Arbor Realty Trust, Inc. is a specialized real estate finance company that invests in a diversified portfolio of structured finance assets in the multi-family and commercial real estate markets. We invest primarily in real estate-related bridge and mezzanine loans, including junior participating interests in first mortgages, preferred and direct equity, and in limited cases, discounted mortgage notes and other real estate-related assets, which we refer to collectively as structured finance investments. We also invest in mortgage-related securities and real estate property. Our principal business objective is to maximize the difference between the yield on our investments and the cost of financing these investments to generate cash available for distribution, facilitate capital appreciation and maximize total return to our stockholders.
We are organized to qualify as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) for federal income tax purposes. A REIT is generally not subject to federal income tax on that portion of its REIT taxable income (“Taxable Income”) that is distributed to its stockholders, provided that at least 90% of Taxable Income is distributed and provided that certain other requirements are met. Certain of our assets that produce non-qualifying income are held in taxable REIT subsidiaries. Unlike other subsidiaries of a REIT, the income of a taxable REIT subsidiary is subject to federal and state income taxes.
We commenced operations in July 2003 and conduct substantially all of our operations and investing activities through our operating partnership, Arbor Realty Limited Partnership, and its wholly-owned subsidiaries. We serve as the general partner of our operating partnership, and own a 100% partnership interest in our operating partnership as of December 31, 2009.
We are externally managed and advised by Arbor Commercial Mortgage, LLC (“ACM”), a national commercial real estate finance company that specializes in debt and equity financing for multi-family and commercial real estate, pursuant to the terms of a management agreement described below. ACM provides us with all of the services vital to our operations other than asset management and securitization, and our executive officers and other staff are all employed by our manager, ACM, pursuant to the management agreement. The management agreement requires ACM to manage our business affairs in conformity with the policies and investment guidelines that are approved and monitored by our board of directors.
We believe ACM’s experience and reputation positions it to originate attractive investment opportunities for us. Our management agreement with ACM was developed to capitalize on synergies with ACM’s origination infrastructure, existing business relationships and management expertise. ACM has granted us a right of first refusal to pursue all structured finance investment opportunities in the multi-family or commercial real estate markets that are identified by ACM or its affiliates. ACM continues to originate and service multi-family and commercial mortgage loans under Fannie Mae, Federal Housing Administration and conduit commercial lending programs. We believe that the customer relationships established from these lines of business may generate additional real estate investment opportunities for our business.
Our Investment Strategy
Our principal business objectives are to invest in bridge and mezzanine loans, including junior participating interests in first mortgages, preferred and direct equity and other real estate-related assets in the multifamily and commercial real estate markets and actively manage our investment portfolio in order to generate cash available for distribution, facilitate capital appreciation and maximize total return to our stockholders. We believe the financing of multi-family and commercial real estate offers opportunities that demand customized financing solutions. We believe we can achieve these objectives through the following business and growth strategies:
Provide Customized Financing. We provide financing customized to the needs of our borrowers. We target borrowers who have demonstrated a history of enhancing the value of the properties they operate, but whose options may be limited by conventional bank financing and who may benefit from the sophisticated structured finance products we offer.
Execute Transactions Rapidly. We act quickly and decisively on proposals, provide commitments and close transactions within a few weeks and sometimes days, if required. We believe that rapid execution attracts opportunities from both borrowers and other lenders that would not otherwise be available. We believe our ability to structure flexible terms and close loans in a timely manner gives us a competitive advantage over our competition.
Manage Credit Quality. A critical component of our strategy in the real estate finance sector is our ability to manage the real estate risk that is underwritten by our manager and us. We actively manage the credit quality of our portfolio by using the expertise of our asset management group, which has a proven track record of structuring and repositioning structured finance investments to improve credit quality and yield.
Use Arbor Commercial Mortgage’s Relationships with Existing Borrowers. We capitalize on ACM’s reputation in the commercial real estate finance industry. ACM has relationships with a large borrower base nationwide. Since ACM’s originators offer senior mortgage loans as well as our structured finance products, we are able to benefit from its existing customer base and use its senior lending business as a potential refinance vehicle for our structured finance assets.
Offer Broader Products and Expand Customer Base. We have the ability to offer a larger number of financing alternatives than ACM has been able to offer to its customers in the past. Our potential borrowers are able to choose from products offering longer maturities and larger principal amounts than ACM could previously offer.
Leverage the Experience of Executive Officers, Arbor Commercial Mortgage and Our Employees. Our executive officers and employees, and those of ACM, have extensive experience originating and managing structured commercial real estate investments. Our senior management team has on average over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.
We have 29 employees, including Messrs. Weber, Kilgore and Horn, Mr. Felletter, our Senior Vice President of Asset Management, Mr. Guziewicz, our Chief Credit Officer, and a 23 person asset management group. Mr. Kaufman, our Chief Executive Officer and Mr. Elenio, our Chief Financial Officer are full time employees of ACM and are not directly compensated by us (other than pursuant to our equity incentive plans).