversification strategy, and has included investments in systems, infrastructure and personnel. Our technology investments have led to the development of proprietary portfolio analytics, financial and capital allocation modeling, and other risk and reporting tools, which, coupled with cutting-edge digital transformation applications, support the diversification and operating efficiency of our business. Our operating platform supports our investments in Agency assets as well as residential credit assets, commercial real estate assets, residential mortgage loans, mortgage servicing rights and corporate loans. The diversity of our investment alternatives provides us the flexibility to adapt to changes in market conditions and to take advantage of potential opportunities.
Recent Developments
Interim Chief Executive Officer and Ongoing Permanent Chief Executive Officer Search
On November 20, 2019, our board of directors (“Board”) appointed Glenn A. Votek, who had served as our Chief Financial Officer since 2013, as Chief Executive Officer and President, on an interim basis. It is expected that Mr. Votek, who was also elected to the Board, will serve in such roles until the appointment by the Board of a permanent chief executive officer and president. The Board is conducting a formal search for a permanent chief executive officer. Mr. Votek has indicated that, following the appointment of a permanent chief executive officer and president, he intends to transition to a temporary advisory role with Annaly and to continue serving as an active member of the Board.
Internalization
On February 12, 2020, we entered into an internalization agreement (the “Internalization Agreement”) with our Manager and certain affiliates of our Manager. Pursuant to the Internalization Agreement, we agreed to acquire all of the outstanding equity interests of our Manager and our Manager’s direct and indirect parent companies from their respective owners (the “Internalization”) for a nominal cash purchase price of one dollar ($1.00). As a result of the Internalization, our Manager will cease to perform any outside management services for us and we will become an internally-managed REIT. We anticipate that the closing will occur in the second quarter of 2020.
In connection with the Internalization, we entered into employment and severance agreements with our executive officers (other than Mr. Votek) that will become effective at the closing of the Internalization. In addition, the Amended and Restated Management

2

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


Agreement, dated as of August 1, 2018, between us and our Manager (as amended by Amendment No. 1 thereto, dated as of March 27, 2019, the “Management Agreement”) will be terminated at the closing of the Internalization, and our Manager has agreed to waive any Acceleration Fee (as defined in the Management Agreement) solely as related to the closing of the Internalization. If the closing does not occur, the Management Agreement will revert to the form it was in immediately prior to the execution of the Internalization Agreement in all respects, including with respect to the Acceleration Fee. Upon closing of the Internalization, all employees of the Manager will become employees of Annaly, Annaly will no longer pay a management fee to the Manager, and Annaly going forward will pay the compensation of all employees.
The Internalization Agreement and the related transactions and agreements were approved by the Board, with the unanimous approval of the independent directors of the Board, following the unanimous recommendation of a special committee of independent directors of the Board (the “Special Committee”). Both the Special Committee and the Manager obtained advice from separate legal and independent financial advisors. The Special Committee was also assisted by an independent compensation consultant that was retained by the Compensation Committee (the “Compensation Committee”) of the Board in connection with the employment arrangements discussed above).

The consummation of the Internalization is subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain conditions and may not close on the terms or under the conditions described in this annual report on Form 10-K, or at all. For more information regarding the Internalization, the Internalization Agreement and the various related employment arrangement with our employees (including our senior management), please see our Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC” or the “Commission”) on February 12, 2020.
Business and Investment Strategy
Shared Capital Model
We operate a diversified company comprised of four investment groups, each of which has multiple investment options to capitalize on attractive relative returns and market opportunities. Through our diversification strategy we maintain 38 investment options across our investment groups. Our shared capital model drives our capital allocation strategy allowing us to rotate our investments based on relative value while also managing risk.
Strategic Relationships
A key element of our strategy is to establish and grow strategic relationships with industry leading partners in order to develop and broaden access to quality originations flow as well as to leverage third party operations to efficiently manage operating costs, all in an effort to generate attractive risk adjusted returns for our shareholders. Additionally, we have attracted capital partners to our business, augmenting our public capital markets efforts, which has resulted in increased scale without sacrificing balance sheet liquidity. Certain of our strategic relationships also afford us the opportunity to support communities through socially responsible investing.
We have created over 25 partnerships across our investment groups including the following:
Annaly Residential Credit Group has established relationships with key mortgage loan originators and aggregators including well-known money center banks, allowing us to efficiently source proprietary originations suited to our risk parameters.
Annaly Commercial Real Estate Group maintains a partnership with Pearlmark Real Estate Partners, a leading real estate private equity sponsor, providing access to co-investment opportunities through their seasoned commercial real estate investment team.
We have partnered with a premier mortgage servicer for MSR assets through our joint venture with a leading Sovereign Wealth Fund.
We have partnered with Capital Impact Partners, a national community development financial institution, to create a social impact joint venture supporting projects in underserved communities across the country.

Our Portfolio and Capital Allocation Policy
Under our capital allocation policy and subject to oversight by our Board, we may allocate our investments within our target asset classes as we determine to be appropriate from time to time.
Our Board may adopt changes to our capital allocation policy and targeted assets at its discretion.
The nature of our assets and our operations are intended to meet our REIT qualification requirements and our exemption from registration as an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (“Investment Company Act”).

3

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


Our portfolio composition and capital allocation at December 31, 2019 and 2018 were as follows:
 
December 31, 2019
 
December 31, 2018
Investment Group
Percentage of Portfolio
 
Capital
Allocation (1)
 
Percentage of Portfolio
 
Capital
Allocation (1)
Residential
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Annaly Agency Group (2)(3)(4)
93%
 
74%
 
93%
 
73%
Annaly Residential Credit Group (3)(4)
3%
 
10%
 
3%
 
10%
Commercial
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Annaly Commercial Real Estate Group (3)(4)
2%
 
7%
 
2%
 
7%
Annaly Middle Market Lending Group
2%
 
9%
 
2%
 
10%
(1) 
Capital allocation represents the percentage of equity allocated to each category.
(2) 
Includes MSRs and TBA purchase contracts.
(3) 
Includes assets transferred or pledged to securitization vehicles.
(4) 
Net of securitized debt of consolidated VIEs.

Risk Appetite
We maintain a firm-wide risk appetite statement which defines the types and levels of risk we are willing to take in order to achieve our business objectives, and reflects our risk management philosophy. We engage in risk activities based on our core expertise that aim to enhance value for our stockholders. Our activities focus on income generation and capital preservation through proactive portfolio management, supported by a conservative liquidity and leverage posture.
The risk appetite statement asserts the following key risk parameters to guide our investment management activities:
Risk Parameter
Description
Portfolio composition
We will maintain a portfolio comprised of target assets approved by our Board and in accordance with our capital allocation policy.
Leverage
We generally expect to maintain an economic leverage ratio no greater than 10:1.
Liquidity risk
We will seek to maintain an unencumbered asset portfolio sufficient to meet our liquidity needs even under adverse market conditions.
Interest rate risk
We will seek to manage interest rate risk to protect the portfolio from adverse rate movements utilizing derivative instruments targeting both income generation and capital preservation.
Credit risk
We will seek to manage credit risk by making investments which conform within our specific investment policy parameters and optimize risk-adjusted returns.
Capital preservation
We will seek to protect our capital base through disciplined risk management practices.
Compliance
We will comply with regulatory requirements needed to maintain our REIT status and our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act.
Our Board has reviewed and approved the investment and operating policies and strategies that support our risk appetite statement set forth in this Form 10-K. Our Board has the power to modify or waive these policies and strategies to the extent that our Board, in its discretion, determines that the modification or waiver is in the best interests of our stockholders. Among other factors, market developments which affect our policies and strategies or which change our assessment of the market may cause our Board to revise our policies and strategies.

We may seek to expand our capital base in order to further increase our ability to acquire new and different types of assets when the potential returns from new investments appear attractive relative to the targeted risk-adjusted returns. We may in the future acquire assets or companies by offering our debt or equity securities in exchange for such opportunities.


4

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


Target Assets
Within the confines of the risk appetite statement, we seek to generate the highest risk-adjusted returns on capital invested, after consideration of the following:
The amount, nature and variability of anticipated cash flows from the asset across a variety of interest rate, yield, spread, financing cost, credit loss and prepayment scenarios;
The liquidity of the asset;
The ability to pledge the asset to secure collateralized borrowings;
When applicable, the credit of the underlying borrower;
 
The costs of financing, hedging and managing the asset;
The impact of the asset to our REIT compliance and our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act; and
The capital requirements associated with the purchase and financing of the asset.


We target the purchase and sale of the assets listed below as part of our investment strategy. Our targeted assets and asset acquisition strategy may change over time as market conditions change and as our business evolves.
Investment Group
Targeted Asset Class
Description
Annaly Agency Group
Agency mortgage-backed securities
Agency pass-through certificates issued or guaranteed by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae or Ginnie Mae. Other Agency MBS include collateralized mortgage obligations (“CMOs”), interest-only securities and inverse floaters
To-be-announced forward contracts (“TBAs”)
Forward contracts for Agency pass-through certificates
Agency commercial mortgage-backed securities
Pass-through certificates collateralized by commercial mortgages guaranteed by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae or Ginnie Mae
Mortgage Servicing Rights (“MSRs”)
Rights to service a pool of residential loans in exchange for a portion of the interest payments made on the loans
Annaly Residential Credit Group
Residential mortgage loans
Residential mortgage loans that are not guaranteed by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae or Ginnie Mae
Residential mortgage-backed securities
Securities collateralized by pools of residential loans that are not guaranteed by one of the Agencies
Agency or private label credit risk transfer securities (“CRT”)
Risk sharing transactions issued by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and similarly structured transactions arranged by third party market participants, designed to synthetically transfer mortgage credit risk to private investors
Annaly Commercial Real Estate Group
Commercial mortgage loans
Loans collateralized by commercial real estate properties
Commercial mortgage-backed securities
Securities collateralized by pools of commercial mortgage loans
Mezzanine loans
Loans collateralized by commercial real estate properties subordinate to first mortgage loans
Real property
Commercial real estate properties that generate current cash flow
Annaly Middle Market Lending Group
First lien middle market loans
Senior secured loans made to middle market companies that are the first to be repaid in the event of a borrower default
Second lien middle market loans
Senior secured loans to middle market companies that have a junior claim on collateral to those of first lien loans
We believe that future interest rates and mortgage prepayment rates are very difficult to predict. Therefore, we seek to acquire assets which we believe will provide attractive returns over a broad range of interest rate and prepayment scenarios.

Capital Structure and Financing
Our capital structure is designed to offer an efficient complement of funding sources to generate positive risk-adjusted returns for our stockholders while maintaining appropriate liquidity to support our business and meet our financial obligations under periods of market stress. To maintain our desired capital profile, we utilize a mix of debt and equity funding. Debt funding may include the use of repurchase agreements, Federal Home Loan Bank (“FHLB”) advances, loans, securitizations, participation sold, lines of credit, asset backed lending facilities, corporate bond issuance, convertible bonds, mortgages payable or other liabilities. Equity capital primarily consists of common and preferred stock.

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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


We finance our Agency mortgage-backed securities and residential credit investments primarily with repurchase agreements. We also finance certain commercial real estate investments with repurchase agreements. We seek to diversify our exposure and limit concentrations by entering into repurchase agreements with multiple counterparties. We enter into repurchase agreements with broker-dealers, commercial banks and other lenders that typically offer this type of financing. We enter into collateralized borrowings with financial institutions meeting internal credit standards and we monitor the financial condition of these institutions on a regular basis. At December 31, 2019, we had $101.7 billion of repurchase agreements outstanding.
Additionally, our wholly-owned subsidiary, Arcola Securities, Inc. (“Arcola”), provides direct access to bilateral and triparty funding as a FINRA member broker-dealer. As an eligible institution, Arcola also raises funds through the General Collateral Finance Repo service offered by the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation (“FICC”), with FICC acting as the central counterparty. Arcola provides us greater depth and diversity of repurchase agreement funding while also limiting our counterparty exposure.
To reduce our liquidity risk we maintain a laddered approach to our repurchase agreements. At December 31, 2019, the weighted average days to maturity was 65 days.
We maintain access to FHLB funding through our captive insurance subsidiary Truman Insurance Company LLC (“Truman”). We finance eligible Agency, residential and commercial investments through the FHLB. While a January 2016 Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”) ruling requires captive insurance companies to terminate their FHLB membership, given the length of its membership, Truman has been granted a five year sunset provision whereby its membership is scheduled to expire in February 2021. We believe our business objectives align well with the mission of the FHLB System.  While there can be no assurances that such steps will be taken, we believe it would be appropriate for there to be legislative action to permit Truman and similar captive insurance subsidiaries to retain their membership status beyond the current sunset period.
We utilize diverse funding sources to finance our commercial investments. In addition to FHLB funding, we may utilize bilateral borrowing facilities, securitization funding and, in the case of equity investments in commercial real estate, mortgage financing.
We utilize leverage to enhance the risk-adjusted returns generated for our stockholders. We generally expect to maintain an economic leverage ratio of no greater than 10:1. This ratio varies from time to time based upon various factors, including our management’s opinion of the level of risk of our assets and liabilities, our mix of assets, our liquidity position, our level of unused borrowing capacity, the availability of credit, over-collateralization levels required by lenders when we pledge assets to secure borrowings and, lastly, our assessment of domestic and international market conditions. Since the financial crisis beginning in 2007, we have maintained an economic leverage ratio below 8:1, which is generally lower than what our leverage ratio had been prior to 2007. For purposes of calculating this ratio, our economic leverage ratio is equal to the sum of Recourse Debt, cost basis of TBA and CMBX derivatives outstanding, and net forward purchases (sales) of investments divided by total equity.
Our target economic leverage ratio is determined under our capital management policy. Should our actual economic leverage ratio increase above the target level, we will consider appropriate actions which may include asset sales, changes in asset mix, reductions in asset purchases  or originations, issuance of capital or other capital enhancing or risk reduction strategies.
The following table presents our leverage, economic leverage and capital ratios as of the periods presented.
 
December 31, 2019
 
December 31, 2018
Leverage ratio
7.1:1
 
6.3:1
Economic leverage ratio
7.2:1
 
7.0:1
Capital ratio
12.0%
 
12.1%
 
Operating Platform
We maintain a flexible and scalable operating platform to support the management and maintenance of our diverse asset portfolio. We have invested in our infrastructure to enhance resiliency, efficiency, cybersecurity, and leveragability while also ensuring coverage of our target assets. Our information technology applications span the portfolio life-cycle including pre-trade analysis, trade execution and capture, trade settlement and financing, monitoring, and financial accounting and reporting.
Technology applications also support our control functions including risk, compliance, middle- and back-office functions. We have added breadth to our operating platform to accommodate diverse asset classes and drive automation-based efficiencies. Our business operations include a centralized collateral management function that permits in-house settlement and self-clearing, thereby creating greater control and management of our collateral. Through technology, we have also incorporated exception based processing, critical data assurance and paperless workflows. Our infrastructure investment has driven operating efficiencies while expanding the platform. Routine disaster recovery and penetration testing enhances our systems resiliency, security and recovery of critical systems throughout the computing estate.


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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


Risk Management
Risk is a natural element of our business. Effective risk management is of critical importance to our success. The objective of our risk management framework is to identify, measure, monitor and control the key risks to which we are subject. Our approach to risk management is comprehensive and has been designed to foster a holistic view of risk. For a full discussion of our risk management process and policies please refer to the section titled “Risk Management” of Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

Management Agreement 
Until the closing of the Internalization, management of Annaly will continue to be conducted by the Manager through the authority delegated to it in the Management Agreement and pursuant to the policies established by our Board. The Management Agreement was amended and restated on August 1, 2018, and further amended on March 27, 2019 (the management agreement, as amended and restated, is referred to as the “Management Agreement”). On February 12, 2020, we entered the Internalization Agreement with our Manager pursuant to which, upon closing, the Management Agreement will be terminated. If the closing does not occur, the Management Agreement will remain in place on the terms and conditions described herein.
The Management Agreement’s current term ends on December 31, 2021 and will automatically renew for successive two-year terms unless at least two-thirds of our independent directors or the holders of a majority of our outstanding shares of common stock in their sole discretion elect to terminate the agreement for any or no reason. At any time during the term or any renewal term we may deliver to the Manager written notice of our intention to terminate the Management Agreement upon 365 days notice (such notice, a “Termination Notice”). During any period between the date we deliver a Termination Notice (the “Notice Delivery Date”) and the date designated by us as the date on which the Manager shall cease to provide management services (the “Termination Date”), the Manager shall continue to perform its duties and obligations under the Management Agreement and cooperate with us to execute an orderly transition to a new manager. If we elect to terminate the Management Agreement, we may elect to accelerate the Termination Date to a date that is between seven and 90 days after the Notice Delivery Date. If we do not elect to do so, then the Manager may elect to accelerate the Termination Date to the date that is 90 days after the Notice Delivery Date. If the Termination Date is accelerated (such date, the “Accelerated Termination Date”) by either us or the Manager, we shall pay the Manager an acceleration fee (the “Acceleration Fee”) in an amount equal to the average annual management fee earned by the Manager during the 24-month period immediately preceding such Accelerated Termination Date multiplied by a fraction with a numerator of 365 minus the number of days from the Notice Delivery Date to the Accelerated Termination Date, and a denominator of 365. The Management Agreement also provides that the Manager may terminate the Management Agreement by providing to us prior written notice of its intention to terminate the Management Agreement no less than 365 days prior to the date designated by the Manager on which the Manager would cease to provide services or such earlier date as determined by us in our sole discretion.
Under the Management Agreement, the Manager, subject to the supervision and direction of our Board, is responsible for (i) the selection, purchase and sale of assets for our investment portfolio; (ii) recommending alternative forms of capital raising; (iii) supervising our financing and hedging activities; and (iv) day to day management functions. The Manager also performs such other supervisory and management services and activities relating to our assets and operations as may be appropriate.  In exchange for the management services, we pay the Manager a monthly management fee, and the Manager is responsible for providing personnel to manage us and determining all compensation and benefit expenses associated with such personnel. Prior to the most recent amendment to the Management Agreement, which was executed on March 27, 2019, we had paid the Manager a flat monthly management fee equal to 1/12th of 1.05% of Stockholders' Equity (as defined in the Management Agreement) for management services. Pursuant to the March 27, 2019 amendment to the Management Agreement, we now pay the Manager a monthly management fee for management services in an amount equal to 1/12th of the sum of (i) 1.05% of Stockholders' Equity (as defined in the Management Agreement) up to $17.28 billion, and (ii) 0.75% of Stockholders' Equity (as defined in the Management Agreement) in excess of $17.28 billion. We do not pay the Manager any incentive fees. In addition to the management fee, in August 2018, we began reimbursing the Manager for the cost of certain legal, tax, accounting and other support and advisory services provided by employees of the Manager to us. Such reimbursements are permitted pursuant to the terms of the Management Agreement provided the related costs are no greater than those that would be payable to comparable third party providers.
The Management Agreement provides that during the term of the Management Agreement and, in the event of termination of this Agreement by the Manager without cause, for a period of one year following such termination, the Manager will not, without our prior written consent, manage, operate, join, control, participate in, or advise any person other than us without the prior written consent of the Risk Committee of the Board.
The Management Agreement may be amended or modified by agreement between us and the Manager.


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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


Information about our Executive Officers
The following table sets forth certain information as of January 31, 2020 concerning our executive officers:
Name
Age
Title
Glenn A. Votek
61
Interim Chief Executive Officer and President
Serena Wolfe
40
Chief Financial Officer
David L. Finkelstein
47
Chief Investment Officer
Timothy P. Coffey
46
Chief Credit Officer
Anthony C. Green
45
Chief Corporate Officer, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary
 
Glenn A. Votek has served as Interim Chief Executive Officer and President of Annaly and a member of Annaly’s Board since November 2019. Mr. Votek previously served as Chief Financial Officer of Annaly from August 2013 until December 2019 and as Chief Financial Officer of Fixed Income Discount Advisory Company (“FIDAC”), a former wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, from August 2013 until October 2015. Mr. Votek joined Annaly in May 2013 from CIT Group where he had been an Executive Vice President and Treasurer since 1999 and President of Consumer Finance since 2012. Prior to that, Mr. Votek worked at AT&T and its finance subsidiary from 1986 until 1999 in various financial management roles. Mr. Votek has a B.S. in Finance and Economics from the University of Arizona/Kean College and a M.B.A. in Finance from Rutgers University.
Serena Wolfe has served as Chief Financial Officer of Annaly since December 2019. Prior to joining Annaly in 2019, Ms. Wolfe served as a Partner at Ernst & Young (“EY”) since 2011 and as its Central Region Real Estate Hospitality & Construction (“RHC”) leader from 2017 to November 2019, managing the go-to-market efforts and client relationships across the sector. Ms. Wolfe was previously also EY’s Global RHC Assurance Leader. Ms. Wolfe practiced with EY for over 20 years, including six years with EY Australia and 16 years with the U.S. practice. Ms. Wolfe graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting. She is a Certified Public Accountant in the states of New York, California, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
David L. Finkelstein has served as Chief Investment Officer of Annaly since November 2016. Mr. Finkelstein previously served as Annaly’s Chief Investment Officer, Agency and RMBS beginning in February 2015 and as Annaly’s Head of Agency Trading beginning in August 2013.  Prior to joining Annaly in 2013, Mr. Finkelstein served for four years as an Officer in the Markets Group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where he was the primary strategist and policy advisor for the MBS purchase program. Mr. Finkelstein has over 20 years of experience in fixed income investment. Prior to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Mr. Finkelstein held Agency MBS trading positions at Salomon Smith Barney, Citigroup Inc. and Barclays PLC. Mr. Finkelstein received his B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Washington and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. Mr. Finkelstein also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation.
Timothy P. Coffey has served as Chief Credit Officer of Annaly since January 2016. Mr. Coffey served as Annaly’s Head of Middle Market Lending from 2010 until January 2016. Mr. Coffey has over 20 years of experience in leveraged finance and has held a variety of origination, execution, structuring and distribution positions. Prior to joining Annaly in 2010, Mr. Coffey served as Managing Director and Head of Debt Capital Markets in the Leverage Finance Group at Bank of Ireland. Prior to that, Mr. Coffey held positions at Scotia Capital, the holding company of Saul Steinberg’s Reliance Group Holdings and SC Johnson International. Mr. Coffey received his B.A. in Finance from Marquette University.
Anthony C. Green has served as Chief Corporate Officer of Annaly since January 2019 and as Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of Annaly since March 2017. Mr. Green previously served as Annaly’s Deputy General Counsel from 2009 until February 2017. Prior to joining Annaly, Mr. Green was a partner in the Corporate, Securities, Mergers & Acquisitions Group at the law firm K&L Gates LLP. Mr. Green has over 20 years of experience in corporate and securities law. Mr. Green holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. and LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from Cornell Law School.

Employees
Annaly has been externally-managed by our Manager since July 2013. As of December 31, 2019, our Manager directly employed 175 of the 185 individuals who provide services to Annaly. The remaining 10 individuals are employed by subsidiaries of Annaly for regulatory or corporate efficiency reasons. 
If the Internalization closes, we would expect all of the employees of our Manager to become our employees (either directly or indirectly).
Regulatory Requirements

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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


We have elected, organized and operated in a manner that qualifies us to be taxed as a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended and regulations promulgated thereunder (the “Code”). So long as we qualify for taxation as a REIT, we generally will not be subject to federal income tax on our taxable income that is distributed to our stockholders. Furthermore, substantially all of our assets, other than our taxable REIT subsidiaries (“TRSs”), consists of qualified REIT real estate assets (of the type described in Section 856(c)(5) of the Code).
We regularly monitor our investments and the income from these investments and, to the extent we enter into hedging transactions, we monitor income from our hedging transactions as well, so as to ensure at all times that we maintain our qualification as a REIT and our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act.
Arcola is a member of FINRA and is subject to regulations of the securities business that include but are not limited to trade practices, use and safekeeping of funds and securities, capital structure, recordkeeping and conduct of directors, officers and employees. As a self-clearing, registered broker dealer, Arcola is required to maintain minimum net capital by FINRA. Arcola consistently operates with capital in excess of its regulatory capital requirements as defined by SEC Rule 15c3-1.
We have a subsidiary that is registered with the SEC as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act. As a result, we are subject to the anti-fraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act and to fiduciary duties derived from these provisions that apply to our relationships with that subsidiary’s clients. These provisions and duties impose restrictions and obligations on us with respect to our dealings with our subsidiary’s clients, including, for example, restrictions on agency, cross and principal transactions. Our registered investment adviser subsidiary is subject to periodic SEC examinations and other requirements under the Investment Advisers Act and related regulations primarily intended to benefit advisory clients. These additional requirements relate to, among other things, maintaining an effective and comprehensive compliance program, recordkeeping and reporting requirements and disclosure requirements.
The financial services industry is subject to extensive regulation and supervision in the U.S. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank Act”) and the rules thereunder significantly altered the financial regulatory regime within which financial institutions operate. Other reforms have been adopted or are being considered by other regulators and policy makers worldwide. We will continue to assess our business, risk management and compliance practices to conform to developments in the regulatory environment.

Competition
We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities and competition may limit our ability to acquire desirable investments in our target assets and could also affect the pricing of these investments. In acquiring our target assets, we will compete with financial institutions, institutional investors, other lenders, government entities and certain other REITs. For a full discussion of the risks associated with competition see the “Risks Related to Our Investing, Portfolio Management and Financing Activities” section in Item 1A. “Risk Factors.”


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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


Corporate Governance
We strive to conduct our business in accordance with the highest ethical standards and in compliance with applicable governmental laws, rules and regulations. Our notable governance practices and policies include:
Our Board is composed of a majority of independent directors, and our Audit, Compensation and Nominating/Corporate Governance Committees are composed exclusively of independent directors.
In November 2019, we separated the roles of Chair of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and appointed our company’s first independent Chair of the Board.
In December 2018, we amended our bylaws to declassify our Board over a three-year period with all directors standing for annual election by our company’s annual meeting of stockholders in 2021.
We have adopted an enhanced director refreshment policy, which provides that an independent director may not stand for re-election at the next annual meeting of stockholders taking place at the end of his or her term following the earlier of his or her: (i) 12th anniversary of service on our Board or (ii) 73rd birthday.
We have adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which sets forth the basic principles and guidelines for resolving various legal and ethical questions that may arise in the workplace and in the conduct of our business. This code is applicable to our directors, officers and employees as well as those of our Manager and subsidiaries.
We have adopted Corporate Governance Guidelines which, in conjunction with the charters of our Board committees, provide the framework for the governance of our company.
We have procedures by which any of our employees, including employees of our Manager as well as those of our subsidiaries, officers or directors may raise concerns confidentially about our company’s conduct,
 
accounting, internal controls or auditing matters with the Chair of the Board, the independent directors, or the chair of the Audit Committee or through our company’s whistleblower phone hotline or e-mail inbox.
We have an Insider Trading Policy that prohibits our directors, officers and employees, including employees of our Manager, as well as those of our subsidiaries from buying or selling our securities on the basis of material nonpublic information and prohibits communicating material nonpublic information about our company to others.  Our Insider Trading Policy prohibits our directors, officers and employees, from (1) holding our stock in a margin account as eligible collateral, or otherwise pledging our stock as collateral for a loan, or (2) engaging in any hedging transactions with respect to our equity securities held by them.
Our Board has instituted expansive employee stock ownership guidelines, pursuant to which more than 40% of our employees are asked to hold predetermined amounts of our company’s common stock.
On February 12, 2020, we entered into the Internalization Agreement with our Manager, pursuant to which we will transition from an externally-managed REIT to an internally-managed REIT. If the Internalization closes, we expect to achieve greater alignment of interests between management and shareholders.


Distributions
In accordance with the requirements for maintaining REIT status, we intend to distribute to stockholders aggregate dividends equaling at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (determined without regard to the deduction of dividends paid and by excluding any net capital gain) for each taxable year and will endeavor to distribute at least 100% of our REIT taxable income so as not to be subject to tax. Distributions of economic profits from our enterprise could be classified as return of capital due to differences between book and tax accounting rules.  We may make additional returns of capital when the potential risk-adjusted returns from new investments fail to exceed our cost of capital. Subject to the limitations of applicable securities and state corporation laws, we can return capital by making purchases of our own capital stock or through payment of dividends.


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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
ITEM 1. BUSINESS


Available Information
Our website is www.annaly.com. We make available on this website under “Investors - SEC Filings,” free of charge, our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file or furnish such materials to the SEC pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Securities Exchange Act”). Our website and the information contained therein are not incorporated into this annual report on Form 10-K.
Also posted on our website, and available in print upon request of any stockholder to our Investor Relations Department, are charters for our Audit Committee, Compensation Committee, Nominating/Corporate Governance Committee, Risk Committee and Corporate Responsibility Committee, our Corporate Governance Guidelines and our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. Within the time period required by the SEC, we will post on our website any amendment to the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and any waiver applicable to any executive officer, director or senior financial officer.
Our Investor Relations Department can be contacted at:
Annaly Capital Management, Inc.
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10036
Attn: Investor Relations
Telephone: 888-8ANNALY
E-mail: investor@annaly.com
 
The SEC also maintains a website that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information we file with the SEC at www.sec.gov.

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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 1A. Risk Factors


ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
 
An investment in our stock involves a number of risks. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider all of the risks described in this annual report on Form 10-K. If any of the risks discussed in this annual report on Form 10-K actually occur, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected. If this were to occur, the trading price of our stock could decline significantly and you may lose all or part of your investment. Readers should not consider any descriptions of these factors to be a complete set of all potential risks that could affect us.

INDEX TO ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
  
Page
12
24
28
32
35
Risks Related to Internalization
36
37
43
45

Risks Related to Our Investing, Portfolio Management and Financing Activities
We may change our policies without stockholder approval.
Our Board has established very broad investment guidelines that may be amended from time to time. Our Board and management determine all of our significant policies, including our investment, financing, capital and asset allocation and distribution policies. They may amend or revise these policies at any time without a vote of our stockholders. Policy changes could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations, the market price of our common stock or our ability to pay dividends or distributions.

Our investment in new business strategies and new assets is inherently risky, and could disrupt our ongoing businesses.
To date, a significant portion of our total assets have consisted of Agency mortgage-backed securities which carry an implied or actual “AAA” rating. Nevertheless, pursuant to the ongoing diversification of our assets, we also acquire assets of lower credit quality.
While we remain committed to the Agency market and have grown our Agency assets, given the current environment, we believe it is prudent to diversify a portion of our investment portfolio. For example, during 2018 we began our focus on growth in our three credit businesses; such trend continued through 2019 and is expected to continue in 2020. We invest in a range of targeted asset classes and continue to explore new business strategies and assets and expect to continue to do so in the future.
Additionally, we may enter into or engage in various types of securitizations, transactions, services and other operating businesses that are different than the types into which we have traditionally entered or engaged.
Such endeavors may involve significant risks and uncertainties, including credit risk, diversion of management from current operations, expenses associated with these new investments, inadequate return of capital on our investments, less management experience in new types of assets, and unanticipated issues not discovered in our due diligence of such strategies and assets. Because these new ventures are inherently risky, no assurance can be given that such strategies will be successful and will not materially adversely affect our reputation, financial condition and operating results.


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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 1A. Risk Factors


Our strategy involves the use of leverage, which increases the risk that we may incur substantial losses.
We expect our leverage to vary with market conditions and our assessment of risk/return on investments. We incur this leverage by borrowing against a substantial portion of the market value of our assets. Leverage, which is fundamental to our investment strategy, creates significant risks.
Because of our leverage, we may incur substantial losses if our borrowing costs increase, and we may be unable to execute our investment strategy if leverage is unavailable or is unavailable on attractive terms. The reasons our borrowing costs may increase or our ability to borrow may decline include, but are not limited to, the following:
short-term interest rates increase;
the market value of our investments available to collateralize borrowings decreases;
the “haircut” applied to our assets under the repurchase agreements or other secured financing arrangements we are party to increases;
 
interest rate volatility increases;
there is a disruption in the repo market generally or the infrastructure that supports it; or
the availability of financing in the market decreases.

Our leverage may cause margin calls and defaults and force us to sell assets under adverse market conditions.
Because of our leverage, a decline in the value of our interest earning assets may result in our lenders initiating margin calls.  A margin call means that the lender requires us to pledge additional collateral to re-establish the ratio of the value of the collateral to the amount of the borrowing. Our fixed-rate mortgage-backed securities generally are more susceptible to margin calls as increases in interest rates tend to more negatively affect the market value of fixed-rate securities. Margin calls are most likely in market conditions in which the unencumbered assets that we would use to meet the margin calls have also decreased in value.
If we are unable to satisfy margin calls, our lenders may foreclose on our collateral. This could force us to sell our interest earning assets under adverse market conditions, or allow lenders to sell those assets on our behalf at prices that could be below our estimation of their value. Additionally, in the event of our bankruptcy, our borrowings, which are generally made under repurchase agreements, may qualify for special treatment under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. This special treatment would allow the lenders under these agreements to avoid the automatic stay provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and to liquidate the collateral under these agreements without delay.

We may exceed our target leverage ratios.
We generally expect to maintain an economic leverage ratio of less than 10:1. However, we are not required to stay below this economic leverage ratio.  We may exceed this ratio by incurring additional debt without increasing the amount of equity we have. For example, if we increase the amount of borrowings under our master repurchase agreements with our existing or new counterparties or the market value of our portfolio declines, our economic leverage ratio would increase. If we increase our economic leverage ratio, the adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations from the types of risks associated with the use of leverage would likely be more severe. Our target economic leverage ratio is set for the portfolio as a whole, rather than separately for each asset type. The economic leverage ratio on Agency mortgage-backed securities may exceed the target ratio for the portfolio as a whole. Because credit assets are generally less levered than Agency mortgage-backed securities, at a given economic leverage ratio an increased allocation to credit assets generally means an increase in economic leverage on Agency mortgage-backed securities. The economic leverage on our Agency mortgage-backed securities is the primary driver of the risk of being unable to meet margin calls discussed above.

We may not be able to achieve our optimal leverage.
We use leverage as a strategy to increase the return to our investors. However, we may not be able to achieve our desired leverage for any of the following reasons:
we determine that the leverage would expose us to excessive risk;
our lenders do not make funding available to us at acceptable rates; or
 
our lenders require that we provide additional collateral to cover our borrowings.

Failure to procure or renew funding on favorable terms, or at all, would adversely affect our results and financial condition.
One or more of our lenders could be unwilling or unable to provide us with financing. This could potentially increase our financing costs and reduce our liquidity. Furthermore, if any of our potential lenders or existing lenders is unwilling or unable to provide us

13

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 1A. Risk Factors


with financing or if we are not able to renew or replace maturing borrowings, we could be forced to sell our assets at an inopportune time when prices are depressed. Our business, results of operations and financial condition may be materially adversely affected by disruptions in the financial markets.  We cannot assure you, under such extreme conditions, that these markets will remain an efficient source of long-term financing for our assets.  If our strategy is not viable, we will have to find alternative forms of financing for our assets, which may not be available.  Further, as a REIT, we are required to distribute annually at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (subject to certain adjustments) to our stockholders and are, therefore, not able to retain significant amounts of our earnings for new investments.  We cannot assure you that any, or sufficient, funding or capital will be available to us in the future on terms that are acceptable to us.  If we cannot obtain sufficient funding on acceptable terms, there may be a negative impact on the market price of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.  Moreover, our ability to grow will be dependent on our ability to procure additional funding.  To the extent we are not able to raise additional funds through the issuance of additional equity or borrowings, our growth will be constrained.

Failure to effectively manage our liquidity would adversely affect our results and financial condition.
Our ability to meet cash needs depends on many factors, several of which are beyond our control.  Ineffective management of liquidity levels could cause us to be unable to meet certain financial obligations.  Potential conditions that could impair our liquidity include: unwillingness or inability of any of our potential lenders to provide us with or renew financing, margin calls, additional capital requirements applicable to our lenders, a disruption in the financial markets or declining confidence in our reputation or in financial markets in general.  These conditions could force us to sell our assets at inopportune times or otherwise cause us to potentially revise our strategic business initiatives.

Risk management policies and procedures may not adequately identify all risks to our businesses.
We have established and maintain risk management policies and procedures designed to support our risk framework, and to identify, measure, monitor and control financial risks. Risks include market risk (interest rate, spread and prepayment), liquidity risk, credit risk and operational risk. These policies and procedures may not sufficiently identify the full range of risks that we are or may become exposed to. Any changes to business activities, including expansion of traded or illiquid products, may result in our being exposed to different risks or an increase in certain risks. Our management may have less experience in identifying and managing the risks of new business activities. Any failure to identify and mitigate financial risks could result in an adverse impact to our financial condition, business or results of operations. Additionally, as regulations and markets in which we operate continue to evolve, our risk management policies and procedures may not always keep sufficient pace with those changes.

An increase or decrease in prepayment rates may adversely affect our profitability.
The mortgage-backed securities we acquire are backed by pools of mortgage loans. We receive payments, generally, from the payments that are made on the underlying mortgage loans. We often purchase mortgage-backed securities that have a higher coupon rate than the prevailing market interest rates. In exchange for a higher coupon rate, we typically pay a premium over par value to acquire these mortgage-backed securities. In accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), we amortize the premiums on our mortgage-backed securities over the expected life of the related mortgage-backed securities. If the mortgage loans securing these mortgage-backed securities prepay at a more rapid rate than anticipated, we will have to amortize our premiums on an accelerated basis that may adversely affect our profitability.
Defaults on mortgage loans underlying Agency mortgage-backed securities typically have the same effect as prepayments because of the underlying Agency guarantee.
Prepayment rates generally increase when interest rates fall and decrease when interest rates rise, but changes in prepayment rates are difficult to predict. Prepayment rates also may be affected by conditions in the housing and financial markets, general economic conditions and the relative interest rates on fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage loans. We may seek to minimize prepayment risk to the extent practical, and in selecting investments we must balance prepayment risk against other risks and the potential returns of each investment. No strategy can completely insulate us from prepayment risk. We may choose to bear increased prepayment risk if we believe that the potential returns justify the risk.
Conversely, a decline in prepayment rates on our investments will reduce the amount of principal we receive and therefore reduce the amount of cash we otherwise could have reinvested in higher yielding assets at that time, which could negatively impact our future operating results.

We are subject to reinvestment risk.

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We also are subject to reinvestment risk as a result of changes in interest rates. Declines in interest rates are generally accompanied by increased prepayments of mortgage loans, which in turn results in a prepayment of the related mortgage-backed securities. An increase in prepayments could result in the reinvestment of the proceeds we receive from such prepayments into lower yielding assets.

Volatile market conditions for mortgages and mortgage-related assets as well as the broader financial markets can result in a significant contraction in liquidity for mortgages and mortgage-related assets, which may adversely affect the value of the assets in which we invest.
Our results of operations are materially affected by conditions in the markets for mortgages and mortgage-related assets, including Agency mortgage-backed securities, as well as the broader financial markets and the economy generally.
Significant adverse changes in financial market conditions can result in a deleveraging of the global financial system and the forced sale of large quantities of mortgage-related and other financial assets.  Concerns over economic recession, geopolitical issues including events such as the United Kingdom’s recent exit from the European Union (commonly referred to as “Brexit”), trade wars, unemployment, the availability and cost of financing, the mortgage market and a declining real estate market or prolonged government shutdown may contribute to increased volatility and diminished expectations for the economy and markets.
For example, as a result of the financial crises beginning in the summer of  2007 and through the subsequent credit and housing crisis, many traditional mortgage investors suffered severe losses in their residential mortgage portfolios and several major market participants failed or were impaired, resulting in a significant contraction in market liquidity for mortgage-related assets.  This illiquidity negatively affected both the terms and availability of financing for all mortgage-related assets.
Further increased volatility and deterioration in the markets for mortgages and mortgage-related assets as well as the broader financial markets may adversely affect the performance and market value of our Agency mortgage-backed securities.  If these conditions exist, institutions from which we seek financing for our investments may tighten their lending standards or become insolvent, which could make it more difficult for us to obtain financing on favorable terms or at all.  Our profitability and financial condition may be adversely affected if we are unable to obtain cost-effective financing for our investments.

Competition may limit our ability to acquire desirable investments in our target assets and could also affect the pricing of these assets.
We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities.  Our profitability depends, in large part, on our ability to acquire our target assets at attractive prices. In acquiring our target assets, we will compete with a variety of institutional investors, including other REITs, specialty finance companies, public and private funds, government entities, commercial and investment banks, commercial finance and insurance companies and other financial institutions.  Many of our competitors are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial, technical, technological, marketing and other resources than we do.  Other REITs with investment objectives that overlap with ours may elect to raise significant amounts of capital, which may create additional competition for investment opportunities.  Some competitors may have a lower cost of funds and access to funding sources that may not be available to us. Many of our competitors are not subject to the operating constraints associated with REIT compliance or maintenance of an exemption from the Investment Company Act.  In addition, some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments and establish more relationships than us.  Furthermore, competition for investments in our target assets may lead to the price of such assets increasing, which may further limit our ability to generate desired returns.  We cannot provide assurance that the competitive pressures we face will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.  Also, as a result of this competition, desirable investments in our target assets may be limited in the future and we may not be able to take advantage of attractive investment opportunities from time to time, as we can provide no assurance that we will be able to identify and make investments that are consistent with our investment objectives.

An increase in the interest payments on our borrowings relative to the interest we earn on our interest earning assets may adversely affect our profitability.
We generally earn money based upon the spread between the interest payments we earn on our interest earning assets and the interest payments we must make on our borrowings. If the interest payments on our borrowings increase relative to the interest we earn on our interest earning assets, our profitability may be adversely affected. A significant portion of our assets are longer-term, fixed-rate interest earning assets, and a significant portion of our borrowings are shorter-term, floating-rate borrowings. Periods of rising interest rates or a relatively flat or inverted yield curve could decrease or eliminate the spread between the interest payments we earn on our interest earning assets and the interest payments we must make on our borrowings.

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Differences in timing of interest rate adjustments on our interest earning assets and our borrowings may adversely affect our profitability.
We rely primarily on short-term borrowings to acquire interest earning assets with long-term maturities. Some of the interest earning assets we acquire are adjustable-rate interest earning assets.  This means that their interest rates may vary over time based upon changes in an objective index, such as:
LIBOR.  The rate banks charge each other for short-term Eurodollar loans.
Treasury Rate.  A monthly or weekly average yield of benchmark U.S. Treasury securities, as published by the Federal Reserve Board.
 
Secured Overnight Financing Rate. A measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by U.S. Treasury securities, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
These indices generally reflect short-term interest rates. The interest rates on our borrowings similarly vary with changes in an objective index.  Nevertheless, the interest rates on our borrowings generally adjust more frequently than the interest rates on our adjustable-rate interest earning assets, which are also typically subject to periodic and lifetime interest rate caps. Accordingly, in a period of rising interest rates, we could experience a decrease in net income or a net loss because the interest rates on our borrowings adjust faster than the interest rates on our adjustable-rate interest earning assets.

Changes in the method pursuant to which LIBOR is determined, or a discontinuation of LIBOR, may adversely affect the value of the financial obligations to be held or issued by us that are linked to LIBOR.
LIBOR and other indices which are deemed “benchmarks” are the subject of recent national, international, and other regulatory guidance and proposals for reform. These reforms may cause such benchmarks to perform differently than in the past, or have other consequences which cannot be predicted. In particular, regulators and law enforcement agencies in the U.K. and elsewhere conducted criminal and civil investigations into whether the banks that contributed information to the British Bankers’ Association (“BBA”) in connection with the daily calculation of various LIBOR rates (“LIBOR rates”) may have been under-reporting or otherwise manipulating or attempting to manipulate LIBOR rates. A number of BBA member banks have entered into settlements with their regulators and law enforcement agencies with respect to this alleged manipulation of LIBOR rates. LIBOR rates are calculated by reference to a market for interbank lending that continues to shrink, as it is based on increasingly fewer actual transactions. This increases the subjectivity of the calculation process and increases the risk of manipulation. Actions by the regulators or law enforcement agencies, as well as ICE Benchmark Administration (the current administrator), may result in changes to the manner in which LIBOR rates are determined or the establishment of alternative reference rates. For example, on July 27, 2017, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit LIBOR rates after 2021.
It is likely that, over time, U.S. Dollar LIBOR (“USD-LIBOR”) will be replaced by the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The manner and timing of this shift is not known with certainty. It is possible, but unlikely, that USD-LIBOR will be used in instruments created after 2021. Global regulators are encouraging regulated institutions to make the shift earlier. For each existing LIBOR-based instrument, the manner and timing of the switch depends on the terms of the relevant contract and the specifics of future events.
SOFR is not an exact replacement for USD-LIBOR. USD-LIBOR accounts for bank credit risk, while SOFR does not. Therefore, LIBOR and SOFR are expected to behave differently at times when market participants are concerned about the financial strength of banks. Also, SOFR is an overnight rate instead of a term rate. There is currently no perfect way to create robust, forward-looking SOFR term rates. A large and liquid market in SOFR-based futures could eventually lead to the ability to calculate forward-looking SOFR term rates, but currently the SOFR-based futures market is small relative to LIBOR-based futures markets. Regulators and other members of the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (“ARRC”) have indicated that market participants should stop using USD-LIBOR now, despite the unavailability of a forward-looking SOFR term rate. However, a large majority of new issuance of floating-rate instruments, including some transactions in which we are issuer or sponsor, still reference USD-LIBOR.
Regulators and other members of the ARRC have also indicated that all instruments that reference USD-LIBOR should include robust fallbacks. The ARRC has published fallbacks for several asset types, and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (“ISDA”) is preparing documentation to implement fallbacks for derivatives. ISDA has not yet published its documentation, and there is no certainty about what ISDA’s recommendations will be.
Switching existing financial instruments and hedging transactions from LIBOR to SOFR requires calculations of a spread. ISDA has described the spread calculation methodology that will apply to derivatives that adopt the ISDA recommendations for derivatives. The spread calculation methodology for non-derivatives is currently not known. The spread calculation is intended

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to minimize value transfer between counterparties, borrowers, and lenders, but there is no assurance that the calculated spread will be fair and accurate.
The fallbacks recommended by the ARRC are different for various non-derivative instruments, the fallbacks recommended by ARRC will likely differ from the fallbacks recommended by ISDA, and not all USD-LIBOR-based instruments will incorporate the recommended fallbacks. This could result in unexpected differences between our USD-LIBOR-based assets and our USD-LIBOR-based interest rate hedges.
Many existing USD-LIBOR-based instruments either do not contemplate the discontinuation of LIBOR, provide a fallback that in practice will make the instrument fixed-rate, or provide a fallback that one party may believe is contrary to the contractual intent. We may incur costs amending those instruments to implement fallbacks recommended by the ARRC or ISDA. We may decide not to amend, in which case we may bear the cost and risk of litigation. Some instruments, particularly consumer-facing adjustable-rate mortgages, are impractical to amend. With respect to those instruments, we may bear the cost and risk of litigation. Our lenders may be less willing to extend credit secured by assets that do not include robust fallbacks.
We and other market participants have less experience understanding and modeling SOFR-based assets and liabilities than LIBOR-based assets and liabilities, increasing the difficulty of investing, hedging, and risk management. Because the impact of USD-LIBOR cessation is dependent on unknown future facts, the language of individual contracts, and the outcome of potential future litigation, it is not currently practical for our valuation models to account for the cessation of LIBOR. We use service providers to validate the fair values of certain financial instruments. We are not aware of those service providers accounting for the cessation of LIBOR in their pricing models.
The process of transition involves operational risks. References to USD-LIBOR may be embedded in computer code or models, and we may not identify and correct all of those references. Because compounded SOFR is backward-looking rather than forward-looking, parties making or receiving USD-LIBOR-based payments may be unable to calculate payment amounts until the day that payment is due. Proposed mechanisms to solve the operational timing issue may result in a payment amount that does not fully reflect interest rates during the calculation period.
It is also possible that USD-LIBOR will continue to be published without being representative of any underlying market, meaning that some instruments would continue to be subject to the weaknesses of the LIBOR calculation process. A rate may also be published that continues to be named USD-LIBOR and therefore continues to be used for certain contracts, but is calculated pursuant to an entirely different methodology. Preparing for and addressing the cessation of USD-LIBOR cessation may require significant time and resources.
Holders of our fixed-to-floating preferred shares should refer to the relevant prospectus to understand the USD-LIBOR-cessation provisions applicable to that class. We do not currently intend to amend any classes of our fixed-to-floating preferred shares to change the existing USD-LIBOR cessation fallbacks. Each such class that is currently outstanding becomes callable at the same time it begins to pay a USD-LIBOR-based rate. Should we choose to call a class of preferred shares in order to avoid a dispute over the results of the USD-LIBOR fallbacks for that class, we may be forced to raise additional funds at an unfavorable time.

An increase in interest rates may adversely affect the market value of our interest earning assets and, therefore, also our book value.
Increases in interest rates may negatively affect the market value of our interest earning assets because in a period of rising interest rates, the value of certain interest earning assets may fall and reduce our book value. For example, our fixed-rate interest earning assets are generally negatively affected by increases in interest rates because in a period of rising rates, the coupon we earn on our fixed-rate interest earning assets would not change. Our book value would be reduced by the amount of a decline in the market value of our interest earning assets.


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We may experience declines in the market value of our assets resulting in us recording impairments, which may have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
A decline in the market value of our mortgage-backed securities or other assets may require us to recognize an “other-than-temporary” impairment (“OTTI”) against such assets under GAAP.  For a discussion of the assessment of OTTI, see the section titled “Significant Accounting Policies” in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements included in Item 15. “Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules.” The determination as to whether an OTTI exists and, if so, the amount we consider other-than-temporarily impaired is subjective, as such determinations are based on both factual and subjective information available at the time of assessment. As a result, the timing and amount of OTTI constitute material estimates that are susceptible to significant change.

The soundness of other financial institutions could adversely affect us.
Financial services institutions are interrelated as a result of trading, clearing, counterparty, borrower, or other relationships. We have exposure to many different counterparties, and routinely execute transactions with counterparties in the financial services industry, including brokers and dealers, commercial banks, investment banks, mutual and hedge funds, and other institutional clients. Many of these transactions expose us to credit or counterparty risk in the event of default of our counterparty or, in certain instances, our counterparty’s customers. Such credit risk could be heightened in respect of our European counterparties due to continuing uncertainty in the global finance market, including Brexit. There is no assurance that any such losses would not materially and adversely impact our revenues, financial condition and earnings.

Our hedging strategies may be costly, and may not hedge our risks as intended.
Our policies permit us to enter into interest rate swaps, caps and floors, interest rate swaptions, interest rate futures, and other derivative transactions to help us mitigate our interest rate and prepayment risks described above subject to maintaining our qualification as a REIT and our Investment Company Act exemption. We have used interest rate swaps and options to enter into interest rate swaps (commonly referred to as interest rate swaptions) to provide a level of protection against interest rate risks.  We may also purchase or sell TBAs on Agency mortgage-backed securities, purchase or write put or call options on TBAs and invest in other types of mortgage derivatives, such as interest-only securities. No hedging strategy can protect us completely. Entering into interest rate hedging may fail to protect or could adversely affect us because, among other things: interest rate hedging can be expensive, particularly during periods of volatile interest rates; available hedges may not correspond directly with the risk for which protection is sought; and the duration of the hedge may not match the duration of the related asset or liability. The expected transition from LIBOR to alternative reference rates adds additional complication to our hedging strategies.

Our use of derivatives may expose us to counterparty and liquidity risks.
The Dodd-Frank Act, and regulations under it, have caused significant changes to the structure of the market for interest rate swaps and swaptions. These new structures change, but do not eliminate, the risks we face in our hedging activities.
Most swaps that we enter into must be cleared by a Derivatives Clearing Organization (“DCO”). DCOs are subject to regulatory oversight, use extensive risk management processes, and might receive “too big to fail” support from the government in the case of insolvency. We access the DCO through several Futures Commission Merchants (“FCMs”). For any cleared swap, we bear the credit risk of both the DCO and the relevant FCM, in the form of potential late or unrecoverable payments, potential difficulty or delay in accessing collateral that we have posted, and potential loss of any positive market value of the swap position. In the event of a default by the DCO or FCM, we also bear market risk, because the asset or liability being hedged is no longer effectively hedged.
Most swaps must be cleared through a DCO. Most swaps must be or are traded on a Swap Execution Facility. We bear additional fees for use of the DCO. We also bear fees for use of the Swap Execution Facility. We continue to bear risk of trade errors. Because the standardized swaps available on Swap Execution Facilities and cleared through DCOs are not as customizable as the swaps available before the implementation of Dodd-Frank Act, we may bear additional basis risk from hedge positions that do not exactly reflect the interest rate risk on the asset being hedged.
Futures transactions are subject to risks analogous to those of cleared swaps, except that for futures transactions we bear a higher risk that collateral we have posted is unavailable to us if the FCM defaults.
Some derivatives transactions, such as swaptions, are not currently required to be cleared through a DCO. Therefore, we bear the credit risk of the dealer with which we executed the swaption. TBA contracts and CMBX indexes are also not cleared, and we bear the credit risk of the dealer.

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Derivative transactions are subject to margin requirements. The relevant contract or clearinghouse rules dictate the method of determining the required amount of margin, the types of collateral accepted and the timing required to meet margin calls. Additionally, for cleared swaps and futures, FCMs may have the right to require more margin than the clearinghouse requires. The requirement to meet margin calls can create liquidity risks, and we bear the cost of funding the margin that we post. Also, as discussed above, we bear credit risk if a dealer, FCM, or clearinghouse is holding collateral we have posted.
Generally, we attempt to retain the ability to close out of a hedging position or create an offsetting position. However, in some cases we may not be able to do so at economically viable prices, or we may be unable to do so without consent of the counterparty. Therefore, in some situations a derivative position can be illiquid, forcing us to hold it to its maturity or scheduled termination date.
It is possible that new regulations could be issued governing the derivatives market, or that additional types of derivatives switch to being executed on Swap Execution Facilities or cleared on a DCO. Ongoing regulatory change in this area could increase costs, increase risks, and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

It may be uneconomical to "roll" our TBA dollar roll transactions or we may be unable to meet margin calls on our TBA contracts, which could negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.
From time to time, we enter into TBAs as an alternate means of investing in and financing Agency mortgage-backed securities. A TBA contract is an agreement to purchase or sell, for future delivery, an Agency mortgage-backed security with a specified issuer, term and coupon. A TBA dollar roll represents a transaction where TBA contracts with the same terms but different settlement dates are simultaneously bought and sold. The TBA contract settling in the later month typically prices at a discount to the earlier month contract with the difference in price commonly referred to as the “drop”. The drop is a reflection of the expected net interest income from an investment in similar Agency mortgage-backed securities, net of an implied financing cost, that would be foregone as a result of settling the contract in the later month rather than in the earlier month. The drop between the current settlement month price and the forward settlement month price occurs because in the TBA dollar roll market, the party providing the implied financing is the party that would retain all principal and interest payments accrued during the financing period. Accordingly, TBA dollar roll income generally represents the economic equivalent of the net interest income earned on the underlying Agency mortgage-backed security less an implied financing cost. Consequently, dollar roll transactions and such forward purchases of Agency securities represent a form of off-balance sheet financing and increase our "at risk" leverage.
The economic return of a TBA dollar roll generally equates to interest income on a generic TBA-eligible security less an implied financing cost, and there may be situations in which the implied financing cost exceeds the interest income, resulting in a negative carry on the position. If we roll our TBA dollar roll positions when they have a negative carry, the positions would decrease net income and amounts available for distributions to shareholders.
There may be situations in which we are unable or unwilling to roll our TBA dollar roll positions. The TBA transaction could have a negative carry or otherwise be uneconomical, we may be unable to find counterparties with whom to trade in sufficient volume, or we may be required to collateralize the TBA positions in a way that is uneconomical. Because TBA dollar rolls represent implied financing, an inability or unwillingness to roll has effects similar to any other loss of financing. If we do not roll our TBA positions prior to the settlement date, we would have to take physical delivery of the underlying securities and settle our obligations for cash. We may not have sufficient funds or alternative financing sources available to settle such obligations. Counterparties may also make margin calls as the value of a generic TBA-eligible security (and therefore the value of the TBA contract) declines. Margin calls on TBA positions or failure to roll TBA positions could have the effects described in the liquidity risks described above.

We use analytical models and data in connection with the valuation of our assets, and any incorrect, misleading or incomplete information used in connection therewith would subject us to potential risks.
Given our strategies and the complexity of the valuation of our assets, we must rely heavily on analytical models (both proprietary models developed by us and those supplied by third parties) and information and data supplied by our third party vendors and servicers. Models and data are used to value assets or potential asset purchases and also in connection with hedging our assets. When models and data prove to be incorrect, misleading or incomplete, any decisions made in reliance thereon expose us to potential risks. For example, by relying on models and data, especially valuation models, we may be induced to buy certain assets at prices that are too high, to sell certain other assets at prices that are too low or to miss favorable opportunities altogether. Similarly, any hedging based on faulty models and data may prove to be unsuccessful. Furthermore, despite our valuation validation processes our models may nevertheless prove to be incorrect.
Some of the risks of relying on analytical models and third-party data are particular to analyzing tranches from securitizations, such as commercial or residential mortgage-backed securities. These risks include, but are not limited to, the following: (i) collateral

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cash flows and/or liability structures may be incorrectly modeled in all or only certain scenarios, or may be modeled based on simplifying assumptions that lead to errors; (ii) information about collateral may be incorrect, incomplete, or misleading; (iii) collateral or bond historical performance (such as historical prepayments, defaults, cash flows, etc.) may be incorrectly reported, or subject to interpretation (e.g., different issuers may report delinquency statistics based on different definitions of what constitutes a delinquent loan); or (iv) collateral or bond information may be outdated, in which case the models may contain incorrect assumptions as to what has occurred since the date information was last updated.
Some of the analytical models used by us, such as mortgage prepayment models or mortgage default models, are predictive in nature. The use of predictive models has inherent risks. For example, such models may incorrectly forecast future behavior, leading to potential losses on a cash flow and/or a mark-to-market basis. In addition, the predictive models used by us may differ substantially from those models used by other market participants, with the result that valuations based on these predictive models may be substantially higher or lower for certain assets than actual market prices. Furthermore, since predictive models are usually constructed based on historical data supplied by third parties, the success of relying on such models may depend heavily on the accuracy and reliability of the supplied historical data and the ability of these historical models to accurately reflect future periods.
Many of the models we use include LIBOR as an input. The expected transition away from LIBOR may require changes to models, may change the underlying economic relationships being modeled, and may require the models to be run with less historical data than is currently available for LIBOR. We may incorrectly value LIBOR-based instruments because our models do not currently account for LIBOR cessation.
All valuation models rely on correct market data inputs. If incorrect market data is entered into even a well-founded valuation model, the resulting valuations will be incorrect. However, even if market data is inputted correctly, “model prices” will often differ substantially from market prices, especially for securities with complex characteristics, such as derivative instruments or structured notes.

Accounting rules related to certain of our transactions are highly complex and involve significant judgment and assumptions, and changes in accounting treatment may adversely affect our profitability and impact our financial results. Additionally, our application of GAAP may produce financial results that fluctuate from one period to another.
Accounting rules for valuations of investments, mortgage loan sales and securitizations, investment consolidations, acquisitions of real estate and other aspects of our operations are highly complex and involve significant judgment and assumptions. These complexities could lead to a delay in preparation of financial information and the delivery of this information to our stockholders. Changes in accounting interpretations or assumptions could impact our financial statements and our ability to prepare our financial statements in a timely fashion. Our inability to prepare our financial statements in a timely fashion in the future would likely adversely affect our share price significantly. The fair value at which our assets may be recorded may not be an indication of their realizable value. Ultimate realization of the value of an asset depends to a great extent on economic and other conditions. Further, fair value is only an estimate based on good faith judgment of the price at which an investment can be sold since market prices of investments can only be determined by negotiation between a willing buyer and seller. If we were to liquidate a particular asset, the realized value may be more than or less than the amount at which such asset was recorded. Accordingly, the value of our common shares could be adversely affected by our determinations regarding the fair value of our investments, whether in the applicable period or in the future. Additionally, such valuations may fluctuate over short periods of time.
We have made certain accounting elections which may result in volatility in our periodic net income, as computed in accordance with GAAP. For example, changes in fair value of certain instruments are reflected in GAAP net income (loss) while others are reflected in Other comprehensive income (loss).

We are highly dependent on information systems and third parties, and systems failures or cybersecurity incidents could significantly disrupt our business, which may, in turn, negatively affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to operate our business.
Our business is highly dependent on communications and information systems. Any failure or interruption of our systems or cyber-attacks or security breaches of our networks or systems could cause delays or other problems in our securities trading activities, including mortgage-backed securities trading activities. A disruption or breach could also lead to unauthorized access to and release, misuse, loss or destruction of our confidential information or personal or confidential information of our employees or third parties, which could lead to regulatory fines, costs of remediating the breach, reputational harm, financial losses, litigation and increased difficulty doing business with third parties that rely on us to meet their own data protection requirements. In addition, we also face the risk of operational failure, termination or capacity constraints of any of the third parties with which we do business or that facilitate our business activities, including clearing agents or other financial intermediaries we use to facilitate our securities transactions, if their respective systems experience failure, interruption, cyber-attacks, or security breaches. Certain third parties provide information needed for our financial statements that we cannot obtain or verify from other sources. If one of those third

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parties experiences a system failure or cybersecurity incident, we may not have access to that information or may not have confidence in its accuracy. We may face increased costs as we continue to evolve our cyber defenses in order to contend with changing risks. These costs and losses associated with these risks are difficult to predict and quantify, but could have a significant adverse effect on our operating results. Additionally, the legal and regulatory environment surrounding information privacy and security in the U.S. and international jurisdictions is constantly evolving. New business initiatives have increased, and may continue to increase, the extent to which we are subject to such U.S. and international information privacy and security regulations.
Computer malware, viruses, computer hacking and phishing attacks have become more prevalent in our industry and we are from time to time subject to such attempted attacks. We rely heavily on our financial, accounting and other data processing systems. Although we have not detected a material cybersecurity breach to date, other financial institutions have reported material breaches of their systems, some of which have been significant. Even with all reasonable security efforts, not every breach can be prevented or even detected. It is possible that we have experienced an undetected breach. There is no assurance that we, or the third parties that facilitate our business activities, have not or will not experience a breach. We may be held responsible if certain third parties that facilitate our business activities experience a breach. It is difficult to determine what, if any, negative impact may directly result from any specific interruption or cyber-attacks or security breaches of our networks or systems (or the networks or systems of third parties that facilitate our business activities) or any failure to maintain performance, reliability and security of our technical infrastructure, but such computer malware, viruses, and computer hacking and phishing attacks may negatively affect our operations.

Our use of non-recourse securitizations may expose us to risks which could result in losses to us.
We utilize non-recourse securitizations of our assets in mortgage loans, especially loans that we originate, when they are available. Prior to any such financing, we may seek to finance assets with relatively short-term facilities until a sufficient portfolio is accumulated. As a result, we would be subject to the risk that we would not be able to acquire, during the period that any short-term facilities are available, sufficient eligible assets to maximize the efficiency of a securitization. We also would bear the risk that we would not be able to obtain a new short-term facility or would not be able to renew any short-term facilities after they expire should we need more time to seek and acquire sufficient eligible assets for a securitization. In addition, conditions in the capital markets, including potential volatility and disruption in the capital and credit markets, may not permit a non-recourse securitization at any particular time or may make the issuance of any such securitization less attractive to us even when we do have sufficient eligible assets. While we would intend to retain the non-investment grade tranches of securitizations and, therefore, still have exposure to any assets included in such securitizations, our inability to enter into such securitizations would increase our overall exposure to risks associated with direct ownership of such assets, including the risk of default. Our inability to refinance any short-term facilities would also increase our risk because borrowings thereunder would likely be recourse to us as an entity. If we are unable to obtain and renew short-term facilities or to consummate securitizations to finance our assets on a long-term basis, we may be required to seek other forms of potentially less attractive financing or to liquidate assets at an inopportune time or price.  To the extent that we are unable to obtain financing for our assets, to the extent that we retain such assets in our portfolio, our returns on investment and earnings will be negatively impacted.

Securitizations expose us to additional risks.
In a securitization structure, we convey a pool of assets to a special purpose vehicle, the issuing entity, and in turn the issuing entity issues one or more classes of non-recourse notes pursuant to the terms of an indenture. The notes are secured by the pool of assets. In exchange for the transfer of assets to the issuing entity, we receive the cash proceeds of the sale of non-recourse notes and a 100% interest in the subordinate interests of the issuing entity. The securitization of all or a portion of our commercial or residential loan portfolio might magnify our exposure to losses because any subordinate interest we retain in the issuing entity would be subordinate to the notes issued to investors and we would, therefore, absorb all of the losses sustained with respect to a securitized pool of assets before the owners of the notes experience any losses. Moreover, we cannot be assured that we will be able to access the securitization market or be able to do so at favorable rates. The inability to securitize our portfolio could adversely affect our performance and our ability to grow our business.

Counterparties may require us to enter into restrictive covenants relating to our operations that may inhibit our ability to grow our business and increase revenues.
If or when we obtain debt financing, lenders (especially in the case of credit facilities) may impose restrictions on us that would affect our ability to incur additional debt, make certain allocations or acquisitions, reduce liquidity below certain levels, make distributions to our stockholders, or redeem debt or equity securities, and may impact our flexibility to determine our operating policies and strategies. We may sell assets or reduce leverage at an inopportune time to avoid breaching these restrictions. If we fail to meet or satisfy any of these covenants, we would be in default under these agreements, and our lenders could elect to declare

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outstanding amounts due and payable, terminate their commitments, require the posting of additional collateral and enforce their interests against existing collateral. We may also be subject to cross-default and acceleration rights and, with respect to collateralized debt, the posting of additional collateral and foreclosure rights upon default. A default and resulting repayment acceleration could significantly reduce our liquidity, which could require us to sell our assets to repay amounts due and outstanding. This could also significantly harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make distributions, which could cause our share price to decline. A default could also significantly limit our financing alternatives such that we would be unable to pursue our leverage strategy, which could adversely affect our returns.

Final rules issued by the FHFA relating to captive insurance company membership in the FHLB System prohibit us from taking new advances or renewing existing advances that mature beyond February 19, 2021.
On January 12, 2016, the FHFA issued final rules (“FHFA Final Rules”) providing that captive insurance companies will no longer be eligible for membership in the FHLB System.  Because our wholly-owned subsidiary Truman was admitted as a member of the FHLB of Des Moines (“FHLB Des Moines”) prior to September 2014, it is eligible under the FHFA Final Rules to remain as a member of the FHLB Des Moines through February 19, 2021.  In addition, under the FHFA Final Rules, the FHLB Des Moines is permitted to allow advances that were outstanding prior to February 19, 2016 to remain outstanding until scheduled maturity, however we are not permitted to increase our existing FHLB advances. It is possible for Congress or the FHFA to change the FHFA Final Rules, but there is no assurance that they will do so. We may be forced to find alternative financing for assets currently financed with FHLB Des Moines, which could result in increased financing cost; a decreased weighted average duration of liabilities; and an increase in risks described above related to securitizations, credit facilities, and other types of borrowings. Many of the assets currently financed with FHLB Des Moines are expected to remain outstanding past the date on which advances are no longer available.

We may enter into new lines of business, acquire other companies or engage in other strategic initiatives, each of which may result in additional risks and uncertainties in our businesses.
We may pursue growth through acquisitions of other companies or other strategic initiatives.  To the extent we pursue strategic investments or acquisitions, undertake other strategic initiatives or consider new lines of business, we will face numerous risks and uncertainties, including risks associated with:
the availability of suitable opportunities;
the level of competition from other companies that may have greater financial resources;
our ability to assess the value, strengths, weaknesses, liabilities and potential profitability of potential acquisition opportunities accurately and negotiate acceptable terms for those opportunities;
the required investment of capital and other resources;
the lack of availability of financing and, if available, the terms of any financings;
the possibility that we have insufficient expertise to engage in such activities profitably or without incurring inappropriate amounts of risk;
the diversion of management’s attention from our core businesses;
the potential loss of key personnel of an acquired business;
 
assumption of liabilities in any acquired business;
the disruption of our ongoing businesses;
the increasing demands on or issues related to the combining or integrating operational and management systems and controls;
compliance with additional regulatory requirements;
costs associated with integrating and overseeing the operations of the new businesses;
failure to realize the full benefits of an acquisition, including expected synergies, cost savings, or sales or growth opportunities, within the anticipated timeframe or at all; and
post-acquisition deterioration in an acquired business that could result in lower or negative earnings contribution and/or goodwill impairment charges.
Entry into certain lines of business may subject us to new laws and regulations with which we are not familiar, or from which we are currently exempt, and may lead to increased litigation and regulatory risk. Our strategy to increase investments in a line of business, such as our middle market lending, residential credit or commercial real estate business, may lead to additional risks and uncertainties. In addition, if a new or acquired business generates insufficient revenues or if we are unable to efficiently manage our expanded operations, our results of operations will be adversely affected. Our strategic initiatives may include joint ventures, in which case we will be subject to additional risks and uncertainties in that we may be dependent upon, and subject to liability, losses or reputational damage relating to systems, controls and personnel that are not under our control.


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We are subject to risks and liabilities in connection with sponsoring, investing in and managing new funds and other investment accounts, including potential regulatory risks.
We have, and may in the future, sponsor, manage and serve as general partner and/or manager of new funds or investment accounts, including collateralized loan obligations (“CLO”). Such sponsorship and management of, and investment in, such funds and accounts may involve risks not otherwise present with a direct investment in such funds, and accounts’ target investments, including, for example:
the possibility that investors in the funds/accounts might become bankrupt or otherwise be unable to meet their capital commitment obligations;
that operating and/or management agreements of a fund/account may restrict our ability to transfer or liquidate our interest when we desire or on advantageous terms;
that our relationships with the investors will be generally contractual in nature and may be terminated or dissolved under the terms of the agreements, or we may be removed as general partner and/or manager (with or without cause), and in such event, we may
 
not continue to manage or invest in the applicable fund/account;
that disputes between us and the investors may result in litigation or arbitration that would increase our expenses and prevent our officers and directors from focusing their time and effort on our business and result in subjecting the investments owned by the applicable fund/account to additional risk; and
that we may incur liability for obligations of a fund/account by reason of being its general partner or manager.


Further, in relation to our operations, we have a subsidiary that is registered with the SEC as an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act. As a result, we are subject to the anti-fraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act and to fiduciary duties derived from these provisions that apply to our relationships with that subsidiary’s clients. These provisions and duties impose restrictions and obligations on us with respect to our dealings with our subsidiary’s clients, including, for example, restrictions on agency, cross and principal transactions. Our registered investment adviser subsidiary is subject to periodic SEC examinations and other requirements under the Investment Advisers Act and related regulations primarily intended to benefit advisory clients. These additional requirements relate to, among other things, maintaining an effective and comprehensive compliance program, recordkeeping and reporting requirements and disclosure requirements. The Investment Advisers Act generally grants the SEC broad administrative powers, including the power to limit or restrict an investment adviser from conducting advisory activities in the event it fails to comply with federal securities laws. Additional sanctions that may be imposed for failure to comply with applicable requirements under the Investment Advisers Act include the prohibition of individuals from associating with an investment adviser, the revocation of registrations and other censures and fines. We may in the future be required to register one or more entities as a commodity pool operator or commodity trading adviser, subjecting those entities to the regulations and oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association. We may also become subject to various international regulations on the asset management industry.

Investments in MSRs may expose us to additional risks.
Our investments in MSRs may subject us to certain additional risks, including the following:
Investments in MSRs are highly illiquid and subject to numerous restrictions on transfer and, as a result, there is risk that we would be unable to locate a willing buyer or get required approval to sell MSRs in the future should we desire to do so.
Our rights to the excess servicing spread are subordinate to the interests of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, and are subject to extinguishment. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each
 
require approval of the sale of excess servicing spreads pertaining to their respective MSRs. We have entered into acknowledgment agreements or subordination of interest agreements with them, which acknowledge our subordinated rights.
Changes in minimum servicing compensation for agency loans could occur at any time and could negatively impact the value of the income derived from MSRs.

If we are not able to successfully manage these and other risks related to investing in MSRs, it may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Purchases and sales of Agency mortgage-backed securities by the Federal Reserve may adversely affect the price and return associated with Agency mortgage-backed securities.
The Federal Reserve owns approximately $1.4 trillion of Agency mortgage-backed securities as of December 31, 2019.  Starting in October 2017, the Federal Reserve has begun to phase out its policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of

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Agency mortgage-backed securities into new Agency mortgage-backed securities purchases, therefore causing a decline in Federal Reserve security holdings over time. While it is very difficult to predict the impact of the Federal Reserve portfolio runoff on the prices and liquidity of Agency mortgage-backed securities, returns on Agency mortgage-backed securities may be adversely affected as private investors seek higher yields to purchase larger amounts of Agency mortgage-backed securities.

New laws may be passed affecting the relationship between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, on the one hand, and the federal government, on the other, which could adversely affect the price of, or our ability to invest in and finance Agency mortgage-backed securities.
The interest and principal payments we expect to receive on the Agency mortgage-backed securities in which we invest are guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae. Principal and interest payments on Ginnie Mae certificates are directly guaranteed by the U.S. government. Principal and interest payments relating to the securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are only guaranteed by each respective Agency.
In September 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed into the conservatorship of the FHFA, their federal regulator, pursuant to its powers under The Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008, a part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. In addition to FHFA becoming the conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the U.S. Department of the Treasury entered into Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements with the FHFA and have taken various actions intended to provide Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with additional liquidity in an effort to ensure their financial stability. In September 2019, FHFA and the U.S. Treasury Department agreed to modifications to the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements that will permit Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to maintain capital reserves of $25 billion and $20 billion, respectively.
Shortly after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed in federal conservatorship, the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury suggested that the guarantee payment structure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the U.S. housing finance market should be re-examined. The future roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could be significantly reduced and the nature of their guarantees could be eliminated or considerably limited relative to historical measurements. The U.S. Treasury could also stop providing credit support to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the future. Any changes to the nature of the guarantees provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could redefine what constitutes an Agency mortgage-backed security and could have broad adverse market implications. If Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac was eliminated, or their structures were to change in a material manner that is not compatible with our business model, we would not be able to acquire Agency mortgage-backed securities from these entities, which could adversely affect our business operations.

The implementation of the Single Security Initiative may adversely affect our results and financial condition.
The Single Security Initiative is a joint initiative of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), under the direction of the FHFA, the Enterprises’ regulator and conservator, to develop a common security MBS issued by the Enterprises.
Our liquidity is typically reduced each month when we receive margin calls related to factor changes, and typically increased each month when we receive payment of principal and interest on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac securities. Legacy Freddie Mac securities pay principal and interest earlier in the month than Fannie Mae and Uniform Mortgage Backed Securities (“UMBS”), meaning that legacy Freddie Mac positions reduce the period of time between meeting factor-related margin calls and receiving principal and interest. The percentage of legacy Freddie Mac positions in the market and in our portfolio will likely decrease over time as those securities are converted to UMBS or pay off.
The FHFA recently released a Request For Input regarding pooling practices and other topics relating to aligning the prepayment speeds of UMBS issued by each of the Enterprises. There is no certainty about what, if any, changes may result from the Request For Input. Some of the proposals described in the Request For Input, if implemented, could negatively impact the Agency mortgage-backed securities market and could make it more difficult for us to comply with our Investment Company Act exemption.

Risks Related To Our Credit Assets
We invest in securities in the credit risk transfer sector that are subject to mortgage credit risk.
We invest in securities in the credit risk transfer CRT sector.  The CRT sector is comprised of the risk sharing transactions issued by Fannie Mae (“CAS”) and Freddie Mac (“STACR”), and similarly structured transactions arranged by third party market participants.   The securities issued in the CRT sector are designed to synthetically transfer mortgage credit risk from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private investors. The holder of the securities in the CRT sector has the risk that the borrowers may default on their obligations to make full and timely payments of principal and interest.  Investments in securities in the CRT sector could cause us to incur losses of income from, and/or losses in market value relating to, these assets if there are defaults of principal

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and/or interest on the pool of mortgages referenced in the transaction. The holder of the CRT may also bear the risk of the default of the issuer of the security.

A prolonged economic slowdown or declining real estate values could impair the assets we may own and adversely affect our operating results.
Our non-Agency mortgage-backed securities, mortgage loans, and mortgage loans for which we own the servicing rights, along with our commercial real estate debt, preferred equity, and real estate assets may be susceptible to economic slowdowns or recessions, which could lead to financial losses in our assets and a decrease in revenues, net income and asset values.
Owners of Agency mortgage-backed securities are protected from the risk of default on the underlying mortgages by guarantees from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or, in the case of the Ginnie Mae, the U.S. Government. A default on those underlying mortgages exposes us to prepayment risk described above, but not a credit loss. However, we also acquire CRTs, non-Agency mortgage-backed securities and residential loans, which are backed by residential real property but, in contrast to Agency mortgage-backed securities, the principal and interest payments are not guaranteed by GSEs or the U.S. Government. Our CRT, non-Agency mortgage-backed securities and residential loan investments are therefore particularly sensitive to recessions and declining real estate values.
In the event of a default on one of our commercial mortgage loans or other commercial real estate debt or residential mortgage loans that we hold in our portfolio or a mortgage loan underlying CRT or non-Agency mortgage-backed securities in our portfolio, we bear the risk of loss as a result of the potential deficiency between the value of the collateral and the debt owed, as well as the costs and delays of foreclosure or other remedies, and the costs of maintaining and ultimately selling a property after foreclosure. Delinquencies and defaults on mortgage loans for which we own the servicing rights will adversely affect the amount of servicing fee income we receive and may result in increased servicing costs and operational risks due to the increased complexity of servicing delinquent and defaulted mortgage loans.

Geographic concentration exposes investors to greater risk of default and loss.
Repayments by borrowers and the market value of the related assets could be affected by economic conditions generally or specific to geographic areas or regions of the United States, and concentrations of mortgaged commercial and residential properties in particular geographic areas may increase the risk that adverse economic or other developments or natural or man-made disasters affecting a particular region of the country could increase the frequency and severity of losses on mortgage loans or other real estate debt secured by those properties.  From time to time, regions of the United States experience significant real estate downturns when others do not.  Regional economic declines or conditions in regional real estate markets could adversely affect the income from, and market value of, the mortgaged properties.  In addition, local or regional economies may be adversely affected to a greater degree than other areas of the country by developments affecting industries concentrated in such area.  A decline in the general economic condition in the region in which mortgaged properties securing the related mortgage loans are located would result in a decrease in consumer demand in the region, and the income from and market value of the mortgaged properties may be adversely affected.
Other regional factors – e.g., rising sea levels, earthquakes, floods, forest fires, hurricanes or changes in governmental rules or fiscal policies – also may adversely affect the mortgaged properties.  Assets in certain regional areas may be more susceptible to certain hazards (such as earthquakes, widespread fires, floods or hurricanes) than properties in other parts of the country and collateral properties located in coastal states may be more susceptible to hurricanes than properties in other parts of the country.  As a result, areas affected by such events often experience disruptions in travel, transportation and tourism, loss of jobs and an overall decrease in consumer activity, and often a decline in real estate-related investments. There can be no assurance that the economies in such impacted areas will recover sufficiently to support income producing real estate at pre-event levels or that the costs of the related clean-up will not have a material adverse effect on the local or national economy.

Inadequate property insurance coverage could have an adverse impact on our operating results.
Commercial and residential real estate assets may suffer casualty losses due to risks (including acts of terrorism) that are not covered by insurance or for which insurance coverage requirements have been contractually limited by the related loan documents.  Moreover, if reconstruction or major repairs are required following a casualty, changes in laws that have occurred since the time of original construction may materially impair the borrower’s ability to effect such reconstruction or major repairs or may materially increase the cost thereof.
There is no assurance that borrowers have maintained or will maintain the insurance required under the applicable loan documents or that such insurance will be adequate.  In addition, since the residential mortgage loans generally do not require maintenance of

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terrorism insurance, we cannot assure you that any property will be covered by terrorism insurance.  Therefore, damage to a collateral property caused by acts of terror may not be covered by insurance and may result in substantial losses to us.

We may incur losses when a borrower defaults on a loan and the underlying collateral value is less than the amount due.
If a borrower defaults on a non-recourse loan, we will only have recourse to the real estate-related assets collateralizing the loan. If the underlying collateral value is less than the loan amount, we may suffer a loss. Conversely, some of our loans may be unsecured or are secured only by equity interests in the borrowing entities. These loans are subject to the risk that other lenders in the capital stack may be directly secured by the real estate assets of the borrower or may otherwise have a superior right to repayment. Upon a default, those collateralized senior lenders would have priority over us with respect to the proceeds of a sale of the underlying real estate. In cases described above, we may lack control over the underlying asset collateralizing our loan or the underlying assets of the borrower before a default, and, as a result, the value of the collateral may be reduced by acts or omissions by owners or managers of the assets. In addition, the value of the underlying real estate may be adversely affected by some or all of the risks referenced above with respect to our owned real estate.
Some of our loans may be backed or supported by individual or corporate guarantees from borrowers or their affiliates that are not secured. If the guarantees are not fully or partially secured, we typically rely on financial covenants from borrowers and guarantors that are designed to require the borrower or guarantor to maintain certain levels of creditworthiness. Where we do not have recourse to specific collateral pledged to satisfy such guarantees or recourse loans, we will only have recourse as an unsecured creditor to the general assets of the borrower or guarantor, some or all of which may be pledged as collateral for other lenders. There can be no assurance that a borrower or guarantor will comply with its financial covenants, or that sufficient assets will be available to pay amounts owed to us under our loans and guarantees. As a result of these factors, we may suffer additional losses that could have a material adverse effect on our financial performance.
Upon a borrower bankruptcy, we may not have full recourse to the assets of the borrower to satisfy our loan. In addition, certain of our loans are subordinate to other debt. If a borrower defaults on our loan or on debt senior to our loan, or upon a borrower bankruptcy, our loan will be satisfied only after the senior debt holder receives payment. Where debt senior to our loan exists, the presence of intercreditor arrangements may limit our ability to amend our loan documents, assign our loans, accept prepayments, exercise our remedies (through “standstill” periods) and control decisions made in bankruptcy proceedings. Bankruptcy and borrower litigation can significantly increase collection costs and the time needed for us to acquire title to the underlying collateral (if applicable), during which time the collateral and/or a borrower’s financial condition may decline in value, causing us to suffer additional losses.
If the value of collateral underlying a loan declines or interest rates increase during the term of a loan, a borrower may not be able to obtain the necessary funds to repay our loan at maturity through refinancing because the underlying property revenue cannot satisfy the debt service coverage requirements necessary to obtain new financing. If a borrower is unable to repay our loan at maturity, we could suffer additional loss that may adversely impact our financial performance.

Our assets may become non-performing or sub-performing assets in the future, which are subject to increased risks relative to performing loans.
Our assets may in the near or the long term become non-performing or sub-performing assets, which are subject to increased risks relative to performing assets. Commercial loans and residential mortgage loans may become non-performing or sub-performing for a variety of reasons that result in the borrower being unable to meet its debt service and/or repayment obligations, such as the underlying property being too highly leveraged, the financial distress of the borrower, or in the case of a commercial loan, decreasing income generated from the underlying property. Such non-performing or sub-performing assets may require a substantial amount of workout negotiations and/or restructuring, which may involve substantial cost and divert the attention of our management from other activities and may entail, among other things, a substantial reduction in interest rate, the capitalization of interest payments and/or a substantial write-down of the principal of the loan. Even if a restructuring were successfully accomplished, the borrower may not be able or willing to maintain the restructured payments or refinance the restructured loan upon maturity.
From time to time we may find it necessary or desirable to foreclose the liens of loans we acquire or originate, and the foreclosure process may be lengthy and expensive. Borrowers may resist foreclosure actions by asserting numerous claims, counterclaims and defenses to payment against us (such as lender liability claims and defenses) even when such assertions may have no basis in fact or law, in an effort to prolong the foreclosure action and force the lender into a modification of the loan or a favorable buy-out of the borrower’s position. In some states, foreclosure actions can take several years or more to litigate. At any time prior to or during the foreclosure proceedings, the borrower may file for bankruptcy, which would have the effect of staying the foreclosure actions and further delaying the resolution of our claims. Foreclosure may create a negative public perception of the related property, resulting in a diminution of its value. Even if we are successful in foreclosing on a loan, the liquidation proceeds upon sale of the underlying real estate may not be sufficient to recover our cost basis in the loan, resulting in a loss to us. Furthermore,

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any costs or delays involved in the foreclosure of a loan or a liquidation of the underlying property will further reduce the proceeds and thus increase our loss. Any such reductions could materially and adversely affect the value of the commercial loans in which we invest.
Whether or not we have participated in the negotiation of the terms of a loan, there can be no assurance as to the adequacy of the protection of the terms of the loan, including the validity or enforceability of the loan and the maintenance of the anticipated priority and perfection of the applicable security interests. Furthermore, claims may be asserted that might interfere with enforcement of our rights. In the event of a foreclosure, we may assume direct ownership of the underlying real estate. The liquidation proceeds upon sale of that real estate may not be sufficient to recover our cost basis in the loan, resulting in a loss to us. Any costs or delays involved in the effectuation of a foreclosure of the loan or a liquidation of the underlying property will further reduce the proceeds and increase our loss.
Whole loan mortgages are also subject to “special hazard” risk (property damage caused by hazards, such as earthquakes or environmental hazards, not covered by standard property insurance policies), and to bankruptcy risk (reduction in a borrower’s mortgage debt by a bankruptcy court). In addition, claims may be assessed against us on account of our position as mortgage holder or property owner, as applicable, including responsibility for tax payments, environmental hazards and other liabilities, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

We may be required to repurchase commercial or residential mortgage loans or indemnify investors if we breach representations and warranties, which could have a negative impact on our earnings.
When we sell or securitize loans, we will be required to make customary representations and warranties about such loans to the loan purchaser. Our mortgage loan sale agreements will require us to repurchase or substitute loans in the event we breach a representation or warranty given to the loan purchaser. In addition, we may be required to repurchase loans as a result of borrower fraud or in the event of early payment default on a mortgage loan. Likewise, we may be required to repurchase or substitute loans if we breach a representation or warranty in connection with our securitizations. The remedies available to a purchaser of mortgage loans are generally broader than those available to us against the originating broker or correspondent. Further, if a purchaser enforces its remedies against us, we may not be able to enforce the remedies we have against the sellers. The repurchased loans typically can only be financed at a steep discount to their repurchase price, if at all. They are also typically sold at a significant discount to the unpaid principal balance. Significant repurchase activity could adversely affect our cash flow, results of operations, financial condition and business prospects.

Our and our third party service providers’ and servicers’ due diligence of potential assets may not reveal all of the liabilities associated with such assets and may not reveal other weaknesses in such assets, which could lead to losses.
Before acquiring a commercial or residential real estate debt asset, we will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the borrower, originator or issuer of the asset as well as other factors and characteristics that are material to the performance of the asset. In making the assessment and otherwise conducting customary due diligence, we will rely on resources available to us, including our third party service providers and servicers. This process is particularly important with respect to newly formed originators or issuers because there may be little or no information publicly available about these entities and assets. There can be no assurance that our due diligence process will uncover all relevant facts or that any asset acquisition will be successful.

When we foreclose on an asset, we may come to own and operate the property securing the loan, which would expose us to the risks inherent in that activity.
When we foreclose on a commercial or residential real estate asset, we may take title to the property securing that asset, and if we do not or cannot sell the property, we would then come to own and operate it as “real estate owned.” Owning and operating real property involves risks that are different (and in many ways more significant) than the risks faced in owning a debt instrument secured by that property. In addition, we may end up owning a property that we would not otherwise have decided to acquire directly at the price of our original investment or at all. Further, some of the properties underlying the assets we are acquiring are of a different type or class than property we have had experience operating directly, including properties such as hotels, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities. Accordingly, we may not manage these properties as well as they might be managed by another owner, and our returns to investors could suffer. If we foreclose on and come to own property, our financial performance and returns to investors could suffer.


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Financial covenants could adversely affect our ability to conduct our business.
The commercial mortgages on our equity properties generally contain customary negative covenants that limit our ability to further mortgage the properties, to enter into material leases or other agreements or materially modify existing leases or other agreements without lender consent, to access cash flow in certain circumstances, and to discontinue insurance coverage, among other things. With respect to the long-term, fixed rate mortgage loans secured by certain of our healthcare properties and insured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), the approval of HUD is also required for certain actions. These restrictions could adversely affect operations, and our ability to pay debt obligations. In addition, in some instances guaranties given by Annaly entities as further security for these mortgage loans contain affirmative covenants to maintain a minimum net worth and liquidity.

Proposals to acquire mortgage loans by eminent domain may adversely affect the value of our assets.
Local governments have taken steps to consider how the power of eminent domain could be used to acquire residential mortgage loans and there can be no certainty whether any mortgage loans sought to be purchased will be mortgage loans held in securitization trusts and what purchase price would be paid for any such mortgage loans. Any such actions could have a material adverse effect on the market value of our mortgage-backed securities, mortgage loans and MSRs. There is also no certainty as to whether any such action without the consent of investors would face legal challenge, and, if so, the outcome of any such challenge.

Our investments in corporate loans and debt securities for middle market companies carry risks.
We invest a percentage of our assets directly in the ownership of corporate loans and debt securities for middle market companies, and we expect our investments in this space to grow in 2020. Non-investment grade or unrated loans to middle market businesses may carry more inherent risks than loans to larger, investment grade publicly traded entities. These middle market companies generally have less access to public capital markets, and generally have higher financing costs. Such companies, particularly in an economic slowdown or recession, may be in a weaker financial position, may need more capital to expand or compete, and may be unable to obtain financing from their respective private capital providers, public capital markets or from traditional sources, such as commercial banks. In an economic downturn, middle market loan obligors, which may be highly leveraged, may be unable to meet their debt service requirements. Middle market businesses may have narrower product lines, be more vulnerable to exogenous events and maintain smaller market shares than large businesses. Therefore, they may be more vulnerable to competitors’ actions and market conditions, as well as general economic downturns. Middle market businesses may have more difficulties implementing enterprise resource plans and may face greater challenges integrating acquisitions than large businesses. These businesses may also experience variations in operating results. The success of a middle market company may depend on the management talents and efforts of one or two persons or a small group of persons. The death, disability or resignation of one or more of these persons may have a material adverse impact on such middle market company and its ability to repay its obligations. A deterioration in the value of our investments in corporate loans and debt securities for middle market companies could have an adverse impact on our results of operations.

Risks Related To Commercial Real Estate Debt, Preferred Equity Investments, Net Lease Real Estate Assets and Other Equity Ownership of Real Estate Assets
The real estate assets we acquire are subject to risks particular to real property, which may adversely affect our returns from certain assets and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
We own assets secured by real estate and own real estate directly through direct purchases or realization or upon a default of mortgage loans. Real estate assets are subject to various risks, including:
acts of God, including earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, which may result in uninsured losses;
acts of war or terrorism, including the consequences of terrorist attacks;
adverse changes in national and local economic and market conditions;
 
changes in governmental laws and regulations, fiscal policies and zoning ordinances and the related costs of compliance with laws and regulations, fiscal policies and ordinances;
the potential for uninsured or under-insured property losses; and
environmental conditions of the real estate.


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Under various U.S. federal, state and local environmental laws, ordinances and regulations, a current or previous owner of real estate (including, in certain circumstances, a secured lender that succeeds to ownership or control of a property) may become liable for the costs of removal or remediation of certain hazardous or toxic substances at, on, under or in its property.
If any of these or similar events occurs, it may reduce our return from an affected property or investment and reduce or eliminate our ability to make distributions to stockholders.

The commercial loan assets we originate and/or acquire depend on the ability of the property owner to generate net income from operating the property. Failure to do so may result in delinquency and/or foreclosure.
Commercial loans are secured by real property and are subject to risks of delinquency and foreclosure, and risks of loss that may be greater than similar risks associated with loans made on the security of single-family residential property. The ability of a borrower to repay a loan secured by an income-producing property typically is dependent primarily upon the successful operation of such property rather than upon the existence of independent income or assets of the borrower. If the income of the property is reduced, the borrower’s ability to repay the loan may be impaired. The income of an income-producing property can be adversely affected by, among other things,
changes in national, regional or local economic conditions or specific industry segments, including the credit and securitization markets;
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;
tenant mix;
success of tenant businesses and the tenant’s ability to meet their lease obligations;
property management decisions;
property location, condition and design;
competition from comparable types of properties;
changes in laws that increase operating expenses or limit rents that may be charged;
 
costs of remediation and liabilities associated with environmental conditions;
the potential for uninsured or underinsured property losses;
changes in governmental laws and regulations, including fiscal policies, zoning ordinances and environmental legislation and the related costs of compliance;
acts of God, terrorist attacks, social unrest and civil disturbances;
litigation and condemnation proceedings regarding the properties; and
bankruptcy proceedings.

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

Commercial and non-Agency mortgage-backed securities we acquire may be subject to losses.
In general, losses on a mortgaged property securing a mortgage loan included in a securitization will be borne first by the equity holder of the property, then by the holder of a mezzanine loan or B-Note, if any, then by the “first loss” subordinated security holder generally, the “B-Piece” buyer, and then by the holder of a higher-rated security. In the event of default and the exhaustion of any equity support, mezzanine loans or B-Notes, and any classes of securities junior to those that we acquire, we may not be able to recover all of our capital in the securities we purchase. In addition, if the underlying mortgage portfolio has been overvalued by the originator, or if the values subsequently decline, less collateral is available to satisfy interest and principal payments due on the related mortgage-backed securities. The prices of lower credit quality mortgage-backed securities are generally less sensitive to interest rate changes than more highly rated mortgage-backed securities, but more sensitive to adverse economic downturns or individual issuer developments. The projection of an economic downturn, for example, could cause a decline in the price of lower credit quality mortgage-backed securities because the ability of obligors of mortgages underlying mortgage-backed securities to make principal and interest payments may be impaired. In such event, existing credit support in the securitization structure may be insufficient to protect us against loss of our principal and interest on these securities.


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Borrowers May Be Unable To Repay the Remaining Principal Balance on the Maturity Date.
Many commercial loans are non-amortizing balloon loans that provide for substantial payments of principal due at their stated maturities.  Commercial loans with substantial remaining principal balances at their stated maturity date involve greater risk than fully-amortizing loans.  This is because the borrower may be unable to repay the loan at that time.
A borrower’s ability to repay a mortgage loan on its stated maturity date typically will depend upon its ability either to refinance the mortgage loan or to sell the mortgaged property at a price sufficient to permit repayment.  A borrower’s ability to achieve either of these goals will be affected by a number of factors, including:
the availability of, and competition for, credit for commercial real estate projects, which fluctuate over time;
the prevailing interest rates;
the net operating income generated by the related mortgaged properties;
the fair market value of the related mortgaged properties;
the borrower’s equity in the related mortgaged properties;
significant tenant rollover at the related mortgaged properties;
the borrower’s financial condition;
the operating history and occupancy level of the related mortgaged properties;

 
reductions in applicable government assistance/rent subsidy programs;
changes in zoning or tax laws;
changes in competition in the relevant location;
changes in rental rates in the relevant location;
changes in government regulation and fiscal policy;
the state of fixed income and mortgage markets;
the availability of credit for multi-family and commercial properties;
prevailing general and regional economic conditions; and
the availability of funds in the credit markets which fluctuates over time.



Whether or not losses are ultimately sustained, any delay in the collection of a balloon payment on the maturity date will likely extend the weighted average life of our investment.

The B-Notes that we originate and acquire may be subject to additional risks related to the privately negotiated structure and terms of the transaction, which may result in losses to us.
We may originate and acquire B-Notes. A B-Note is a mortgage loan interest typically (1) secured by a first mortgage on a single large commercial property or group of related properties and (2) subordinated to an A-Note secured by the same first mortgage on the same collateral. As a result, if a borrower defaults, there may not be sufficient funds remaining for B-Note holders after payment to the A-Note holders. However, because each transaction is privately negotiated, B-Notes can vary in their structural characteristics and risks. For example, the rights of holders of B-Notes to control the process following a borrower default may vary from transaction to transaction. Further, B-Notes may be secured by a single property and so reflect the risks associated with significant concentration. Significant losses related to our B-Notes would result in operating losses for us and may limit our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

The mezzanine loan assets and other subordinate debt positions that we originate and acquire involve greater risks of loss than senior loans.
We originate and acquire mezzanine loans, which take the form of subordinated loans secured by a pledge of the ownership interests by an entity that directly or indirectly owns the property-owning entity. We also make commercial real estate preferred equity investments, which, unlike mezzanine loans, are generally not secured by a pledge of equity interests and may be less liquid investments. Although as a holder of preferred equity we may protect our position with covenants that limit the activities of the entity in which we hold an interest and protect our equity by obtaining a contractual right to control the underlying property or force a sale after an event of default, should such a default occur, we would only be able to proceed against the entity in which we hold an interest, and not the real property owned by such entity and ultimately underlying the investment. These types of subordinate debt assets involve a higher degree of risk than senior mortgage lending secured by income-producing real property, because the loan may become unsecured or unrecoverable as a result of foreclosure by the senior lender on its mortgage or the exercise of remedies by a lender holding a mezzanine loan that is senior to our subordinate debt. In the event of a bankruptcy of the entity providing the pledge of ownership interests as security for a mezzanine loan, we may not have full recourse to the assets of such entity, or the assets of the entity may not be sufficient to satisfy our mezzanine loan. If a borrower defaults on our mezzanine loan, preferred equity investment, or debt senior to our loan, or in the event of a borrower bankruptcy, our subordinate debt will be satisfied only after the senior debt. As a result, we may not recover some or all of our investment. In addition, mezzanine loans and preferred equity investments may have higher loan-to-value ratios than conventional mortgage loans, resulting in the borrower

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having less equity in the property and increasing the risk of loss of principal. Further, any subordinate debt investment may give rise to sudden liquidity needs in order for us to protect our position. Significant losses related to our mezzanine loans and/or preferred equity positions would result in operating losses for us and may limit our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

We are subject to additional risks associated with loan participations and co-lending arrangements.
Some of our loans may be participation interests or co-lender arrangements in which we share the rights, obligations and benefits of the loan with other lenders. We may need the consent of these parties to exercise our rights under such loans, including rights with respect to amendment of loan documentation, enforcement proceedings upon a default and the institution of, and control over, foreclosure proceedings. Similarly, certain participants may be able to take actions to which we object but to which we will be bound if our participation interest represents a minority interest. We may be adversely affected by this lack of control.

Construction loans involve an increased risk of loss.
We have in the past and may in the future acquire and/or originate construction loans. If we fail to fund our entire commitment on a construction loan or if a borrower otherwise fails to complete the construction of a project, there could be adverse consequences associated with the loan, including: a loss of the value of the property securing the loan, especially if the borrower is unable to raise funds to complete it from other sources; a borrower claim against us for failure to perform under the loan documents; increased costs to the borrower that the borrower is unable to pay; a bankruptcy filing by the borrower; and abandonment by the borrower of the collateral for the loan.
If we do not have an adequate completion guarantee backed by a person or entity with sufficient creditworthiness, risks of cost overruns and non-completion of renovation of the properties underlying rehabilitation loans may result in significant losses. The renovation, refurbishment or expansion of a mortgaged property by a borrower involves risks of cost overruns and non-completion. Estimates of the costs of improvements to bring an acquired property up to standards established for the market position intended for that property may prove inaccurate. Other risks may include rehabilitation costs exceeding original estimates, possibly making a project uneconomical, environmental risks and rehabilitation and subsequent leasing of the property not being completed on schedule. If such renovation is not completed in a timely manner, or if it costs more than expected, the borrower may experience a prolonged impairment of net operating income and may not be able to make payments on our investment, which could result in significant losses.

We may experience losses if the creditworthiness of our tenants deteriorates and they are unable to meet their lease obligations.
We own properties leased to tenants and receive rents from tenants during the contracted term of such leases. Such leases include space leases and operating leases. A tenant’s ability to pay rent is determined by its creditworthiness, among other factors. If a tenant’s credit deteriorates, the tenant may default on its obligations under our lease and may also become bankrupt. The bankruptcy or insolvency of our tenants or other failure to pay is likely to adversely affect the income produced by our real estate assets. If a tenant defaults, we may experience delays and incur substantial costs in enforcing our rights as landlord. If a tenant files for bankruptcy, we may not be able to evict the tenant solely because of such bankruptcy or failure to pay. A court, furthermore, may authorize a tenant to reject and terminate its lease with us. In such a case, our claim against the tenant for unpaid, future rent would be subject to a statutory cap that might be substantially less than the remaining rent owed under the lease. In addition, certain amounts paid to us within 90 days prior to the tenant’s bankruptcy filing could be required to be returned to the tenant’s bankruptcy estate. In any event, it is highly unlikely that a bankrupt or insolvent tenant would pay in full amounts it owes us under a lease that it intends to reject. In other circumstances, where a tenant’s financial condition has become impaired, we may agree to partially or wholly terminate the lease in advance of the termination date in consideration for a lease termination fee that is likely less than the total contractual rental amount. Without regard to the manner in which the lease termination occurs, we are likely to incur additional costs in the form of tenant improvements and leasing commissions in our efforts to lease the space to a new tenant.
With respect to a deterioration affecting an operating tenant of one or more of our healthcare properties, there can be no assurance that we would be able to identify suitable replacement tenants or enter into leases with new tenants on terms as favorable to us as the current leases or that we would be able to lease those properties at all. Our ability to reposition our properties with a suitable replacement tenant or operator could be significantly delayed or limited by state licensing, receivership or other laws, as well as by the Medicare and Medicaid change-of-ownership rules, and we could incur substantial additional expenses in connection with any licensing, receivership or change-of-ownership proceedings. Our ability to locate and attract suitable replacement tenants also could be impaired by the specialized healthcare uses or contractual restrictions on use of the properties, and we may be forced to spend substantial amounts to adapt the properties to other uses. If we are not successful in identifying suitable replacements on a timely basis we may be required to fund certain expenses and obligations (e.g., real estate taxes, debt costs and maintenance expenses) to preserve the value of, and avoid the imposition of liens on, our properties while they are being repositioned. In

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addition, we may incur certain obligations and liabilities, including obligations to indemnify the replacement tenant or operator, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
In any of the foregoing circumstances, our financial performance could be materially adversely affected.

Lease expirations, lease defaults and lease terminations may adversely affect our revenue.
Lease expirations and lease terminations may result in reduced revenues if the lease payments received from replacement tenants are less than the lease payments received from the expiring or terminating tenants. In addition, lease defaults or lease terminations by one or more significant tenants or the failure of tenants under expiring leases to elect to renew their leases, could cause us to experience long periods of vacancy with no revenue from a facility and to incur substantial capital expenditures and/or lease concessions to obtain replacement tenants.

The real estate investments we currently own and expect to acquire will be illiquid.
Because real estate investments are relatively illiquid, our ability to adjust the portfolio promptly in response to economic or other conditions will be limited. Certain significant expenditures generally do not change in response to economic or other conditions, including: (i) debt service (if any), (ii) real estate taxes, and (iii) operating and maintenance costs. This combination of variable revenue and relatively fixed expenditures may result, under certain market conditions, in reduced earnings and could have an adverse effect on our financial condition.

We may not control the special servicing of the mortgage loans included in the commercial mortgage-backed securities in which we invest and, in such cases, the special servicer may take actions that could adversely affect our interests.
With respect to the commercial mortgage-backed securities in which we may invest, overall control over the special servicing of the related underlying mortgage loans will be held by a “directing certificate holder” or a “controlling class representative,” which is appointed by the holders of the most subordinate class of commercial mortgage-backed securities in such series. To the extent that we acquire classes of existing series of commercial mortgage-backed securities originally rated AAA, for example, we will not have the right to appoint the directing certificate holder. In connection with the servicing of the specially serviced mortgage loans, the related special servicer may, at the direction of the directing certificate holder, take actions with respect to the specially serviced mortgage loans that could adversely affect our interests.
 
Joint venture investments could be adversely affected by our lack of sole decision-making authority and reliance upon a co-venturer’s financial condition.
We co-invest with third parties through joint ventures. Although we generally retain control and decision-making authority in a joint venture relationship, in some circumstances (such as major decisions) we may not be permitted to exercise sole decision-making authority regarding such joint venture or the subject property. Investments in joint ventures may involve risks not present were a third party not involved, including the possibility that co-venturers might become bankrupt or otherwise fail to fund their share of required capital contributions. Additionally, our co-venturers might at any time have economic or other business interests or goals which are inconsistent with our business interests or goals, and we may in certain circumstances be liable for the actions of our co-venturers. Consequently, actions by any such co-venturer might result in subjecting properties owned by the joint venture
to additional risk, although these risks are mitigated by transaction structure and the terms and conditions of agreements governing the relationship.

Risks Related To Our Residential Credit Business
Our investments in non-Agency mortgage-backed securities (including re-performing loans (“RPL”) / non-performing loans (“NPL”) which we have acquired in recent periods) or other investment assets of lower credit quality, including our investments in seasoned re-performing and non-performing residential whole loans, involve credit risk, which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
Our current investment strategy includes seeking growth in our residential credit business. The holder of a mortgage or mortgage-backed securities assumes the risk that the related borrowers may default on their obligations to make full and timely payments of principal and interest.  Under our investment policy, we have the ability to acquire non-Agency mortgage-backed securities, residential whole loans and other investment assets of lower credit quality.  In general, non-Agency mortgage-backed securities carry greater investment risk than Agency mortgage-backed securities because they are not guaranteed as to principal or interest

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by the U.S. Government, any federal agency or any federally chartered corporation.  Non-investment grade, non-Agency securities tend to be less liquid, may have a higher risk of default and may be more difficult to value than investment grade bonds. Higher-than-expected rates of default and/or higher-than-expected loss severities on the mortgages underlying our non-Agency mortgage-backed securities or on our residential whole loan investments may adversely affect the value of those assets.  Accordingly, defaults in the payment of principal and/or interest on our non-Agency mortgage-backed securities, residential whole loan investments and other investment assets of less-than-high credit quality would likely result in our incurring losses of income from, and/or losses in market value relating to, these assets.

We have investments in non-Agency mortgage-backed securities collateralized by non-prime loans and may also have investments collateralized by subprime mortgage loans, which, due to lower underwriting standards, are subject to increased risk of losses.
We have certain investments in non-Agency mortgage-backed securities backed by collateral pools containing mortgage loans that were originated under underwriting standards that were less strict than those used in underwriting “prime mortgage loans.”  These lower standards permitted mortgage loans, often with LTV ratios in excess of 80%, to be made to borrowers having impaired credit histories, lower credit scores, higher debt-to-income ratios and/or unverified income. Difficult economic conditions, including increased interest rates and lower home prices, can result in non-prime and subprime mortgage loans having increased rates of delinquency, foreclosure, bankruptcy and loss (including such as during the credit crisis of 2007-2008 and the housing crisis that followed), and are likely to otherwise experience delinquency, foreclosure, bankruptcy and loss rates that are higher, and that may be substantially higher, than those experienced by mortgage loans underwritten in a more traditional manner.  Thus, because of higher delinquency rates and losses associated with non-prime and subprime mortgage loans, the performance of our non-Agency mortgage-backed securities that are backed by these types of loans could be correspondingly adversely affected, which could materially adversely impact our results of operations, financial condition and business.

Our investments may include subordinated tranches of non-Agency mortgage-backed securities, which are subordinate in right of payment to more senior securities.
Our investments may include subordinated tranches of non-Agency mortgage-backed securities, which are subordinated classes of securities in a structure of securities collateralized by a pool of mortgage loans and, accordingly, are the first or among the first to bear the loss upon a restructuring or liquidation of the underlying collateral and the last to receive payment of interest and principal. Additionally, estimated fair values of these subordinated interests tend to be more sensitive to changes in economic conditions than more senior securities. As a result, such subordinated interests generally are not actively traded and may not be liquid investments.

We are subject to counterparty risk and may be unable to seek indemnity or require counterparties to repurchase residential whole loans if they breach representations and warranties, which could cause us to suffer losses.
When selling or securitizing mortgage loans, sellers typically make customary representations and warranties about such loans. Residential mortgage loan purchase agreements may entitle the purchaser of the loans to seek indemnity or demand repurchase or substitution of the loans in the event the seller of the loans breaches a representation or warranty given to the purchaser. There can be no assurance that a mortgage loan purchase agreement will contain appropriate representations and warranties, that we or the trust that purchases the mortgage loans would be able to enforce a contractual right to repurchase or substitution, or that the seller of the loans will remain solvent or otherwise be able to honor its obligations under its mortgage loan purchase agreements. The inability to obtain or enforce an indemnity or require repurchase of a significant number of loans could adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and business.

Our investments in residential whole loans subject us to servicing-related risks, including those associated with foreclosure.
In connection with the acquisition and securitization of residential whole loans, we rely on unaffiliated servicing companies to service and manage the mortgages underlying our Non-Agency mortgage-backed securities and our residential whole loans. If a servicer is not vigilant in seeing that borrowers make their required monthly payments, borrowers may be less likely to make these payments, resulting in a higher frequency of default. If a servicer takes longer to liquidate non-performing mortgages, our losses related to those loans may be higher than originally anticipated.
Any failure by servicers to service these mortgages and related real estate owned (“REO”) properties could negatively impact the value of these investments and our financial performance. In addition, while we have contracted, and will continue to contract, with unaffiliated servicing companies to carry out the actual servicing of the loans we purchase together with the related MSRs

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(including all direct interface with the borrowers), we are nevertheless ultimately responsible, vis-à-vis the borrowers and state and federal regulators, for ensuring that the loans are serviced in accordance with the terms of the related notes and mortgages and applicable law and regulation. In light of the current regulatory environment, such exposure could be significant even though we might have contractual claims against our servicers for any failure to service the loans to the required standard.
When a residential whole loan we own is foreclosed upon, title to the underlying property would be taken by one of our subsidiaries. The foreclosure process, especially in judicial foreclosure states such as New York, Florida and New Jersey can be lengthy and expensive, and the delays and costs involved in completing a foreclosure, and then liquidating the property through sale, may materially increase any related loss. Finally, at such time as title is taken to a foreclosed property, it may require more extensive rehabilitation than we estimated at acquisition or a previously unknown environmental liability may be discovered that would require expensive and time-consuming remediation.

Challenges to the MERS® System could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
MERSCORP, Inc. is a privately held company that maintains an electronic registry, referred to as the MERS System, that tracks ownership of residential mortgage loans in the U.S., as well as the identity of the associated servicer and subservicer. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., or MERS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MERSCORP, Inc., can serve as a nominee for the owner of a mortgage loan and in that role initiate foreclosures and/or become the mortgagee of record for the loan in local land records. We, or other parties with whom we contract to do business or from whom we acquire assets, may choose to use MERS as a nominee. The MERS System is widely used by participants throughout the mortgage finance industry. The MERS System allows us to foreclose on delinquent loans more efficiently than we otherwise could ourselves.
Over the last several years, there have been legal challenges disputing MERS’s legal standing to initiate foreclosures and/or act as nominee in local land records.
It is possible that these challenges could negatively affect MERS’s ability to serve as the mortgagee of record in some jurisdictions. In addition, where MERS is the mortgagee of record, it must execute assignments of mortgages, affidavits and other legal documents in connection with foreclosure proceedings. As a result, investigations by governmental authorities and others into a servicer’s possible foreclosure process deficiencies may impact MERS. Failures by MERS to apply prudent and effective process controls and to comply with legal and other requirements in the foreclosure process could pose operational, reputational and legal risks that may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

With respect to mortgage loans we own, or which we have purchased and subsequently sold, we may be subject to liability for potential violations of truth-in-lending or other similar consumer protection laws and regulations, which could adversely impact our business and financial results.
Federal consumer protection laws and regulations regulate residential mortgage loan underwriting and originators’ lending processes, standards, and disclosures to borrowers. These laws and regulations include, among others, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “ability-to-repay” and “qualified mortgage” regulations. In addition, there are various other federal, state, and local laws and regulations that are intended to discourage predatory lending practices by residential mortgage loan originators. For example, the federal Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994 (“HOEPA”) which was expanded under the Dodd Frank Act, prohibits inclusion of certain provisions in residential mortgage loans that have mortgage rates or origination costs in excess of prescribed levels and requires that borrowers be given certain disclosures prior to origination. Some states have enacted, or may enact, similar laws or regulations, which in some cases may impose restrictions and requirements greater than those in place under federal laws and regulations. In addition, under the anti-predatory lending laws of some states, the origination of certain residential mortgage loans, including loans that are classified as “high cost” loans under applicable law, must satisfy a net tangible benefits test with respect to the borrower. This test, as well as certain standards set forth in the “ability-to-repay” and “qualified mortgage” regulations, may be highly subjective and open to interpretation. As a result, a court may determine that a residential mortgage loan did not meet the applicable standard or test even if the originator reasonably believed such standard or test had been satisfied. Failure of residential mortgage loan originators or servicers to comply with federal consumer protection laws and regulations could subject us, as an assignee or purchaser of these loans (or as an investor in securities backed by these loans), to monetary penalties and defenses to foreclosure, including by recoupment or setoff of damages and costs, which for some violations included the sum of all finance charges and fees paid by the consumer, and could result in rescission of the affected residential mortgage loans, which could adversely impact our business and financial results.


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We may not be able to obtain or maintain the governmental licenses required to operate our Residential Credit business and we may fail to comply with various state and federal laws and regulations applicable to our business of acquiring residential mortgage loans and servicing rights.
While we are not required to obtain licenses to purchase mortgage-backed securities, the purchase of residential mortgage loans and certain business purpose mortgage loans in the secondary market may, in some circumstances, require us to maintain various state licenses. Acquiring the right to service residential mortgage loans and certain business purpose mortgage loans may also, in some circumstances, require us to maintain various state licenses even though we currently do not expect to directly engage in loan servicing ourselves. As a result, we could be delayed in conducting certain business if we were first required to obtain a state license. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain all of the licenses we need or that we would not experience significant delays in obtaining these licenses. Furthermore, once licenses are issued we are required to comply with various information reporting and other regulatory requirements to maintain those licenses, and there is no assurance that we will be able to satisfy those requirements or other regulatory requirements applicable to our business of acquiring mortgage loans on an ongoing basis. Our failure to obtain or maintain required licenses or our failure to comply with regulatory requirements that are applicable to our business of acquiring mortgage loans may restrict our residential credit business and investment options and could harm our business and expose us to penalties or other claims.

Risks Related to Our Relationship with Our Manager
On February 12, 2020, we entered into the Internalization Agreement with the Manager. Pursuant to the Internalization Agreement, we will acquire the equity interests of the Manager and its affiliates, which are owned by certain of our current executive officers, for a nominal cash purchase price ($1.00), and transition from an externally-managed REIT to an internally-managed REIT. The Internalization is subject to certain closing conditions, and is expected to close during the second quarter of 2020.

The management agreement was negotiated between related parties and the terms, including fees payable, may not be as favorable to us as if it were negotiated with an unaffiliated third party.
Because the Manager is owned indirectly by members of our current management, the management agreement was developed by related parties. Although our independent directors, who are responsible for protecting our and our stockholders’ interests with regard to the management agreement, had the benefit of external financial and legal advisors, they did not have the benefit of arm’s-length advice from our executive officers.  The terms of the management agreement, including fees payable, may not reflect the terms we may have received if it was negotiated with an unrelated third party.  In addition, particularly as a result of our relationship with the ultimate owners and employees of the Manager, who are members of our current management, our directors may determine that it is in the best interests of our stockholders not to enforce, or to enforce less vigorously, our rights under the management agreement because of our desire to maintain our ongoing relationship with our Manager.

There may be conflicts of interest between us and our executive officers.
The Manager is owned indirectly by members of our current management.  The ultimate owners of the Manager will be entitled to receive any profit from the management fee we pay to our Manager either in the form of distributions by our Manager or increased value of their ownership interests in the Manager.  This may cause our management to have interests that conflict with our interests and those of our stockholders.

We are dependent upon the Manager who provides services to us through the management agreement and we may not find suitable replacements for our Manager if the management agreement is terminated or the Manager’s key personnel are no longer available to us.
Personnel provided by the Manager is responsible for making all of our investment decisions. We believe that the successful implementation of our investment and financing strategies depend upon the experience of certain of the Manager’s officers and employees.  None of these individuals’ continued service is guaranteed. If the management agreement is terminated or these individuals leave the Manager, the Manager or we may be unable to replace them with persons with appropriate experience, or at all, and we may not be able to execute our business plan.

The management fee is payable regardless of our performance.
The Manager receives a management fee from us that is based on a percentage of our stockholders’ equity, regardless of the performance of our investment portfolio (except to the extent that performance affects our stockholders’ equity).  For example,

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we pay our Manager a management fee for a specific period even if we experienced a net loss during the same period. The Manager’s entitlement to substantial nonperformance-based compensation may reduce its incentive to provide attractive risk-adjusted returns for our investment portfolio.  This in turn could limit our ability to make distributions to our stockholders and affect the market price of our common stock.

The fee structure of the management agreement may limit the Manager’s ability to retain access to its key personnel.
The management agreement does not provide the Manager with an incentive management fee that would pay the Manager additional compensation as a result of meeting or exceeding performance targets.  Some of our externally managed competitors pay their managers an incentive management fee, which could enable the manager to provide additional compensation to its key personnel.  Thus, the lack of an incentive fee in the management agreement may limit the ability of the Manager to provide key personnel with additional compensation for strong performance, which could adversely affect the Manager’s ability to retain these key personnel.  If the Manager were not able to retain any of the key personnel that will be providing services to the Manager, it would have to find replacement personnel to provide those services.  Those replacement key personnel may not be able to produce the same operating results as the current key personnel.

Conflicts of interest could arise in connection with our executive officers’ discharge of fiduciary duties to our stockholders.
Our current executive officers are indirect owners and employees of the Manager while continuing to be executive officers of Annaly. Our executive officers, by virtue of their positions, have fiduciary duties to our company and our stockholders.  The duties of our executive officers to us and our stockholders may come into conflict with the interests of such officers in their capacities as owners or employees of the Manager. If the Manager were to manage any additional entities, our executive officers could face conflicts of interest in allocating their time among us and such additional entities.

Risks Related to Internalization
The Internalization was negotiated between the Special Committee, which is comprised solely of independent and disinterested members of our Board, and our Manager, which is affiliated with certain of our officers and directors.
The Internalization was negotiated with our Manager, which is affiliated with certain of our officers and directors. As a result, those officers and directors may have different interests than us or our stockholders. This potential conflict would not exist in the case of a transaction negotiated with unaffiliated third parties.

The Internalization may not be accretive to our stockholders.
While it is expected that the Internalization will be, in the long-term, accretive to our stockholders, there can be no assurance that this will be the case, as, among other things, we may not achieve our anticipated cost savings from the Internalization (including if we incur higher general and administrative expenses than expected). The failure of the Internalization to be accretive to our stockholders could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We may not manage the Internalization effectively or realize its anticipated benefits.
We may not manage the Internalization effectively. The Internalization could be a time-consuming and costly process and we may encounter potential difficulties in the integration process including, among other things:
the inability to successfully internalize corporate management in a manner that permits us to achieve the cost savings anticipated to result from the Internalization (including if we incur higher general and administrative expenses than expected), which could result in the anticipated benefits of the Internalization not being realized in the timeframe currently anticipated or at all;
the risk of not realizing all of the anticipated strategic, operational and financial benefits of the Internalization within the expected time frame or at all;
potential unknown liabilities and unforeseen increased expenses, delays or regulatory conditions associated with the Internalization; and
performance shortfalls as a result of the diversion of management’s attention caused by completing the Internalization.

For all these reasons, you should be aware that it is possible that the Internalization process could result in the distraction of our management, the disruption of our ongoing business or inconsistencies in our operations, any of which could adversely affect our

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ability to achieve the anticipated benefits of the Internalization, or could otherwise materially adversely affect our business and financial results.

We depend on our key executives and other employees of our Manager. There is no guarantee that such key executives and employees will remain employed or engaged by us for any specified period of time, and will not engage in competitive activities if they cease to be employed with or engaged by us.

We depend on the key executives and employees of our Manager. It is expected that, following the consummation of the Internalization, we will continue to substantially depend on the services of these individuals. Mr. Votek intends to transition to a temporary advisory role with Annaly and to continue serving as an active member of the Board following the appointment of a permanent chief executive officer and president. Our other executive officers have entered into employment agreements with us. These agreements will become effective upon the closing of the Internalization and have been structured to incentivize our executives to stay through the end of their initial terms. Nevertheless, as is presently the case under the Management Agreement, the departure or the loss of the services of any of these individuals, or other senior management personnel or employees, following the Internalization could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to effectively operate our business.

We may be exposed to risks to which we have not historically been exposed.

The Internalization will expose us to risks to which we have not historically been exposed. Pursuant to the Internalization Agreement, we will acquire the Manager, including any potential future liabilities the Manager may have, which may be unforeseen. In addition, in our current externally-managed structure, we do not directly employ a meaningful number of employees. As a result of the Internalization, we are expected to employ all of the Manager’s current employees. We will assume and be responsible for all employee compensation costs following the closing of the Internalization. In addition, we will be subject to those potential liabilities that are commonly faced by employers, such as workers’ disability and compensation claims, potential labor disputes and other employee-related liabilities and grievances, and we will bear the costs of the establishment and maintenance of employee benefit plans, if established. There are no assurances that, following the Internalization, these employees of our Manager will be able to provide us with the same level of services as were previously provided to us by our Manager, and there may be other unforeseen costs, expenses and difficulties associated with operating as an internally-managed company.

The Internalization does not contain any indemnities.

The Internalization Agreement does not contain any indemnification provisions or other remedies against the Manager or its owners. We will acquire the Manager, including any potential future liabilities the Manager may have, which may be unforeseen. If we were to incur any such liabilities or other unknown costs, we do not have any contractual ability to seek indemnity from the Manager or its owners.

Following the Internalization, our inability to deduct for tax purposes certain compensation paid to our executives could require us to increase our distributions to stockholders or pay entity level taxes to maintain our REIT status.

Following the Internalization, our inability to deduct for tax purposes certain compensation paid to our executives could require us to increase our distributions to stockholders or pay entity level taxes to maintain our REIT status. Section 162(m) of the Code prohibits publicly held corporations from taking a tax deduction for annual compensation in excess of $1 million paid to any of the corporation’s "covered employees."  As modified by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”), Section 162(m) provides that a publicly held corporation’s covered employees include its chief executive officer, chief financial officer and the three other most highly compensated executive officers, effective for taxable years beginning January 1, 2018.  In addition, the TCJA also added that once an individual becomes a covered employee after December 31, 2016, that individual will remain a covered employee for all future years including after termination or death. Compensation paid to "covered employees" in excess of the Section 162(m) deductibility limit increases our taxable income compared to fully deductible compensation and, as a result, increases the amount of dividends we must distribute to stockholders to maintain our REIT status and/or to avoid U.S. federal and state income tax, which could adversely affect our financial condition.


Risks Related to Our Taxation as a REIT
Our failure to qualify as a REIT would have adverse tax consequences.

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We believe that since 1997 we have qualified for taxation as a REIT for federal income tax purposes under Sections 856 through 860 of the Code.  We plan to continue to meet the requirements for taxation as a REIT.  The determination that we are a REIT requires an analysis of various factual matters and circumstances that may not be totally within our control.  For example, to qualify as a REIT, at least 75% of our gross income must come from real estate sources and 95% of our gross income must come from real estate sources and certain other sources that are itemized in the REIT tax laws. Additionally, our ability to satisfy the REIT asset tests depends upon our analysis of the characterization and fair market values of our assets, some of which are not susceptible to precise determination, and for which we will not obtain independent appraisals. The proper classification of an instrument as debt or equity for U.S. federal income tax purposes may be uncertain in some circumstances, which could affect the application of the REIT asset requirements. We are also required to distribute to stockholders at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (determined without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and by excluding any net capital gain).  Even a technical or inadvertent mistake could jeopardize our REIT status.  Furthermore, Congress and the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) might make changes to the tax laws and regulations, and the courts might issue new rulings that make it more difficult or impossible for us to remain qualified as a REIT.
We also indirectly own interests in entities that have elected to be taxed as REITs under the U.S. federal income tax laws, or “Subsidiary REITs.” Subsidiary REITs are subject to the various REIT qualification requirements that are applicable to us. If any Subsidiary REIT were to fail to qualify as a REIT, then (i) that Subsidiary REIT would become subject to regular U.S. federal, state, and local corporate income tax, (ii) our interest in such Subsidiary REIT would cease to be a qualifying asset for purposes of the REIT asset tests, and (iii) it is possible that we would fail certain of the REIT asset tests, in which event we also would fail to qualify as a REIT unless we could avail ourselves of certain relief provisions. While we believe that the Subsidiary REITs have qualified as REITs under the Code, we have joined each Subsidiary REIT in filing “protective” TRS elections under Section 856(l) of the Code. We cannot assure you that such “protective” TRS elections would be effective to avoid adverse consequences to us. Moreover, even if the “protective” elections were to be effective, the Subsidiary REITs would be subject to regular corporate income tax, and we cannot assure you that we would not fail to satisfy the requirement that not more than 20% of the value of our total assets may be represented by the securities of one or more TRSs. If we fail to qualify as a REIT, we would be subject to federal income tax at regular corporate rates.  Also, unless the IRS granted us relief under certain statutory provisions, we would remain disqualified as a REIT for four years following the year we first fail to qualify.  If we fail to qualify as a REIT, we would have to pay significant income taxes and would therefore have less money available for investments or for distributions to our stockholders.  This would likely have a significant adverse effect on the value of our equity.  In addition, the tax law would no longer require us to make distributions to our stockholders.
A REIT that fails the quarterly asset tests for one or more quarters will not lose its REIT status as a result of such failure if either (i) the failure is regarded as a de minimis failure under standards set out in the Code, or (ii) the failure is greater than a de minimis failure but is attributable to reasonable cause and not willful neglect.  In the case of a greater than de minimis failure, however, the REIT must pay a tax and must remedy the failure within 6 months of the close of the quarter in which the failure was identified.  In addition, the Code provides relief for failures of other tests imposed as a condition of REIT qualification, as long as the failures are attributable to reasonable cause and not willful neglect. A REIT would be required to pay a penalty of $50,000, however, in the case of each failure.

We have certain distribution requirements, which could adversely affect our ability to execute our business plan.
As a REIT, we must distribute at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (determined without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and by excluding any net capital gain).  The required distribution limits the amount we have available for other business purposes, including amounts to fund our growth.  Also, it is possible that because of the differences between the time we actually receive revenue or pay expenses and the period we report those items for distribution purposes, we may have to borrow funds on a short-term basis to meet the 90% distribution requirement.
To the extent that we satisfy this distribution requirement, but distribute less than 100% of our taxable income, we will be subject to federal corporate income tax on our undistributed taxable income. In addition, we will be subject to a non-deductible 4% excise tax if the actual amount that we pay out to our stockholders in a calendar year is less than a minimum amount specified under federal tax laws. We intend to make distributions to our stockholders to comply with the REIT qualification requirements of the Code.
From time to time, we may generate taxable income greater than our income for financial reporting purposes prepared in accordance with GAAP, or differences in timing between the recognition of taxable income and the actual receipt of cash may occur. For example, if we purchase Agency or non-Agency securities at a discount, we are generally required to accrete the discount into taxable income prior to receiving the cash proceeds of the accreted discount at maturity, and in some cases, potentially recognize the discount in taxable income once such amounts are reflected in our financial statements. If we do not have other funds available in these situations we could be required to (i) borrow funds on unfavorable terms, (ii) sell investments at disadvantageous prices, (iii) distribute our own stock, see below, or (iv) distribute amounts that would otherwise be invested in future acquisitions to make

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distributions sufficient to enable us to pay out enough of our taxable income to satisfy the REIT distribution requirement and to avoid the corporate income tax and 4% excise tax in a particular year. These scenarios could increase our costs or reduce our stockholders’ equity. Thus, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our ability to grow, which could adversely affect the value of our common stock.
Conversely, from time to time, we may generate taxable income less than our income for financial reporting purposes due to GAAP and tax accounting differences or, as mentioned above, the timing between the recognition of taxable income and the actual receipt of cash.  In such circumstances we may make distributions according to our business plan that are within our wherewithal from an economic or cash management perspective, but that are labeled as return of capital for tax reporting purposes as they are in excess of taxable income in that period.

Distributions to tax-exempt investors may be classified as unrelated business taxable income.
Neither ordinary nor capital gain distributions with respect to our common stock nor gain from the sale of our common stock are anticipated to constitute unrelated business taxable income to a tax-exempt investor. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. In particular:
part of the income and gain recognized by certain qualified employee pension trusts with respect to our common stock may be treated as unrelated business taxable income if shares of our common stock are predominantly held by qualified employee pension trusts, and we are required to rely on a special look-through rule for purposes of meeting one of the REIT ownership tests, and we are not operated in a manner to avoid treatment of such income or gain as unrelated business taxable income;
part of the income and gain recognized by a tax-exempt investor with respect to our common stock would constitute unrelated business taxable income if the investor incurs debt in order to acquire the common stock;


 
part or all of the income or gain recognized with respect to our common stock by social clubs, voluntary employee benefit associations, supplemental unemployment benefit trusts and qualified group legal services plans which are exempt from federal income taxation under the Code may be treated as unrelated business taxable income;
to the extent that we (or a part of us, or a disregarded subsidiary of ours) are a “taxable mortgage pool,” or if we hold residual interests in a real estate mortgage investment conduit or a CLO;
a portion of the distributions paid to a tax-exempt stockholder that is allocable to excess inclusion income may be treated as unrelated business taxable income.


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

Limits on ownership of our stock could have adverse consequences to you and could limit your opportunity to receive a premium on our stock.
To maintain our qualification as a REIT for federal income tax purposes, not more than 50% in value of the outstanding shares of our capital stock may be owned, directly or indirectly, by five or fewer individuals (as defined in the federal tax laws to include certain entities). Primarily to facilitate maintenance of our qualification as a REIT for federal income tax purposes, our charter prohibits ownership, directly or by the attribution provisions of the federal tax laws, by any person of more than 9.8% of the lesser of the number or value of the issued and outstanding shares of any class of our capital. Our Board, in its sole and absolute discretion, may waive or modify the ownership limit with respect to one or more persons who would not be treated as “individuals” if it is satisfied that ownership in excess of this limit will not otherwise jeopardize our status as a REIT for federal income tax purposes.

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The ownership limit may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control and, therefore, could adversely affect our stockholders’ ability to realize a premium over the then-prevailing market price for our common stock in connection with a change in control.

A REIT cannot invest more than 20% of its total assets in the stock or securities of one or more taxable REIT subsidiaries (“TRSs”); therefore, our TRSs cannot constitute more than 20% of our total assets.
A TRS is a corporation, other than a REIT or a qualified REIT subsidiary, in which a REIT owns stock and with which we jointly elect TRS status.  The term also includes a corporate subsidiary in which the TRS owns more than a 35% interest.
A REIT may own up to 100% of the stock of one or more TRSs. A TRS may earn income that would not be qualifying income if it was earned directly by the parent REIT.  Overall, at the close of any calendar quarter, no more than 20% of the value of a REIT’s assets may consist of stock or securities of one or more TRSs.
The stock and securities of our TRSs are expected to represent less than 20% of the value of our total assets.  Furthermore, we intend to monitor the value of our investments in the stock and securities of our TRSs to ensure compliance with the above-described limitation.  We cannot assure you, however, that we will always be able to comply with the limitation so as to maintain REIT status.

TRSs are subject to tax at the regular corporate rates, are not required to distribute dividends, and the amount of dividends a TRS can pay to its parent REIT may be limited by REIT gross income tests.
A TRS must pay income tax at regular corporate rates on any income that it earns.  In certain circumstances, the ability of our TRSs to deduct interest expenses for federal income tax may be limited. Such income, however, is not required to be distributed. Our TRSs will pay corporate income tax on their taxable income, and their after-tax net income will be available for distribution to us. 
Moreover, the annual gross income tests that must be satisfied to ensure REIT qualification may limit the amount of dividends that we can receive from our TRSs and still maintain our REIT status.  Generally, not more than 25% of our gross income can be derived from non-real estate related sources, such as dividends from a TRS.  If, for any taxable year, the dividends we received from our TRSs, when added to our other items of non-real estate related income, represented more than 25% of our total gross income for the year, we could be denied REIT status, unless we were able to demonstrate, among other things, that our failure of the gross income test was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect.
The limitations imposed by the REIT gross income tests may impede our ability to distribute assets from our TRSs to us in the form of dividends.  Certain asset transfers may, therefore, have to be structured as purchase and sale transactions upon which our TRSs recognize a taxable gain.

If interest accrues on indebtedness owed by a TRS to its parent REIT at a rate in excess of a commercially reasonable rate, or if transactions between a REIT and a TRS are entered into on other than arm’s-length terms, the REIT may be subject to a penalty tax.
If interest accrues on an indebtedness owed by a TRS to its parent REIT at a rate in excess of a commercially reasonable rate, the REIT is subject to tax at a rate of 100% on the excess of (i) interest payments made by a TRS to its parent REIT over (ii) the amount of interest that would have been payable had interest accrued on the indebtedness at a commercially reasonable rate.  A tax at a rate of 100% is also imposed on any transaction between a TRS and its parent REIT to the extent the transaction gives rise to deductions to the TRS that are in excess of the deductions that would have been allowable had the transaction been entered into on arm’s-length terms.  While we will scrutinize all of our transactions with our TRSs in an effort to ensure that we do not become subject to these taxes, there is no assurance that we will be successful.  We may not be able to avoid application of these taxes.

Even if we remain qualified as a REIT, we may face other tax liabilities that reduce our cash flow.
Even if we remain qualified for taxation as a REIT, we may be subject to certain federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income, tax on income from some activities conducted as a result of a foreclosure, excise taxes, state or local income, property and transfer taxes, such as mortgage recording taxes, and other taxes. In addition, in order to meet the REIT qualification requirements, prevent the recognition of certain types of non-cash income, or to avert the imposition of a 100% tax that applies to certain gains derived by a REIT from dealer property or inventory, we may hold some of our assets through our TRSs or other subsidiary corporations that will be subject to corporate level income tax at regular rates.

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Complying with REIT requirements may cause us to forgo otherwise attractive opportunities.
To remain qualified as a REIT for federal income tax purposes, we must continually satisfy tests concerning, among other things, the sources of our income, the nature and diversification of our assets, the amounts that we distribute to our stockholders and the ownership of our stock. We may be required to make distributions to stockholders at disadvantageous times or when we do not have funds readily available for distribution, and may be unable to pursue investments that would be otherwise advantageous to us in order to satisfy the source-of-income or asset-diversification requirements for qualifying as a REIT. Thus, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our ability to make and, in certain cases, to maintain ownership of, certain attractive investments.
 
Complying with REIT requirements may force us to liquidate otherwise attractive investments.
To remain qualified as a REIT, we must ensure that at the end of each calendar quarter, at least 75% of the value of our assets consists of cash, cash items, U.S. Government securities and qualified real estate assets. The remainder of our investment in securities (other than U.S. Government securities, qualified real estate assets and securities issued by a TRS) generally cannot include more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any one issuer or more than 10% of the total value of the outstanding securities of any one issuer. In addition, in general, no more than 5% of the value of our assets (other than U.S. Government securities, qualified real estate assets and securities issued by a TRS) can consist of the securities of any one issuer, no more than 20% of the value of our total assets can be represented by securities of one or more TRSs. If we fail to comply with these requirements at the end of any calendar quarter, we must correct the failure within 30 days after the end of the calendar quarter or qualify for certain statutory relief provisions to avoid losing our REIT qualification and suffering adverse tax consequences. As a result, we may be required to liquidate from our investment portfolio otherwise attractive investments. These actions could have the effect of reducing our income and amounts available for distribution to our stockholders.

Liquidation of assets may jeopardize our REIT qualification or create additional tax liability for us.
To remain qualified as a REIT, we must comply with requirements regarding the composition of our assets and our sources of income. If we are compelled to liquidate our investments to repay obligations to our lenders, we may be unable to comply with these requirements, ultimately jeopardizing our qualification as a REIT, or we may be subject to a 100% tax on any resultant gain if we sell assets that are treated as dealer property or inventory.

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

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

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

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

Qualifying as a REIT involves highly technical and complex provisions of the Code.
Qualification as a REIT involves the application of highly technical and complex Code provisions for which only limited judicial and administrative authorities exist. Even a technical or inadvertent violation could jeopardize our REIT qualification. Our qualification as a REIT depends on our satisfaction of certain asset, income, organizational, distribution, stockholder ownership and other requirements on a continuing basis. In addition, our ability to satisfy the REIT qualification requirements depends in part on the actions of third parties over which we have no control or only limited influence, including in cases where we own an equity interest in an entity that is classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes.

The tax on prohibited transactions will limit our ability to engage in transactions, including certain methods of structuring CMOs.
The 100% tax on prohibited transactions will limit our ability to engage in transactions, including certain methods of structuring CMOs, which would be treated as prohibited transactions for federal income tax purposes.
The term “prohibited transaction” generally includes a sale or other disposition of property (including mortgage loans, but other than foreclosure property, as discussed below) that is held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business by us or by a borrower that has issued a shared appreciation mortgage or similar debt instrument to us. We could be subject to this tax if we were to dispose of or structure CMOs in a manner that was treated as a prohibited transaction for federal income tax purposes.
We intend to conduct our operations at the REIT level so that no asset that we own (or are treated as owning) will be treated as, or as having been, held for sale to customers, and that a sale of any such asset will not be treated as having been in the ordinary course of our business. As a result, we may choose not to engage in certain transactions at the REIT level, and may limit the structures we utilize for our CMO transactions, even though the sales or structures might otherwise be beneficial to us. In addition, whether property is held “primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business” depends on the particular facts and circumstances. No assurance can be given that any property that we sell will not be treated as property held for sale to customers, or that we can comply with certain safe-harbor provisions of the Code that would prevent such treatment. The 100% tax does not apply to gains from the sale of property that is held through a TRS or other taxable corporation, although such income will be subject to tax in the hands of the corporation at regular corporate rates. We intend to structure our activities to avoid the prohibited transaction tax.

Certain financing activities may subject us to U.S. federal income tax and could have negative tax consequences for our stockholders.
We may enter into securitization transactions and other financing transactions that could result in us, or a portion of our assets, being treated as a taxable mortgage pool for U.S. federal income tax purposes. If we enter into such a transaction in the future, we could be taxable at the highest corporate income tax rate on a portion of the income arising from a taxable mortgage pool, referred to as "excess inclusion income," that is allocable to the percentage of our shares held in record name by disqualified organizations (generally tax-exempt entities that are exempt from the tax on unrelated business taxable income, such as state pension plans and charitable remainder trusts and government entities). In that case, we could reduce distributions to such stockholders by the amount of tax paid by us that is attributable to such stockholder's ownership.
If we were to realize excess inclusion income, IRS guidance indicates that the excess inclusion income would be allocated among our stockholders in proportion to the dividends paid. Excess inclusion income cannot be offset by losses of a stockholder. If the stockholder is a tax-exempt entity and not a disqualified organization, then this income would be fully taxable as unrelated business taxable income under Section 512 of the Code. If the stockholder is a foreign person, it would be subject to U.S. federal income tax at the maximum tax rate and withholding will be required on this income without reduction or exemption pursuant to any otherwise applicable income tax treaty.

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The lease of qualified healthcare properties to a TRS is subject to special requirements.
We lease certain qualified healthcare properties we acquired from MTGE Investment Corp. (“MTGE”) to a TRS, which hires a manager to manage the healthcare operations at these properties. The lease revenues from this structure are treated as rents from real property if (1) they are paid pursuant to an arms-length lease of a qualified healthcare property with a TRS and (2) the manager qualifies as an “eligible independent contractor,” as defined in the Code. If any of these conditions is not satisfied, then the rents may not be treated as revenues from real property.

Uncertainty exists with respect to the treatment of our TBAs for purposes of the REIT asset and income tests.
We purchase and sell Agency mortgage-backed securities through TBAs and recognize income or gains from the disposition of those TBAs, through dollar roll transactions or otherwise, and may continue to do so in the future. While there is no direct authority with respect to the qualification of TBAs as real estate assets or U.S. Government securities for purposes of the 75% asset test or the qualification of income or gains from dispositions of TBAs as gains from the sale of real property (including interests in real property and interests in mortgages on real property) or other qualifying income for purposes of the 75% gross income test, we treat our TBAs as qualifying assets for purposes of the REIT asset tests, and we treat income and gains from our TBAs as qualifying income for purposes of the 75% gross income test, based on an opinion of counsel substantially to the effect that (i) for purposes of the REIT asset tests, our ownership of a TBA should be treated as ownership of real estate assets, and (ii) for purposes of the 75% REIT gross income test, any gain recognized by us in connection with the settlement of our TBAs should be treated as gain from the sale or disposition of an interest in mortgages on real property. Opinions of counsel are not binding on the IRS, and no assurance can be given that the IRS will not successfully challenge the conclusions set forth in such opinions. In addition, it must be emphasized that the opinion of counsel is based on various assumptions relating to our TBAs and is conditioned upon fact-based representations and covenants made by our management regarding our TBAs. No assurance can be given that the IRS would not assert that such assets or income are not qualifying assets or income. If the IRS were to successfully challenge the opinion of counsel, we could be subject to a penalty tax or we could fail to remain qualified as a REIT if a sufficient portion of our assets consists of TBAs or a sufficient portion of our income consists of income or gains from the disposition of TBAs.

Dividends payable by REITs generally receive different tax treatment than dividend income from regular corporations.
Qualified dividend income payable to U.S. stockholders that are individuals, trusts and estates is subject to the reduced maximum tax rate applicable to capital gains. Dividends payable by REITs, however, generally are not eligible for the reduced qualified dividend rates. For taxable years beginning before January 1, 2026, non-corporate taxpayers may deduct up to 20% of certain pass-through business income, including “qualified REIT dividends” (generally, dividends received by a REIT shareholder that are not designated as capital gain dividends or qualified dividend income), subject to certain limitations, resulting in an effective maximum U.S. federal income tax rate of 29.6% on such income. Although the reduced U.S. federal income tax rate applicable to qualified dividend income does not adversely affect the taxation of REITs or dividends payable by REITs, the more favorable rates applicable to regular corporate qualified dividends could cause investors who are individuals, trusts and estates to perceive investments in REITs to be relatively less attractive than investments in the stocks of non-REIT corporations that pay dividends, which could adversely affect the value of the shares of REITs, including our common stock. Tax rates could be changed in future legislation.

New legislation or administrative or judicial action, in each instance potentially with retroactive effect, could make it more difficult or impossible for us to remain qualified as a REIT.
The present federal income tax treatment of REITs may be modified, possibly with retroactive effect, by legislative, judicial or administrative action at any time, which could affect the federal income tax treatment of an investment in us. The federal income tax rules dealing with REITs constantly are under review by persons involved in the legislative process, the IRS and the U.S. Treasury Department, which results in statutory changes as well as frequent revisions to regulations and interpretations. Additional future revisions in federal tax laws and interpretations thereof could affect or cause us to change our investments and commitments and affect the tax considerations of an investment in us.
 
Risks of Ownership of Our Common Stock
The market price and trading volume of our shares of common stock may be volatile and issuances of large amounts of shares of our common stock could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.
If we issue a significant number of shares of common stock or securities convertible into common stock in a short period of time, there could be a dilution of the existing common stock and a decrease in the market price of the common stock. During 2019, we issued 142.5 million shares of common stock, which includes 86.3 million shares of common stock issued in connection with a public offering, and 56.0 million shares of common stock issued under our at-the-market sales program, and 17.7 million shares of preferred stock, which could become convertible into common stock under limited circumstances related to a change of control of Annaly.
The market price of our shares of common stock may be highly volatile and could be subject to wide fluctuations. In addition, the trading volume in our shares of common stock may fluctuate and cause significant price variations to occur. We cannot assure you that the market price of our shares of common stock will not fluctuate or decline significantly in the future. Some of the factors that could negatively affect our share price or result in fluctuations in the price or trading volume of our shares of common stock include those set forth under “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” as well as:
actual or anticipated variations in our quarterly operating results or business prospects;
changes in our earnings estimates or publication of research reports about us or the real estate industry;
an inability to meet or exceed securities analysts’ estimates or expectations;
increases in market interest rates;
 
hedging or arbitrage trading activity in our shares of common stock;
capital commitments;
changes in market valuations of similar companies;
adverse market reaction to any increased indebtedness we incur in the future;
additions or departures of management personnel;

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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 1A. Risk Factors


actions by institutional stockholders or activist investors;
speculation in the press or investment community;
changes in our distribution policy;
government action or regulation;
 
general market and economic conditions; and
future sales of our shares of common stock or securities convertible into, or exchangeable or exercisable for, our shares of common stock.

Holders of our shares of common stock will be subject to the risk of volatile market prices and wide fluctuations in the market price of our shares of common stock.  These factors may cause the market price of our shares of common stock to decline, regardless of our financial condition, results of operations, business or prospects. It is impossible to assure you that the market prices of our shares of common stock will not fall in the future.
Under our charter, we have 3,000,000,000 authorized shares of capital stock, par value of $0.01 per share.  Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock or other equity-related securities in the public market, or any hedging or arbitrage trading activity that may develop involving our common stock, could depress the market price of our common stock and impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities.

Our charter does not permit ownership of over 9.8% of our common or preferred stock and attempts to acquire our common or preferred stock in excess of the 9.8% limit are void without prior approval from our Board.
For the purpose of preserving our REIT qualification and for other reasons, our charter prohibits direct or constructive ownership by any person of more than 9.8% of the total number or value of any class of our outstanding common or preferred stock. Our charter’s constructive ownership rules are complex and may cause the outstanding stock owned by a group of related individuals or entities to be deemed to be constructively owned by one individual or entity. As a result, the acquisition of less than 9.8% of the outstanding stock by an individual or entity could cause that individual or entity to own constructively in excess of 9.8% of the outstanding stock and thus be subject to our charter’s ownership limit. Any attempt to own or transfer shares of our common or preferred stock in excess of the ownership limit without the consent of the Board shall be void and will result in the shares being transferred by operation of law to a charitable trust.

Provisions contained in Maryland law that are reflected in our charter and bylaws may have anti-takeover effects, potentially preventing investors from receiving a “control premium” for their shares.
Provisions contained in our charter and bylaws, as well as Maryland corporate law, may have anti-takeover effects that delay, defer or prevent a takeover attempt, which may prevent stockholders from receiving a “control premium” for their shares. For example, these provisions may defer or prevent tender offers for our common stock or purchases of large blocks of our common stock, thereby limiting the opportunities for our stockholders to receive a premium for their common stock over then-prevailing market prices. These provisions include the following:
Ownership limit. The ownership limit in our charter limits related investors including, among other things, any voting group, from acquiring over 9.8% of our common stock or more than 9.8% of our preferred stock without the consent of our Board.
Preferred Stock. Our charter authorizes our Board to issue preferred stock in one or more classes and to establish the preferences and rights of any class of preferred stock issued. These actions can be taken without soliciting stockholder approval.
 
Maryland business combination statute. Maryland law restricts the ability of holders of more than 10% of the voting power of a corporation’s shares to engage in a business combination with the corporation.
Maryland control share acquisition statute. Maryland law limits the voting rights of “control shares” of a corporation in the event of a “control share acquisition.”


Broad market fluctuations could negatively impact the market price of our shares of common stock.
The stock market has experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have affected the market price of many companies in industries similar or related to ours and that have been unrelated to these companies’ operating performance. These broad market fluctuations could reduce the market price of our shares of common stock. Furthermore, our operating results and prospects may be below the expectations of public market analysts and investors or may be lower than those of companies with comparable market capitalizations, which could lead to a material decline in the market price of our shares of common stock.


44

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 1A. Risk Factors


We have not established a minimum dividend payment level and cannot assure stockholders of our ability to pay dividends in the future.
We intend to pay quarterly dividends and to make distributions to our stockholders in amounts such that all or substantially all of our taxable income in each year (subject to certain adjustments) is distributed.  This enables us to qualify for the tax benefits accorded to a REIT under the Code.  We have not established a minimum dividend payment level and our ability to pay dividends may be adversely affected for the reasons described in this section.  All distributions will be made at the discretion of our Board and will depend on our earnings, our financial condition, maintenance of our REIT status and such other factors as our Board may deem relevant from time to time.

Our reported GAAP financial results differ from the taxable income results that impact our dividend distribution requirements and, therefore, our GAAP results may not be an accurate indicator of future taxable income and dividend distributions.
Generally, the cumulative net income we report over the life of an asset will be the same for GAAP and tax purposes, although the timing of this income recognition over the life of the asset could be materially different.  Differences exist in the accounting for GAAP net income and REIT taxable income that can lead to significant variances in the amount and timing of when income and losses are recognized under these two measures.  Due to these differences, our reported GAAP financial results could materially differ from our determination of taxable income.

Regulatory Risks
Loss of Investment Company Act exemption from registration would adversely affect us.
We intend to conduct our business so as not to become regulated as an investment company under the Investment Company Act.  If we were to become subject to the Investment Company Act, our ability to use leverage would be substantially reduced, and we would be unable to conduct our business as we currently conduct it.
We currently rely on the exemption from registration provided by Section 3(c)(5)(C) of the Investment Company Act.  Section 3(c)(5)(C), as interpreted by the staff of the SEC, requires us to invest at least 55% of our assets in “mortgages and other liens on and interest in real estate” (“Qualifying Real Estate Assets”) and at least 80% of our assets in Qualifying Real Estate Assets plus real estate related assets.  The assets that we acquire, therefore, are limited by this provision of the Investment Company Act and the rules and regulations promulgated under the Investment Company Act.
We rely on a SEC interpretation that “whole pool certificates” that are issued or guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae (“Agency Whole Pool Certificates”) are Qualifying Real Estate Assets under Section 3(c)(5)(C). This interpretation was promulgated by the SEC staff in a no-action letter over 30 years ago, was reaffirmed by the SEC in 1992 and has been commonly relied upon by mortgage REITs.
On August 31, 2011, the SEC issued a concept release titled “Companies Engaged in the Business of Acquiring Mortgages and Mortgage-Related Instruments” (SEC Release No. IC-29778).  In this concept release, the SEC announced it was reviewing interpretive issues related to the Section 3(c)(5)(C) exemption.  Among other things, the SEC requested comments on whether it should revisit whether Agency Whole Pool Certificates may be treated as interests in real estate (and presumably Qualifying Real Estate Assets) and whether companies, such as us, whose primary business consists of investing in Agency Whole Pool Certificates are the type of entities that Congress intended to be encompassed by the exclusion provided by Section 3(c)(5)(C).  The potential outcomes of the SEC’s actions are unclear as is the SEC’s timetable for its review and actions.
If the SEC changes its views regarding which securities are Qualifying Real Estate Assets or real estate related assets, adopts a contrary interpretation with respect to Agency Whole Pool Certificates or otherwise believes we do not satisfy the exemption under Section 3(c)(5)(C), we could be required to restructure our activities or sell certain of our assets. The net effect of these factors will be to lower our net interest income.  If we fail to qualify for exemption from registration as an investment company, our ability to use leverage would be substantially reduced, and we would not be able to conduct our business as described.  Our business will be materially and adversely affected if we fail to qualify for this exemption.

Changes in laws or regulations governing our operations or our failure to comply with those laws or regulations may adversely affect our business.
We are subject to regulation by laws at the local, state and federal level, including securities and tax laws and financial accounting and reporting standards. These laws and regulations, as well as their interpretation, may be changed from time to time.
Accordingly, any change in these laws or regulations or the failure to comply with these laws or regulations could have a material adverse impact on our business. Certain of these laws and regulations pertain specifically to REITs.

45

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 1A. Risk Factors




46

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES


ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
 
None.

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
 
Our executive and administrative office is located at 1211 Avenue of the Americas New York, New York 10036, telephone 212-696-0100.  This office is leased under a non-cancelable lease expiring September 30, 2025.
For a description of the commercial real estate properties we own as part of our investment portfolio, refer to the section titled “Schedule III – Real Estate and Accumulated Depreciation” of Item 15. “Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules.”

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
 
From time to time, we are involved in various claims and legal actions arising in the ordinary course of business.  At December 31, 2019, we were not party to any pending material legal proceedings.

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
 
None.

47

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters And Issuer Purchases Of Equity Securities

PART II

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
 
Our common stock began trading publicly on October 8, 1997 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the trading symbol “NLY.” As of January 31, 2020, we had 1,430,324,298 shares of common stock issued and outstanding which were held by approximately 425,000 beneficial holders. The equity compensation plan information called for by Item 201(d) of Regulation S-K is set forth in Item 12 of Part III of this Form 10-K under the heading “Equity Compensation Plan Information.”

Dividends
We intend to pay quarterly dividends and to distribute to our stockholders all or substantially all of our taxable income in each year (subject to certain adjustments) consistent with the distribution requirements applicable to REITs.  This will enable us to qualify for the tax benefits accorded to a REIT under the Code.  We have not established a minimum dividend payment level and our ability to pay dividends may be adversely affected by factors beyond our control.  In addition, unrealized changes in the estimated fair value of available-for-sale investments may have a direct effect on dividends. All distributions will be made at the discretion of our Board and will depend on our earnings, our financial condition, maintenance of our REIT status and such other factors as our Board may deem relevant from time to time.  See also Item 1A. “Risk Factors.” No dividends can be paid on our common stock unless we have paid full cumulative dividends on our preferred stock.  From the date of issuance of our preferred stock through December 31, 2019, we have paid full cumulative dividends on our preferred stock.

Share Performance Graph
The following graph and table set forth certain information comparing the yearly percentage change in cumulative total return on our common stock to the cumulative total return of the Standard & Poor’s Composite 500 stock Index or S&P 500 Index, and the Bloomberg Mortgage REIT Index, or BBG REIT index, an industry index of mortgage REITs.  The comparison is for the five-year period ended December 31, 2019 and assumes the reinvestment of dividends.  The graph and table assume that $100 was invested in our common stock and the two other indices on the last trading day of the initial year shown in the graph. Upon written request we will provide stockholders with a list of the REITs included in the BBG REIT Index.


48

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters And Issuer Purchases Of Equity Securities

Five-Year Share Performance
FIVEYEARPERFCHART.JPG

 
12/31/2014
 
12/31/2015
 
12/31/2016
 
12/31/2017
 
12/31/2018
 
12/31/2019
Annaly Capital Management, Inc.
100
 
98
 
117
 
154
 
143
 
153
S&P 500 Index
100
 
101
 
113
 
138
 
132
 
174
BBG REIT Index
100
 
90
 
110
 
133
 
129
 
159
The information in the share performance graph and table has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but neither the accuracy nor completeness can be guaranteed.  The historical information set forth above is not necessarily indicative of future performance. Accordingly, we do not make or endorse any predictions as to future share performance.
The above performance graph and related information shall not be deemed to be “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC or subject to Regulation 14A or 14C under the Securities Exchange Act or to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any filing under the Securities Act of 1933 or the Securities Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate it by reference into such a filing.

Share Repurchase
In June 2019, we announced that our Board authorized the repurchase of up to $1.5 billion of our outstanding common shares through December 31, 2020. The following table sets forth information with respect to this share repurchase program for the quarter ended December 31, 2019.

49

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters And Issuer Purchases Of Equity Securities

 
Total Number of Shares Purchased
Average Price Paid Per Share (1)
The Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of a Publicly Announced Repurchase Program
Maximum Dollar Value of Shares That May Yet Be Purchased Under The Plan (1)
 
(dollars in thousands)
October 1, 2019 - October 31, 2019
7,858,267

$
8.67

7,858,267

$
1,276,818

Total
7,858,267

 
7,858,267

$
1,276,818

 
 
 
 
 
(1)    Excludes commission costs.
 
 
 
 
 




50

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 6. Selected Financial Data


ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
 
The selected financial data should be read in conjunction with the more detailed information contained in the Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes thereto and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included elsewhere in this Form 10-K.

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
 
As of and for the Years Ended December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
Statement of comprehensive income data
(dollars in thousands, except per share data)
Interest income
$
3,787,297

 
$
3,332,563

 
$
2,493,126

 
$
2,210,951

 
$
2,170,697

Interest expense
2,784,875

 
1,897,860

 
1,008,354

 
657,752

 
471,596

Net interest income
1,002,422

 
1,434,703

 
1,484,772

 
1,553,199

 
1,699,101

Realized and unrealized gains (losses)
(3,011,127
)
 
(1,162,984
)
 
199,493

 
84,204

 
(1,021,351
)
Other income (loss)
136,413

 
109,927

 
115,857

 
44,144

 
(13,717
)
Less: Total general and administrative expenses
301,634

 
329,873

 
224,124

 
250,356

 
200,240

Income (loss) before income taxes
(2,173,926
)
 
51,773

 
1,575,998

 
1,431,191

 
463,793

Less: Income taxes
(10,835
)
 
(2,375
)
 
6,982

 
(1,595
)
 
(1,954
)
Net income (loss)
(2,163,091
)
 
54,148

 
1,569,016

 
1,432,786

 
465,747

Less: Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interests
(226
)
 
(260
)
 
(588
)
 
(970
)
 
(809
)
Net income (loss) attributable to Annaly
(2,162,865
)
 
54,408

 
1,569,604

 
1,433,756

 
466,556

Dividends on preferred stock
136,576

 
129,312

 
109,635

 
82,260

 
71,968

Net income (loss) available (related) to common stockholders
$
(2,299,441
)
 
$
(74,904
)
 
$
1,459,969

 
$
1,351,496

 
$
394,588

Net income (loss) per share available (related) to common stockholders
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic
$
(1.60
)
 
$
(0.06
)
 
$
1.37

 
$
1.39

 
$
0.42

Diluted
$
(1.60
)
 
$
(0.06
)
 
$
1.37

 
$
1.39

 
$
0.42

Weighted average number of common shares outstanding
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic
1,434,912,682

 
1,209,601,809

 
1,065,923,652

 
969,787,583

 
947,062,099

Diluted
1,434,912,682

 
1,209,601,809

 
1,066,351,616

 
970,102,353

 
947,276,742

Other financial data
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total assets
$
130,295,081

 
$
105,787,527

 
$
101,760,050

 
$
87,905,046

 
$
75,190,893

Total equity
$
15,796,344

 
$
14,117,801

 
$
14,871,573

 
$
12,575,972

 
$
11,905,922

Dividends declared per common share
$
1.05

 
$
1.20

 
$
1.20

 
$
1.20

 
$
1.20



51

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis

ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
                                
Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements contained in this annual report, and certain statements contained in our future filings with the SEC, in our press releases or in our other public or stockholder communications contain or incorporate by reference certain forward-looking statements which are based on various assumptions (some of which are beyond our control) and may be identified by reference to a future period or periods or by the use of forward-looking terminology, such as “may,” “will,” “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “continue,” or similar terms or variations on those terms or the negative of those terms. Actual results could differ materially from those set forth in forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, changes in interest rates; changes in the yield curve; changes in prepayment rates; the availability of mortgage-backed securities and other securities for purchase; the availability of financing and, if available, the terms of any financing; changes in the market value of our assets; changes in business conditions and the general economy; our ability to grow our commercial business; our ability to grow our residential credit business; our ability to grow our middle market lending business; credit risks related to our investments in credit risk transfer securities, residential mortgage-backed securities and related residential mortgage credit assets, commercial real estate assets and corporate debt; risks related to investments in MSRs; our ability to consummate any contemplated investment opportunities; changes in government regulations or policy affecting our business; our ability to maintain our qualification as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes; our ability to maintain our exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act; and risks and uncertainties associated with the Internalization, including but not limited to the occurrence of any event, change or other circumstances that could give rise to the termination of the Internalization Agreement; the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against the parties to the Internalization Agreement; the inability to complete the Internalization due to the failure to satisfy closing conditions or otherwise; risks that the Internalization disrupts our current plans and operations; the impact, if any, of the announcement or pendency of the Internalization on our relationships with third parties; and the amount of the costs, fees, expenses charges related to the Internalization; and the risk that the expected benefits, including long-term cost savings, of the Internalization are not achieved. For a discussion of the risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see “Risk Factors” in this annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K. We do not undertake, and specifically disclaim any obligation, to publicly release the result of any revisions which may be made to any forward-looking statements to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statements.

All references to “Annaly,” “we,” “us,” or “our” mean Annaly Capital Management, Inc. and all entities owned by us, except where it is made clear that the term means only the parent company.  Refer to the section titled “Glossary of Terms” located at the end of this Item 7 for definitions of commonly used terms in this annual report on Form 10-K.

This section of our Form 10-K generally discusses 2019 and 2018 items and year-to-year comparisons between 2019 and 2018. Discussions of 2017 items and year-to-year comparisons between 2018 and 2017 that are not included in this Form 10-K can be found in Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of our annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018.


52

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis

INDEX TO ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
  
Page
54
54
55
56
56
56
Core earnings and core earnings (excluding PAA), core earnings attributable to common stockholders and core earnings attributable to common stockholders (excluding PAA), core earnings and core earnings (excluding PAA) per average common share and annualized core return on average equity (excluding PAA)
57
59
Interest Income (excluding PAA), economic interest expense and economic net interest income (excluding PAA)
59
60
Average Yield on Interest Earning Assets (excluding PAA), Net Interest Spread (excluding PAA) and Net Interest Margin (excluding PAA)
60
61
62
63
63
63
Unrealized Gains and Losses - Available-for-Sale Investments
64
65
65
67
68
68
68
69
70
70
70
71
72
Capital, Liquidity and Funding Risk Management
72
73
74
75
77
77
77
78
79
79
80
80
80
80
80
80
80
80
80
81
82
 

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ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis

Overview
We are a leading diversified capital manager that invests in and finances residential and commercial assets. Our principal business objective is to generate net income for distribution to our stockholders and optimize our returns through prudent management of our diversified investment strategies. We are a Maryland corporation founded in 1997 that has elected to be taxed as a REIT. We are externally managed by the Manager. Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NLY.”
We use our capital coupled with borrowed funds to invest primarily in real estate related investments, earning the spread between the yield on our assets and the cost of our borrowings and hedging activities.
For a full discussion of our business, refer to the section titled “Business Overview” of Part I, Item 1. “Business.”

Recent Developments
Interim Chief Executive Officer and Ongoing Permanent Chief Executive Officer Search
On November 20, 2019, our board of directors (“Board”) appointed Glenn A. Votek, who had served as our Chief Financial Officer since 2013, as Chief Executive Officer and President, on an interim basis. It is expected that Mr. Votek, who was also elected to the Board, will serve in such roles until the appointment by the Board of a permanent chief executive officer and president. The Board is conducting a formal search for a permanent chief executive officer. Mr. Votek has indicated that, following the appointment of a permanent chief executive officer and president, he intends to transition to a temporary advisory role with Annaly and to continue serving as an active member of the Board.

Internalization
On February 12, 2020, we entered into the Internalization Agreement with our Manager and certain affiliates of our Manager. Pursuant to the Internalization Agreement, we agreed to acquire all of the outstanding equity interests of our Manager and our Manager’s direct and indirect parent companies from their respective owners for a nominal cash purchase price of one dollar ($1.00). As a result of the Internalization, our Manager will cease to perform any outside management services for us and we will become an internally-managed REIT. We anticipate that the closing will occur in the second quarter of 2020.
In connection with the Internalization, we entered into employment and severance contracts with our executive officers (other than Mr. Votek) that will become effective at the closing of the Internalization. In addition, the Management Agreement will be terminated at the closing of the Internalization, and our Manager has agreed to waive any Acceleration Fee (as defined in the Management Agreement) solely as related to the closing of the Internalization. If the closing does not occur, the Management Agreement will revert to the form it was in immediately prior to the execution of the Internalization Agreement in all respects, including with respect to the Acceleration Fee. Upon closing of the Internalization, all employees of the Manager will become employees of Annaly, Annaly will no longer pay a management fee to the Manager, and Annaly going forward will pay the compensation of all employees.
The Internalization Agreement and the related transactions and agreements were approved by the Board, with the unanimous approval of the independent directors of the Board, following the unanimous recommendation of the Special Committee. Both the Special Committee and the Manager obtained advice from separate legal and independent financial advisors. The Special Committee was also assisted by an independent compensation consultant that was retained by the Compensation Committee in connection with the employment arrangements discussed above).

The consummation of the Internalization is subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain conditions and may not close on the terms or under the conditions described in this annual report on Form 10-K, or at all. For more information regarding the Internalization, the Internalization Agreement and the various related employment arrangement with our employees (including our senior management), please see our Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC on February 12, 2020.
Business Environment
The year ended December 31, 2019 was characterized by a shift in the continued economic expansion in the United States, as uncertainties around increased trade tensions between the two largest economies in the world, the United States and China, created a drag on business confidence, in turn lowering investment activity by the corporate sector. These risks to economic growth led the Federal Reserve (“Fed”) to change monetary policy by lowering the Fed Funds Target Rate by an aggregate 75 basis points between July and October 2019 and halting the runoff of its balance sheet. This effectively ended more than three years of the Fed tightening monetary policy. Following some turbulence in short-term financing markets in September, as liquidity regulations and declining bank reserve balances made sourcing of repo financing increasingly costly, the Fed also began to offer short-term repo operations and purchased Treasury bills for the first time in more than ten years to support financial markets.

54

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis

The actions of the Fed taken to prolong the economic expansion and support repo market functioning ultimately worked well, particularly for interest rate and credit products. Financial market assets recorded some of the strongest performances in recent years, helping us to achieve a 14.1% economic return in 2019. The strong return was driven by tightening in credit spreads following the temporary weakness in the fourth quarter of 2018 as well as continued healthy economic performance supported by the Fed’s accommodative actions. As investors continue to need to deploy cash in times of very low interest rates, the credit products benefit from strong investor interest, which has led to tight spreads across nearly the entire sector. Given these dynamics, we continue to remain highly selective in adding credit assets to achieve greater portfolio diversification, as we view the broader credit sector as fully valued. Meanwhile, spreads in the agency MBS sector ended 2019 relatively unchanged from the levels seen at 2018 year-end, but such a snapshot obscures a large move in spreads throughout the year. Agency MBS spreads widened meaningfully into the summer months as high supply continued to provide a major headwind to the sector. Moreover, declining interest rates led to a spike in refinancing activity, leading to a meaningful spike in prepayments during the second half of the year before ultimately declining in the winter months.


Economic Environment
The pace of economic growth slowed somewhat in 2019 relative to the prior year, with gross domestic product (“GDP”) registering 2.3% growth in the U.S. economy, in turn expanding the current business cycle into the longest in U.S. history. Economic growth continued to be driven by robust personal consumption, which contributed 1.8% to the annualized GDP growth rate, to offset slowdowns primarily in the business sector, which faced headwinds from economic slowdowns in Europe and China. Moreover, an escalation in the trade dispute between the U.S. and China kept uncertainty at elevated levels for much of the year.
The Fed currently conducts monetary policy with a dual mandate: full employment and price stability. The unemployment rate declined to 3.5% in 2019, reaching the lowest level in fifty years, well below the Fed’s estimate of the long-run unemployment rate of 4.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Federal Reserve Board. The economy added 176,000 jobs per month in 2019, somewhat below the 223,000 jobs added per month in 2018. Wage growth, as measured by the year-over-year change in private sector Average Hourly Earnings, slowed, reading 2.9% in the month of December 2019 compared to 3.3% in December 2018.
Inflation remained below the Fed’s 2% target in the fourth quarter of 2019 as measured by the year-over-year changes in the Personal Consumption Expenditure Chain Price Index (“PCE”). The headline PCE measure increased by 1.6% year-over-year in December 2019. The more stable core PCE measure, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, registered a similar 1.6% year-over-year increase, somewhat below the 2.0% year-over-year growth measured in December 2018. Despite the slowdown in inflation measures in 2019, the Fed expects the core and headline PCE measures to rebound to levels close to their 2% target over the medium term following the shift in monetary policy seen in the second half of 2019.
In 2019, the Federal Open Market Committee (“FOMC”) reduced the Fed Funds Target Rate a total of three times by 25 bps each to a range of 1.50% - 1.75% given the aforementioned disappointing economic growth overseas, a slowdown in the manufacturing sector growth, and increased downside risks to the U.S. economy. The interest rate cuts are expected to boost inflation and support the U.S. economic expansion. Going forward, market participants expect the FOMC to hold the Fed Funds Target Rate unchanged over the course of 2020 as FOMC members have expressed confidence in the outlook, while remaining vigilant to downside risks to economic growth or inflation.
During the year ended December 31, 2019, the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate rallied 116 bps in the first eight months as a combination of slowing global economic growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and heightened uncertainties around trade led to strong demand for interest rate products. Following the aggregate 75 bps in Fed Funds Target Rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, sentiment ultimately improved in the fourth quarter, leading interest rates to sell off a portion of the rally over the first part of the year. The mortgage basis, or the spread between the 30-year Agency mortgage-backed security coupon and 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, had a volatile year, rising meaningfully through much of the period of declining interest rates amid higher volatility and increased mortgage prepayments before ultimately declining on improved risk sentiment and the relative value offered by mortgages compared to other products.

The following table below presents interest rates and spreads at each date presented:

55

ANNALY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis

 
As of December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
30-Year mortgage current coupon
2.71%
 
3.50%
 
3.00%
Mortgage basis
79 bps
 
82 bps
 
59 bps
10-Year U.S. Treasury rate
1.92%
 
2.68%
 
2.41%
LIBOR
 
 
 
 
 
1-Month
1.76%
 
2.50%
 
1.56%
6-Month
1.91%
 
2.88%
 
1.84%
 
 
London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) Transition
We have established a cross-functional LIBOR transition committee to determine our transition plan and facilitate an orderly transition to alternative reference rates. Our plan includes steps to evaluate exposure, review contracts, assess impact to our business, processes and technology and define a communication strategy with shareholders, regulators and other stakeholders. The committee also continues to engage with industry working groups and other market participants regarding the transition. See “Risks Related to Our Investing, Portfolio Management and Financing Activities-Changes in the method pursuant to which LIBOR is determined, or a discontinuation of LIBOR, may adversely affect the value of the financial obligations to be held or issued by us that are linked to LIBOR.”

Results of Operations
The results of our operations are affected by various factors, many of which are beyond our control. Certain of such risks and uncertainties are described herein (see “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” above) and in Part I, Item 1A. “Risk Factors”.
This Management Discussion and Analysis section contains analysis and discussion of financial results computed in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) and non-GAAP measurements. To supplement our consolidated financial statements, which are prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP, we provide non-GAAP financial measures to enhance investor understanding of our period-over-period operating performance and business trends, as well as for assessing our performance versus that of industry peers.
Refer to the “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” section for additional information.

Net Income (Loss) Summary
The following table presents financial information related to our results of operations as of and for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017.

 
As of and for the Years Ended December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
(dollars in thousands, except per share data)
Interest income
$
3,787,297

 
$
3,332,563

 
$
2,493,126

Interest expense
2,784,875

 
1,897,860

 
1,008,354

Net interest income
1,002,422

 
1,434,703

 
1,484,772

Realized and unrealized gains (losses)
(3,011,127
)
 
(1,162,984
)
 
199,493

Other income (loss)
136,413

 
109,927

 
115,857

Less: Total general and administrative expenses
301,634

 
329,873

 
224,124

Income (loss) before income taxes
(2,173,926
)
 
51,773

 
1,575,998

Income taxes
(10,835
)
 
(2,375
)
 
6,982

Net income (loss)
(2,163,091
)
 
54,148

 
1,569,016

Less: Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interests
(226
)
 
(260
)
 
(588
)
Net income (loss) attributable to Annaly
(2,162,865
)
 
54,408

 
1,569,604

Less: Dividends on preferred stock
136,576

 
129,312

 
109,635

Net income (loss) available (related) to common stockholders
$
(2,299,441
)
 
$
(74,904
)
 
$
1,459,969

Net income (loss) per share available (related) to common stockholders
 
 
 
 
 
Basic
$
(1.60
)
 
$
(0.06
)
 
$
1.37

Diluted
$
(1.60
)
 
$
(0.06
)
 
$
1.37

Weighted average number of common shares outstanding
 
 
 
 
 
Basic
1,434,912,682

 
1,209,601,809

 
1,065,923,652

Diluted
1,434,912,682

 
1,209,601,809

 
1,066,351,616

Other information
 
 
 
 
 
Asset portfolio at period-end
$
127,402,106

 
$
102,340,249

 
$
99,935,666

Average total assets
$
123,202,411

 
$
102,544,922

 
$
91,374,962

Average equity
$
15,325,340

 
$
14,332,404

 
$
13,371,907

Leverage at period-end (1)
7.1:1

 
6.3:1

 
5.7:1

Economic leverage at period-end (2)
7.2:1

 
7.0:1

 
6.6:1

Capital ratio (3)
12.0
 %
 
12.1
%
 
12.9
%
Annualized return on average total assets
(1.76
)%
 
0.05
%
 
1.72
%
Annualized return on average equity
(14.11
)%
 
0.38
%
 
11.73
%
Annualized core return on average equity (excluding PAA) (4)
10.28
 %
 
10.99
%
 
10.54
%
Net interest margin (5)
1.13
 %
 
1.57
%
 
1.38
%
Net interest margin (excluding PAA) (4)
1.32
 %
 
1.52
%
 
1.51
%
Average yield on interest earning assets
3.15
 %
 
3.23
%
 
2.78
%
Average yield on interest earning assets (excluding PAA) (4)
3.36
 %
 
3.17
%
 
2.94
%
Average cost of interest bearing liabilities (6)
2.25
 %
 
2.04
%
 
1.75
%
Net interest spread
0.90
 %
 
1.19
%
 
1.03
%
Net interest spread (excluding PAA) (4)
1.11
 %
 
1.13
%
 
1.19
%
Constant prepayment rate
12.7
 %
 
9.3
%
 
10.6
%
Long-term constant prepayment rate
13.9
 %
 
10.1
%
 
10.4
%
Common stock book value per share
$
9.66

 
$
9.39

 
$
11.34

Interest income (excluding PAA) (4)
$
4,042,191

 
$
3,270,542

 
$
2,634,962

Economic interest expense (4) (6)
$
2,433,500

 
$
1,797,307

 
$
1,334,093

Economic net interest income (excluding PAA) (4)
$
1,608,691

 
$
1,473,235

 
$
1,300,869

Core earnings (4)
$
1,320,502

 
$
1,636,941

 
$
1,267,160

Premium amortization adjustment cost (benefit)
$
254,894

 
$
(62,021
)
 
$
141,836

Core earnings (excluding PAA) (4) (7)
$
1,575,396

 
$
1,574,920

 
$
1,408,996

Core earnings per common share (4)
$
0.83

 
$
1.25

 
$
1.09

PAA cost (benefit) per common share (4)
$
0.17

 
$
(0.05
)
 
$
0.13

Core earnings (excluding PAA) per common share (4)
$
1.00

 
$
1.20

 
$
1.22

(1)    Debt consists of repurchase agreements, other secured financing, debt issued by securitization vehicles and mortgages payable. Debt issued by securitization vehicles, certain credit facilities (included within other secured financing) and mortgages payable are non-recourse to us.

(2)    Computed as the sum of Recourse Debt, cost basis of TBA and CMBX derivatives outstanding, and net forward purchases (sales) of investments divided by total equity.
(3)    Calculated as total stockholders’ equity divided by total assets inclusive of outstanding market value of TBA positions and exclusive of consolidated VIEs.
(4)    Represents a non-GAAP financial measure. Refer to the “Non-GAAP Financial Measures” section for additional information.
(5)    Represents the sum of our interest income plus TBA dollar roll income and CMBX coupon income less interest expense and the net interest component of interest rate swaps divided by the sum of average Interest Earning Assets plus average outstanding TBA contract and CMBX balances.
(6)    Average cost on interest bearing liabilities represents annualized economic interest expense divided by average interest bearing liabilities. Average interest bearing liabilities reflects the average amortized cost during the period. Economic interest expense is comprised of GAAP interest expense and the net interest component of interest rate swaps.
(7)    Excludes dividends on preferred stock.
 



2019 Compared with 2018
GAAP
Net income (loss) was ($2.2) billion, which includes ($0.2) million attributable to noncontrolling interests, or ($1.60) per average basic common share, for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $54.1 million, which includes ($0.3) million attributable to noncontrolling interests, or ($0.06) per average basic common share, for the same period in 2018. We attribute the majority of the change in net income (loss) to unfavorable changes in unrealized gains (losses) on interest rate swaps and realized gains (losses) on termination or maturity of interest rate swaps, and higher interest expense, partially offset by lower net losses on disposal of investments and higher interest income. Net unrealized gains (losses) on interest rate swaps was ($1.2) billion for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $424.1 million for the same period in 2018. Realized gains (losses) on termination or maturity of interest rate swaps was ($1.4) billion for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $1.4 million for the same period in 2018. Interest expense was $2.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $1.9 billion for the same period in 2018, reflecting higher borrowing rates and an increase in average Interest Bearing Liabilities in 2019. Net losses on disposal of investments was ($47.9) million for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to ($1.1) billion for the same period in 2018. Refer to the section titled “Realized and Unrealized Gains (Losses)” located within this Item 7 for additional information related to these changes. Interest income increased to $3.8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $3.3 billion for the same period in 2018