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FIG > SEC Filings for FIG > Form 10-Q on 2-Nov-2012All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for FORTRESS INVESTMENT GROUP LLC

Form 10-Q for FORTRESS INVESTMENT GROUP LLC


2-Nov-2012

Quarterly Report


ITEM 2. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

(tables in thousands except as otherwise indicated and per share data)

The following discussion should be read in conjunction with Fortress Investment Group's consolidated financial statements and the related notes (referred to as "consolidated financial statements" or "historical consolidated financial statements") included within this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results and the timing of events may differ significantly from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those included in Part II, Item 1A, "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q.

Overview

Our Business

Fortress is a leading, highly diversified global investment management firm with approximately $51.5 billion in AUM as of September 30, 2012. Fortress applies its deep experience and specialized expertise across a range of investment strategies - private equity, credit, liquid markets and traditional fixed income
- on behalf of our over 1,400 institutional clients and private investors worldwide. We earn management fees based on the amount of capital we manage, incentive income based on the performance of our alternative investment funds, and investment income (loss) from our principal investments. We invest capital in each of our alternative investment businesses.

As of September 30, 2012, we managed the following businesses:

Private Equity - a business that manages approximately $14.7 billion of AUM comprised of two business segments: (i) private equity funds that primarily make significant, control-oriented investments in debt and equity securities of public or privately held entities in North America and Western Europe, with a focus on acquiring and building asset-based businesses with significant cash flows; and (ii) publicly traded alternative investment vehicles, which we refer to as "Castles," that invest primarily in real estate and real estate related debt investments.

Liquid Hedge Funds - a business that manages approximately $4.4 billion of AUM. These funds invest globally in fixed income, currency, equity and commodity markets and related derivatives to capitalize on imbalances in the financial markets. In addition, this segment includes an endowment style fund, which invests in Fortress Funds, funds managed by external managers and direct investments; and a fund that seeks to generate returns by executing a positively convex investment strategy.

Credit Funds - a business that manages approximately $11.8 billion of AUM comprised of two business segments: (i) credit hedge funds which make highly diversified investments in assets, opportunistic lending situations and securities on a global basis and throughout the capital structure, with a value orientation, as well as non-Fortress originated funds for which Fortress has been retained as manager as part of an advisory business; and (ii) credit private equity ("PE") funds which are comprised of a family of "credit opportunities" funds focused on investing in distressed and undervalued assets, a family of ''long dated value'' funds focused on investing in undervalued assets with limited current cash flows and long investment horizons, a family of "real assets" funds focused on investing in tangible and intangible assets in four principal categories (real estate, capital assets, natural resources and intellectual property), a family of Asia funds, including Japan real estate funds and an Asian investor based global opportunities fund, and a family of real estate opportunities funds.

Logan Circle - our traditional, fixed income asset management business which has approximately $20.6 billion of AUM.

In addition, we treat our principal investments in these funds as a distinct business segment.

Understanding the Asset Management Business

As an asset manager we perform a service - we use our investment expertise to make investments on behalf of other parties (our "fund investors"). An "alternative" asset manager is simply an asset manager that focuses on certain investment methodologies, typically hedge funds and private equity style funds as described below.

Private equity style funds are typically "closed-end" funds, which means they work as follows. We solicit fund investors to make capital commitments to a fund. Fund investors commit a certain amount of capital when the fund is formed. We may "draw" or "call" this capital from the fund investors as the fund makes investments. Capital is returned to fund investors as investments are realized. The fund has a set termination date and we must use an investment strategy that permits the fund to realize all of the investments it makes in the fund within that period. Fund investors may not withdraw or redeem capital, barring certain extraordinary circumstances, and additional fund investors are not permitted to join the fund once it is fully formed. Typically, private equity style funds make longer-term, less liquid (i.e. less readily convertible to cash) investments.


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Hedge funds are typically "open-end" funds, which means they work as follows. We solicit fund investors to invest capital at the fund formation and invest this capital as it is received. Additional fund investors are permitted to join the fund on a periodic basis. Fund investors are generally permitted to redeem their capital on a periodic basis. The fund has an indefinite life, meaning that it continues for an indeterminate period as long as it retains fund investors. Typically, hedge funds make short-term, liquid investments. Our credit hedge funds share certain characteristics of both private equity and hedge funds, and generally make investments that are relatively illiquid in nature.

In addition, Fortress acquired a traditional asset management business. The traditional asset management business works similarly to the hedge fund business, except that generally there is no provision for incentive income and management fee rates are lower.

In exchange for our services, we receive remuneration in the form of management fees and incentive income. Management fees are typically based on a fixed annual percentage of the capital we manage for each fund investor, and are intended to compensate us for the time and effort we expend in researching, making, managing and realizing investments. Incentive income is typically based on achieving specified performance criteria, and it is intended to align our interests with those of the fund investors and to incentivize us to earn attractive returns.

We also invest our own capital alongside the fund investors in order to further align our interests and to earn a return on the investments.

In order to be successful, we must do a variety of things including, but not limited to, the following:

Increase the amount of capital we manage for fund investors, also known as our "assets under management."

                Earn attractive returns on the investments we make.

                Effectively manage our liquidity, including our debt, and
expenses.

Each of these objectives is discussed below.

Assets Under Management

Assets under management, or AUM, fluctuate based on four primary factors:

Capital raising: AUM increases when we receive more capital from our fund investors to manage on their behalf. Typically, fund investors make this decision based on: (a) the amount of capital they wish, or are able, to invest in the types of investments a certain manager or fund makes, and (b) the reputation and track record of the manager and its key investment employees.

Realization of private equity investments: In "closed-end" funds, AUM decreases when we return capital to fund investors as investments are realized. Investments are realized when they are sold or otherwise converted to cash by the manager.

Redemptions: In "open-end" funds, AUM decreases after fund investors ask for their capital to be returned, or "redeemed," at periodic intervals. Typically, fund investors make this decision based on the same factors they used in making the original investment, which may have changed over time or based on circumstances, as well as on their liquidity needs.

Fund performance: AUM increases or decreases in accordance with the performance of fund investments.

It is critical for us to continue to raise capital from fund investors. Without new capital, AUM declines over time as private equity investments are realized and hedge fund investors redeem capital based on their individual needs. Therefore, we strive to maintain a good reputation and a track record of strong performance. We strive to also form and market funds in accordance with investor demand.

We disclose the changes in our assets under management below, under "Results of Operations - Assets Under Management."

Performance

Performance can be evaluated in a number of ways, including the measures outlined below:

Fund returns: Fund returns express the rate of return a fund earns on its investments in the aggregate. They can be compared to the returns of other managers, to returns offered by other investments or to broader indices. They can also be compared to the performance hurdles necessary to generate incentive income. We disclose our fund returns below, under "Results of Operations - Performance of Our Funds."

Proximity to incentive income threshold: This is a measure of a fund's performance relative to the performance criteria it needs to achieve in order for us to earn incentive income.


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Incentive income is calculated differently for the hedge funds and private equity funds, as described below.

We generally earn incentive income from hedge funds based on a straight percentage of the returns of each fund investor, since fund investors may enter the fund at different times. Incentive payments are made periodically, typically annually for the Fortress hedge funds. Once an incentive payment is made, it is not refundable. However, if a particular fund investor suffers a loss on its investment, either from the date of the Fund's inception or since the last incentive payment to the manager, this establishes a "high water mark" for that investor, meaning a threshold that has to be exceeded in order for us to begin earning incentive income again from that fund investor. Investors in the same fund could have different high water marks, in terms of both percentage return and dollar amount.

Since it is impractical to disclose this information on a fund investor-by-investor basis, it may be disclosed based on the following metrics:
the percentage of fund investors who have a high water mark, and the aggregate dollar difference between the value of those fund investors' investments and their applicable aggregate high water mark. The investments held by fund investors who do not have a high water mark are eligible to generate incentive income for us on their next dollar earned.

We generally earn incentive income from private equity style funds based on a percentage of the net returns of the fund, subject to the achievement of a minimum return (the "preferred" return) to fund investors. Incentive income is generally paid as each investment in the fund is realized, subject to a "clawback." At the termination of such a fund, a computation is done to determine how much incentive income we should have earned based on the fund's overall performance, and any incentive income payments received by us in excess of the amount we should have earned must be returned by us (or "clawed back") to the fund for distribution to fund investors. Certain of our private equity style funds pay incentive income only after all of the fund's invested capital has been returned.

Depending on where they are in their life cycle and how they have performed, private equity funds will fall into one of several categories as shown below:

               PE Style Fund Status                           Key Disclosures
                        In a liquidation of the
                        fund's assets at their
                      estimated fair value as of
                          the reporting date:
                                     Would we owe
                      Would the            a
                         fund         clawback of
Has the fund made       owe us         incentive
incentive income      incentive      income to the        (Refer to Note 2 to our
 payments to us?       income?           fund?       consolidated financial statements)

       Yes               Yes              No         - The amount of previously
                                                     distributed incentive income.
                                                     - The amount of "undistributed
                                                     incentive income," which is the
                                                     amount of incentive income that
                                                     would be due to us upon a
                                                     liquidation of the fund's
                                                     remaining assets at their current
                                                     estimated fair value.

       Yes                No              Yes        - The amount of previously
                                                     distributed incentive income.
                                                     - The "intrinsic clawback," which
                                                     is the amount of incentive income
                                                     that we would have to return to
                                                     the fund upon a liquidation of its
                                                     remaining assets at their current
                                                     estimated fair value.

                                                     - The amount by which the total
                                                     current fund value would have to
                                                     increase as of the reporting date
                                                     in order to reduce the intrinsic
                                                     clawback to zero such that we
                                                     would be in a position to earn
                                                     additional incentive income from
                                                     the fund in the future.

       No                Yes              N/A        - The amount of "undistributed
                                                     incentive income," which is the
                                                     amount of incentive income that
                                                     would be due to us upon a
                                                     liquidation of the fund's
                                                     remaining assets at their current
                                                     estimated fair value.

       No                 No              N/A        - The amount by which the total
                                                     current fund value would have to
                                                     increase as of the reporting date
                                                     such that we would be in a
                                                     position to earn incentive income
                                                     from the fund in the future.


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We disclose each of these performance measures, as applicable, for all of our funds in Note 2 to our consolidated financial statements contained herein.

Liquidity, Debt and Expense Management

We may choose to use leverage, or debt, to manage our liquidity or enhance our returns. We strive to achieve a level of debt that is sufficient to cover working capital and investment needs, but not in an amount or way which causes undue stress on performance, either through required payments or restrictions placed on Fortress.

Our liquidity, and our ability to repay our debt, as well as the amount by which our metrics exceed those required under our debt covenants are discussed below, under "- Liquidity and Capital Resources," "- Debt Obligations," and "- Covenants."

We must structure our expenses, primarily compensation expense which is our most significant expense, so that key employees are fairly compensated and can be retained, while ensuring that expenses are not fixed in such a way as to endanger our ability to operate in times of lower performance or reduced liquidity. To this end, we generally utilize discretionary bonuses, profit sharing and equity-based compensation as significant components of our compensation plan.

Profit sharing simply means that when profits increase, either of Fortress as a whole or of a specified component (such as a particular fund) of Fortress, employees receive increased compensation. In this way, employees' interests are aligned with Fortress's, employees can receive significant compensation when performance is good, and we are able to reduce expenses when necessary.

Equity-based compensation simply means that employees are paid in equity of Fortress rather than in cash. This form of compensation has the advantage of never requiring a cash expenditure, while aligning employees' interests with those of Fortress.

Our liquidity is discussed below, under "- Liquidity and Capital Resources." Our compensation expenses, including profit sharing and equity-based, are discussed in Note 7 to our consolidated financial statements contained herein. Our segment operating margin, which we define as the ratio of our fund management distributable earnings to our segment revenues, and which is a measure of our profitability, is discussed in Note 10 to our consolidated financial statements contained herein.

Understanding our Financial Statements

Balance Sheet

Our assets consist primarily of the following:

1) Investments in our funds, recorded generally based on our share of the funds' underlying net asset value, which in turn is based on the estimated fair value of the funds' investments.

2) Cash.

3) Amounts due from our funds for fees and expense reimbursements.

4) Deferred tax assets, which relate to potential future tax benefits. This asset is not tangible - it was not paid for and does not represent a receivable or other claim on assets.

Our liabilities consist primarily of the following:

1) Debt owed under our credit facility (if any).

2) Accrued compensation, generally payable to employees shortly after year-end.

3) Amounts due to our Principals under the tax receivable agreement. These amounts partially offset the deferred tax assets and do not become payable to the Principals until the related future tax benefits are realized.

4) Deferred incentive income, which is incentive income that we have already received in cash but is subject to contingencies and may have to be returned ("clawed back") to the respective funds if certain performance hurdles are not met.

Management, in considering the liquidity and health of the company, mainly focuses on the following aspects of the balance sheet:

1) Expected cash flows from funds, including the potential for incentive income.

2) Cash on hand.

3) Collectability of receivables.

4) Current amounts due under our credit facility.

5) Other current liabilities, primarily accrued compensation.


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6) Debt covenants.

7) Likelihood of clawback of incentive income.

Income Statement

Our revenues and other income consist primarily of the following:

1) Fees and expense reimbursements from our funds, including management fees, which are based on the size of the funds, and incentive income, which is based on the funds' performance.

2) Returns on our investments in the funds.

Our expenses consist primarily of the following:

1) Employee compensation paid in cash.

2) Equity-based compensation, which is not paid in cash but has a dilutive effect when it vests because it results in additional shares being issued. (This amount is broken out from total compensation in the compensation footnote in our consolidated financial statements.)

3) Other general and administrative expenses and interest.

4) Taxes.

The primary measure of operating performance used by management is "Distributable Earnings," which is further discussed in the "- Results of Operations - Segment Analysis" section herein.

Essentially, the key components of our income are the fees we are earning from our funds in comparison to the compensation and other corporate expenses we are paying in cash, and the resulting operating margin. Other significant components include (i) the unrealized changes in value of our funds, reported as unrealized gains (losses) and earnings (losses) from equity method investees, as this is indicative of changes in potential future cash flows, (ii) taxes, and (iii) equity-based compensation (not including principals agreement compensation), because it will eventually have a dilutive effect when the related shares are issued.

Managing Business Performance

We conduct our management and investment business through the following primary segments: (i) private equity funds, (ii) Castles, (iii) liquid hedge funds, (iv) credit hedge funds, (v) credit PE funds, (vi) Logan Circle and (vii) principal investments in those funds, as well as cash that is available to be invested. These segments are differentiated based on their varying strategies and, secondarily, on fund investor terms.

The amounts not allocated to a segment consist primarily of certain general and administrative expenses. Where applicable, portions of the general and administrative expenses have been allocated between the segments.

Management assesses our segments on a Fortress Operating Group and pre-tax basis, and therefore adds back the interests in consolidated subsidiaries related to Fortress Operating Group units (held by the principals and one senior employee) and income tax expense.

Management assesses the net performance of each segment based on its ''distributable earnings.'' Distributable earnings is not a measure of cash generated by operations that is available for distribution. Rather distributable earnings is a supplemental measure of operating performance used by management in analyzing its segment and overall results. Distributable earnings should not be considered as an alternative to cash flow in accordance with GAAP or as a measure of our liquidity, and is not necessarily indicative of cash available to fund cash needs (including dividends and distributions).

We believe that the presentation of distributable earnings enhances a reader's understanding of the economic operating performance of our segments. For a more detailed discussion of distributable earnings and how it reconciles to our GAAP net income (loss), see "- Results of Operations - Segments Analysis" below.


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Market Considerations

Our revenues consist primarily of (i) management fees based generally on the size of our funds, (ii) incentive income based on the performance of our funds and (iii) investment income from our investments in those funds. Our ability to maintain and grow our revenues - both at Fortress and within our funds - depends on our ability to retain existing investors, attract new capital and investors, secure investment opportunities, obtain financing for transactions, consummate investments and deliver attractive risk-adjusted returns.

Our ability to execute our business strategy depends upon a number of market conditions, including:

The strength and liquidity of the U.S. and global equity and debt markets and financial institutions.

Strong equity market conditions enable our private equity funds to increase the value, and effect realizations, of their portfolio company investments. In addition, strong equity markets make it generally easier for our funds that invest in equities to generate positive investment returns. The condition of debt markets also has a meaningful impact on our business. Several of our funds make investments in debt instruments, which are assisted by a strong and liquid debt market. In addition, our funds borrow money to make investments. Our funds utilize leverage in order to increase investment returns, which ultimately drive the performance of our funds. Furthermore, we utilize debt to finance our investments in our funds and for working capital purposes.

Beginning in mid-2007, the equity and debt markets experienced a significant deterioration. The deterioration of the debt markets in the United States was triggered by considerable turbulence in the housing and sub-prime mortgage markets, which negatively affected other fixed income markets. The difficult conditions in the fixed income markets prompted lenders to cease committing to new senior loans and other debt, which, in turn, made it extremely difficult to finance new and pending private equity acquisitions or to refinance existing debt. In particular, the securitization markets have been impaired since that time. As the turbulence in the debt markets continued and its intensity increased, equity market conditions also began to deteriorate as concerns of an economic slowdown began to affect equity valuations. Furthermore, the resulting reduction in the availability of capital caused increased correlation in the values of a wide variety of potential investments, which generally declined substantially. The resulting reduction in liquidity and increase in volatility caused several commercial and investment banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions to reduce the carrying value of a significant amount of their holdings, which further reduced the liquidity of debt and, to a lesser extent, equity instruments. We refer to these conditions, as they existed during this period, as the "2008 Recession."

Equity market conditions began to stabilize in the second quarter of 2009, and debt market conditions improved significantly in 2010. As a result, in our private equity business we were able to access the equity markets in the United States and abroad, including, for example, the IPOs of Rail America, Seacube Container Leasing Ltd., Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. and Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. as well as realizations of significant other positions in publicly traded securities of our portfolio companies. The improvement in the debt markets has enabled us and other market participants to begin to refinance existing debt obligations and otherwise obtain debt financing with respect to . . .

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