SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|☒||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
|☐||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from to
Commission File No. 001-36429
ARES MANAGEMENT CORPORATION
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
|(State or other jurisdiction of|
incorporation or organization)
2000 Avenue of the Stars, 12th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067
(Address of principal executive office) (Zip Code)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
(Former name, former address and former fiscal year, if changed since last report)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Class A common stock, par value $0.01 per share||ARES||New York Stock Exchange|
|7.00% Series A Preferred Stock, par value $0.01 per share||ARES.PRA||New York Stock Exchange|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐ No x
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 x
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 x 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 x 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 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 has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. Yes ☒ No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No x
The aggregate market value of the common shares held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 30, 2020, based on the closing price on that date of $39.70 on the New York Stock Exchange, was approximately $4,469,964,167. As of February 18, 2021 there were 149,539,441 of the registrant’s shares of Class A common stock outstanding, 1,000 shares of the registrant's Class B common stock outstanding, and 112,447,618 of the registrant's Class C common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Part III of this Form 10-K incorporates by reference information from the registrant’s definitive proxy statement related to the 2021 annual meeting of stockholders.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), which reflect our current views with respect to, among other things, future events, operations and financial performance. You can identify these forward-looking statements by the use of forward-looking words such as “outlook,” “believes,” “expects,” “potential,” “continues,” “may,” “will,” “should,” “seeks,” “predicts,” “intends,” “plans,” “estimates,” “anticipates” or the negative version of those words, other comparable words or other statements that do not relate to historical or factual matters. The forward-looking statements are based on our beliefs, assumptions and expectations of our future performance, taking into account all information currently available to us. Such forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties and assumptions relating to our operations, financial results, financial condition, business prospects, growth strategy and liquidity. Some of these factors are described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, under the headings “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “ Item 1A. Risk Factors”. These factors should not be construed as exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with the risk factors and other cautionary statements that are included in this report and in our other periodic filings. If one or more of these or other risks or uncertainties materialize, or if our underlying assumptions prove to be incorrect, our actual results may vary materially from those indicated in these forward-looking statements. New risks and uncertainties arise over time, and it is not possible for us to predict those events or how they may affect us. Therefore, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it is made. We do not undertake any obligation to publicly update or review any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as required by law.
References in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the “Ares Operating Group” refer to, collectively, Ares Holdings L.P. (“Ares Holdings”), Ares Offshore Holdings L.P. (“Ares Offshore”) and Ares Investments L.P. (“Ares Investments”). References in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to an “Ares Operating Group Unit” or an “AOG Unit” refer to, collectively, a partnership unit in each of the Ares Operating Group entities. The use of any defined term in this report to mean more than one entities, persons, securities or other items collectively is solely for convenience of reference and in no way implies that such entities, persons, securities or other items are one indistinguishable group. For example, notwithstanding the use of the defined terms “Ares,” “we” and “our” in this report to refer to Ares Management Corporation and its subsidiaries, each subsidiary of Ares Management Corporation is a standalone legal entity that is separate and distinct from Ares Management Corporation and any of its other subsidiaries.
Under generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (“GAAP”), we are required to consolidate (a) entities other than limited partnerships and entities similar to limited partnerships in which we hold a majority voting interest or have majority ownership and control over the operational, financial and investing decisions of that entity, including Ares-affiliates and affiliated funds and co-investment entities, for which we are presumed to have controlling financial interests, and (b) entities that we concluded are variable interest entities (“VIEs”), including limited partnerships and collateralized loan obligations, for which we are deemed to be the primary beneficiary. When an entity is consolidated, we reflect the assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses and cash flows of the entity in our consolidated financial statements on a gross basis, subject to eliminations from consolidation, including the elimination of the management fees, performance income and other fees that we earn from the entity. However, the presentation of performance related compensation and other expenses associated with generating such revenues is not affected by the consolidation process. In addition, as a result of the consolidation process, the net income attributable to third-party investors in consolidated entities is presented as net income attributable to non-controlling interests in Consolidated Funds in our Consolidated Statements of Operations. We also consolidate joint ventures that we have established with third-party investors for strategic distribution and expansion purposes. The results of these entities are reflected on a gross basis in the consolidated financial statements, subject to eliminations from consolidation, and net income attributable to third-party investors in the consolidated joint ventures is included in net income attributable to redeemable interest and non-controlling interests in Ares Operating Group entities.
In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, in addition to presenting our results on a consolidated basis in accordance with GAAP, we present revenues, expenses and other results on a (i) “segment basis,” which deconsolidates the consolidated funds and removes the proportional results attributable to third-party investors in the consolidated joint ventures, and therefore shows the results of our reportable segments without giving effect to the consolidation of these entities and (ii) “unconsolidated reporting basis,” which shows the results of our reportable segments on a combined segment basis together with our Operations Management Group. In addition to our reportable segments, we have an Operations Management Group (the “OMG”). The OMG consists of shared resource groups to support our reportable segments by providing infrastructure and administrative support in the areas of accounting/finance, operations, information technology, strategy and relationship management, legal, compliance and human resources. The OMG’s expenses are not allocated to our reportable segments but we consider the cost structure of the OMG when evaluating our financial performance. This information constitutes non-GAAP financial information within the meaning of Regulation G, as promulgated by the SEC. Our management uses this information to assess
the performance of our reportable segments and the OMG, and we believe that this information enhances the ability of shareholders to analyze our performance. For more information, see “Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements - Note 15. Segment Reporting.”
When used in this report, unless the context otherwise requires:
•“ARCC Part I Fees” refers to a quarterly performance income on the net investment income of Ares Capital Corporation (NASDAQ: ARCC) (“ARCC”). Such fees from ARCC are classified as management fees as they are predictable and recurring in nature, not subject to contingent repayment and generally cash-settled each quarter, unless subject to a payment deferral;
•“ARCC Part II Fees” refers to fees that are paid in arrears as of the end of each calendar year when the cumulative aggregate realized capital gains exceed the cumulative aggregate realized capital losses and aggregate unrealized capital depreciation, less the aggregate amount of ARCC Part II Fees paid in all prior years since inception;
•“Ares”, the “Company”, “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Ares Management Corporation and its subsidiaries;
•“Ares Operating Group Unit” or an “AOG Unit” refers to, collectively, a partnership unit in each of the Ares Operating Group entities;
•“assets under management” or “AUM” refers to the assets we manage. For our funds other than CLOs, our AUM represents the sum of the net asset value ("NAV") of such funds, the drawn and undrawn debt (at the fund-level including amounts subject to restrictions) and uncalled committed capital (including commitments to funds that have yet to commence their investment periods). NAV refers to the fair value of the assets of a fund less the fair value of the liabilities of the fund. For our funds that are CLOs, our AUM is equal to initial principal amounts adjusted for paydowns;
•“AUM not yet paying fees” (also referred to as "shadow AUM") refers to AUM that is not currently paying fees and is eligible to earn management fees upon deployment;
•“available capital” (also referred to as “dry powder”) is comprised of uncalled committed capital and undrawn amounts under credit facilities and may include AUM that may be canceled or not otherwise available to invest;
•“catch-up fees” refers to management fees that are one-time in nature and represents management fees charged to fund investors in subsequent closings of a fund that apply to the time period between the fee initiation date and the subsequent closing date;
•“Class B membership interests” refers to the interests that were retained by the former owners of Crestline Denali Capital LLC and represent the financial interests in the subordinated notes of the related CLOs;
•“CLOs” refers to “our funds” that are structured as collateralized loan obligations;
•“Consolidated Funds” refers collectively to certain Ares funds, co-investment entities and CLOs that are required under GAAP to be consolidated in our consolidated financial statements;
•“Credit Facility” refers to the revolving credit facility of the Ares Operating Group;
•“effective management fee rate” represents the annualized fees divided by the average fee paying AUM for the period, excluding the impact of one-time catch-up fees;
•“fee paying AUM” or “FPAUM” refers to the AUM from which we directly earn management fees. FPAUM is equal to the sum of all the individual fee bases of our funds that directly contribute to our management fees. For our funds other than CLOs, our FPAUM represents the amount of limited partner capital commitments for certain closed-end funds within the reinvestment period, the amount of limited partner invested capital for the aforementioned closed-end funds beyond the reinvestment period and the portfolio value, gross asset value or NAV. For our funds that are CLOs, our FPAUM is equal to the gross amount of aggregate collateral balance, at par, adjusted for defaulted or discounted collateral;
•“fee related earnings” or “FRE”, a non-GAAP measure, is used to assess core operating performance by determining whether recurring revenue, primarily consisting of management fees, is sufficient to cover operating expenses and to generate profits. FRE differs from income before taxes computed in accordance with GAAP as it excludes performance income, performance related compensation, investment income from our Consolidated Funds and non-consolidated funds and certain other items that we believe are not indicative of our core operating performance;
•“GAAP” refers to accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America;
•“Holdco Members” refers to Michael Arougheti, David Kaplan, Antony Ressler, Bennett Rosenthal, Ryan Berry, R. Kipp deVeer and Michael McFerran;
•“Incentive eligible AUM” or “IEAUM” refers to the AUM of our funds from which performance income may be generated, regardless of whether or not they are currently generating performance income. It generally represents the NAV plus uncalled equity or total assets plus uncalled debt, as applicable, of our funds for which we are entitled to receive performance income, excluding capital committed by us and our professionals (from which we generally do not earn performance income). With respect to ARCC's AUM, only ARCC Part II Fees may be generated from IEAUM;
•“Incentive generating AUM” or “IGAUM” refers to the AUM of our funds that are currently generating performance income on a realized or unrealized basis. It generally represents the NAV or total assets of our funds, as applicable, for which we are entitled to receive performance income, excluding capital committed by us and our professionals (from which we generally do not earn performance income). ARCC is only included in IGAUM when ARCC Part II Fees are being generated;
•“management fees” refers to fees we earn for advisory services provided to our funds, which are generally based on a defined percentage of fair value of assets, total commitments, invested capital, net asset value, net investment income, total assets or par value of the investment portfolios managed by us and include ARCC Part I Fees, among others;
•“net inflows of capital” refers to net new commitments during the period, including equity and debt commitments and gross inflows into our open-ended managed accounts and sub-advised accounts, as well as new debt and equity issuances by our publicly traded vehicles minus redemptions from our open-ended funds, managed accounts and sub-advised accounts;
•“net performance income” refers to performance income net of performance related compensation. Performance related compensation is the portion of performance income that is typically payable to our professionals;
•“our funds” refers to the funds, alternative asset companies, co-investment vehicles and other entities and accounts that are managed or co-managed by the Ares Operating Group, and which are structured to pay fees. It also includes funds managed by Ivy Hill Asset Management, L.P., a wholly owned portfolio company of ARCC and an SEC-registered investment adviser;
•“performance income” refers to income we earn based on the performance of a fund that is generally based on certain specific hurdle rates as defined in the fund’s investment management or partnership agreements and may be either an incentive fee or carried interest;
•“permanent capital” refers to capital of our funds that do not have redemption provisions or a requirement to return capital to investors upon exiting the investments made with such capital, except as required by applicable law. Such funds currently consist of ARCC, Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation (“ACRE”) and Ares Dynamic Credit Allocation Fund, Inc. (“ARDC”). Such funds may be required, or elect, to return all or a portion of capital gains and investment income. In addition, permanent capital includes certain insurance related assets that are owned or related to Aspida Life Re Ltd (“Aspida”);
•“realized income” or “RI”, a non-GAAP measure, is an operating metric used by management to evaluate performance of the business based on operating performance and the contribution of each of the business segments to that performance, while removing the fluctuations of unrealized income and losses, which may or may not be eventually realized at the levels presented and whose realizations depend more on future outcomes than current business operations. RI differs from income before taxes by excluding (a) operating results of our Consolidated Funds, (b) depreciation and amortization expense, (c) the effects of changes arising from corporate actions, (d) unrealized gains and losses related to performance income and investment performance and (e) certain other items that we believe are not indicative of our operating performance. Changes arising from corporate actions include equity-based compensation expenses, the amortization of intangible assets, transaction costs associated with mergers, acquisitions and capital transactions, underwriting costs and expenses incurred in connection with corporate reorganization;
•“SEC” refers to the Securities and Exchange Commission;
•“Series A Preferred Stock” refers to the preferred stock, $0.01 par value per share, of the Company designated as 7.00% Series A Preferred Stock;
•“2024 Senior Notes” refers to senior notes issued by a wholly owned subsidiary of Ares Holdings in October 2014 with a maturity in October 2024; and
•“2030 Senior Notes” refers to senior notes issued by a wholly owned subsidiary of Ares Holdings in June 2020 with a maturity in June 2030.
Many of the terms used in this report, including AUM, FPAUM, FRE and RI, may not be comparable to similarly titled measures used by other companies. In addition, our definitions of AUM and FPAUM are not based on any definition of AUM or FPAUM that is set forth in the agreements governing the investment funds that we manage and may differ from definitions of AUM or FPAUM set forth in other agreements to which we are a party or definitions used by the SEC or other regulatory bodies. Further, FRE and RI are not measures of performance calculated in accordance with GAAP. We use FRE and RI as measures of operating performance, not as measures of liquidity. FRE and RI should not be considered in isolation or as substitutes for operating income, net income, operating cash flows, or other income or cash flow statement data prepared in accordance with GAAP. The use of FRE and RI without consideration of related GAAP measures is not adequate due to the adjustments described above. Our management compensates for these limitations by using FRE and RI as supplemental measures to our GAAP results. We present these measures to provide a more complete understanding of our performance as our management measures it. Amounts and percentages throughout this report may reflect rounding adjustments and consequently totals may not appear to sum.
Item 1. Business
Ares is a leading global alternative investment manager with $197.0 billion of assets under management and over 1,450 employees in over 25 offices in more than 10 countries. We offer our investors a range of investment strategies and seek to deliver attractive performance to an investor base that includes over 1,090 direct institutional relationships and a significant retail investor base across our publicly traded and sub-advised funds. Since our inception in 1997, we have adhered to a disciplined investment philosophy that focuses on delivering strong risk-adjusted investment returns through market cycles. Ares believes each of its distinct but complementary investment groups in Credit, Private Equity, Real Estate and Strategic Initiatives is a market leader based on assets under management and investment performance. We believe we create value for our stakeholders not only through our investment performance, but also by expanding our product offering, enhancing our distribution channels, increasing our global presence, investing in our non-investment functions, securing strategic partnerships and completing strategic acquisitions and portfolio purchases.
Our AUM has grown to $197.0 billion as of December 31, 2020 from $42.0 billion a decade earlier. As shown in the chart below, over the past five and ten years, our assets under management have achieved a compound annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of 16% and 17%, respectively ($ in billions):
We have an established track record of delivering strong risk-adjusted returns through market cycles. We believe our consistent and strong performance in a broad range of alternative investments has been shaped by several distinguishing features of our platform:
•Comprehensive Multi-Asset Class Expertise and Flexible Capital: Our proficiency at evaluating every level of the capital structure, from senior debt to common equity, across companies, structured assets, infrastructure, power and energy assets, and real estate projects enables us to effectively assess relative value. This proficiency is complemented by our flexibility in deploying capital in a range of structures and different market environments to maximize risk-adjusted returns.
•Differentiated Market Intelligence: Our proprietary research on over 55 industries and insights from a broad, global investment portfolio enable us to more effectively diligence and structure our products and investments.
•Consistent Investment Approach: We believe our rigorous, credit-oriented investment approach across each of our investment groups is a key contributor to our strong investment performance and ability to expand our product offering.
•Robust Sourcing Model: Our investment professionals’ local market presence and ability to effectively cross-source for other investment groups generates a robust pipeline of high-quality investment opportunities across our platform.
•Talented and Committed Professionals: We attract, develop and retain highly accomplished investment professionals who not only demonstrate deep and broad investment expertise but also have a strong sense of commitment to our firm.
•Collaborative Culture: We share ideas, relationships and information across our investment groups, which enables us to more effectively source, evaluate and manage investments.
Integrated Investment Platform and Process
We operate our firm as an integrated investment platform with a collaborative culture that emphasizes sharing of knowledge and expertise. We believe the exchange of information enhances our ability to analyze investments, deploy capital and improve the performance of our funds and portfolio companies. We have established deep and sophisticated independent research capabilities in over 55 industries and insights from active investments in over 2,025 companies, over 760 alternative credit investments and over 210 properties. In order to better collaborate on the information insights we possess across our investment platform, we formed a Global Markets Committee that meets monthly to share investing activities and market insights across our investment groups and the impact these market trends are having on our global investment strategies. Our extensive network of investment professionals includes local and geographically positioned individuals with the knowledge, experience and relationships that enable them to identify and take advantage of a wide range of investment opportunities.
Our investment process leverages the power of the Ares platform and an extensive network of professionals across our investment areas to identify and source attractive risk adjusted return opportunities while emphasizing capital preservation. We utilize our collective market and company knowledge, proprietary internal industry and company research, third party information and financial modeling to drive fundamental credit analysis and investment selection. We are able to invest up and down a company’s capital structure, which we believe helps us capitalize on out-performance opportunities and assess relative value for a particular investment. The investment committees of our investment groups review and evaluate investment opportunities in a framework that includes a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the key risks of each investment. We do not have a centralized investment committee and instead our investment committees are structured with overlapping membership from different investment groups to ensure consistency of approach and shared investment experience. In addition, our investment vehicles have investment policies and procedures that generally contain requirements and limitations, such as concentrations of securities, industries, and geographies in which such investment vehicle will invest, as well as other limitations required by law.
•Credit: Our experienced team takes a value-oriented approach which, among other factors, considers industry and market analysis, technical analysis, fundamental credit analysis and in-house research to identify investments that offer attractive value in comparison to the perceived credit risk profile. We use our longstanding relationships, considerable scale, research, industry knowledge, structuring expertise and often our self-origination capabilities to invest actively across capital structures with a focus on selecting the best risk adjusted returns for our investors, while also seeking to provide our borrowers a valued capital solution. Each investment decision involves an intensive due diligence process that is generally focused on evaluating the target company and its current and future prospects, its management team and industry, its ability to withstand adverse conditions and its capital structure, sponsorship and structural protection, among others.
•Private Equity: Our private equity professionals have a demonstrated ability to deploy flexible capital, which allows them to stay both active and disciplined in various market environments. At the center of our investment process is a systematic approach that emphasizes rigorous due diligence at the company and market level in addition to a risk-adjusted return value assessment. Our investment process is comprised of a five-part process: (1) generate robust pipeline, (2) perform initial screening, (3) conduct due diligence, (4) seek investment approval, and (5) use a systematic approach to value creation. Our Private Equity Group employs a “pull model” with portfolio management whereby a team can access the Ares network for any number of value-creating levers that have been identified.
•Real Estate: With our experienced team, along with our expansive network of relationships, our Real Estate Group invests in opportunities across both real estate equity and debt investing. Across our real estate equity and debt investment strategies, our Real Estate Group differentiates itself through its cycle-tested leadership, demonstrated performance across market cycles, access to real-time property market and corporate trends, and proven ability to create value through a disciplined investment process. The activities of our Real Estate Group are managed by dedicated equity and debt teams in the U.S. and Europe. These individuals collaborate frequently within and across
strategies to enhance sourcing, exchange information to inform underwriting and leverage relationships to drive pricing power. Our Real Estate Group's equity team focuses on value-add and opportunistic investing, while our Real Estate Group’s debt team focuses on directly originated commercial mortgage investments across the risk spectrum.
•Strategic Initiatives: Our strategic initiatives team executes investment strategies that expand our reach and scale in new and existing global markets. Strategic Initiatives includes the Ares SSG platform subsequent to the completion of the acquisition on July 1, 2020. Ares SSG makes credit and special situations investments through its local originating presence across Asia-Pacific on behalf of its institutional client base. Strategic Initiatives also includes Ares Insurance Solutions (“AIS”), our dedicated in-house team that provides solutions to insurance clients including asset management, capital solutions and corporate development.
We also recognize the importance of considering environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) factors in our investment process and have adopted an ESG policy for the conduct of our business. We work collaboratively with our various underwriting, asset management, legal and compliance teams to appropriately integrate relevant ESG considerations into our investment process.
In addition, as part of our growth strategy, we may from time to time engage in discussions with counterparties with respect to various potential strategic transactions, including potential investments in, and acquisitions of, other companies or assets. In connection with evaluating potential strategic transactions and assets, we may incur significant expenses for the evaluation and due diligence investigation and negotiation of any potential transaction.
Breadth, Depth and Tenure of our Senior Management
Ares was built upon the fundamental principle that each of our distinct but complementary investment groups benefits from being part of our broader platform. We believe that our strong performance, consistent growth and high talent retention through economic cycles is due largely to the effective application of this principle across our broad organization of over 1,450 employees. The management of our operating businesses is currently overseen by our Executive Management Committee which typically meets weekly to discuss strategy and operational matters, and includes as representatives Holdco Members and other senior leadership from our investment groups and business operations team. We also have a Partners Committee comprised of senior leadership from across the firm that meets periodically to discuss our business, including investment and operating performance, fundraising, market conditions, strategic initiatives and other firm matters. Each of our investment groups is led by its own deep leadership team of highly accomplished investment professionals, who average approximately 25 years of experience managing investments in, advising, underwriting and restructuring companies. While primarily focused on managing strategies within their own investment group, these senior professionals are integrated within our platform through economic, cultural and structural measures. Our senior professionals have the opportunity to participate in the incentive programs of multiple investment groups to reward collaboration across our investment activities. This collaboration takes place on a daily basis and is formally promoted through internal systems and widely attended weekly or monthly meetings.
We believe that our people and our culture are the most critical strategic drivers of our success as a firm. Creating a welcoming and inclusive work environment with opportunities for growth and development is essential to attracting and retaining a high-performance team, which is in turn necessary to drive differentiated outcomes. We believe that our unique culture, which centers upon values of collaboration, responsibility, entrepreneurialism, self-awareness and trustworthiness makes Ares a preferred place for top talent at all levels to build a long-term career within the alternative asset management industry. We invest heavily in our human capital efforts, including:
Talent Management: As of December 31, 2020, we had over 1,450 full-time employees, comprised of over 525 professionals in our investment groups and over 925 operations management professionals, located in over 25 offices in more than 10 countries. We provide a comprehensive set of programs, policies and benefits to enable team members to thrive, grow and contribute to their highest potential.
•Governance and Policies: Ares is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. While our culture is the foundation of our work environment, our equal opportunity employment, diversity, and anti-harassment/anti-discrimination policies reinforce a professional atmosphere.
•Recruiting and Onboarding: We pursue several strategic paths to hire top talent, including campus and lateral recruiting efforts, and focus on diversity. We prioritize making all new team members feel welcome and seek to set
them up for success through onboarding training, peer advisor programs, ongoing touchpoints, and connecting them with our employee resource groups (“ERGs”), which are open to all team members.
•Mentoring, Training and Employee Engagement: We provide formal and informal mentoring, learning and development, and employee engagement opportunities. We conduct periodic pulse surveys, frequent townhall meetings hosted by senior leadership, and events to foster belonging.
•Performance Management: We take an ongoing feedback approach to performance management, encouraging leaders and team members to participate in goal setting and ongoing feedback discussions throughout the year, in addition to our firm-wide 360 annual review process.
•Retention, Rewards and Recognition: We provide competitive compensation and benefits to attract, retain and align the incentives of our employees with our investors and stakeholders. We also have programs that seek to recognize significant team member contributions at the firm level.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: We invest heavily in diversity, equity and inclusion (“DEI”) as a strategic pillar that integrates with all talent processes and global business practices. In partnership with our Human Resources function, our global DEI Council implements a strategic framework to attract, develop, engage and advance diverse talent within an inclusive, welcoming environment.
•Recruiting: We prioritize growing diversity through our campus recruiting efforts, as well as our early pipeline programs to educate women and minorities on the industry. We are focused on building relationships with diversity-focused recruiting agencies and deepening diversity partnerships.
•Education, Celebration and Belonging: We focus on holding educational and employee engagement events, including many in partnership with our six ERGs, which are grassroots, employee-led, executive-sponsored groups that seek to enhance DEI and support minority team members. In addition, we conduct regular mandatory anti-harassment and unconscious bias training.
•Equity: We strive to ensure pay equity, regardless of gender or race/ethnicity, and have undertaken pay equity studies for our employees in the U.S. and the U.K.
Health and Wellness: We believe that healthy team members are more productive, and we invest heavily in benefits and initiatives to support our working families. In addition to medical, dental, vision, life insurance, disability insurance, and retirement benefits, we provide generous primary and non-primary caregiver leave, adoption and reproductive assistance, family care resources and mental health benefits. We also host several wellness-related events throughout the year on topics such as nutrition and stress management.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have invested further in our employees’ health and well-being. We pivoted to remote work early in the pandemic and have utilized technology to enable remote productivity. We implemented safety policies and controls in our offices for team members who wish to come onsite. We communicate frequently and have made available no-cost home fitness and mental health resources, as well as webinars and expert speakers to keep our employees engaged and inspired.
Philanthropy: Across our global locations, our Ares In Motion program reflects our commitment to corporate citizenship and supporting our local communities through a wide range of philanthropic and volunteerism efforts, including corporate sponsorships and partnerships, a global volunteer program and employee donation matching program.
Ares’ directed charitable giving in 2020 centered upon COVID-19 relief, including significant donations to hospitals in Los Angeles, New York, and London, nonprofit organizations focused on health equity and disproportionately impacted groups, and funds supporting portfolio companies’ employees who have been affected by the crisis.
In 2020, we raised $41.2 billion in gross new capital for more than 85 different investment vehicles. Of the $41.2 billion, $34.7 billion was raised directly from 358 institutional investors (203 existing and 155 new to Ares) and $6.5 billion was raised through intermediaries. The charts below summarize our gross new capital commitments by investment group and strategy ($ in billions):
|Credit: $32.1||Private Equity: $6.2|
|European Direct Lending||U.S. Direct Lending||Alternative Credit||Corporate Private Equity||Special Opportunities||Infrastructure & Power|
|Syndicated Loans||Multi-Asset Credit||High Yield|
|Real Estate: $2.7||Strategic Initiatives: $0.2|
|Real Estate Debt||U.S. Real Estate Equity||European Real Estate Equity||Asian Secured Lending|
We took advantage of our diverse global platform to invest more than $26.7 billion (excluding permanent capital) globally in 2020 as shown in the following charts ($ in billions):
|Credit $18.2||Private Equity: $5.4|
|European Direct Lending||U.S. Direct Lending||Alternative Credit||Corporate Private Equity||Special Opportunities||Infrastructure and Power|
|Syndicated Loans||Multi-Asset Credit||High Yield|
|Real Estate: $2.3||Strategic Initiatives: $0.8|
|Real Estate Debt||European Real Estate Equity||U.S. Real Estate Equity||Asian Secured Lending||Asian Special Situations|
Of the $26.7 billion invested, $21.4 billion was tied to our drawdown funds. Our capital deployment in drawdown funds comprised of the following ($ in billions):
|Credit||Private Equity||Real Estate||Strategic Initiatives|
Each of our investment groups employs a disciplined, credit-oriented investment philosophy and is managed by a seasoned leadership team of senior professionals with extensive experience investing in, advising, underwriting and restructuring companies, power and energy assets, and real estate properties.
Our Credit Group is one of the largest managers of credit strategies across the non-investment grade credit universe, with $145.5 billion of AUM and over 200 funds as of December 31, 2020. The Credit Group provides solutions for investors seeking to access a wide range of credit assets, including liquid credit, alternative credit products and direct lending products. The Credit Group capitalizes on opportunities across traded and non-traded corporate and consumer debt across the U.S. and European markets, providing investors access to directly originated fixed and floating rate credit assets along with the ability to capitalize on illiquidity premiums across the credit spectrum. Our U.S. and European direct lending strategies are among the largest in their respective markets. We are also a leading global manager of syndicated bank loans.
The Credit Group offers the following credit strategies across the liquid and illiquid spectrum:
Liquid Credit: Our liquid credit investment solutions help investors access the syndicated loan and high yield bond markets, among other asset categories. We focus on capitalizing on opportunities across traded corporate credit. As of December 31, 2020, our liquid credit team managed $33.8 billion of AUM in over 85 funds and separately managed accounts (“SMAs”).
•Syndicated Loans: Our syndicated loans strategy delivers a diversified portfolio of liquid, traded non-investment grade secured loans to corporate issuers. We focus on evaluating individual credit opportunities related primarily to non-investment grade senior secured loans and primarily target first lien secured debt, with a secondary focus on second lien secured loans and subordinated and other unsecured loans. These capabilities have supported our long history as leading manager and issuer of CLOs which hold syndicated loans.
•High Yield Bonds: Our high yield bonds strategy employs a value-driven philosophy, utilizing fundamental research to identify non-investment grade corporate issuers. We primarily seek a diversified portfolio of liquid, traded non-investment grade corporate bonds. This approach incorporates secured, unsecured and subordinated debt instruments of issuers in both North America and Europe.
•Multi-Asset Credit: Our multi-asset credit strategy combines both syndicated loans and high yield bonds, as well as other asset categories including structured credit, special situations and related credit instruments into a single portfolio. These portfolios are designed to offer investors a flexible solution to credit investing by allowing us to tactically allocate between multiple asset classes in various market conditions. This strategy invests globally, can be highly customized, and is designed to “go anywhere” within the liquid, non-investment grade credit universe.
Alternative Credit: Our alternative credit strategy seeks to capitalize on asset-focused investment opportunities that fall outside of traditional, well-defined markets such as corporate debt, real estate and private equity. As of December 31, 2020, our team of over 30 professionals managed $12.9 billion in AUM in over 20 private funds and SMAs for a global investor base. Our alternative credit strategy emphasizes downside protection and capital preservation through a focus on investments that tend to share the following key attributes: asset security, covenants, structural protections and cash flow velocity. Our investment approach is designed to capture and create value by leveraging our firm's platform insights to assess risk and relative value.
Direct Lending: Our direct lending strategy is one of the largest self-originating direct lenders to the U.S. and European markets, with $98.8 billion of AUM in over 85 funds and investment vehicles as of December 31, 2020. We manage various types of direct lending vehicles within our U.S. and European direct lending teams including commingled funds, SMAs for large institutional investors seeking tailored investment solutions and joint venture lending programs.
Our direct lending team has a multi-channel origination strategy designed to address a broad set of investment opportunities in the middle market. We focus on being the lead or sole lender to our portfolio companies which we believe allows us to exert greater influence over deal terms, capital structure, documentation, fees and pricing, while securing our position as a preferred source of financing for our transaction partners. The team maintains a flexible investment strategy with the capability to invest in first lien senior secured loans (including “unitranche” loans which are loans that combine senior and subordinated debt, generally in a first lien position), second lien senior secured loans, subordinated debt, preferred equity and non-control equity co-investments in private middle market companies.
U.S. Direct Lending: Our leading U.S. team is comprised of over 145 investment professionals that cover more than 525 financial sponsors and provide a wide range of financing solutions to middle market companies that typically range from
$10 million to $250 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”). As of December 31, 2020, our U.S. direct lending team and its affiliates managed $56.5 billion in AUM in over 60 funds and investment vehicles. Our U.S. team manages corporate lending activities primarily through our inaugural vehicle and publicly traded business development company (“BDC”), ARCC, as well as private commingled funds and SMAs. Primary areas of focus for our U.S. Direct Lending teams include:
•Ares Capital Corporation: ARCC is a leading specialty finance company focused on providing direct loans and other investments to private middle market companies in the U.S. ARCC has elected to be regulated as a BDC and is the largest BDC by market capitalization as of December 31, 2020.
•U.S. Commingled Funds and SMAs: Outside of ARCC, U.S. direct lending also generates fees from other funds, including: Ares Private Credit Solutions, which focuses on junior debt investments in upper middle market companies; Ares Senior Direct Lending Fund, which focuses on first lien senior secured loans to North American middle market companies; and Ares Commercial Finance, which focuses on asset-based and cash flow loans to middle market and specialty finance companies; as well as SMAs for large institutional investors.
European Direct Lending: Our leading European team is comprised of over 65 investment professionals that cover approximately 300 financial sponsors and is one of the most active participants in the European middle market. The team offers a wide range of financing opportunities to middle market companies with EBITDA typically ranging from €10 million to €100 million. As of December 31, 2020, our European direct lending team managed $42.3 billion in AUM in over 25 funds, including our flagship European direct lending commingled funds, other various funds and SMAs.
The following charts present the Credit Group’s AUM and FPAUM as of December 31, 2020 by investment strategy ($ in billions):
|U.S. Direct Lending||European Direct Lending||Syndicated Loans||Alternative Credit||High Yield||Multi-Asset Credit|
Private Equity Group
Our Private Equity Group has achieved compelling investment returns for a loyal and growing group of high profile limited partners and, as of December 31, 2020, had $27.4 billion of AUM. Our Private Equity Group broadly categorizes its investment activities into three strategies: Corporate Private Equity, Special Opportunities and Infrastructure and Power. Our private equity professionals have a demonstrated ability to deploy flexible capital, which allows them to stay both active and disciplined in various market environments. The group manages funds focused primarily on North America and, to a lesser extent, Europe and China.
Corporate Private Equity: Certain of our senior private equity professionals have been working together since 1990 and raised our first corporate private equity fund in 2003. Our team has grown to over 75 investment professionals based in Los
Angeles, Chicago, London, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. In the U.S. and London, we pursue four principal transactions types: prudently leveraged control buyouts, growth equity, rescue/deleveraging capital and distressed buyouts/discounted debt accumulation. This flexible capital approach, together with the broad resources of the Ares platform, widens our universe of potential investment opportunities and allows us to remain active in different markets and to be highly selective in making investments across various market environments.
Special Opportunities: Our special opportunities team has more than 15 investment professionals and employs a flexible capital strategy to target non-control positions across a broad spectrum of stressed, distressed and opportunistic situations. We target businesses undergoing stress or transformational change that we believe present asymmetric risk/reward opportunities that offer strong downside protection and the potential for significant upside participation. We employ our deep credit expertise, proprietary research and robust sourcing model to capitalize on current market trends. This opportunistic approach allows us to invest in both private and public transaction types across a broad range of industries, asset classes and geographies.
Infrastructure and Power: Our infrastructure and power team has more than 15 investment professionals and takes a value-added approach that seeks to source and structure essential infrastructure assets with strong downside protection and potential for capital appreciation throughout the climate infrastructure, natural gas generation, and energy transportation sectors. We utilize a broad origination strategy, flexible investment approach, and leverage industry relationships and the Ares platform to seek attractive risk-adjusted returns across the infrastructure and power industry. We believe our experience across the asset life cycle, flexible capital approach, and broad infrastructure expertise positions us well to take advantage of the transitioning infrastructure industry.
The following charts present the Private Equity Group’s AUM and FPAUM as of December 31, 2020 by investment strategy ($ in billions):
|Corporate Private Equity||Special Opportunities||Infrastructure and Power|
Real Estate Group
Our Real Estate Group manages comprehensive equity and debt strategies, with $14.8 billion of assets under management as of December 31, 2020. With our experienced team, along with our expansive network of relationships, our Real Estate Group capitalizes on opportunities across both real estate equity and debt investing. Our equity investments focus on implementing hands-on value creation initiatives to mismanaged and capital-starved assets, as well as new development, ultimately selling stabilized assets back into the market. Our debt strategies leverage the Real Estate Group’s diverse sources of capital to directly originate and manage commercial mortgage investments on properties that range from stabilized to those requiring hands-on value creation. The Real Estate Group has achieved significant scale in a short period of time through various acquisitions and successful fundraising efforts. Today, the group provides investors access to its capabilities through several vehicles: U.S. and European real estate equity commingled funds, U.S. real estate debt commingled funds, real estate
equity and real estate debt SMAs and a publicly traded commercial mortgage REIT, ACRE. The group’s activities are managed by dedicated equity and debt teams in the U.S. and Europe.
Real Estate Equity: Our real estate equity team, with over 55 investment professionals, has extensive real estate private equity experience in the United States and Europe. Our team primarily acquires and improves assets through renovations, repositioning and retenanting as well as selective developments in the United States and Europe. As of December 31, 2020, our real estate equity team managed $9.2 billion in AUM in over 35 investment vehicles. Primary areas of focus for our Real Estate Group equity teams include:
•Real Estate Equity Value-Add: Our U.S. and European value-add investment activities focus on the acquisition of underperforming, income-producing, institutional-quality assets that our team believes can be improved through select value-creation initiatives. We target the major property sectors, including residential, industrial, office and select other property types across the U.S. and Europe.
•Real Estate Equity Opportunistic: Our U.S. and European opportunistic real estate investment activities focus on capitalizing on distressed and special situations, repositioning underperforming assets and undertaking select development and redevelopment projects. We target the major property sectors, including residential, industrial and office as well as select retail, hospitality and other niche asset classes across the U.S. and Europe.
Real Estate Debt: Our real estate debt team, with over 25 professionals, primarily focuses on directly originating and investing in a wide range of financing opportunities in the U.S. As of December 31, 2020, our real estate debt team managed $5.6 billion in AUM in five investment vehicles. In addition to managing private commingled funds and SMAs, our real estate debt team also invests through a specialty finance company, ACRE, which invests in a diversified portfolio of real estate debt investments. By investing through multiple investment vehicles, our real estate debt team has the ability to provide flexible financing across the capital structure. While our real estate debt strategies focus predominantly on directly originated transactions, we also selectively pursue secondary market acquisitions and syndicated transactions.
The following charts present the Real Estate Group’s AUM and FPAUM as of December 31, 2020 by investment strategy ($ in billions):
|Real Estate Debt||European Real Estate Equity||U.S. Real Estate Equity|
Strategic Initiatives represents operating segments and strategic investments that seek to expand the Company’s reach and its scale in new and existing global markets including Ares SSG as well as Ares Insurance Solutions (“AIS”).
Ares SSG: Ares SSG is a highly differentiated investment manager making credit, special situations and private equity investments in the Asia-Pacific region. The team of over 30 investment professionals has an extensive history of investing in Asian markets. Ares SSG benefits from having an on-the-ground presence in offices across Asia Pacific and a comprehensive
range of local market licenses and entities to provide our clients with an extensive regional investment platform. Ares SSG has $7.0 billion in AUM across over 10 funds as of December 31, 2020 and primarily employs a direct origination model and aims to provide flexible capital solutions to its investee companies and compelling risk-reward investment opportunities to our investors.
•Asian Special Situations: Our Asian special situations strategy focuses on primary and secondary special situation across the Asia Pacific region. Our team primarily targets restructuring-related situations, deep value acquisitions and last-mile financing.
•Asian Secured Lending: Our Asian secured lending strategy targets high quality, privately sourced direct lending loans that do not exhibit financial strain. Our team primarily targets investments in secured loans, growth capital financing and acquisition financing, leveraging our deep set of relationships and coverage to enable direct origination across the Asia Pacific region.
Ares Insurance Solutions: AIS is Ares Management's dedicated, in-house team that provides solutions to insurance clients including asset management, capital solutions and corporate development. Leveraging over 525 investment professionals across the firm’s investment groups, AIS creates tailored investment solutions that meet the unique objectives of our insurance clients. AIS strives to provide insurers with differentiated investment solutions with attractive risk and capital adjusted return profiles that fit within regulatory, rating agency and other counterparty guidelines. AIS is overseen by an experienced management team with direct insurance industry experience in many areas directly applicable to AIS and our insurance company clients. Members of the Ares team have previously held senior positions at leading insurers. AIS acts as the dedicated investment manager, capital solutions and corporate development partner to Aspida Life Re Ltd. (“Aspida”), an insurance company that focuses on the U.S. life and annuity insurance and reinsurance markets. In addition, AIS provides key strategic advantages to Aspida, including insurance investment experience, differentiated asset origination, asset-liability and capital solutions and access to capital.
The following charts present Strategic Initiatives’ AUM and FPAUM as of December 31, 2020 by investment strategy ($ in billions):
|Asian Special Situations||Insurance||Asian Secured Lending|
To meet investors’ growing demand for alternative investments, we manage investments in an increasingly comprehensive range of funds across a spectrum of compelling and complementary strategies. We have demonstrated an ability to consistently generate attractive and differentiated investment returns across these investment strategies and through various market environments. We believe the breadth of our product offering, our expertise in various investment strategies and our proficiency in attracting and satisfying our growing institutional and retail client base has enabled and will continue to enable us to increase our AUM across each of our investment groups.
Investor Base and Fundraising
Our diverse investor base includes direct institutional relationships and a significant number of retail investors. Our high-quality institutional investor base includes corporate and public pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, banks, investment managers, endowments and foundations. We have grown the number of these relationships from approximately 650 in 2015 to over 1,090 in 2020.
As of December 31, 2020, $143.1 billion, or 73% of our $197.0 billion of AUM, was attributable to our direct institutional relationships. As of December 31, 2020, our total AUM was divided by channel, and further our institutional direct AUM by client type and geographic origin as follows ($ in billions):
|Institutional Direct||Public Entities and Related||Institutional Intermediaries||Pension||Bank/ Private Bank||Insurance||North America||Europe||Asia|
|Sovereign Wealth Fund||Investment Manager||Other||Middle East||Australia||Other|
The following chart presents the AUM of investors committed to more than one of our funds as of December 31, 2020 compared to December 31, 2015 ($ in billions):
We believe that the AUM of multi-fund investors demonstrates our investors’ satisfaction with our performance, disciplined management of their capital and diverse product offering. Their loyalty has facilitated the growth of our existing businesses and we believe improves our ability to raise new funds and successor funds in existing strategies in the future.
Institutional investors are demonstrating a growing interest in SMAs, which include contractual arrangements and single investor vehicles and funds, because these accounts can provide investors with greater levels of transparency, liquidity and control over their investments as compared to more traditional commingled funds. As of December 31, 2020, $45.0 billion, or 31%, of our direct institutional AUM was managed through SMAs. Our publicly traded entities and their affiliates, including
ARCC, ACRE and ARDC, account for $21.9 billion of our AUM. We have over 610 institutional investors and over 200,000 retail investor accounts across our three publicly traded vehicles.
We believe that client relationships are fundamental to our business and that our performance across our investment groups coupled with our focus on client service has resulted in strong relationships with our investors. Our dedicated and extensive in-house strategy and relationship management teams, comprised of approximately 140 professionals located in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, is dedicated to raising capital globally across all of our funds, servicing existing fund investors and tailoring offerings to meet their needs, developing products to complement our existing offerings, and deepening existing relationships to expand them across our platform. We also have a strategic joint venture with Fidante Partners focused on expanding our presence in Australia. Our senior relationship management team maintains an active and transparent dialogue with an expansive list of investors. This team is supported by product managers and investor relations professionals, with deep experience in each of our complementary investment groups, who are dedicated to servicing our existing and prospective investors.
Operations Management Group
The OMG consists of shared resource groups to support our reportable segments by providing infrastructure and administrative support in the areas of accounting/finance, operations, information technology, strategy and relationship management, legal, compliance and human resources. Our clients seek to partner with investment management firms that not only have compelling investment track records across multiple investment products but also possess seasoned infrastructure support functions. As such, significant investments have been made to develop the OMG. We have successfully launched new business lines, integrated acquired businesses into the operations and created scale within the OMG to support a much larger platform in the future.
The simplified diagram below (which omits certain intermediate holding companies) depicts our legal organizational structure. Ownership information in the diagram below is presented as of December 31, 2020. Ares Management Corporation is a holding company and through subsidiaries is the general partner of each of the Ares Operating Group entities and operates and controls the business and affairs of the Ares Operating Group. Ares Management Corporation consolidates the financial results of the Ares Operating Group entities, their consolidated subsidiaries and certain consolidated funds.
(1)Assuming the full exchange of Ares Operating Group Units for shares of our Class A common stock, as of December 31, 2020, Ares Owners Holdings L.P. would hold 51.19% and the public would hold 48.81% of Ares Management Corporation.
(2)On February 17, 2021, our board of directors adopted resolutions authorizing a Second Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation in connection with an internal reorganization that is expected to occur on or about April 1, 2021. The internal reorganization will consist of, among other matters, a merger of each of Ares Investments and Ares Offshore Holdings, with and into Ares Holdings.
Holding Company Structure
The Company elected to be treated as a corporation for U.S. federal and state income tax purposes (the “Tax Election”) effective March 1, 2018. In addition, the Company completed its state law conversion from a Delaware limited partnership to a Delaware corporation (the “Conversion”) effective on November 26, 2018 (the “Effective Date”). At the Effective Date, (i) each common share of the Company outstanding immediately prior to the Effective Date converted into one issued and outstanding, fully paid and nonassessable share of Class A common stock, $0.01 par value per share, of the Company, (ii) the general partner share of the Company outstanding immediately prior to the Effective Date converted into 1,000 issued and outstanding, fully paid and nonassessable shares of Class B common stock, $0.01 par value per share of the Company, (iii) the special voting share of the Company outstanding immediately prior to the Effective Date converted into one issued and outstanding, fully paid and nonassessable share of Class C common stock, $0.01 par value per share, of the Company, and (iv) each preferred share of the Company outstanding immediately prior to the Effective Date converted into one issued and outstanding, fully paid and nonassessable share of the Series A Preferred Stock.
As a result of the Conversion, except as otherwise expressly provided in the Certificate of Incorporation, our common stockholders are entitled to vote on all matters on which stockholders of a corporation are generally entitled to vote under the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”), including the election of our board of directors. Holders of shares of our Class A common stock became entitled to one vote per share of our Class A common stock. On any date on which the Ares Ownership Condition (as defined in the Certificate of Incorporation) is satisfied, holders of shares of our Class B common stock are, in the aggregate, entitled to a number of votes equal to (x) four times the aggregate number of votes attributable to our Class A common stock minus (y) the aggregate number of votes attributable to our Class C common stock. On any date on which the Ares Ownership Condition is not satisfied, holders of shares of our Class B common stock are not entitled to vote on any matter submitted to a vote of our stockholders. The holder of shares of our Class C common stock is generally entitled to a number of votes equal to the number of Ares Operating Group Units (as defined in the Certificate of Incorporation) held of record by each Ares Operating Group Limited Partner (as defined in the Certificate of Incorporation) other than the Company and its subsidiaries. Ares Management GP LLC is the sole holder of shares of our Class B common stock and Ares Voting LLC is the sole holder of shares of our Class C common stock. Our Class B common stock and our Class C common stock are non-economic and holders thereof shall not be entitled to (i) dividends from the Company or (ii) receive any assets of the Company in the event of any dissolution, liquidation or winding up of the Company. Ares Management GP LLC and Ares Voting LLC are both wholly owned by Ares Partners Holdco LLC. As a result, the Company is a “controlled company” within the meaning of the corporate governance standards of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) and qualifies for exceptions from certain corporate governance rules of the NYSE. Except as provided in the Certificate of Incorporation and the Company’s Bylaws and under the DGCL and the rules of the NYSE, shares of the Series A Preferred Stock are generally non-voting.
Accordingly, Ares Management Corporation and any direct subsidiaries of Ares Management Corporation that are treated as corporations for U.S. federal income tax purposes and that are the holders of Ares Operating Group Units are (and, in the case of Ares Offshore Holdings, Ltd., may be) subject to U.S. federal, state and local income taxes in respect of their interests in the Ares Operating Group entities. The Ares Operating Group entities are treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes. An entity that is treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes generally incurs no U.S. federal income tax liability at the entity level. Instead, each partner is required to take into account its allocable share of items of income, gain, loss, deduction and credit of the partnership in computing its U.S. federal, state and local income tax liability each taxable year, whether or not cash distributions are made.
Each of the Ares Operating Group entities has an identical number of partnership units outstanding. Ares Management Corporation holds through subsidiaries a number of Ares Operating Group Units equal to the number of shares of Class A common stock that Ares Management Corporation has issued. The Ares Operating Group Units held by Ares Management Corporation and its subsidiaries are economically identical in all respects to the Ares Operating Group Units that are not held by Ares Management Corporation and its subsidiaries. Accordingly, Ares Management Corporation receives the distributive share of income of the Ares Operating Group from its equity interest in the Ares Operating Group.
Structure and Operation of our Funds
We conduct the management of our funds and other similar private vehicles primarily through organizing a partnership or limited liability structure in which entities organized by us accept commitments and/or funds for investment from institutional investors and other investors. Such commitments are generally drawn down from investors on an as needed basis to fund investments over a specified term. Our Credit Group funds also include structured funds in which the investor’s capital is fully funded into the fund upon or soon after the subscription for interests in the fund. The CLOs that we manage are structured investment vehicles that are generally private limited liability companies. Our drawdown funds are generally organized as limited partnerships or limited liability companies. However, there are non-U.S. funds that are structured as corporate or non-
partnership entities under applicable law. We also advise a number of investors through SMA relationships structured as contractual arrangements or single investor vehicles. In the case of our SMAs that are not structured as single investor vehicles, the investor, rather than us, generally controls custody of the investments with respect to which we advise. We also manage a closed-end interval fund that allows for periodic redemptions of the various share classes. Three of the vehicles that we manage are publicly traded corporations. The publicly traded corporations do not have redemption provisions or a requirement to return capital to investors upon exiting the investments made with such capital, except as required by applicable law (including distribution requirements that must be met to maintain RIC or REIT status). However, ACRE’s charter includes certain limitations relating to the ownership or purported transfer of its common stock in violation of the REIT ownership requirements.
Our funds are generally advised by Ares Management LLC, which is registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Advisers Act”) or a wholly owned subsidiary thereof. Responsibility for the day-to-day operations of each investment vehicle is typically delegated to the Ares entity serving as investment adviser pursuant to an investment advisory, management or similar agreement. Generally, the material terms of our investment advisory agreements relate to the scope of services to be rendered by the investment adviser to the applicable vehicle, the calculation of management fees to be borne by investors in our investment vehicles and certain rights of termination with respect to our investment advisory agreements. With the exception of certain of the publicly traded investment vehicles, the investment vehicles themselves do not generally register as investment companies under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act”), in reliance on applicable exemptions thereunder.
The governing agreements of many of our funds provide that, subject to certain conditions, third-party investors in those funds have the right to terminate the investment period or the fund without cause. The governing agreements of some of our funds provide that, subject to certain conditions, third-party investors have the right to remove the general partner. In addition, the governing agreements of certain of our funds provide that upon the occurrence of certain events, including in the event that certain “key persons” in our funds depart the firm, do not meet specified time commitments or engage in bad acts, the investment period will be suspended or the investors have the right to vote to terminate the investment period in accordance with specified procedures.
The investment adviser of our funds generally receive an annual management fee based on a percentage of the fund’s capital commitments, contributed capital, net asset value or invested capital during the investment period and based on invested capital after the investment period, and for certain of our SMAs, we receive an annual management fee based on a percentage of invested capital, contributed capital or net asset value throughout the term of the SMA. We also may receive special fees, including commitment, arrangement, underwriting, agency, portfolio management, monitoring and other similar fees, some of which may be accelerated upon a sale of the underlying portfolio investment. In certain circumstances we are contractually required to offset certain amounts of such special fees against future management fees relating to the applicable fund. In addition, we may receive transaction fees from certain affiliated funds for activities related to fund transactions, such as loan originations.
The investment adviser of each of our CLOs typically receives annual management fees based on the gross aggregate collateral balance for CLOs, at par, adjusted for defaulted or discounted collateral. The management fees of CLOs accounted for approximately 3% of our total management fees on a consolidated basis and 7% on an unconsolidated basis for the year ended December 31, 2020.
The management fees we receive from our drawdown style funds are typically payable on a quarterly basis over the life of the fund and do not fluctuate with the changes in investment performance of the fund. The investment management agreements we enter into with clients in connection with contractual SMAs may generally be terminated by such clients with reasonably short prior written notice. The management fees we receive from our SMAs are generally paid on a periodic basis (typically quarterly, subject to the termination rights described above) and are based on either invested capital or on the net asset value of the separately managed account.
We receive management fees in accordance with the investment advisory and management agreements we have with the publicly traded vehicles we manage. Base management fees we receive from ARCC are paid quarterly and proportionately increase or decrease based on ARCC’s total assets (reduced by cash and cash equivalents). ARCC Part I Fees are also generally paid quarterly and proportionately increase or decrease based on ARCC’s net investment income (before ARCC Part I Fees and ARCC Part II Fees (as defined in “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of
Operations—Components of Consolidated Results of Operations—Revenues”)), subject to a fixed hurdle rate. We classify ARCC Part I Fees as management fees as they are predictable and recurring in nature, and not subject to contingent repayment. Management fees we receive from ARDC are generally paid monthly and proportionately increase or decrease based on the closed-end fund's total assets minus liabilities (other than liabilities relating to indebtedness). Management fees we receive from ACRE are generally paid quarterly based on ACRE’s stockholders’ equity. Our investment management agreements of our permanent capital vehicles must be reviewed or approved annually by their boards of directors (including a majority of its independent directors).
We may receive performance income from our funds that may be either an incentive fee or a special allocation of income, which we refer to as carried interest. Performance income is recorded by us when specified investment returns are achieved by the fund. We typically award certain of our professionals with participation in such performance income.
The general partners, managers or similar entities of certain of our funds receive performance-based fees. These fees are generally based on the net appreciation per annum of the applicable fund, subject to certain net loss carry-forward provisions, high-watermarks and/or preferred returns. Such performance based fees may also be based on a fund’s cumulative net appreciation to date, in some cases subject to a high-watermark or a preferred return. Incentive fees are realized at the end of a measurement period, typically quarterly or annually. Realized incentive fees are generally higher during the second half of the year due to the nature of certain Credit Group funds that typically realize incentive fees at the end of the calendar year. Once realized, such performance based fees are generally not subject to repayment. Cash from the realizations is typically received in the period subsequent to the measurement period.
Incentive Fees from Publicly Traded Vehicles
We are entitled to receive incentive fees in accordance with the investment advisory and management agreements we have with ARCC and ACRE. We may receive ARCC Part II Fees, which are not paid unless ARCC achieves cumulative aggregate realized capital gains (net of cumulative aggregate realized capital losses and aggregate unrealized capital depreciation). Incentive fees we receive from ACRE are based on a percentage of the difference between ACRE’s core earnings (as defined in ACRE’s management agreement) and an amount derived from the weighted average issue price per share of ACRE’s common stock in its public offerings multiplied by the weighted average number of shares of ACRE's common stock outstanding.
The general partner or an affiliate of certain of our funds may be entitled to receive carried interest from a fund. Carried interest entitles the general partner (or an affiliate) to a special allocation of income and gains from a fund, and is typically structured as a net profits interest in the applicable fund. Carried interest is generally calculated on a “realized gain” basis, and the general partner of a fund is generally entitled to a carried interest between 10% and 20% of the net realized income and gains (generally taking into account unrealized losses) generated by such fund. Net realized income or loss is not netted between or among funds.
Funds generally follow either an American-style waterfall or European-style waterfall. For American-style waterfalls, the general partner is entitled to receive carried interest after a fund investment is realized if the investors in the fund have received distributions in excess of the capital contributed for such investment and all prior realized investments (plus allocable expenses), as well as the preferred return. For European-style waterfalls, the general partner is entitled to receive carried interest if the investors in the fund have received distributions in an amount equal to all prior capital contributions plus a preferred return.
For most funds, the carried interest is subject to a preferred return ranging from 5% to 8%, subject in most cases to a catch-up allocation to the general partner. Generally, if at the termination of a fund (and in some cases at interim points in the life of a fund), the fund has not achieved investment returns that exceed the preferred return threshold or the general partner receives net profits over the life of the fund in excess of its allocable share under the applicable partnership agreement, the general partner will be obligated to repay an amount equal to the extent the previously distributed carried interest exceeds the amounts to which the general partner is entitled. These repayment obligations may be related to amounts previously distributed to us and our senior professionals and are generally referred to as contingent repayment obligations.
Although a portion of any dividends paid by us may include carried interest received by us, we do not intend to seek fulfillment of any contingent repayment obligation by seeking to have holders of our Class A common stock return any portion of such dividends attributable to carried interest associated with any contingent repayment obligation. Contingent repayment obligations operate with respect to only a given fund’s net investment performance and carried interest of other funds are not netted for determining this contingent obligation. Although a contingent repayment obligation is several to each person who received a distribution, and not a joint obligation, and our professionals who receive carried interest have guaranteed repayment of such contingent obligation, the governing agreements of our funds generally provide that, if a recipient does not fund his or her respective share, we may have to fund such additional amounts beyond the amount of carried interest we retained, although we generally will retain the right to pursue remedies against those carried interest recipients who fail to fund their obligations.
Certain funds may make distributions to their partners to provide them with cash sufficient to pay applicable federal, state and local tax liabilities attributable to the fund's income that is allocated to them. These distributions are referred to as tax distributions and are not subject to contingent repayment obligations.
For additional information concerning the contingent repayment obligations we could face, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors— We may need to pay “clawback” or “contingent repayment” obligations if and when they are triggered under the governing agreements with our funds.”
Capital Invested In and Through Our Funds
To further align our interests with those of investors in our funds, we have invested the firm’s capital and that of our professionals in the funds we sponsor and manage. General partner capital commitments to our funds are determined separately with respect to our funds and, generally, are less than 5% of the total commitments of any particular fund. We determine the general partner capital commitments based on a variety of factors, including regulatory requirements, investor requirements, estimates regarding liquidity over the estimated time period during which commitments will be funded, estimates regarding the amounts of capital that may be appropriate for other opportunities or other funds we may be in the process of raising or are considering raising, prevailing industry standards with respect to sponsor commitments and our general working capital requirements. We generally offer a portion of the general partner commitments to our eligible professionals in accordance with the Investment Company Act. Our general partner capital commitments are typically funded with cash and not with carried interest or deferral of management fees. For more information, see “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Sources and Uses of Liquidity.”
Regulatory and Compliance Matters
Our businesses, as well as the financial services industry, generally are subject to extensive regulation, including periodic examinations, by governmental agencies and self-regulatory organizations or exchanges in the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions in which we operate relating to, among other things, antitrust laws, anti-money laundering laws, anti-bribery laws relating to foreign officials, tax laws and privacy laws with respect to client and other information, and some of our funds invest in businesses that operate in highly regulated industries. Each of the regulatory bodies with jurisdiction over us has regulatory powers dealing with many aspects of financial services, including the authority to grant, and in specific circumstances to cancel, permissions to carry on particular activities. Any failure to comply with these rules and regulations could expose us to liability and/or reputational damage. Additional legislation, increasing global regulatory oversight of fundraising activities, changes in rules promulgated by self-regulatory organizations or exchanges or changes in the interpretation or enforcement of existing laws and rules, either in the United States or elsewhere, may directly affect our mode of operation and profitability. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors-Risks Related to Regulation-Extensive regulation affects our activities, increases the cost of doing business and creates the potential for significant liabilities and penalties that could adversely affect our businesses and results of operations,” “-Failure to comply with “pay to play” regulations implemented by the SEC and certain states, and changes to the “pay to play” regulatory regimes, could adversely affect our businesses,” and “-Regulatory changes in jurisdictions outside the United States could adversely affect our businesses,” “-Adverse incidents with respect to ESG activities could impact our or our portfolio companies’ reputation, the cost of our or their operations, or result in investors ceasing to allocate their capital to us, all of which could adversely affect our business and results of operations,” and “-Regulations governing ARCC’s operation as a business development company affects its ability to raise, and the way in which it raises, additional capital.”
Rigorous legal and compliance analysis of our businesses and investments is important to our culture. We strive to maintain a culture of compliance through the use of policies and procedures such as oversight compliance, codes of ethics, compliance systems, communication of compliance guidance and employee education and training. All employees must annually certify their understanding of and compliance with key global Ares policies, procedures and code of ethics. We have a compliance group that monitors our compliance with the regulatory requirements to which we are subject and manages our compliance policies and procedures. Our Chief Compliance Officer supervises our compliance group, which is responsible for
monitoring all regulatory and compliance matters that affect our activities. Our compliance policies and procedures address a variety of regulatory and compliance risks such as the handling of material non-public information, position reporting, personal securities trading, valuation of investments on a fund-specific basis, document retention, potential conflicts of interest and the allocation of investment opportunities.
Many jurisdictions in which we operate have laws and regulations relating to data privacy, cybersecurity and protection of personal information, including the General Data Protection Regulation, which expands data protection rules for individuals within the European Union (the “EU”) and for personal data exported outside the EU, and the California Consumer Privacy Act, which creates new rights and obligations related to personal data of residents (and households) in California. Any determination of a failure to comply with any such laws or regulations could result in fines and/or sanctions, as well as reputational harm. Moreover, to the extent that these laws and regulations or the enforcement of the same become more stringent, or if new laws or regulations or enacted, our financial performance or plans for growth may be adversely impacted.
The SEC oversees the activities of our subsidiaries that are registered investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) and the SEC oversee the activities of our wholly owned subsidiary Ares Investor Services LLC (“AIS LLC”), as a registered broker-dealer. In connection with certain investments made by funds in our Private Equity Group, certain of our subsidiaries and funds are subject to audits by the Defense Security Service to determine whether we are under foreign ownership, control or influence. In addition, we regularly rely on exemptions from various requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), the Investment Company Act, the Commodity Exchange Act and the U.S. Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”). These exemptions are sometimes highly complex and may in certain circumstances depend on compliance by third parties who we do not control.
Additionally, the SEC and various self-regulatory organizations have in recent years increased their regulatory activities in respect of investment management firms. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors-Risks Related to Regulation- Extensive regulation affects our activities, increases the cost of doing business and creates the potential for significant liabilities and penalties that could adversely affect our businesses and results of operations.” Effective September 2019, the SEC adopted a rule that requires a broker-dealer, or a natural person who is an associated person of a broker-dealer, to act in the best interest of a retail customer when making a recommendation of any securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities, without placing the financial or other interest of the broker, dealer or natural person who is an associated person of a broker-dealer making the recommendation ahead of the interest of the retail customer. The term “retail customer” is defined as a natural person who uses such a recommendation primarily for personal, family or household purposes, without reference to investor sophistication or net worth. The “best interest” standard would be satisfied through compliance with certain disclosure, duty of care, conflict of interest mitigation and compliance obligations. While the rule has been challenged by litigation, full implementation began in June 2020, and compliance with the rule will likely impose additional costs to us, in particular with respect to our product offerings and investment platforms that include retail investors.
Funds and Portfolio Companies of our Funds
All of our funds are advised by SEC registered investment advisers (or wholly owned subsidiaries thereof). Registered investment advisers are subject to more stringent requirements and regulations under the Investment Advisers Act than unregistered investment advisers. Such requirements relate to, among other things, fiduciary duties to clients, maintaining an effective compliance program, managing conflicts of interest and general anti-fraud prohibitions. In addition, the SEC requires investment advisers registered or required to register with the SEC under the Investment Advisers Act that advise one or more private funds and have at least $150 million in private fund assets under management to periodically file reports on Form PF. We have filed, and will continue to file, quarterly reports on Form PF, which has resulted in increased administrative costs and a significant amount of attention and time to be spent by our personnel.
Further, the SEC has highlighted valuation practices as one of its areas of focus in investment adviser examinations and has instituted enforcement actions against advisers for misleading investors about valuation. If the SEC were to investigate and find errors in our methodologies or procedures, we and/or members of our management could be subject to penalties and fines, which could harm our reputation and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
ARCC is a registered investment company that has elected to be treated as a business development company under the Investment Company Act. ARDC and certain other funds are registered investment companies under the Investment Company Act. Each of the registered investment companies has elected, for U.S. federal tax purposes, to be treated as a regulated
investment company (“RIC”) under Subchapter M of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). To maintain its RIC status under the Code, a RIC must timely distribute an amount equal to at least 90% of its investment company taxable income (as defined by the Code, which generally includes net ordinary income and net short term capital gains) to its stockholders. In addition, a RIC generally will be required to pay an excise tax equal to 4% on certain undistributed taxable income unless it distributes in a timely manner an amount at least equal to the sum of (i) 98% of its ordinary income recognized during a calendar year and (ii) 98.2% of its capital gain net income, as defined by the Code, recognized during the one-year period ending on October 31 of the calendar year and (iii) any income recognized, but not distributed, in preceding years. The taxable income on which a RIC pays excise tax is generally distributed to its stockholders in the next tax year. Depending on the level of taxable income earned in a tax year, a RIC may choose to carry forward such taxable income for distribution in the following year, and pay any applicable excise tax. In addition, as a business development company, ARCC must not acquire any assets other than “qualifying assets” specified in the Investment Company Act unless, at the time the acquisition is made, at least 70% of ARCC’s total assets are qualifying assets (with certain limited exceptions). Qualifying assets include investments in “eligible portfolio companies.” ARCC is also generally prohibited from issuing and selling its common stock at a price below net asset value per share and from incurring indebtedness (including for this purpose, preferred stock), if ARCC’s asset coverage, as calculated pursuant to the Investment Company Act, equals less than 150% after such incurrence.
ACRE has elected and qualified to be taxed as a real estate investment trust, or REIT, under the Code. To maintain its qualification as a REIT, ACRE must distribute at least 90% of its taxable income to its stockholders and meet, on a continuing basis, certain other complex requirements under the Code.
AIS LLC, our wholly owned subsidiary, is registered as a broker-dealer with the SEC, which maintains licenses in many states, and is a member of FINRA. As a broker-dealer, this subsidiary is subject to regulation and oversight by the SEC and state securities regulators. In addition, FINRA, a self-regulatory organization that is subject to oversight by the SEC, promulgates and enforces rules governing the conduct of, and examines the activities of, its member firms. Due to the limited authority granted to our subsidiary in its capacity as a broker-dealer, it is not required to comply with certain regulations covering trade practices among broker-dealers and the use and safekeeping of customers’ funds and securities. As a registered broker-dealer and member of a self-regulatory organization, AIS LLC is, however, subject to the SEC’s uniform net capital rule. Rule 15c3-1 of the Exchange Act, which specifies the minimum level of net capital a broker-dealer must maintain and also requires that a significant part of a broker-dealer’s assets be kept in relatively liquid form. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors-Risks Related to Our Businesses-Political and regulatory conditions, including the effects of negative publicity surrounding the financial industry in general and proposed legislation, could adversely affect our businesses.”
Certain of our subsidiaries operate outside the United States. In Luxembourg, Ares Management Luxembourg (“AM Lux”) is subject to authorization and regulation by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (“CSSF”). In the United Kingdom (the “U.K.”), Ares Management Limited (“AML”) and Ares Management UK Limited (“AMUKL”) are subject to regulation and authorization by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (“the FCA”). Ares European Loan Management LLP (“AELM”), which is not a subsidiary, but in which we are indirectly invested and which procures certain services from AML, is also subject to regulation by the FCA. In some circumstances, AML, AMUKL, AELM and other Ares entities are or become subject to U.K. or EU laws, for instance in relation to marketing our funds to investors in the European Economic Area (the “EEA”).
The U.K. exited the EU on January 31, 2020. The withdrawal agreement between the U.K. and the EU provided for a transitional period to allow for the terms of the U.K.'s future relationship with the EU to be negotiated, which ended on December 31, 2020. EEA passporting rights are no longer available to the relevant U.K. entities following the end of the transitional period. Various EU laws have been “on-shored” into domestic U.K. legislation and certain transitional regimes and deficiency-correction powers exist to ease the transition. The U.K. and the EU announced, on December 24, 2020, that they have reached agreement on a new Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the “TCA”), which addresses the future relationship between the parties. Notwithstanding the TCA, there remains considerable uncertainty as to the nature of the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU (particularly in the sphere of financial services), creating continuing uncertainty as to the full extent to which the businesses of the U.K. Regulated Entities could be adversely affected by Brexit. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors-Risks Related to Our Businesses-The U.K.’s exit from the EU (“Brexit”) could adversely affect our business and our operations.” Despite the U.K.’s departure from the EU, new and existing EU legislation is expected to continue to impact our business in the U.K. (whether because its effect is preserved in the U.K. as a matter of domestic policy or because compliance with such legislation (whether in whole or part) is a necessary condition for market access into the EEA) and other EEA member states where we have operations. The U.K.'s departure has the potential to change the legislative and regulatory frameworks within which AML, AMUKL and AELM operate, which could adversely affect our businesses or cause a material increase in our tax liability.
AMUKL, AM Lux, AML and AELM (the “European Entities”) all operate within EU legislative frameworks, which include legislation that is both directly applicable to the European Entities and legislation that must be implemented by EEA member states at a national level. Notwithstanding the U.K.'s withdrawal from the EU, AML, AMUKL and AELM as UK-based firms generally continue to be regulated under European legislative frameworks as such frameworks have been preserved in UK law as a matter of policy (subject to amendments to operate properly in a post-Brexit context). When implementing EU measures at a national level, member states often have some degree of discretion as to the manner of implementation, and as a result the rules in some areas are not harmonized across the EEA. In addition, member states may have their own national laws and rules governing the operation of firms in the financial sector which are unrelated to any European legislative initiative. In some circumstances other Ares entities are or become subject to EU laws or the law of EEA member states, including with respect to marketing our funds to investors in the EEA.
AM Lux and AMUKL are both alternative investment fund managers (“AIFMs”). Their operations are primarily governed by Directive 2011/61/EU on Alternative Investment Fund Managers and other associated legislation, rules and guidance (“AIFMD” or the “Directive”). The U.K. implemented AIFMD while it was still a member of the EU and similar requirements therefore continue to apply in the U.K. notwithstanding Brexit. The AIFMD imposes significant regulatory requirements on AIFMs established in the EEA. AIFMD regulates fund managers by, amongst other things, prescribing authorization conditions for an AIFM, restricting the activities that can be undertaken by an AIFM, prescribing the organizational requirements, operating conditions, and regulatory standards relating to such things as initial capital, remuneration, conflicts, risk management, leverage, liquidity management, delegation of duties, transparency and reporting requirement, etc. The European Commission is currently reviewing AIFMD and launched a public consultation in October 2020 on potential improvements to the regulatory framework. This is expected to result in new legislation, possibly in 2021 (commonly referred to as “AIFMD II”). It is unclear at this stage whether and how AIFMD II will affect us or our subsidiaries.
AML and AELM are both investment firms within the meaning of Directive 2014/65/EU on Markets in Financial Instruments (“MiFID II”). The operations of AML and AELM are primarily governed by UK laws and regulatory rules implementing MiFID II, the accompanying Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation 600/2014/EU (“MiFIR”) and other associated legislation, rules and guidance. The main business of the European Entities is to provide asset management services to clients from within the EEA. The European Entities operate primarily within different regulatory frameworks in part because they provide different services to different types of clients.
MiFID II and MiFIR extended the Markets and Financial Instruments Directive (“MiFID”) requirements in a number of areas and require investment firms to comply with more prescriptive and onerous obligations in relation to such things as: costs and charges disclosure, product design and governance, the receipt and payment of inducements, the receipt of and payment for investment research, suitability and appropriateness assessments, conflicts of interest, record-keeping, best execution, transaction and trade reporting, remuneration, training and competence and corporate governance. Although the UK has now withdrawn from the EU, its rules implementing MiFID II continue to have effect and MiFIR has been on-shored into UK law (subject to certain amendments to ensure it operates properly in a UK-specific context) in connection with this withdrawal.
The UK is introducing a new prudential regulatory framework for UK investment firms (the “Investment Firm Prudential Regime” or “IFPR”), which will be closely based on an equivalent regulatory framework being introduced at EU level through the EU Investment Firm Regulation and Investment Firm Directive. IFPR is expected to take effect from January 1, 2022 and will apply to Ares Management Limited and Ares European Loan Management LLP as U.K. MiFID investment firms. The extent to which the IFPR will apply to Ares Management UK Limited, as a U.K. AIFM with a MiFID “top-up” permission, is as yet unclear and further clarity on this point is expected to emerge in future FCA consultations on the new regime. This new prudential regime is expected to result in higher regulatory capital requirements for some affected firms and new, more onerous remuneration rules, as well as re-cut and extended internal governance, disclosure, reporting, liquidity, and group “prudential” consolidation requirements (among other things).
Our operations and our investment activities worldwide are subject to a variety of regulatory regimes that vary by country. These include Ares SSG Capital Management Limited, which is subject to regulation by various regulatory authorities, including the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong and Monetary Authority of Singapore. In addition, as the ultimate parent of the controlling entity of Aspida Life Re Ltd, a Bermuda Class E insurance company, we are considered its “shareholder controller” (as defined in the Bermuda Insurance Act) by the Bermuda Monetary Authority.
The investment management industry is intensely competitive, and we expect it to remain so. We compete globally and on a regional, industry and asset basis.
We face competition both in the pursuit of fund investors and investment opportunities. Generally, our competition varies across business lines, geographies and financial markets. We compete for outside investors based on a variety of factors, including investment performance, investor perception of investment managers’ drive, focus and alignment of interest, quality of service provided to and duration of relationship with investors, breadth of our product offering, business reputation and the level of fees and expenses charged for services. We compete for investment opportunities both at our funds and for strategic acquisitions by us based on a variety of factors, including breadth of market coverage and relationships, access to capital, transaction execution skills, the range of products and services offered, innovation and price, and we expect that competition will continue to increase.
We expect to face competition in our direct lending, trading, acquisitions and other investment activities primarily from business development companies, credit and real estate funds, specialized funds, hedge fund sponsors, financial institutions, private equity funds, corporate buyers and other parties. Many of these competitors in some of our businesses are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial, technical and marketing resources than are available to us. Many of these competitors have similar investment objectives to us, which may create additional competition for investment opportunities. Some of these competitors may also have a lower cost of capital and access to funding sources that are not available to us, which may create competitive disadvantages for us with respect to investment opportunities. In addition, some of these competitors may have higher risk tolerances, different risk assessments or lower return thresholds, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments and to bid more aggressively than us for investments that we want to make. Corporate buyers may be able to achieve synergistic cost savings with regard to an investment that may provide them with a competitive advantage in bidding for an investment. Lastly, institutional and individual investors are allocating increasing amounts of capital to alternative investment strategies. Several large institutional investors have announced a desire to consolidate their investments in a more limited number of managers. We expect that this will cause competition in our industry to intensify and could lead to a reduction in the size and duration of pricing inefficiencies that many of our funds seek to exploit.
Competition is also intense for the attraction and retention of qualified employees. Our ability to continue to compete effectively in our businesses will depend upon our ability to attract new employees and retain and motivate our existing employees.
For additional information concerning the competitive risks that we face, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Businesses—The investment management business is intensely competitive.”
Ares Management Corporation is a Delaware corporation. Our principal executive offices are located at 2000 Avenue of the Stars, 12th Floor, Los Angeles, California 90067, and our telephone number is (310) 201-4100.
Our website address is http://www.aresmgmt.com. Information on our website is not a part of this report and is not incorporated by reference herein. We make available free of charge on our website or provide a link on our website to our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act, as soon as reasonably practicable after those reports are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. To access these filings, go to the “Investor Resources” section of our website and then click on “SEC Filings.” In addition, these reports and the other documents we file with the SEC are available at a website maintained by the SEC at http://www.sec.gov.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Risk Factor Summary
Our businesses are subject to a number of inherent risks. We believe that the primary risks affecting our businesses and an investment in shares of our Class A common stock:
•we are subject to risks related to COVID-19 and measures taken to mitigate its impact and spread, which have affected and may continue to affect various aspects of our and our funds’ businesses;
•challenging market and political conditions in the United States and globally may reduce the value or hamper the performance of the investments made by us and our funds or impair the ability of our funds to raise or deploy capital;
•we operate in a complex regulatory and tax environment involving rules and regulations (both domestic and foreign), some of which are outdated relative to today’s global financial activities and some of which are subject to political influence, which could restrict or require us to adjust our operations or the operations of our funds or portfolio companies and subject us to increased compliance costs and administrative burdens, as well as restrictions on our business activities;
•if we are unable to raise capital from investors or deploy capital into investments, or if any of our management fees are waived or reduced, or if we fail to generate performance income, our revenues and cash flows would be materially reduced;
•we are subject to risks related to our dependency on our members of the Executive Management Committee, senior professionals and other key personnel as well as attracting and retaining and developing human capital in a highly competitive talent market;
•we may experience reputational harm if we fail to appropriately address conflicts of interest or if we, our employees, our funds or our portfolio companies fail (or are alleged to have failed) to comply with applicable regulations in an increasingly complex political and regulatory environment;
•we face intense competition in the investment management business;
•our growth strategy contemplates acquisitions and entering new lines of business and expanding into new investment strategies, geographic markets and businesses, which subject us to numerous risks, expenses and uncertainties, including related to the integration of development opportunities, acquisitions or joint ventures;
•we derive a significant portion of our management fees from ARCC;
•economic U.S. and foreign sanction laws may prohibit us and our affiliates from transacting with certain countries, individuals and companies;
•our international operations subject us to numerous regulatory and operational risks and expenses;
•we are subject to operational risks and risks in using prime brokers, custodians, counterparties, administrators and other agents;
•the increasing demands of fund investors, including the potential for fee compression and changes to other terms, could materially adversely affect our future revenues;
•we may be subject to cybersecurity risks and changes to data protection regulation;
•we may be subject to litigation risks and related liabilities or risks related employee misconduct, fraud and other deceptive practices;
•the use of leverage by us and our funds exposes us to substantial risks, including related to changes to the method of determining LIBOR or the selection of a replacement for LIBOR;
•asset valuation methodologies can be highly subjective and the value of assets may not be realized;
•our funds may perform poorly due to market conditions, political actions or environments, monetary and fiscal policy or other conditions beyond our control;
•third-party investors in our funds may not satisfy their contractual obligation to fund capital calls;
•we are subject to risks relating to our contractual rights and obligations under our funds’ governing documents and investment management agreements;
•a downturn in the global credit markets could adversely affect our CLO investments;
•due to our and our funds’ investments in certain market sectors, such as power, infrastructure and energy, real estate and insurance, we are subject to risks and regulations inherent to those industries;
•if we were deemed to be an “investment company” under the Investment Company Act, applicable restrictions could make it impractical for us to continue our businesses as contemplated;
•due to the Holdco Members ownership and control of our shares of common stock, holders of our Class A common stock will generally have no influence over matters on which holders of our common stock vote and limited ability to influence decisions regarding our business;
•we are subject to risks related to our categorization as a “controlled company” within the meaning of the NYSE listing standards;
•potential conflicts of interest may arise among the holders of Class B and Class C common stock and the holders of our Class A common stock and preferred stock;
•our holding company structure, Delaware law and contractual restrictions may limit our ability to pay dividend to the holders of our Class A common stock and our dividends are non-cumulative;
•other anti-takeover provisions in our charter documents could delay or prevent a change in control;
•we are subject to risks related to our tax receivable agreement; and
•limitations on the amount of interest expense that we may deduct could materially increase our tax liability and negatively affect an investment in shares of our Class A common stock.
Risks Related to Our Businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe disruptions in the U.S. and global economy, has disrupted, and may continue to disrupt, industries in which we, our funds and our funds’ portfolio companies operate and could potentially negatively impact us, our funds or our funds’ portfolio companies.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a global and national health crisis, adversely impacted global commercial activity and contributed to significant volatility in equity and debt markets. Many countries and states in the United States, including those in which we, our funds’ and our funds’ portfolio companies operate, issued (and continue to re-issue) orders requiring the closure of, or certain restrictions on the operation of, nonessential businesses and/or requiring residents to stay at home. The COVID-19 pandemic and preventative measures taken to contain or mitigate its spread have caused, and are continuing to cause, business shutdowns or the re-introduction of business shutdowns, cancellations of events and restrictions on travel, significant reductions in demand for certain goods and services, reductions in business activity and financial transactions, supply chain interruptions and overall economic and financial market instability both globally and in the United States. Such measures, as well as the general uncertainty surrounding the dangers and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have created significant disruption in supply chains and economic activity and have had a particularly adverse impact on the energy, hospitality, travel, retail and restaurant industries, as well as other industries, including industries in which certain of our funds’ portfolio companies operate. Such effects will likely continue for the duration of the pandemic, which is uncertain, and for some period thereafter. While several countries, as well as certain states, counties and cities in the United States, relaxed the early public health restrictions with a view to partially or fully reopening their economies, many cities, both globally and in the United States, have since experienced a surge in the reported number of cases and hospitalizations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase in cases has led to the re-introduction of such restrictions and business shutdowns in certain states, counties and cities in the United States and globally and could lead to the re-introduction of such restrictions elsewhere. In December 2020, the Federal Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID‑19 vaccines and the distribution of such vaccines has commenced. However, it remains unclear how quickly the vaccines will be distributed nationwide and globally or when “herd immunity” will be achieved and whether the restrictions that were imposed to slow the spread of the virus will be lifted entirely. Ongoing restrictions and any delay in distributing the vaccines could lead people to continue to self-isolate and not participate in the economy at pre-pandemic levels for a prolonged period of time. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, the U.S. economy and most other major global economies may continue to experience a recession, and we anticipate our and our funds’ business and operations, as well as the business and operations of our funds’ portfolio companies, could be materially adversely affected by a prolonged recession in the U.S. and other major markets.
The extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (including the restrictive measure taken in response thereto) on our and our funds’ operational and financial performance will depend on many factors, including the duration, severity and scope of the public health emergency, the actions taken by governmental authorities to contain its financial and economic impact, the continued implementation of travel advisories and restrictions, the impact of such public health emergency on overall supply and demand, goods and services, investor liquidity, consumer confidence and levels of economic activity and the extent of its disruption to global, regional and local supply chains and economic markets, all of which are uncertain and difficult to assess. The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing as of the filing date of this Annual Report and its extended duration may have further adverse impacts on our business, financial performance, operating results, cash flows and financial condition, including the market price of shares of our securities, including for the reasons described below.
The effects of a public health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic may materially and adversely impact our value and performance and the value and performance of our funds and our funds’ portfolio companies. Further, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be fully reflected in the valuation of our or our funds’ investments, which may differ materially from the values that we may ultimately realize with respect to such investments. Our valuations, and particularly valuations of our interests in our funds and our funds’ investments, reflect a moment in time, are inherently uncertain, may fluctuate over short periods of time and are often based on subjective estimates, comparisons and qualitative evaluations of private information. Valuations, on an unrealized basis, can also be significantly affected by a variety of external factors including, but not limited to, public equity market volatility, industry trading multiples and interest rates, all of which have been impacted and continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the extreme volatility in the broader market and particularly in the energy markets has led to a broad decrease in valuations and such valuations may continue to decline and become increasingly difficult to ascertain. As a result, our valuations and the valuations of our interests in our funds and our funds’ investments, may not show the complete or continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting measures taken in response thereto. Accordingly, we and our funds may continue to incur additional net unrealized losses or may incur realized losses in the future, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any public health emergency, including the COVID-19 pandemic or any outbreak of other existing or new epidemic diseases, or the threat thereof, and the resulting financial and economic market uncertainty could have a significant adverse impact on us,
the fair value of our and our funds’ investments and could adversely impact our funds’ ability to fulfill our investment objectives.
Our ability to market and raise new or successor funds in the future may be impacted by the continuation and reintroduction of shelter-in-place orders, travel restrictions and social distancing requirements implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This may reduce or delay anticipated fee revenues. In addition, the significant volatility and declines in valuations in the global markets as well as liquidity concerns may impact our ability to raise funds or deter fund investors from investing in new or successor funds that we are marketing.
Our funds may experience a slowdown in the pace of their investment activity and capital deployment, which could also adversely affect the timing of raising capital for new or successor funds and could also impact the management fees we earn on funds that generate fees based on invested (and not committed) capital. While the increased volatility in the financial markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may present attractive investment opportunities, we or our funds may not be able to complete those investments due to, among other factors, increased competition or operational challenges such as our ability to obtain attractive financing, conduct due diligence and consummate the acquisition and disposition of investments for our funds because of continued and re-introduced shelter-in-place orders, travel restrictions and social distancing requirements.
If the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and current market conditions continue, we and our funds may have fewer opportunities to successfully exit investments, due to, among other reasons, lower valuations, decreased revenues and earnings, lack of potential buyers with financial resources or access to financing to pursue an acquisition, lack of refinancing markets, resulting in a reduced ability to realize value from such investments at attractive valuations or at all, and thereby negatively impacting our realized income.
Adverse market conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic may impact our liquidity. Our cash flows from management fees may be impacted by, among other things, a slowdown in fundraising or delayed deployment. Cash payment of adverse market conditions may make it difficult for us to refinance our existing indebtedness or obtain new indebtedness with similar terms and any failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business. The capital that will be available to us in the future, if at all, may be at a higher cost and on less favorable terms and conditions than we currently experience. While our senior professionals have historically made co-investments in our funds alongside our limited partners, thereby reducing our obligation to make such investments, due to financial uncertainty or liquidity concerns, our employees may be less likely to make co-investments, which would result in such general partner commitments remaining our obligation to fund and reducing our liquidity. In addition, our funds may be impacted due to failure by our fund investors to meet capital calls, which would negatively impact our funds’ ability to make investments or pay us management fees.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a particularly severe impact on certain industries, including but not limited to the energy, hospitality, travel, retail and restaurant industries, which are industries in which some of our funds have made investments. Many of our funds’ portfolio companies in these industries have faced and are continuing to face operational and financial challenges resulting from the spread of COVID-19 and related governmental measures, such as the closure of stores, hotels, restaurants and other locations, restrictions on travel, quarantines or continued and re-introduced stay-at-home orders. As a result of these disruptions, the businesses, financial results and prospects of certain of these portfolio companies have already been severely affected and could continue to be so affected. This has caused and may in the future result in impairment and decrease in value of our funds’ investments, which may be material.
Our funds’ portfolio companies are also facing or may face in the future increased credit and liquidity risk due to volatility in financial markets, reduced or eliminated revenue streams, and limited or higher cost of access to preferred sources of funding. Changes in the debt financing markets are impacting, and, if the volatility in financial markets continues, may in the future impact, the ability of our funds’ portfolio companies to meet their respective financial obligations and continue as going concerns. This could lead to the insolvency and/or bankruptcy of these companies which would cause our funds to realize losses in respect of those investments. Any of the foregoing would adversely affect our results of operations, perhaps materially, and could harm our reputation.