Stellus Capital Investment Corporation
Stellus Capital Investment Corp (Form: N-2/A, Received: 04/03/2017 16:03:27)

As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 3, 2017

Securities Act File No. 333-216138

 

U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549



 

FORM N-2

REGISTRATION STATEMENT UNDER THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933

   x   Pre-Effective Amendment No. 1

   o   Post-Effective Amendment No.



 

STELLUS CAPITAL INVESTMENT CORPORATION

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Charter)



 

4400 Post Oak Parkway, Suite 2200
Houston, TX 77027

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)



 

(713) 292-5400

(Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code)



 

Robert T. Ladd
Chief Executive Officer and President
Stellus Capital Investment Corporation
4400 Post Oak Parkway, Suite 2200
Houston, TX 77027

(Name and Address of Agent for Service)



 

COPIES TO:

Steven B. Boehm, Esq.
Stephani M. Hildebrandt, Esq.
Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP
700 Sixth Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20001-3980
Tel: (202) 383-0100
Fax: (202) 637-3593



 

Approximate date of proposed public offering: As soon as practicable after the effective date of this Registration Statement.

If any of the securities being registered on this form are offered on a delayed or continuous basis in reliance on Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, other than securities offered in connection with a dividend reinvestment plan, check the following box. x

It is proposed that this filing will become effective (check appropriate box):

o when declared effective pursuant to section 8(c).

CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE UNDER THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933

       
Title of Securities Being Registered   Amount
Being
Registered
  Proposed
Maximum
Offering Price
Per Unit
  Proposed
Maximum
Aggregate
Offering Price (1)
  Amount of
Registration
Fee (1)
Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share (2) (3)                                    
Preferred Stock, $0.001 par value per share (2)                              
Subscription Rights (2)                                    
Debt Securities (4)                              
Warrants (5)                              
Total (6)               $ 200,000,000 (6)     $ 23,180 (7)  

(1) Estimated pursuant to Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act of 1933 solely for the purpose of determining the registration fee. The proposed maximum offering price per security will be determined, from time to time, by the Registrant in connection with the sale by the Registrant of the securities registered under this Registration Statement.
(2) Subject to Note 6 below, there is being registered hereunder an indeterminate number of shares of common stock, preferred stock or subscription rights as may be sold, from time to time, separately or as units in combination with other securities registered hereunder.
(3) Includes such indeterminate number of shares of common stock as may, from time to time, be issued upon conversion or exchange of other securities registered hereunder, to the extent any such securities are, by their terms, convertible or exchangeable for common stock.
(4) Subject to Note 6 below, there is being registered hereunder an indeterminate number of debt securities as may be sold, from time to time, separately or as units in combination with other securities registered hereunder. If any debt securities are issued at an original issue discount, then the offering price shall be in such greater principal amount as shall result in an aggregate price to investors not to exceed $200,000,000.
(5) Subject to Note 6 below, there is being registered hereunder an indeterminate number of warrants as may be sold, from time to time, separately or as units in combination with other securities registered hereunder, representing rights to purchase common stock, preferred stock or debt securities.
(6) In no event will the aggregate offering price of all securities issued by us from time to time pursuant to this Registration Statement exceed $200,000,000.
(7) Previously paid.

The Registrant hereby amends this Registration Statement on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the Registrant shall file a further amendment which specifically states that this Registration Statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 or until the Registration Statement shall become effective on such date as the Securities and Exchange Commission, acting pursuant to said Section 8(a), may determine.

 

 


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The information in this prospectus is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities and it is not soliciting an offer to buy these securities in any state where the offer or sale is not permitted.

Subject to Completion dated April 3, 2017

PROSPECTUS

Stellus Capital Investment Corporation

Common Stock
Preferred Stock
Subscription Rights
Debt Securities
Warrants

We may offer, from time to time in one or more offerings, up to $200,000,000 of our common stock, preferred stock, subscription rights, debt securities or warrants to purchase common stock, preferred stock or debt securities, which we refer to, collectively, as the “securities.” Our securities may be offered at prices and on terms to be disclosed in one or more supplements to this prospectus. You should read this prospectus and the applicable prospectus supplement carefully before you invest in our securities.

Our securities may be offered directly to one or more purchasers through agents designated from time to time by us, or to or through underwriters or dealers. The prospectus supplement relating to the offering will identify any agents or underwriters involved in the sale of our securities, and will disclose any applicable purchase price, fee, commission or discount arrangement between us and our agents or underwriters or among our underwriters or the basis upon which such amount may be calculated. See “Plan of Distribution.” We may not sell any of our securities through agents, underwriters or dealers without delivery of a prospectus supplement describing the method and terms of the offering of such securities.

We are an externally managed, closed-end, non-diversified management investment company that has elected to be regulated as a business development company under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, or the 1940 Act. Our investment objective is to maximize the total return to our stockholders in the form of current income and capital appreciation. The companies in which we invest are typically highly leveraged, and, in most cases, our investments in such companies will not be rated by national rating agencies. If such investments were rated, we believe that they would likely receive a rating below investment grade (i.e., below BBB or Baa), which are often referred to as “junk.”

We are an “emerging growth company” under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 and are subject to reduced public company reporting requirements. We will no longer qualify as an “emerging growth company” beginning with our fiscal year ending December 31, 2017.

On March 29, 2017, the last reported sale price of our common stock on the New York Stock Exchange was $14.26. We are required to determine the net asset value per share of our common stock on a quarterly basis. On December 31, 2016, our net asset value per share was $13.69.

Shares of closed-end investment companies, including business development companies, frequently trade at a discount to their net asset value. If our shares trade at a discount to our net asset value, it will likely increase the risk of loss for purchasers in this offering. We are not generally able to issue and sell our common stock at a price below net asset value per share. We may, however, sell our common stock, or warrants, options or rights to acquire our common stock, at a price below then-current net asset value per share of our common stock if our board of directors determines that such sale is in our best interests, and if our stockholders approve such sale. We did not seek such approval at the 2016 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, however, we intend to seek such stockholder approval at our 2017 annual meeting of stockholders, which is expected to be held on May 24, 2017. If we receive such stockholder approval, our stockholders may or may not not specify a maximum discount below net asset value at which we are able to issue our common stock, although the number of shares sold in each offering may not exceed 25% of our outstanding common stock immediately prior to such sale. We cannot issue shares of our common stock below net asset value unless our board of directors determines that it would be in our and our stockholders’ best interests to do so. Sales of common stock at prices below net asset value per share dilute the interests of existing stockholders, have the effect of reducing our net asset value per share and may reduce our market price per share. In addition, continuous sales of common stock below net asset value may have a negative impact on total returns and could have a negative impact on the market price of our shares of common stock. See “Sales of Common Stock Below Net Asset Value.”

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. Before buying any shares, you should read the discussion of the material risks of investing in our common stock in “Risk Factors” beginning on page 17 of this prospectus.

This prospectus and the accompanying prospectus supplement contain important information you should know before investing in our common stock. Please read this prospectus and the accompanying prospectus supplement before you invest and keep it for future reference. We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information about us with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. The SEC also maintains a website at http://www.sec.gov that contains such information. This information is also available free of charge by contacting us at 4400 Post Oak Parkway, Suite 2200, Houston, TX 77027, Attention: Investor Relations, or by calling us collect at (713) 292-5400 or on our website at www.stelluscapital.com (under the Public Investors section). Information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference into this prospectus, and you should not consider that information to be part of this prospectus or the accompanying prospectus supplement.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has not approved or disapproved of these securities or determined if this
prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

The date of this prospectus is            , 2017


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 
PROSPECTUS SUMMARY     1  
THE OFFERING     9  
FEES AND EXPENSES     13  
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA     16  
RISK FACTORS     17  
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS     46  
USE OF PROCEEDS     47  
PRICE RANGE OF COMMON STOCK AND DISTRIBUTIONS     48  
RATIOS OF EARNINGS TO FIXED CHARGES     51  
MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS     52  
SENIOR SECURITIES     68  
THE COMPANY     69  
PORTFOLIO COMPANIES     82  
MANAGEMENT     91  
MANAGEMENT AGREEMENTS     100  
RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS AND CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS     109  
CONTROL PERSONS AND PRINCIPAL STOCKHOLDERS     111  
DETERMINATION OF NET ASSET VALUE     113  
SALES OF COMMON STOCK BELOW NET ASSET VALUE     116  
DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN     121  
MATERIAL U.S. FEDERAL INCOME TAX CONSIDERATIONS     123  
DESCRIPTION OF OUR COMMON STOCK     130  
DESCRIPTION OF OUR PREFERRED STOCK     136  
DESCRIPTION OF OUR SUBSCRIPTION RIGHTS     137  
DESCRIPTION OF OUR DEBT SECURITIES     139  
DESCRIPTION OF OUR WARRANTS     152  
REGULATION     154  
PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION     159  
CUSTODIAN, TRANSFER AND DIVIDEND PAYING AGENT AND REGISTRAR     160  
BROKERAGE ALLOCATION AND OTHER PRACTICES     160  
LEGAL MATTERS     160  
INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM     161  
AVAILABLE INFORMATION     161  
Index to Financial Statements     F-1  

i


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOUT THIS PROSPECTUS

This prospectus is part of a registration statement that we have filed with the SEC using the “shelf” registration process. Under the shelf registration process, we may offer, from time to time, up to $200,000,000 of our securities on terms to be determined at the time of the offering. This prospectus provides you with a general description of the securities that we may offer. Each time we use this prospectus to offer securities, we will provide a prospectus supplement that will contain specific information about the terms of that offering. The prospectus supplement may also add, update or change information contained in this prospectus. Please carefully read this prospectus and any accompanying prospectus supplement together with the additional information described under “Risk Factors” and “Available Information” before you make an investment decision.

No dealer, salesperson or other person is authorized to give any information or to represent anything not contained in this prospectus or any accompanying supplement to this prospectus. You must not rely on any unauthorized information or representations not contained in this prospectus or any accompanying prospectus supplement as if we had authorized it. This prospectus and any accompanying prospectus supplement do not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of any offer to buy any security other than the registered securities to which they relate, nor do they constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities in any jurisdiction to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such an offer or solicitation in such jurisdiction. The information contained in this prospectus and any accompanying prospectus supplement is accurate as of the dates on their covers. Our financial condition, results of operations and prospects may have changed since that date. To the extent required by law, we will amend or supplement the information contained in this prospectus and any accompanying prospectus supplement to reflect any material changes to such information subsequent to the date of the prospectus and any accompanying prospectus supplement and prior to the completion of any offering pursuant to the prospectus and any accompanying prospectus supplement.

ii


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

This summary highlights some of the information in this prospectus. It is not complete and may not contain all of the information that you may want to consider. You should read the more detailed information set forth under “Risk Factors” and the other information included in this prospectus and any prospectus supplement carefully.

Except as otherwise indicated, the terms “we,” “us,” “our,” and the “Company” refer to Stellus Capital Investment Corporation; and “Stellus Capital Management” refers to our investment adviser and administrator, Stellus Capital Management, LLC.

Stellus Capital Investment Corporation

We are an externally managed, closed-end, non-diversified management investment company that has elected to be regulated as a business development company, or “BDC”, under the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the “1940 Act.” We originate and invest primarily in private middle-market companies (typically those with $5.0 million to $50.0 million of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization)) through first lien, second lien, unitranche and mezzanine debt financing, with corresponding equity co-investments. Unitranche debt is typically structured as first lien loans with certain risk characteristics of second lien debt. Mezzanine debt includes senior unsecured and subordinated loans.

Our investment activities are managed by our investment adviser, Stellus Capital Management, an investment advisory firm led by Robert T. Ladd and its other senior investment professionals. We source investments primarily through the extensive network of relationships that the senior investment professionals of Stellus Capital Management have developed with financial sponsor firms, financial institutions, middle-market companies, management teams and other professional intermediaries. The companies in which we invest are typically highly leveraged, and, in most cases, our investments in such companies will not be rated by national rating agencies. If such investments were rated, we believe that they would likely receive a rating which is often referred to as “junk.”

Our investment objective is to maximize the total return to our stockholders in the form of current income and capital appreciation. We seek to achieve our investment objective by:

accessing the extensive origination channels that have been developed and established by the Stellus Capital Management investment team that include long-standing relationships with private equity firms, commercial banks, investment banks and other financial services firms;
investing in what we believe to be companies with strong business fundamentals, generally within our core middle-market company focus;
focusing on a variety of industry sectors, including business services, energy, general industrial, government services, healthcare, software and specialty finance;
focusing primarily on directly originated transactions;
applying the disciplined underwriting standards that the Stellus Capital Management investment team has developed over their extensive investing careers; and
capitalizing upon the experience and resources of the Stellus Capital Management investment team to monitor our investments.

In addition, we received exemptive relief from the SEC to co-invest with investment funds managed by Stellus Capital Management where doing so is consistent with our investment strategy as well as applicable law (including the terms and conditions of the exemptive order issued by the SEC). Under the terms of the relief permitting us to co-invest with other funds managed by Stellus Capital Management, a “required majority” (as defined in Section 57(o) of the 1940 Act) of our independent directors must make certain conclusions in connection with a co-investment transaction, including that (1) the terms of the proposed transaction, including the consideration to be paid, are reasonable and fair to us and our stockholders and do not involve overreaching of us or our stockholders on the part of any person concerned and (2) the transaction is consistent with the interests of our stockholders and is consistent with our investment objectives and strategies. We intend to co-invest, subject to the conditions included in the exemptive order we received from

1


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

the SEC, with private credit funds managed by Stellus Capital Management that have an investment strategy that is identical to our investment strategy. We believe that such co-investments may afford us additional investment opportunities and an ability to achieve greater diversification.

As a BDC, we are required to comply with regulatory requirements, including limitations on our use of debt. We are permitted to, and expect to continue to, finance our investments through borrowings. However, as a BDC, we are only generally allowed to borrow amounts such that our asset coverage, as defined in the 1940 Act, equals at least 200% after such borrowing. The amount of leverage that we employ will depend on our assessment of market conditions and other factors at the time of any proposed borrowing, such as the maturity, covenant package and rate structure of the proposed borrowings, our ability to raise funds through the issuance of our securities and the risks of such borrowings within the context of our investment outlook. Ultimately, we only intend to use leverage if the expected returns from borrowing to make investments will exceed the cost of such borrowings.

We have elected and qualified to be treated for federal income tax purposes as a regulated investment company, or “RIC,” under Subchapter M of the Internal Revenue Code, or the Code. As a RIC, we generally will not have to pay corporate-level federal income taxes on any net ordinary income or capital gains that we distribute to our stockholders if we meet certain source-of-income, distribution and asset diversification requirements.

SBIC License

Our wholly owned subsidiary holds a license to operate as a small business investment company, or SBIC. Our wholly-owned SBIC subsidiary’s SBIC license allows it to obtain leverage by issuing SBA-guaranteed debentures up to a maximum of $150 million under current SBIC regulations, subject to required capitalization of the SBIC subsidiary and other requirements. As of December 31, 2016, the SBIC subsidiary had $38.0 million of regulatory capital as such term is defined by the SBA, and has received commitments from the SBA of $65 million. As of December 31, 2016, the SBIC subsidiary had $65 million of SBA-guaranteed debentures outstanding. The principal amount of SBA-guaranteed debentures is not required to be paid prior to maturity but may be prepaid at any time without penalty. The interest rate of SBA-guaranteed debentures is fixed at the time of issuance at a market-driven spread over U.S. Treasury Notes with ten-year maturities. We believe that the SBA-guaranteed debentures are an attractive source of debt capital.

We have received exemptive relief from the SEC to permit us to exclude the debt of our SBIC subsidiary guaranteed by the SBA from the definition of senior securities in the 200% asset coverage ratio we are required to maintain under the 1940 Act. The exemptive relief provides us with increased flexibility under the 200% asset coverage test by permitting us to borrow up to $76.0 million (based on current regulatory capital, as such term is defined by the SBA, of $38.0 million) more than we would otherwise be able to absent the receipt of this exemptive relief.

Portfolio Composition

Our investments generally range in size from $5 million to $30 million, and we may also selectively invest in larger positions, and we generally expect that the size of our positions will increase in proportion to the size of our capital base. Pending such investments, we may reduce our outstanding indebtedness or invest in cash, cash equivalents, U.S. government securities and other high-quality debt investments with a maturity of one year or less. In the future, we may adjust opportunistically the percentage of our assets held in various types of loans, our principal loan sources and the industries to which we have greatest exposure, based on market conditions, the credit cycle, available financing and our desired risk/return profile.

2


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The following table provides a summary of our portfolio investments as of December 31, 2016:

 
  As of
December 31,
2016
($ in millions)
Number of portfolio companies     45  
Fair value (a)   $ 365.6  
Cost   $ 362.2  
% of portfolio at fair value – first lien debt (c)     31 %  
% of portfolio at fair value – second lien debt     45 %  
% of portfolio at fair value – mezzanine debt     19 %  
% of portfolio at fair value – equity     5 %  
Weighted-average annual yield (b)     11.0 %  

(a) As of December 31, 2016, $266.1 million of our debt investments at fair value were at floating interest rates (subject to interest rate floors), which represented approximately 77% of our total portfolio of debt investments at fair value. As of December 31, 2016, $80.6 million of our debt investments at fair value were at fixed interest rates, which represented approximately 23% of our total portfolio of debt investments at fair value.
(b) The weighted average yield on all of our debt investments as of December 31, 2016, was approximately 11.0%, of which approximately 10.5% was current cash interest. The weighted average yield of our debt investments is not the same as a return on investment for our stockholders but, rather, relates to a portion of our investment portfolio and is calculated before the payment of all of our and our subsidiaries’ fees and expenses. The weighted average yield was computed using the effective interest rates for all of our debt investments, which represents the interest rate on our debt investment restated as an interest rate payable annually in arrears and is computed including cash and payment in kind, or PIK interest, as well as including accretion of original issue discount. There can be no assurance that the weighted average yield will remain at their current level.
(c) Includes unitranche investments, which account for 8% of our portfolio at fair value.

Leverage

Credit Facility.   On November 7, 2012, we entered into a revolving credit facility (the “Credit Facility”) with various lenders. SunTrust Bank, one of the lenders, serves as administrative agent under the Credit Facility. The Credit Facility, as amended on November 21, 2014 and August 31, 2016, provides for borrowings in an aggregate amount of $120.0 million on a committed basis with an accordion feature that allows us to increase the aggregate commitments up to $195.0 million, subject to new or existing lenders agreeing to participate in the increase and other customary conditions. Borrowings under the Credit Facility bear interest, subject to our election, on a per annum basis equal to (i) LIBOR plus 2.625% with no LIBOR floor or (ii) 1.625% plus an alternate base rate based on the highest of the Prime Rate, Federal Funds Rate plus 0.5% or one month LIBOR plus 1.0%. We pay unused commitment fees of 0.50% per annum on the unused lender commitments under the Credit Facility. Interest is payable quarterly in arrears. Any amounts borrowed under the Credit Facility will mature, and all accrued and unpaid interest thereunder will be due and payable, on October 1, 2018.

6.50% Notes.   On May 5, 2014, we closed a public offering of $25.0 million in aggregate principal amount of 6.50% Notes (the “Notes”). The Notes mature on April 30, 2019, and may be redeemed in whole or in part at any time or from time to time at our option on or after April 30, 2016. The Notes bear interest at a rate of 6.50% per year payable quarterly on February 15, May 15, August 15 and November 15, of each year. As of December 31, 2016, we had $25.0 million in the Notes outstanding.

SBA-guaranteed Debentures.   Due to the SBIC subsidiary’s status as a licensed SBIC, we have the ability to issue debentures guaranteed by the SBA at favorable interest rates. As of December 31, 2016, the SBIC subsidiary had $65.0 million of SBA-guaranteed debentures outstanding.

3


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Stellus Capital Management

Stellus Capital Management manages our investment activities and is responsible for analyzing investment opportunities, conducting research and performing due diligence on potential investments, negotiating and structuring our investments, originating prospective investments and monitoring our investments and portfolio companies on an ongoing basis.

The senior investment professionals of Stellus Capital Management have an average of over 27 years of investing, corporate finance, restructuring, consulting and accounting experience and have worked together at several companies. The Stellus Capital Management investment team has a wide range of experience in middle-market investing, including originating, structuring and managing loans and debt securities through market cycles. The Stellus Capital Management investment team continues to provide investment sub-advisory services to D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P. and its associated investment funds (the “D. E. Shaw group”) with respect to an approximately $150 million investment portfolio (as of December 31, 2016) in middle-market companies pursuant to sub-advisory arrangements.

In addition to serving as our investment adviser and the sub-advisor to the D. E. Shaw group as noted above, Stellus Capital Management currently manages a private credit fund that has an investment strategy that is identical to our investment strategy and energy private equity funds. We received exemptive relief from the SEC to co-invest with investment funds managed by Stellus Capital Management (other than the D. E. Shaw group funds) where doing so is consistent with our investment strategy as well as applicable law (including the terms and conditions of the exemptive order issued by the SEC). We believe that such co-investments may afford us additional investment opportunities and an ability to achieve greater diversification. We will not co-invest with the energy private equity funds, as the energy private equity funds focus on predominantly equity-related investments, and we focus on predominantly credit-related investments.

Stellus Capital Management is headquartered in Houston, Texas, and also maintains an office in the Washington, D.C. area.

Market Opportunity

We originate and invest primarily in private middle-market companies through first lien, second lien, unitranche and mezzanine debt financing, often times with a corresponding equity investment. We believe the environment for investing in middle-market companies is attractive for several reasons, including:

Robust Demand for Debt Capital.   We believe that private equity firms have significant committed but uncalled capital, a large portion of which is still available for investment in the United States. We expect the large amount of uninvested capital commitments will drive buyout activity over the next several years, which should, in turn, create lending opportunities for us. In addition to increased buyout activity, a high volume of senior secured and high yield debt was originated in the calendar years 2004 through 2007 and will come due in the near term and, accordingly, we believe that new financing opportunities will increase as many companies seek to refinance this indebtedness.

Reduced Availability of Capital for Middle-Market Companies.   We believe there are fewer providers of, and less capital available for financing to middle-market companies, as compared to the time period prior to the recent economic downturn. We believe that, as a result of that downturn, many financing providers have chosen to focus on large, liquid corporate loans and managing capital markets transactions rather than lending to middle-market businesses. In addition, we believe recent regulatory changes, including the adoption of the Dodd-Frank Act and the introduction of the international capital and liquidity requirements under the Basel III Accords, or “Basel III,” have caused banks to curtail their lending to middle-market-companies. As a result, we believe that less competition will facilitate higher quality deal flow and allow for greater selectivity throughout the investment process.

Attractive Deal Pricing and Structures.   We believe that the pricing of middle-market debt investments is higher, and the terms of such investments are more conservative, compared to larger liquid, public debt financings, due to the more limited universe of lenders as well as the highly negotiated nature of these financings. These transactions tend to offer stronger covenant packages, higher interest rates, lower leverage

4


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

levels and better call protection compared to larger financings. In addition, middle-market loans typically offer other investor protections such as default penalties, lien protection, change of control provisions and information rights for lenders.

Specialized Lending Requirements .  Lending to middle-market companies requires in-depth diligence, credit expertise, restructuring experience and active portfolio management. We believe that several factors render many U.S. financial institutions ill-suited to lend to middle-market companies. For example, based on the experience of Stellus Capital Management’s investment team, lending to middle-market companies in the United States (a) is generally more labor intensive than lending to larger companies due to the smaller size of each investment and the fragmented nature of the information available with respect to such companies, (b) requires specialized due diligence and underwriting capabilities, and (c) may also require more extensive ongoing monitoring by the lender. We believe that, through Stellus Capital Management, we have the experience and expertise to meet these specialized lending requirements.

Competitive Strengths

We believe that the following competitive strengths will allow us to achieve positive returns for our investors:

Experienced Investment Team.   Through our investment adviser, Stellus Capital Management, we have access to the experience and expertise of the Stellus Capital Management investment team, including its senior investment professionals who have an average of over 27 years of investing, corporate finance, restructuring, consulting and accounting experience and have worked together at several companies. The Stellus Capital Management investment team has a wide range of experience in middle-market investing, including originating, structuring and managing loans and debt securities through market cycles. We believe the members of Stellus Capital Management’s investment team are proven and experienced, with extensive capabilities in leveraged credit investing, having participated in these markets for the predominant portion of their careers. We believe that the experience and demonstrated ability of the Stellus Capital Management investment team to complete transactions enhances the quantity and quality of investment opportunities available to us.

Established, Rigorous Investment and Monitoring Process.   The Stellus Capital Management investment team has developed an extensive review and credit analysis process. Each investment that is reviewed by Stellus Capital Management is brought through a structured, multi-stage approval process. In addition, Stellus Capital Management takes an active approach in monitoring all investments, including reviews of financial performance on at least a quarterly basis and regular discussions with management. Stellus Capital Management’s investment and monitoring process and the depth and experience of its investment team should allow it to conduct the type of due diligence and monitoring that enables it to identify and evaluate risks and opportunities.

Demonstrated Ability to Structure Investments Creatively.   Stellus Capital Management has the expertise and ability to structure investments across all levels of a company’s capital structure. Furthermore, we believe that current market conditions will allow us to structure attractively priced debt investments and may allow us to incorporate other return-enhancing mechanisms such as commitment fees, original issue discounts, early redemption premiums, payment-in-kind, or “PIK,” interest or some form of equity securities.

Resources of Stellus Capital Management Platform.   We have access to the resources and capabilities of Stellus Capital Management, which has 18 investment professionals, including Robert T. Ladd, Dean D’Angelo, Joshua T. Davis and Todd A. Overbergen, who are supported by six managing directors, two principals, two vice presidents and three analysts. These individuals have developed long-term relationships with middle-market companies, management teams, financial sponsors, lending institutions and deal intermediaries by providing flexible financing throughout the capital structure. We believe that these relationships provide us with a competitive advantage in identifying investment opportunities in our target market. We also expect to benefit from Stellus Capital Management’s due diligence, credit analysis, origination and transaction execution experience and capabilities, including the support provided with respect to those functions by Mr. Huskinson, who serves as our chief financial officer and chief compliance officer, and his staff of eight finance and operations professionals.

5


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Risk Factors

An investment in our securities is subject to risks. The following is a summary of the principal risks that you should carefully consider before investing in our securities. In addition, see “Risk Factors” beginning on page 17 of this prospectus to read about factors you should consider before deciding to invest in our securities.

We are dependent upon key personnel of Stellus Capital Management for our future success. If Stellus Capital Management were to lose any of its key personnel, our ability to achieve our investment objective could be significantly harmed.
Our business model depends to a significant extent upon strong referral relationships. Any inability of Stellus Capital Management to maintain or develop these relationships, or the failure of these relationships to generate investment opportunities, could adversely affect our business.
Our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows will depend on our ability to manage our business effectively.
There are significant potential conflicts of interest that could negatively affect our investment returns.
The incentive fee structure we have with Stellus Capital Management may create incentives that are not fully aligned with the interests of our stockholders.
We will be subject to corporate-level income tax and may default under our revolving credit facility with various lenders (the “Credit Facility”) if we are unable to maintain our qualification as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code.
Regulations governing our operation as a BDC affect our ability to and the way in which we raise additional capital and, as a BDC, the necessity of raising additional capital may expose us to risks, including the typical risks associated with leverage.
Because we finance our investments with borrowed money, the potential for gain or loss on amounts invested in us is magnified and may increase the risk of investing in us.
Because we use debt to finance our investments, changes in interest rates will affect our cost of capital and net investment income.
Adverse developments in the credit markets may impair our ability to borrow money.
Most of our portfolio investments are recorded at fair value as determined in good faith by our board of directors and, as a result, there may be uncertainty as to the value of our portfolio investments.
Our ability to enter into transactions with our affiliates will be restricted, which may limit the scope of investments available to us.
The involvement of our interested directors in the valuation process may create conflicts of interest.
There are conflicts related to other arrangements with Stellus Capital Management.
If we fail to maintain our status as a BDC, our business and operating flexibility could be significantly reduced.
Pending legislation may allow us to incur additional leverage.
The effect of global climate change may impact the operations of our portfolio companies.
Existing stockholders may incur dilution if, in the future, we sell shares of our common stock in one or more offerings at prices below the then current net asset value per share of our common stock.

Conflicts of Interests

We may have conflicts of interest arising out of the investment advisory activities of Stellus Capital Management, including those described below.

6


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Our investment strategy includes investments in secured debt (including first lien, second lien and unitranche) and mezzanine debt (including senior unsecured and subordinated debt), as well as related equity securities of private middle-market companies. Stellus Capital Management also manages, and in the future may manage, other investment funds, accounts or investment vehicles that invest or may invest in assets eligible for purchase by us. For example, Stellus Capital Management currently manages private credit funds that have an investment strategy that is identical to our investment strategy. Stellus Capital Management also provides non-discretionary advisory services to the D. E. Shaw group, pursuant to sub-advisory arrangements, with respect to a private investment fund and a strategy of a private multi-strategy investment fund (collectively with the D. E. Shaw group fund, the “D. E. Shaw group funds”) to which the D. E. Shaw group serves as investment adviser that have an investment strategy similar to our investment strategy. Our investment policies, fee arrangements and other circumstances may vary from those of other investment funds, accounts or investment vehicles managed by Stellus Capital Management.

We have received exemptive relief from the SEC to co-invest with investment funds managed by Stellus Capital Management (other than the D. E. Shaw group funds, where doing so is consistent with our investment strategy as well as applicable law (including the terms and conditions of the exemptive order issued by the SEC). Under the terms of the relief permitting us to co-invest with other funds managed by Stellus Capital Management, a “required majority” (as defined in Section 57(o) of the 1940 Act) of our independent directors must make certain conclusions in connection with a co-investment transaction, including that (1) the terms of the proposed transaction, including the consideration to be paid, are reasonable and fair to us and our stockholders and do not involve overreaching of us or our stockholders on the part of any person concerned and (2) the transaction is consistent with the interests of our stockholders and is consistent with our investment objectives and strategies. We intend to co-invest, subject to the conditions included in the exemptive order we received from the SEC, with the private credit funds managed by Stellus Capital Management that have an investment strategy that is identical to our investment strategy. We believe that such co-investments may afford us additional investment opportunities and an ability to achieve greater diversification.

In the course of our investing activities, we pay management and incentive fees to Stellus Capital Management. We have entered into an investment advisory agreement with Stellus Capital Management that provides that these fees are based on the value of our gross assets. Because these fees are based on the value of our gross assets, Stellus Capital Management will benefit when we incur debt or use leverage. This fee structure may encourage Stellus Capital Management to cause us to borrow money to finance additional investments. Our board of directors is charged with protecting our interests by monitoring how Stellus Capital Management addresses these and other conflicts of interests associated with its management services and compensation. While our board of directors is not expected to review or approve each investment decision, borrowing or incurrence of leverage, our independent directors will periodically review Stellus Capital Management’s services and fees as well as its portfolio management decisions and portfolio performance. See “Risk Factors — The incentive fee structure we have with Stellus Capital Management may create incentives that are not fully aligned with the interests of our stockholders.”

Stellus Capital Management may from time to time incur expenses in connection with investments to be made on our behalf and on behalf of other investment funds, accounts and investment vehicles managed by Stellus Capital Management. Stellus Capital Management will allocate such expenses on a pro rata basis according to the participation in a transaction, subject to oversight by our board of directors.

Corporate Information

Our principal executive offices are located at 4400 Post Oak Parkway, Suite 2200, Houston, TX 77027, and our telephone number is (713) 292-5400. We maintain a website located at www.stelluscapital.com (under the Public Investors section). Information on our website is not incorporated into or a part of this prospectus or any accompanying prospectus supplement and you should not consider information on our website to be part of this prospectus or any accompanying prospectus.

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act. As an emerging growth company, we may take advantage of specified reduced disclosure and other requirements that are otherwise applicable generally to public companies. We will remain an

7


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

emerging growth company until the earlier of (a) the last day of the fiscal year (i) following the fifth anniversary of the completion of our initial public offering on November 13, 2012, (ii) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.0 billion, or (iii) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which means the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the prior June 30 th , and (b) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period.

8


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE OFFERING

We may offer, from time to time, up to $200,000,000 of our securities, on terms to be determined at the time of the offering. Our securities may be offered at prices and on terms to be disclosed in one or more prospectus supplements.

Our securities may be offered directly to one or more purchasers by us or through agents designated from time to time by us, or to or through underwriters or dealers. The prospectus supplement relating to the offering will disclose the terms of the offering, including the name or names of any agents or underwriters involved in the sale of our securities by us, the purchase price, and any fee, commission or discount arrangement between us and our agents or underwriters or among our underwriters or the basis upon which such amount may be calculated. See “Plan of Distribution.” We may not sell any of our securities directly or through agents, underwriters or dealers without delivery of a prospectus supplement describing the method and terms of the offering of our securities.

Set forth below is additional information regarding the offering of our securities:

Use of Proceeds    
    We plan to use the net proceeds of this offering to make new investments in portfolio companies in accordance with our investment objective and strategies as described in this prospectus and for general working capital purposes. We may also use a portion of the net proceeds to reduce any of our outstanding borrowings. Pending such use, we will invest the net proceeds primarily in high quality, short-term debt securities consistent with our BDC election and our election to be taxed as a RIC. See “Use of Proceeds.”
Investment Advisory Agreement    
    We will pay Stellus Capital Management a fee for its services under the investment advisory agreement. This fee consists of two components: a base management fee and an incentive fee. The base management fee is calculated at an annual rate of 1.75% of our gross assets, including assets purchased with borrowed funds or other forms of leverage (including preferred stock, public and private debt issuances, derivative instruments, repurchase agreements and other similar instruments or arrangements) and excluding cash and cash equivalents. The base management fee will be payable quarterly in arrears.
   
    The incentive fee, which provides Stellus Capital Management with a share of the income that it generates for us, consists of two parts. The first part, which is calculated and payable quarterly in arrears, equals 20.0% of our “pre-incentive fee net investment income” for the immediately preceding quarter, subject to a hurdle rate of 2.0% per quarter (8.0% annualized), and is subject to a “catch-up” feature. The second part is calculated and payable in arrears as of the end of each calendar year (or, upon termination of the investment advisory agreement, as of the termination date) and equals 20.0% of our aggregate cumulative realized capital gains from inception through the end of each calendar year, computed net of aggregate cumulative realized capital losses and aggregate cumulative unrealized capital depreciation through the end of such year, less the aggregate amount of any previously paid capital gain incentive fees. See “Management Agreements — Management Fee and Incentive Fee.”
   
    Pre-incentive fee net investment income means interest income, dividend income and any other income (including any other

9


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

    fees, such as commitment, origination, structuring, diligence, managerial assistance and consulting fees or other fees that we receive from portfolio companies) accrued during the calendar quarter, minus our operating expenses for the quarter (including the base management fee, expenses payable under our administration agreement, and any interest expense and any distributions paid on any issued and outstanding preferred stock, but excluding the incentive fee). Pre-incentive fee net investment income includes, in the case of investments with a deferred interest feature (such as original issue discount, or OID, debt instruments with PIK interest and zero coupon securities), accrued income that we have not yet received in cash. However, the portion of such incentive fee that is attributable to deferred interest (such as PIK interest or OID) will be paid to Stellus Capital Management, together with interest thereon from the date of deferral to the date of payment, only if and to the extent we actually receive such interest in cash, and any accrual thereof will be reversed if and to the extent such interest is reversed in connection with any write-off or similar treatment of the investment giving rise to any deferred interest accrual. Stellus Capital Management has agreed to permanently waive any interest accrued on the portion of the incentive fee attributable to deferred interest (such as PIK interest or OID).
New York Stock Exchange symbol    
    “SCM” (common stock)
“SCQ” (6.50% notes due 2019)
Trading at a discount    
    Shares of closed-end investment companies, including business development companies, frequently trade in the secondary market at a discount to their net asset values. The risk that our shares may trade at a discount to our net asset value is separate and distinct from the risk that our net asset value per share may decline. We cannot predict whether our shares will trade above, at or below net asset value. See “Risk Factors — Shares of closed-end investment companies, including business development companies, frequently trade at a discount from their net asset value.”
Leverage    
    We expect to continue to use leverage to make investments. As a result, we may continue to be exposed to the risks of leverage, which include that leverage may be considered a speculative investment technique. The use of leverage magnifies the potential for gain and loss on amounts we invest and therefore, indirectly, increases the risks associated with investing in shares of our common stock. See “Risk Factors.”
    Our current borrowings include:
   

•  

our 6.50% Notes due 2019, of which $25.0 million were outstanding as of December 31, 2016;

   

•  

our $195.0 million Credit Facility, of which $116.0 million was outstanding as of December 31, 2016; and

   

•  

our SBA-Guaranteed debentures, of which $65.0 million were outstanding as of December 31, 2016.

10


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Distributions    
    We pay monthly distributions to our stockholders out of assets legally available for distribution. Our monthly distributions, if any, will be determined by our board of directors.
Taxation    
    We have elected to be treated for U.S. federal income tax purposes as a RIC. As a RIC, we generally will not have to pay corporate-level U.S. federal income taxes on any net ordinary income or capital gains that we distribute to our stockholders. To maintain our qualification as a RIC and the associated tax benefits, we must meet specified source-of-income and asset diversification requirements and distribute annually at least 90% of our net ordinary income and net short-term capital gains, if any, in excess of our net long-term capital losses. See “Distributions.”
Dividend reinvestment plan    
    We have adopted a dividend reinvestment plan for our stockholders, which is an “opt out” dividend reinvestment plan. Under this plan, if we declare a cash distribution to our stockholders, the amount of such distribution will be automatically reinvested in additional shares of our common stock unless a stockholder specifically “opts out” of our dividend reinvestment plan. If a stockholder opts out, that stockholder will receive cash distributions. Stockholders who receive distributions in the form of shares of common stock generally will be subject to the same U.S. federal, state and local tax consequences as stockholders who elect to receive their distributions in cash, but will not receive any corresponding cash distributions with which to pay any applicable taxes. See “Dividend Reinvestment Plan.”
Administration Agreement    
    The administration agreement requires us to reimburse Stellus Capital Management for our allocable portion (subject to the review of our board of directors) of overhead and other expenses, including furnishing us with office facilities and equipment and providing clerical, bookkeeping, record keeping and other administrative services at such facilities, and our allocable portion of the cost of our chief financial officer and chief compliance officer and their respective staffs. To the extent that Stellus Capital Management outsources any of its functions, we will pay the fees associated with such functions on a direct basis, without incremental profit to Stellus Capital Management. See “Management Agreements — Administration Agreement.”
License arrangements    
    We have entered into a license agreement with Stellus Capital Management under which Stellus Capital Management has granted us a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use the name “Stellus Capital.” For a description of the license agreement, see “Management Agreements — License Agreement.”
Custodian and transfer agent    
    State Street Bank and Trust Company serves as our custodian and our transfer and distribution paying agent and registrar. See “Custodian, Transfer and Dividend Paying Agent and Registrar.”
Anti-takeover provisions    
    Our charter and bylaws, as well as certain statutory and regulatory requirements, contain certain provisions that may

11


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

    have the effect of discouraging a third party from making an acquisition proposal for us. These anti-takeover provisions may inhibit a change in control in circumstances that could give the holders of our common stock the opportunity to realize a premium over the market price for our common stock. See “Description of Capital Stock.”
Available information    
    We are required to file periodic reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. This information is available at the SEC’s public reference room at 100 F. Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549 and on the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov . Information on the operation of the SEC’s public reference room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330.
   
    We maintain a website at www.stelluscapital.com (under the Public Investors section) and make all of our annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information available, free of charge, on or through our website. Information on our website is not incorporated into or part of this prospectus or any prospectus supplement and should not be relied upon as such. You may also obtain such information free of charge by contacting us in writing at 4400 Post Oak Parkway, Suite 2200, Houston, TX 77027, Attention: Investor Relations.

12


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

FEES AND EXPENSES

The following table is intended to assist you in understanding the costs and expenses that an investor in our common stock will bear directly or indirectly. We caution you that some of the percentages indicated in the table below are estimates and may vary. Moreover, the information set forth below does not include any transaction costs and expenses that investors will incur in connection with each offering of our securities pursuant to this prospectus. As a result, investors are urged to read the “Fees and Expenses” table contained in any corresponding prospectus supplement to fully understand the actual transaction costs and expenses they will incur in connection with each such offering. Except where the context suggests otherwise, whenever this prospectus contains a reference to fees or expenses paid by “us” or that “we” will pay fees or expenses, common stockholders will indirectly bear such fees or expenses.

 
Stockholder Transaction Expenses:
        
Sales load (as a percentage of offering price)     % (1)  
Offering expenses (as a percentage of offering price)     % (2)  
Dividend reinvestment plan expenses     (3)  
Total Stockholder Transaction Expenses (as a percentage of offering price)     % (4)  
Annual Expenses (as percentage of net assets attributable to common stock):
        
Base management fees     3.77 % (5)  
Incentive fees payable under the investment advisory agreement     2.56 % (6)  
Interest payments on borrowed funds     4.13 % (7)  
Other expenses     2.84 % (8)  
Total annual expenses     13.30 %  

(1) In the event that our securities are sold to or through underwriters, a corresponding prospectus supplement will disclose the applicable sales load.
(2) In the event that we conduct an offering of our securities, a corresponding prospectus supplement will disclose the estimated offering expenses. Our common stockholders will bear, directly or indirectly, the expenses of any offering of our securities, including debt securities.
(3) The expenses of the dividend reinvestment plan are included in “Other expenses.” See “Dividend Reinvestment Plan.”
(4) Total stockholder transaction expenses may include sales load and will be disclosed in a future prospectus supplement, if any.
(5) Our base management fee, payable quarterly in arrears, is 1.75% of our gross assets, including assets purchased with borrowed amounts or other forms of leverage (including traditional and effective leverage such as preferred stock, public and private debt issuances, derivative instruments, repurchase agreements and other similar instruments or arrangements) and excluding cash and cash equivalents and is based on the base management fee incurred for the year ended December 31, 2016.
(6) This item represents the incentive fee payable to Stellus Capital Management based on the actual amounts earned on our “pre-incentive fee net investment income” for the year ended December 31, 2016.

The incentive fee consists of two components, ordinary income and capital gains:

The ordinary income component, which is payable quarterly in arrears, equals 20.0% of the excess, if any, of our “pre-incentive fee net investment income” over a 2.0% quarterly (8.0% annualized) hurdle rate, expressed as a rate of return on the value of our net assets attributable to our common stock, and a “catch-up” provision, measured as of the end of each calendar quarter. Under this provision, in any calendar quarter, our investment adviser receives no incentive fee until our net investment income equals the hurdle rate of 2.0% but then receives, as a “catch-up,” 100% of our pre-incentive fee net investment income with respect to that portion of such pre-incentive fee net investment income, if any, that exceeds the hurdle rate but is less than 2.5% subject to a total return requirement and deferral of non-cash amounts. The effect of the “catch-up” provision is that, subject to the total return and deferral provisions discussed below, if pre-incentive fee net investment income exceeds 2.5% in any calendar quarter, Stellus

13


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Capital Management will receive 20.0% of our pre-incentive fee net investment income as if a hurdle rate did not apply. The ordinary income component of the incentive fee is computed on income that may include interest that is accrued but not yet received in cash. The foregoing ordinary income component of the incentive fee is subject to a total return requirement, which provides that no incentive fee in respect of the Company’s pre-incentive fee net investment income is payable except to the extent 20.0% of the cumulative net increase in net assets resulting from operations (as defined below) over the then current and 11 preceding calendar quarters exceeds the cumulative incentive fees accrued and/or paid for the 11 preceding calendar quarters. In other words, any ordinary income incentive fee that is payable in a calendar quarter will be limited to the lesser of (i) 20.0% of the amount by which our pre-incentive fee net investment income for such calendar quarter exceeds the 2.0% hurdle, subject to the “catch-up” provision, and (ii) (x) 20.0% of the cumulative net increase in net assets resulting from operations for the then current and 11 preceding calendar quarters minus (y) the cumulative incentive fees accrued and/or paid for the 11 preceding calendar quarters.

For the foregoing purpose, the “cumulative net increase in net assets resulting from operations” is the sum of pre-incentive fee net investment income, realized gains and losses and unrealized appreciation and depreciation of the Company for the then current and 11 preceding calendar quarters. In addition, the portion of such incentive fee that is attributable to deferred interest (sometimes referred to as payment-in-kind interest, or PIK, or original issue discount, or OID) will be paid to Stellus Capital Management, together with interest thereon from the date of deferral to the date of payment, only if and to the extent we actually receive such interest in cash, and any accrual thereof will be reversed if and to the extent such interest is reversed in connection with any write-off or similar treatment of the investment giving rise to any deferred interest accrual. Any reversal of such accounts would reduce net income for the quarter by the net amount of the reversal (after taking into account the reversal of incentive fees payable) and would result in a reduction and possibly elimination of the incentive fees for such quarter. There is no accumulation of amounts on the hurdle rate from quarter to quarter, and accordingly, there is no clawback of amounts previously paid if subsequent quarters are below the quarterly hurdle, and there is no delay of payment if prior quarters are below the quarterly hurdle.

The capital gains component of the incentive fee equals 20.0% of our “Incentive Fee Capital Gains,” if any, which equals our aggregate cumulative realized capital gains from inception through the end of each calendar year, computed net of our aggregate cumulative realized capital losses and our aggregate cumulative unrealized capital depreciation, less the aggregate amount of any previously paid capital gain incentive fees. The second component of the incentive fee is payable, in arrears, at the end of each calendar year (or upon termination of the investment advisory agreement, as of the termination date). We will record an expense accrual relating to the capital gains component of the incentive fee payable by us to Stellus Capital Management when the unrealized gains on our investments exceed all realized capital losses on our investments given the fact that a capital gains incentive fee would be owed to Stellus Capital Management if we were to liquidate our investment portfolio at such time. The actual incentive fee payable to our investment adviser related to capital gains is determined and payable in arrears at the end of each fiscal year and includes only realized capital gains for the period. See “Management Agreements — Management Fee and Incentive Fee.”

(7) Interest payments on borrowed funds represent our estimated annual interest payments based on the actual interest expense incurred under our Credit Facility and the Notes for the year ended December 31, 2016, and annualized for a full year. As of December 31, 2016, we had $116 million outstanding under the Credit Facility, with the ability to borrow an additional $79 million, $25.0 million of Notes outstanding and $65.0 million in SBA-guranteed debentures. For the year ended December 31, 2016, our interest expense was $8.0 million. Interest expense is calculated based upon the amounts outstanding on our Credit Facility at December 31, 2016, bearing interest at a weighted average interest rate of 3.2%, amounts outstanding on our notes payable at an interest rate of 6.50% and our SBA-guaranteed debentures bearing interest at a weighted average interest rate of 2.9%, each as of December 31, 2016. Non-use commitment fees of 0.50% related to our Credit Facility is based upon unused commitments as of December 31, 2016. The amount of leverage that we employ, and our interest expenses on such leverage, at any particular time will depend on, among other things, our board of directors’ assessment of market and other factors at the time of any proposed borrowing.

14


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

(8) Includes our overhead expenses, including payments under the administration agreement based on our allocable portion of overhead and other expenses incurred by Stellus Capital Management. See “Management Agreements — Administration Agreement.”

Example

The following example demonstrates the projected dollar amount of total cumulative expenses over various periods with respect to a hypothetical investment in us. In calculating the following expense amounts, we have assumed that our annual operating expenses would remain at the levels set forth in the table above. The examples assume no sales load. In the event that shares to which this prospectus relates are sold to or through underwriters, a corresponding prospectus supplement will restate this example to reflect the applicable sales load.

       
  1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
You would pay the following expenses on a $1,000 investment, assuming a 5% annual return (none of which is subject to a capital gains incentive fee)   $ 104     $ 295     $ 464     $ 810  

While the example assumes, as required by the SEC, a 5% annual return, our performance will vary and may result in a return greater or less than 5%. The incentive fee under the investment management agreement, which, assuming a 5% annual return, would either not be payable or would have a de minimis effect, is not included in the example. If we achieve sufficient returns on our investments, including through the realization of capital gains, to trigger an incentive fee of a material amount, our expenses, and returns to our investors, would be higher. For example, if we assumed that we received our 5.0% annual return completely in the form of net realized capital gains on our investments, which results in a capital gains incentive fee earned, the projected dollar amount of total cumulative expenses set forth in the above illustration and the capital gains incentive fee would be as follows:

       
  1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
You would pay the following expenses on a $1,000 investment, assuming a 5% annual return (all of which is subject to capital gains incentive fee)   $ 127     $ 351     $ 539     $ 890  

While the examples assume reinvestment of all distributions at net asset value, participants in our dividend reinvestment plan will receive a number of shares of our common stock, determined by dividing the total dollar amount of the distribution payable to a participant by (a) 95% of the market price per share of our common stock at the close of trading on the payment date fixed by our board of directors or (b) the average purchase price of all shares of common stock purchased by the administrator of the dividend reinvestment plan in the event shares are purchased in the open market to satisfy the share requirements of the dividend reinvestment plan, which may be at, above or below net asset value.

This example and the expenses in the table above should not be considered a representation of our future expenses, and actual expenses (including the cost of debt, if any, and other expenses) may be greater or less than those shown.

15


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The following selected financial data for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and the period from Inception (May 18, 2012) through December 31, 2012 was derived from our financial statements which have been audited by Grant Thornton, LLP, our independent registered public accounting firm. The data should be read in conjunction with our financial statements and related notes thereto and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included elsewhere in this prospectus.

         
Statement of Operations Data:   For the
year ended
December 31,
2016
  For the
year ended
December 31,
2015
  For the
year ended
December 31,
2014
  For the
year ended
December 31,
2013
  For the period
from Inception
(May 18, 2012)
through
December 31,
2012
Total investment income   $ 39,490,197     $ 35,158,559     $ 32,324,847     $ 29,400,736     $ 3,696,432  
Total expenses, net of fee
waiver
  $ 22,177,996     $ 18,611,431     $ 15,812,750     $ 13,389,007     $ 2,392,076  
Net investment income   $ 17,312,201     $ 16,547,128     $ 16,512,097     $ 16,011,729     $ 1,304,356  
Net increase in net assets resulting from operations   $ 23,199,062     $ 7,670,536     $ 10,179,142     $ 17,544,997     $ 1,298,424  
Per Share Data:
                                            
Net asset value   $ 13.69     $ 13.19     $ 13.94     $ 14.54     $ 14.45  
Net investment income   $ 1.39     $ 1.33     $ 1.34     $ 1.33     $ 0.11  
Net increase in net assets resulting from operations   $ 1.86     $ 0.61     $ 0.83     $ 1.45     $ 0.11  
Distributions declared   $ 1.36     $ 1.36     $ 1.43     $ 1.36     $ 0.18  

         
Balance Sheet Data:   For the
year ended
December 31,
2016
  At
December 31,
2015
  At
December 31,
2014
  At
December 31,
2013
  At
December 31,
2012
Investments at fair value   $ 365,625,891     $ 349,017,697     $ 315,965,434     $ 277,504,510     $ 195,451,256  
Cash and cash equivalents   $ 9,194,129     $ 10,875,790     $ 2,046,563     $ 13,663,542     $ 62,131,686  
Total assets (2)   $ 379,878,729     $ 365,368,412     $ 323,776,402     $ 296,541,900     $ 260,595,157  
Total liabilities (2)   $ 208,996,944     $ 200,717,308     $ 149,826,950     $ 120,650,386     $ 86,749,202  
Total net assets   $ 170,881,785     $ 164,651,104     $ 173,949,452     $ 175,891,514     $ 173,845,955  
Other Data:
                                            
Number of portfolio companies at period end     45       39       32       26       15  
Weighted average yield on debt investments at period end (1)     11.0 %       10.6 %       10.9 %       11.4 %       12.5 %  

(1) Computed using the effective interest rates for all of our debt investments, including accretion of original issue discount.
(2) ASU No. 2015-03 — Simplifying the Presentation of Debt Issuance Costs was effective for the quarter ended March 31, 2016. Total assets and total liabilities for the periods prior to the effective date have been modified from their respective filings to conform to this presentation.

16


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

RISK FACTORS

Investing in our securities involves a number of significant risks. Before you invest in our securities, you should be aware of various risks, including those described below. You should carefully consider these risk factors, together with all of the other information included in this prospectus and any accompanying prospectus supplement, before you decide whether to make an investment in our securities. The risks set out below are not the only risks we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or not presently deemed material by us may also impair our operations and performance. If any of the following events occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially and adversely affected. In such case, our net asset value and the trading price of our securities could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment.

Risks Relating to our Business and Structure

We are dependent upon key personnel of Stellus Capital Management for our future success. If Stellus Capital Management were to lose any of its key personnel, our ability to achieve our investment objective could be significantly harmed.

We depend on the diligence, skill and network of business contacts of the investment professionals of Stellus Capital Management to achieve our investment objective. Stellus Capital Management’s team of investment professionals evaluates, negotiates, structures, closes and monitors our investments in accordance with the terms of our investment advisory agreement. We can offer no assurance, however, that Stellus Capital Management’s investment professionals will continue to provide investment advice to us.

Stellus Capital Management’s investment committee, which provides oversight over our investment activities, is provided to us by Stellus Capital Management under the investment advisory agreement. Stellus Capital Management’s investment committee consists of five members, including Messrs. Ladd, D’Angelo and Davis, each a member of our board of directors, Mr. Huskinson, our chief financial officer and chief compliance officer and the chief financial officer of Stellus Capital Management, and Mr. Overbergen, an investment professional of Stellus Capital Management. The loss of any member of Stellus Capital Management’s investment committee may limit our ability to achieve our investment objective and operate our business. This could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Our business model depends to a significant extent upon strong referral relationships. Any inability of Stellus Capital Management to maintain or develop these relationships, or the failure of these relationships to generate investment opportunities, could adversely affect our business.

We depend upon Stellus Capital Management to maintain its relationships with private equity sponsors, placement agents, investment banks, management groups and other financial institutions, and we rely to a significant extent upon these relationships to provide us with potential investment opportunities. If Stellus Capital Management fails to maintain such relationships, or to develop new relationships with other sources of investment opportunities, we will not be able to grow our investment portfolio. In addition, individuals with whom Stellus Capital Management has relationships are not obligated to provide us with investment opportunities, and we can offer no assurance that these relationships will generate investment opportunities for us in the future.

Our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows will depend on our ability to manage our business effectively.

Our ability to achieve our investment objective will depend on our ability to manage our business and to grow our investments and earnings. This will depend, in turn, on Stellus Capital Management’s ability to identify, invest in and monitor portfolio companies that meet our investment criteria. The achievement of our investment objective on a cost-effective basis will depend upon Stellus Capital Management’s execution of our investment process, its ability to provide competent, attentive and efficient services to us and, to a lesser extent, our access to financing on acceptable terms. Stellus Capital Management’s investment professionals will have substantial responsibilities in connection with the management of other investment funds, accounts and investment vehicles. The personnel of Stellus Capital Management may be called upon to provide

17


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

managerial assistance to our portfolio companies. These activities may distract them from sourcing new investment opportunities for us or slow our rate of investment. Any failure to manage our business and our future growth effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

There are significant potential conflicts of interest that could negatively affect our investment returns.

The members of Stellus Capital Management’s investment committee serve, or may serve, as officers, directors, members, or principals of entities that operate in the same or a related line of business as we do, or of investment funds, accounts, or investment vehicles managed by Stellus Capital Management. Similarly, Stellus Capital Management may have other clients with similar, different or competing investment objectives. In serving in these multiple capacities, they may have obligations to other clients or investors in those entities, the fulfillment of which may not be in the best interests of us or our stockholders. For example, Stellus Capital Management currently manages private credit funds that have an investment strategy that is identical to our investment strategy, and with which we intend to co-invest. Stellus Capital Management also provides sub-advisory services to the D. E. Shaw group with respect to a private investment fund and a strategy of a private multi-strategy investment fund to which the D. E. Shaw group serves as investment adviser that have an investment strategy similar to our investment strategy.

In addition, there may be times when Stellus Capital Management, members of its investment committee or its other investment professionals have interests that differ from those of our stockholders, giving rise to a conflict of interest. In particular, a private investment fund for which Stellus Capital Management provides investment advisory services hold minority equity interests in certain of the portfolio companies in which we hold debt investments. As a result, Stellus Capital Management, members of its investment committee or its other investment professionals may face conflicts of interest in connection with making business decisions for these portfolio companies to the extent that such decisions affect the debt and equity holders in these portfolio companies differently. In addition, Stellus Capital Management may face conflicts of interests in connection with making investment or other decisions, including granting loan waivers or concessions, on our behalf with respect to these portfolio companies given that they also provide investment advisory services to a private investment fund that holds the equity interests in these portfolio companies. Although our investment adviser will endeavor to handle these investment and other decisions in a fair and equitable manner, we and the holders of the shares of our common stock could be adversely affected by these decisions. Moreover, given the subjective nature of the investment and other decisions made by our investment adviser on our behalf, we are unable to monitor these potential conflicts of interest between us and our investment adviser; however, our board of directors, including the independent directors, reviews conflicts of interest in connection with its review of the performance of our investment adviser.

The senior investment professionals and other investment team members of Stellus Capital Management may, from time to time, possess material non-public information, limiting our investment discretion.

The senior investment professionals and other investment team members of Stellus Capital Management, including members of Stellus Capital Management’s investment committee, may serve as directors of, or in a similar capacity with, portfolio companies in which we invest, the securities of which are purchased or sold on our behalf. In the event that material nonpublic information is obtained with respect to such companies, or we become subject to trading restrictions under the internal trading policies of those companies or as a result of applicable law or regulations, we could be prohibited for a period of time from purchasing or selling the securities of such companies, and this prohibition may have an adverse effect on us.

The incentive fee structure we have with Stellus Capital Management may create incentives that are not fully aligned with the interests of our stockholders.

In the course of our investing activities, we pay management and incentive fees to Stellus Capital Management. We have entered into an investment advisory agreement with Stellus Capital Management that provides for a management fee based on the value of our gross assets. Because this fee is based on the value of our gross assets, Stellus Capital Management will benefit when we incur debt or use leverage. This fee structure may encourage Stellus Capital Management to cause us to borrow money to finance additional investments. Under certain circumstances, the use of borrowed money may increase the likelihood of default,

18


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

which would disfavor our stockholders. As a result of this arrangement, Stellus Capital Management may from time to time have interests that differ from those of our stockholders, giving rise to a conflict.

Our board of directors is charged with protecting our interests by monitoring how Stellus Capital Management addresses these and other conflicts of interests associated with its management services and compensation. While our board of directors is not expected to review or approve each investment decision, borrowing or incurrence of leverage, our independent directors will periodically review Stellus Capital Management’s services and fees as well as its portfolio management decisions and portfolio performance. In connection with these reviews, our independent directors will consider whether our fees and expenses (including those related to leverage) remain appropriate.

Our incentive fee may induce Stellus Capital Management to make speculative investments.

We pay Stellus Capital Management an incentive fee based, in part, upon net capital gains realized on our investments. Unlike that portion of the incentive fee based on income, there is no hurdle rate applicable to the portion of the incentive fee based on net capital gains. Additionally, under the incentive fee structure, Stellus Capital Management may benefit when capital gains are recognized and, because Stellus Capital Management will determine when to sell a holding, Stellus Capital Management will control the timing of the recognition of such capital gains. As a result, Stellus Capital Management may have a tendency to invest more capital in investments that are likely to result in capital gains as compared to income producing securities. Such a practice could result in our investing in more speculative securities than would otherwise be the case, which could result in higher investment losses, particularly during economic downturns.

We may be obligated to pay Stellus Capital Management incentive compensation even if we incur a loss and may pay more than 20.0% of our net capital gains because we cannot recover payments made in previous years.

Stellus Capital Management is entitled to incentive compensation for each fiscal quarter in an amount equal to a percentage of the excess of our investment income for that quarter (before deducting incentive compensation) above a threshold return for that quarter and subject to a total return requirement. The general effect of this total return requirement is to prevent payment of the foregoing incentive compensation except to the extent 20.0% of the cumulative net increase in net assets resulting from operations over the then current and 11 preceding calendar quarters exceeds the cumulative incentive fees accrued and/or paid for the 11 preceding calendar quarters. Consequently, we may pay an incentive fee if we incurred losses more than three years prior to the current calendar quarter even if such losses have not yet been recovered in full. Thus, we may be required to pay Stellus Capital Management incentive compensation for a fiscal quarter even if there is a decline in the value of our portfolio or we incur a net loss for that quarter. If we pay an incentive fee of 20.0% of our realized capital gains (net of all realized capital losses and unrealized capital depreciation on a cumulative basis) and thereafter experience additional realized capital losses or unrealized capital depreciation, we will not be able to recover any portion of the incentive fee previously paid.

Our ability to sell or otherwise exit investments in which affiliates of Stellus Capital Management also have an investment may be restricted, which may have a materially adverse impact on our ability to manage our investment portfolio.

Pursuant to the 1940 Act, unless and until we receive exemptive relief from the SEC permitting us to do so, we may be prohibited from exiting our positions in portfolio companies in which funds affiliated with Stellus Capital Management also hold positions. As of December 31, 2016, our portfolio consisted of three assets in two portfolio companies once held by the D. E. Shaw group fund to which the D. E. Shaw group serves as investment adviser and is sub-advised by Stellus Capital Management. However, the D. E. Shaw group fund has retained equity investments in one of those two portfolio companies. To the extent that our investments in these portfolio companies need to be restructured or that we choose to exit these investments in the future, our ability to do so may be limited if such restructuring or exit also involves an affiliate or the D. E. Shaw group fund therein because such a transaction could be considered a joint transaction prohibited by the 1940 Act in the absence of our receipt of relief from the SEC in connection with such transaction. For example, if the D. E. Shaw group fund were required to approve a restructuring of our investment in one of these portfolio companies in its capacity as an equity holder thereof and the D. E. Shaw group fund were

19


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

deemed to be our affiliate, such involvement by the D. E. Shaw group fund in the restructuring transaction may constitute a prohibited joint transaction under the 1940 Act. However, we do not believe that our ability to restructure or exit these investments will be significantly hampered due to the fact that the equity investments retained by the D. E. Shaw group fund are minority equity positions and, as a result, it is unlikely that the D. E. Shaw group fund will be or will be required to be involved in any such restructurings or exits.

We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities, which could reduce returns and result in losses.

A number of entities compete with us to make the types of investments that we make. We compete with public and private funds, commercial and investment banks, commercial financing companies and, to the extent they provide an alternative form of financing, private equity and hedge funds. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial, technical and marketing resources than we do. For example, we believe some of our competitors may have access to funding sources that are not available to us. In addition, some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments and establish more relationships than us. Furthermore, many of our competitors are not subject to the regulatory restrictions that the 1940 Act imposes on us as a BDC or the source-of-income, asset diversification and distribution requirements we must satisfy to maintain our RIC qualification. The competitive pressures we face may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. As a result of this competition, we may not be able to take advantage of attractive investment opportunities from time to time, and we may not be able to identify and make investments that are consistent with our investment objective.

With respect to the investments we make, we do not seek to compete based primarily on the interest rates we offer, and we believe that some of our competitors may make loans with interest rates that are lower than the rates we offer. With respect to all investments, we may lose some investment opportunities if we do not match our competitors’ pricing, terms and structure. However, if we match our competitors’ pricing, terms and structure, we may experience decreased net interest income, lower yields and increased risk of credit loss. We may also compete for investment opportunities with investment funds, accounts and investment vehicles managed by Stellus Capital Management. Although Stellus Capital Management will allocate opportunities in accordance with its policies and procedures, allocations to such investment funds, accounts and investment vehicles will reduce the amount and frequency of opportunities available to us and may not be in the best interests of us and our stockholders.

We will be subject to corporate-level income tax and may default under our revolving credit facility if we are unable to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code.

To maintain our qualification as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code, we must meet certain source-of-income, asset diversification and distribution requirements. The distribution requirement for a RIC is satisfied if we distribute at least 90% of our net ordinary income and net short-term capital gains in excess of net long-term capital losses, if any, to our stockholders on an annual basis. Because we incur debt, we will be subject to certain asset coverage ratio requirements under the 1940 Act and financial covenants under loan and credit agreements that could, under certain circumstances, restrict us from making distributions necessary to maintain our qualification as a RIC. If we are unable to obtain cash from other sources, we may fail to maintain our qualification as a RIC and, thus, may be subject to corporate-level income tax. To maintain our tax treatment as a RIC, we must also meet certain asset diversification requirements at the end of each calendar quarter. Failure to meet these tests may result in our having to dispose of certain investments quickly in order to prevent the loss of our tax treatment as a RIC. Because most of our investments are in private or thinly-traded public companies, any such dispositions may be made at disadvantageous prices and may result in substantial losses. No certainty can be provided, that we will satisfy the asset diversification requirements or the other requirements necessary to maintain our qualification and tax treatment as a RIC. If we fail to maintain our tax treatment as a RIC for any reason and become subject to corporate income tax, the resulting corporate income taxes could substantially reduce our net assets, the amount of income available for distributions to our stockholders and the amount of funds available for new investments. Furthermore, if we fail to maintain our qualification as a RIC, we may be in default under the terms of the Credit Facility. Such a failure would have a material adverse effect on us and our stockholders.

20


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

We may have difficulty paying our required distributions if we recognize income before, or without, receiving cash representing such income.

For U.S. federal income tax purposes, we include in income certain amounts that we have not yet received in cash, such as the accrual of original issue discount. This may arise if we receive warrants in connection with the making of a loan and in other circumstances, or through contracted PIK interest, which represents contractual interest added to the loan balance and due at the end of the loan term. Such original issue discount, which could be significant relative to our overall investment activities, and increases in loan balances as a result of contracted PIK arrangements are included in income before we receive any corresponding cash payments. We also may be required to include in income certain other amounts that we will not receive in cash.

Since in certain cases we may recognize income before or without receiving cash representing such income, we may have difficulty meeting the requirement to distribute at least 90% of our net ordinary income and net short-term capital gains in excess of net long-term capital losses, if any, to maintain our qualification as a RIC. In such a case, we may have to sell some of our investments at times we would not consider advantageous or raise additional debt or equity capital or reduce new investment originations to meet these distribution requirements. If we are not able to obtain such cash from other sources, we may fail to maintain our qualification as a RIC and thus be subject to corporate-level income tax. See “Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations — Taxation as a RIC.”

PIK interest payments we receive will increase our assets under management and, as a result, will increase the amount of base management fees and incentive fees payable by us to Stellus Capital Management.

Certain of our debt investments may contain provisions providing for the payment of PIK interest. Because PIK interest results in an increase in the size of the loan balance of the underlying loan, the receipt by us of PIK interest will have the effect of increasing our assets under management. As a result, because the base management fee that we pay to Stellus Capital Management is based on the value of our gross assets, the receipt by us of PIK interest will result in an increase in the amount of the base management fee payable by us. In addition, any such increase in a loan balance due to the receipt of PIK interest will cause such loan to accrue interest on the higher loan balance, which will result in an increase in our pre-incentive fee net investment income and, as a result, an increase in incentive fees that are payable by us to Stellus Capital Management.

Regulations governing our operation as a BDC affect our ability to, and the way in which we, raise additional capital. As a BDC, the necessity of raising additional capital may expose us to risks, including the typical risks associated with leverage.

We may issue debt securities or preferred stock and/or borrow money from banks or other financial institutions, which we refer to collectively as “senior securities,” up to the maximum amount permitted by the 1940 Act. Under the provisions of the 1940 Act, we are permitted as a BDC to issue senior securities in amounts such that our asset coverage ratio, as defined in the 1940 Act, equals at least 200% of our gross assets less all liabilities and indebtedness not represented by senior securities, after each issuance of senior securities. If the value of our assets declines, we may be unable to satisfy this test. If that happens, we would not be able to borrow additional funds until we were able to comply with the 200% asset coverage ratio under the 1940 Act. Also, any amounts that we use to service our indebtedness would not be available for distributions to our common stockholders. If we issue senior securities, we will be exposed to typical risks associated with leverage, including an increased risk of loss.

We are not generally able to issue and sell our common stock at a price below net asset value per share. We may, however, sell our common stock, or warrants, options or rights to acquire our common stock, at a price below then-current net asset value per share of our common stock if our board of directors determines that such sale is in our best interests, and if our stockholders approve such sale. We did not seek such approval at the 2016 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, however, we intend to seek such stockholder approval at our 2017 annual meeting of stockholders, which is expected to be held on May 24, 2017. If we receive such stockholder approval, our stockholders may or may not not specify a maximum discount below net asset value at which we are able to issue our common stock, although the number of shares sold in each offering

21


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

may not exceed 25% of our outstanding common stock immediately prior to such sale. We cannot issue shares of our common stock below net asset value unless our board of directors determines that it would be in our and our stockholders’ best interests to do so. Sales of common stock at prices below net asset value per share dilute the interests of existing stockholders, have the effect of reducing our net asset value per share and may reduce our market price per share. In addition, continuous sales of common stock below net asset value may have a negative impact on total returns and could have a negative impact on the market price of our shares of common stock. If we raise additional funds by issuing common stock, then the percentage ownership of our stockholders at that time will decrease, and you may experience dilution.

Because we finance our investments with borrowed money, the potential for gain or loss on amounts invested in us is magnified and may increase the risk of investing in us.

The use of leverage magnifies the potential for gain or loss on amounts invested. The use of leverage is generally considered a speculative investment technique and increases the risks associated with investing in our securities. If we continue to use leverage to partially finance our investments through banks, insurance companies and other lenders, you will experience increased risks of investing in our common stock. Lenders of these funds have fixed dollar claims on our assets that are superior to the claims of our common stockholders, and we would expect such lenders to seek recovery against our assets in the event of a default. We, through our SBIC subsidiary, intend to issue debt securities guaranteed by the SBA and sold in the capital markets. Upon any such issuance of debt securities and as a result of its guarantee of the debt securities, if any, the SBA would also have fixed dollar claims on the assets of our SBIC subsidiary that are superior to the claims of our common stockholders.

Upon the issuance of any debt securities guaranteed by the SBA, if we are unable to meet the financial obligations under the Notes or the Credit Facility, the SBA, as a creditor, would have a superior claim to the assets of our SBIC subsidiary over our stockholders in the event we liquidate or the SBA exercises its remedies under such debentures as the result of a default by us.

In addition, under the terms of the Credit Facility and any borrowing facility or other debt instrument we may enter into, we are likely to be required to use the net proceeds of any investments that we sell to repay a portion of the amount borrowed under such facility or instrument before applying such net proceeds to any other uses. If the value of our assets decreases, leveraging would cause net asset value to decline more sharply than it otherwise would have had we not leveraged, thereby magnifying losses or eliminating our stake in a leveraged investment. Similarly, any decrease in our revenue or income will cause our net income to decline more sharply than it would have had we not borrowed. Such a decline would also negatively affect our ability to make distributions with respect to our common stock. Our ability to service any debt depends largely on our financial performance and is subject to prevailing economic conditions and competitive pressures. Moreover, as the base management fee payable to Stellus Capital Management is payable based on the value of our gross assets, including those assets acquired through the use of leverage, Stellus Capital Management will have a financial incentive to incur leverage, which may not be consistent with our stockholders’ interests. In addition, our common stockholders bear the burden of any increase in our expenses as a result of our use of leverage, including interest expenses and any increase in the base management fee payable to Stellus Capital Management.

As a BDC, we generally are required to meet a coverage ratio of total assets to total borrowings and other senior securities, which include all of our borrowings and any preferred stock that we may issue in the future, of at least 200%. If this ratio declines below 200%, we will not be able to incur additional debt until we are able to comply with the 200% asset coverage ratio under the 1940 Act. This could have a material adverse effect on our operations, and we may not be able to make distributions. The amount of leverage that we employ will depend on Stellus Capital Management’s and our board of directors’ assessment of market and other factors at the time of any proposed borrowing. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain credit at all or on terms acceptable to us.

Illustration .  The following table illustrates the effect of leverage on returns from an investment in our common stock assuming various annual returns, net of expenses. The calculations in the table below are hypothetical and actual results may be higher or lower than those appearing below.

22


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Assumed Return on Our Portfolio (1)
(net of expenses)

         
  (10.0)%   (5.0)%   0.0%   5.0%   10.0%
Corresponding net return to common stockholder     -26.9 %       -15.8 %       -4.7 %       6.4 %       17.5 %  

(1) Assumes $379.9 million in total assets, $203.1 million in debt outstanding, $170.9 million in net assets, and an average cost of funds of 3.9%. Actual interest payments may be different.

We have received exemptive relief from the SEC to permit us to exclude the debt of our SBIC subsidiary guaranteed by the SBA from the definition of senior securities in the 200% asset coverage ratio we are required to maintain under the 1940 Act. This relief allows us increased flexibility under the 200% asset coverage test by allowing us to borrow up to $225 million more than we would otherwise be able to borrow absent the receipt of this exemptive relief.

In addition, our debt facilities may impose financial and operating covenants that restrict our business activities, including limitations that hinder our ability to finance additional loans and investments or to make the distributions required to maintain our qualification as a RIC under the Code.

Substantially all of our assets are subject to security interests under the Credit Facility or claims of the SBA with respect to SBA-guaranteed debentures we may issue and, if we default on our obligations thereunder, we may suffer adverse consequences, including foreclosure on our assets.

As of December 31, 2016, substantially all of our assets were pledged as collateral under the Credit Facility or are subject to a superior claim over the holders of our common stock or the Notes by the SBA pursuant to the SBA-guaranteed debentures. If we default on our obligations under the Credit Facility or the SBA-guaranteed debentures the lenders and/or the SBA may have the right to foreclose upon and sell, or otherwise transfer, the collateral subject to their security interests or their superior claim. In such event, we may be forced to sell our investments to raise funds to repay our outstanding borrowings in order to avoid foreclosure and these forced sales may be at times and at prices we would not consider advantageous. Moreover, such deleveraging of our company could significantly impair our ability to effectively operate our business in the manner in which we have historically operated. As a result, we could be forced to curtail or cease new investment activities and lower or eliminate the dividends that we have historically paid to our stockholders.

In addition, if the lenders exercise their right to sell the assets pledged under the Credit Facility, such sales may be completed at distressed sale prices, thereby diminishing or potentially eliminating the amount of cash available to us after repayment of the amounts outstanding under the Credit Facility.

Because we use debt to finance our investments and may in the future issue senior securities including preferred stock and debt securities, if market interest rates were to increase, our cost of capital could increase, which could reduce our net investment income.

Because we borrow money to make investments and may in the future issue senior securities including preferred stock and debt securities, our net investment income will depend, in part, upon the difference between the rate at which we borrow funds and the rate at which we invest those funds. As a result, we can offer no assurance that a significant change in market interest rates would not have a material adverse effect on our net investment income in the event we use debt to finance our investments. In periods of rising interest rates, our cost of funds would increase, which could reduce our net investment income. We may use interest rate risk management techniques in an effort to limit our exposure to interest rate fluctuations. We may utilize instruments such as forward contracts, currency options and interest rate swaps, caps, collars and floors to seek to hedge against fluctuations in the relative values of our portfolio positions from changes in currency exchange rates and market interest rates to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act. For example, to the extent any such instruments were to constitute senior securities under the 1940 Act, we would have to and will comply with the asset coverage requirements thereunder or, as permitted in lieu thereof, place certain assets in a segregated account to cover such instruments in accordance with SEC guidance, including, for example, Investment Company Act Release No. IC-10666, as applicable. There is otherwise no limit as to our ability to enter into such derivative transactions. In addition, a rise in the general level of interest rates typically leads to

23


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

higher interest rates applicable to our debt investments. Accordingly, an increase in interest rates may result in an increase of the amount of our pre-incentive fee net investment income and, as a result, an increase in incentive fees payable to Stellus Capital Management. Adverse developments resulting from changes in interest rates or hedging transactions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Provisions in the Credit Facility or any other future borrowing facility may limit our discretion in operating our business.

The Credit Facility is, and any future borrowing facility may be, backed by all or a portion of our loans and securities on which the lenders will or, in the case of a future facility, may have a security interest. We may pledge up to 100% of our assets and may grant a security interest in all of our assets under the terms of any debt instrument we enter into with lenders. We expect that any security interests we grant will be set forth in a guarantee and security agreement and evidenced by the filing of financing statements by the agent for the lenders. In addition, we expect that the custodian for our securities serving as collateral for such loan would include in its electronic systems notices indicating the existence of such security interests and, following notice of occurrence of an event of default, if any, and during its continuance, will only accept transfer instructions with respect to any such securities from the lender or its designee. If we were to default under the terms of any debt instrument, the agent for the applicable lenders would be able to assume control of the timing of disposition of any or all of our assets securing such debt, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

In addition, any security interests as well as negative covenants under the Credit Facility or any other borrowing facility may limit our ability to incur additional liens or debt and may make it difficult for us to restructure or refinance indebtedness at or prior to maturity or obtain additional debt or equity financing. For example, under the terms of the Credit Facility, we have generally agreed to not incur any additional secured indebtedness, other than certain indebtedness that we may incur, in accordance with the Credit Facility, to allow us to purchase investments in U.S. Treasury Bills. In addition, we have agreed not to incur any additional indebtedness that has a maturity date prior to the maturity date of the Credit Facility. Further, if our borrowing base under the Credit Facility or any other borrowing facility were to decrease, we would be required to secure additional assets in an amount equal to any borrowing base deficiency. In the event that all of our assets are secured at the time of such a borrowing base deficiency, we could be required to repay advances under the Credit Facility or any other borrowing facility or make deposits to a collection account, either of which could have a material adverse impact on our ability to fund future investments and to make stockholder distributions.

In addition, under the Credit Facility or any other borrowing facility, we may be subject to limitations as to how borrowed funds may be used, which may include restrictions on geographic and industry concentrations, loan size, payment frequency and status, average life, collateral interests and investment ratings, as well as regulatory restrictions on leverage which may affect the amount of funding that may be obtained. There may also be certain requirements relating to portfolio performance, including required minimum portfolio yield and limitations on delinquencies and charge-offs, a violation of which could limit further advances and, in some cases, result in an event of default. Furthermore, we expect that the terms of the Credit Facility will contain a covenant requiring us to maintain compliance with RIC provisions at all times, subject to certain remedial provisions. Thus, a failure to maintain compliance with RIC provisions could result in an event of default under the Credit Facility. An event of default under the Credit Facility or any other borrowing facility could result in an accelerated maturity date for all amounts outstanding thereunder, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition. This could reduce our revenues and, by delaying any cash payment allowed to us under the Credit Facility or any other borrowing facility until the lenders have been paid in full, reduce our liquidity and cash flow and impair our ability to grow our business and maintain our qualification as a RIC.

We may in the future determine to fund a portion of our investments with preferred stock, which would magnify the potential for gain or loss and the risks of investing in us in the same way as our borrowings.

Preferred stock, which is another form of leverage, has the same risks to our common stockholders as borrowings because the dividends on any preferred stock we issue must be cumulative. Payment of such

24


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

dividends and repayment of the liquidation preference of such preferred stock must take preference over any dividends or other payments to our common stockholders, and preferred stockholders are not subject to any of our expenses or losses and are not entitled to participate in any income or appreciation in excess of their stated preference.

Adverse developments in the credit markets may impair our ability to enter into any other future borrowing facility.

During the economic downturn in the United States that began in mid-2007, many commercial banks and other financial institutions stopped lending or significantly curtailed their lending activity. In addition, in an effort to stem losses and reduce their exposure to segments of the economy deemed to be high risk, some financial institutions limited refinancing and loan modification transactions and reviewed the terms of existing facilities to identify bases for accelerating the maturity of existing lending facilities. If these conditions recur (for example, as a result of a broadening of the current Euro zone credit crisis), it may be difficult for us to enter into a new borrowing facility, obtain other financing to finance the growth of our investments, or refinance any outstanding indebtedness on acceptable economic terms, or at all.

Most of our portfolio investments are recorded at fair value as determined in good faith by our board of directors and, as a result, there may be uncertainty as to the value of our portfolio investments.

Most of our portfolio investments will take the form of securities that are not publicly traded. The fair value of loans, securities and other investments that are not publicly traded may not be readily determinable, and we value these investments at fair value as determined in good faith by our board of directors, including to reflect significant events affecting the value of our investments. Most, if not all, of our investments (other than cash and cash equivalents) are classified as Level 3 under ASC Topic 820. This means that our portfolio valuations are based on unobservable inputs and our own assumptions about how market participants would price the asset or liability in question. Inputs into the determination of fair value of our portfolio investments require significant management judgment or estimation. Even if observable market data is available, such information may be the result of consensus pricing information or broker quotes, which include a disclaimer that the broker would not be held to such a price in an actual transaction. The non-binding nature of consensus pricing and/or quotes accompanied by disclaimers materially reduces the reliability of such information. We have retained the services of independent service providers to review the valuation of these loans and securities. The types of factors that the board of directors may take into account in determining the fair value of our investments generally include, as appropriate, comparison to publicly traded securities including such factors as yield, maturity and measures of credit quality, the enterprise value of a portfolio company, the nature and realizable value of any collateral, the portfolio company’s ability to make payments and its earnings and discounted cash flow, the markets in which the portfolio company does business and other relevant factors. Because such valuations, and particularly valuations of private securities and private companies, are inherently uncertain, may fluctuate over short periods of time and may be based on estimates, our determinations of fair value may differ materially from the values that would have been used if a ready market for these loans and securities existed. Our net asset value could be adversely affected if our determinations regarding the fair value of our investments were materially higher than the values that we ultimately realize upon the disposal of such loans and securities.

We adjust quarterly the valuation of our portfolio to reflect our board of directors’ determination of the fair value of each investment in our portfolio. Any changes in fair value are recorded in our statement of operations as net change in unrealized appreciation or depreciation.

We may expose ourselves to risks if we engage in hedging transactions.

We may utilize instruments such as forward contracts, currency options and interest rate swaps, caps, collars and floors to seek to hedge against fluctuations in the relative values of our portfolio positions from changes in currency exchange rates and market interest rates. Use of these hedging instruments may expose us to counter-party credit risk. Hedging against a decline in the values of our portfolio positions does not eliminate the possibility of fluctuations in the values of such positions or prevent losses if the values of such positions decline. However, such hedging can establish other positions designed to gain from those same developments, thereby offsetting the decline in the value of such portfolio positions. Such hedging transactions

25


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

may also limit the opportunity for gain if the values of the portfolio positions should increase. Moreover, it may not be possible to hedge against an exchange rate or interest rate fluctuation that is generally anticipated at an acceptable price.

We are an “emerging growth company” under the JOBS Act, and we cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make our common stock less attractive to investors.

We are and we will remain an “emerging growth company” as defined in the JOBS Act until the earlier of (a) the last day of the fiscal year (i) following the fifth anniversary of the completion of our initial public offering on November 13, 2012, (ii) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.0 billion, or (iii) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which means the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the prior June 30th, and (b) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt during the prior three-year period. For so long as we remain an “emerging growth company” we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not “emerging growth companies” including, but not limited to, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive because we will rely on some or all of these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

In addition, Section 107 of the JOBS Act also provides that an “emerging growth company” can take advantage of the extended transition period provided in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. In other words, an “emerging growth company” can delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We are choosing to take advantage of the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards, which may make it more difficult for investors and securities analysts to evaluate us since our financial statements may not be comparable to companies that comply with public company effective dates and may result in less investor confidence. We will no longer qualify as an “emerging growth company” beginning with our fiscal year ending December 31, 2017.

Our status as an “emerging growth company” under the JOBS Act may make it more difficult to raise capital as and when we need it.

Because of the exemptions from various reporting requirements provided to us as an “emerging growth company” and because we will have an extended transition period for complying with new or revised financial accounting standards, we may be less attractive to investors and it may be difficult for us to raise additional capital as and when we need it. Investors may be unable to compare our business with other companies in our industry if they believe that our financial accounting is not as transparent as other companies in our industry. If we are unable to raise additional capital as and when we need it, our financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to accurately report our financial results or prevent fraud. As a result, stockholders could lose confidence in our financial and other public reporting, which would harm our business and the trading price of our common stock.

Effective internal controls over financial reporting are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and, together with adequate disclosure controls and procedures, are designed to prevent fraud. Any failure to implement required new or improved controls, or difficulties encountered in their implementation could cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations. In addition, any testing by us conducted in connection with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or the subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm (when undertaken, as noted below), may reveal deficiencies in our internal controls over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses or that may require prospective or retroactive changes to our consolidated financial statements or identify other areas for further attention or improvement. Inferior internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of our common stock.

26


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

We are required to disclose changes made in our internal control and procedures on a quarterly basis and our management is required to assess the effectiveness of these controls annually. However, for as long as we are an “emerging growth company” under the recently enacted JOBS Act, our independent registered public accounting firm will not be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404. We will no longer qualify as an “emerging growth company” beginning with our fiscal year ending December 31, 2017. An independent assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls could detect problems that our management’s assessment might not. Undetected material weaknesses in our internal controls could lead to financial statement restatements and require us to incur the expense of remediation.

New or modified laws or regulations governing our operations may adversely affect our business.

We and our portfolio companies are subject to regulation by laws at the U.S. federal, state and local levels. These laws and regulations, as well as their interpretation, may change from time to time, and new laws, regulations and interpretations may also come into effect. Any such new or changed laws or regulations could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Additionally, changes to the laws and regulations governing our operations related to permitted investments may cause us to alter our investment strategy in order to avail ourselves of new or different opportunities. Such changes could result in material differences to the strategies and plans set forth in this prospectus and may shift our investment focus from the areas of expertise of Stellus Capital Management to other types of investments in which Stellus Capital Management may have little or no expertise or experience. Any such changes, if they occur, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and the value of your investment.

Any failure to comply with SBA regulations could have an adverse effect on our SBIC subsidiary’s operations.

On June 20, 2014, our wholly-owned subsidiary, Stellus Capital SBIC LP, received a license from the SBA to operate as an SBIC. The SBA places certain limitations on the financing terms of investments by SBICs in portfolio companies and prohibits SBICs from providing funds for certain purposes or to businesses in a few prohibited industries. Compliance with SBIC requirements may cause our SBIC subsidiary to forgo attractive investment opportunities that are not permitted under SBA regulations.

Further, SBA regulations require that an SBIC be examined by the SBA to determine its compliance with the relevant SBA regulations at least every two years. The SBA prohibits, without prior SBA approval, a “change of control” of an SBIC or transfers that would result in any person (or a group of persons acting in concert) owning 10% or more of a class of capital stock of an SBIC. If our SBIC subsidiary fails to comply with applicable SBA regulations, the SBA could, depending on the severity of the violation, limit or prohibit its use of debentures, declare outstanding debentures immediately due and payable, and/or limit it from making new investments. In addition, the SBA can revoke or suspend a license for willful or repeated violation of, or willful or repeated failure to observe, any provision of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder. These actions by the SBA would, in turn, negatively affect us because our SBIC subsidiary is our wholly-owned subsidiary.

Risks Related to Our Operations

Because we intend to distribute substantially all of our income to our stockholders to maintain our status as a RIC, we will continue to need additional capital to finance our growth. If additional funds are unavailable or not available on favorable terms, our ability to grow may be impaired.

We will need additional capital to fund new investments and grow our portfolio of investments. We intend to access the capital markets periodically to issue debt or equity securities or borrow from financial institutions in order to obtain such additional capital. Unfavorable economic conditions could increase our funding costs, limit our access to the capital markets or result in a decision by lenders not to extend credit to us. A reduction in the availability of new capital could limit our ability to grow. In addition, we are required to distribute at least 90% of our net ordinary income and net short-term capital gains in excess of net long-term capital losses, if any, to our stockholders to maintain our qualification as a RIC. As a result, these

27


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

earnings will not be available to fund new investments. An inability on our part to access the capital markets successfully could limit our ability to grow our business and execute our business strategy fully and could decrease our earnings, if any, which would have an adverse effect on the value of our shares of common stock.

As a BDC, we are required to meet a coverage ratio of total assets, less liabilities and indebtedness not represented by senior securities and excluding SBA-guaranteed debentures as permitted by exemptive relief obtained from the SEC, to total senior securities, which includes all of our borrowings with the exception of SBA-guaranteed debentures, of at least 200.0%. This requirement limits the amount that we may borrow. Since we continue to need capital to grow our investment portfolio, these limitations may prevent us from incurring debt and require us to raise additional equity at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so. While we expect that we will be able to borrow and to issue additional debt securities and expect that we will be able to issue additional equity securities, which would in turn increase the equity capital available to us, we cannot assure you that debt and equity financing will be available to us on favorable terms, or at all. In addition, as a BDC, we generally are not permitted to issue equity securities priced below net asset value without stockholder approval. If additional funds are not available us, we may be forced to curtail or cease new investment activities, and our net asset value could decline.

Our wholly-owned SBIC subsidiary may be unable to make distributions to us that will enable us to maintain RIC status, which could result in the imposition of an entity-level tax.

In order for us to continue to qualify for RIC tax treatment and to minimize corporate-level taxes, we are required to distribute substantially all of our net taxable income and net capital gain income, including income from certain of our subsidiaries, which includes the income from our SBIC subsidiary. We are partially dependent on our SBIC subsidiary for cash distributions to enable us to meet the RIC distribution requirements. Our SBIC subsidiary may be limited by the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and SBA regulations governing SBICs, from making certain distributions to us that may be necessary to maintain our status as a RIC. We may have to request a waiver of the SBA’s restrictions for our SBIC subsidiary to make certain distributions to maintain our RIC status. We cannot assure you that the SBA will grant such waiver and if our SBIC subsidiary is unable to obtain a waiver, compliance with the SBA regulations may result in loss of RIC tax treatment and a consequent imposition of an entity-level tax on us.

Our ability to enter into transactions with our affiliates will be restricted, which may limit the scope of investments available to us.

We are prohibited under the 1940 Act from participating in certain transactions with our affiliates without the prior approval of our independent directors and, in some cases, the SEC. Any person that owns, directly or indirectly, 5% or more of our outstanding voting securities will be our affiliate for purposes of the 1940 Act, and we are generally prohibited from buying or selling any security from or to such affiliate without the prior approval of our independent directors. The 1940 Act also prohibits certain “joint” transactions with certain of our affiliates, which could include concurrent investments in the same portfolio company, without prior approval of our independent directors and, in some cases, of the SEC. We are prohibited from buying or selling any security from or to any person that controls us or who owns more than 25% of our voting securities or certain of that person’s affiliates, or entering into prohibited joint transactions with such persons, absent the prior approval of the SEC. As a result of these restrictions, we may be prohibited from buying or selling any security (other than any security of which we are the issuer) from or to any portfolio company of a private fund managed by Stellus Capital Management or its affiliates without the prior approval of the SEC, which may limit the scope of investment opportunities that would otherwise be available to us.

We have received exemptive relief from the SEC to co-invest with investment funds managed by Stellus Capital Management (other than the D. E. Shaw group funds, as defined below) where doing so is consistent with our investment strategy as well as applicable law (including the terms and conditions of the exemptive order issued by the SEC). Under the terms of the relief permitting us to co-invest with other funds managed by Stellus Capital Management, a “required majority” (as defined in Section 57(o) of the 1940 Act) of our independent directors must make certain conclusions in connection with a co-investment transaction, including that (1) the terms of the proposed transaction, including the consideration to be paid, are reasonable and fair to us and our stockholders and do not involve overreaching of us or our stockholders on the part of any

28


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

person concerned and (2) the transaction is consistent with the interests of our stockholders and is consistent with our investment objectives and strategies.

The involvement of our interested directors in the valuation process may create conflicts of interest.

We make many of our portfolio investments in the form of loans and securities that are not publicly traded and for which no market based price quotation is available. As a result, our board of directors determines the fair value of these loans and securities in good faith as described elsewhere in this prospectus. In connection with that determination, investment professionals from Stellus Capital Management may provide our board of directors with valuations based upon the most recent portfolio company financial statements available and projected financial results of each portfolio company. While the valuation for each portfolio investment is reviewed by an independent valuation firm at least twice annually, the ultimate determination of fair value is made by our board of directors, including our interested directors, and not by such third party valuation firm. In addition, Messrs. Ladd, D’Angelo and Davis, each an interested member of our board of directors, has a direct pecuniary interest in Stellus Capital Management. The participation of Stellus Capital Management’s investment professionals in our valuation process, and the pecuniary interest in Stellus Capital Management by certain members of our board of directors, could result in a conflict of interest as Stellus Capital Management’s management fee is based, in part, on the value of our gross assets, and incentive fees are based, in part, on realized gains and realized and unrealized losses.

There are conflicts related to other arrangements with Stellus Capital Management.

We have entered into a license agreement with Stellus Capital Management under which Stellus Capital Management has agreed to grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use the name “Stellus Capital.” In addition, we have entered into an administration agreement with Stellus Capital Management pursuant to which we are required to pay to Stellus Capital Management our allocable portion of overhead and other expenses incurred by Stellus Capital Management in performing its obligations under such administration agreement, such as rent and our allocable portion of the cost of our chief financial officer and chief compliance officer and his staff. This will create conflicts of interest that our board of directors will monitor. For example, under the terms of the license agreement, we will be unable to preclude Stellus Capital Management from licensing or transferring the ownership of the “Stellus Capital” name to third parties, some of whom may compete against us. Consequently, we will be unable to prevent any damage to goodwill that may occur as a result of the activities of Stellus Capital Management or others. Furthermore, in the event the license agreement is terminated, we will be required to change our name and cease using “Stellus Capital” as part of our name. Any of these events could disrupt our recognition in the market place, damage any goodwill we may have generated and otherwise harm our business.

The investment advisory agreement and the administration agreement with Stellus Capital Management were not negotiated on an arm’s length basis and may not be as favorable to us as if they had been negotiated with an unaffiliated third party.

The investment advisory agreement and the administration agreement were negotiated between related parties. Consequently, their terms, including fees payable to Stellus Capital Management, may not be as favorable to us as if they had been negotiated with an unaffiliated third party. In addition, we may choose not to enforce, or to enforce less vigorously, our rights and remedies under these agreements because of our desire to maintain our ongoing relationship with Stellus Capital Management and its affiliates. Any such decision, however, would breach our fiduciary obligations to our stockholders.

The time and resources that Stellus Capital Management devote to us may be diverted, and we may face additional competition due to the fact that Stellus Capital Management and its affiliates are not prohibited from raising money for, or managing, another entity that makes the same types of investments that we target.

Stellus Capital Management and some of its affiliates, including our officers and our non-independent directors, are not prohibited from raising money for, or managing, another investment entity that makes the same types of investments as those we target. For example, Stellus Capital Management currently manages a private credit fund that will have an investment strategy that is identical to our investment strategy and with

29


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

which we intend to co-invest. In addition, pursuant to sub-advisory arrangements, Stellus Capital Management provides non-discretionary advisory services to the D. E. Shaw group related to a private investment fund and a strategy of a private multi-strategy investment fund to which the D. E. Shaw group serves as investment adviser. As a result, the time and resources they could devote to us may be diverted. In addition, we may compete with any such investment entity for the same investors and investment opportunities.

Our incentive fee arrangements with Stellus Capital Management may vary from those of other investment funds, account or investment vehicles managed by Stellus Capital Management, which may create an incentive for Stellus Capital Management to devote time and resources to a higher fee-paying fund.

If Stellus Capital Management is paid a higher performance-based fee from any of its other funds, it may have an incentive to devote more research and development or other activities, and/or recommend the allocation of investment opportunities, to such higher fee-paying fund. For example, to the extent Stellus Capital Management’s incentive compensation is not subject to a hurdle or total return requirement with respect to another fund, it may have an incentive to devote time and resources to such other fund.

Stellus Capital Management’s liability is limited under the investment advisory agreement and we have agreed to indemnify Stellus Capital Management against certain liabilities, which may lead Stellus Capital Management to act in a riskier manner on our behalf than it would when acting for its own account.

Under the investment advisory agreement, Stellus Capital Management has not assumed any responsibility to us other than to render the services called for under that agreement. It will not be responsible for any action of our board of directors in following or declining to follow Stellus Capital Management’s advice or recommendations. Under the investment advisory agreement, Stellus Capital Management, its officers, members and personnel, and any person controlling or controlled by Stellus Capital Management will not be liable to us, any subsidiary of ours, our directors, our stockholders or any subsidiary’s stockholders or partners for acts or omissions performed in accordance with and pursuant to the investment advisory agreement, except those resulting from acts constituting gross negligence, willful misfeasance, bad faith or reckless disregard of the duties that Stellus Capital Management owes to us under the investment advisory agreement. In addition, as part of the investment advisory agreement, we have agreed to indemnify Stellus Capital Management and each of its officers, directors, members, managers and employees from and against any claims or liabilities, including reasonable legal fees and other expenses reasonably incurred, arising out of or in connection with our business and operations or any action taken or omitted on our behalf pursuant to authority granted by the investment advisory agreement, except where attributable to gross negligence, willful misfeasance, bad faith or reckless disregard of such person’s duties under the investment advisory agreement. These protections may lead Stellus Capital Management to act in a riskier manner when acting on our behalf than it would when acting for its own account.

Stellus Capital Management can resign as our investment adviser or administrator upon 60 days’ notice and we may not be able to find a suitable replacement within that time, or at all, resulting in a disruption in our operations that could adversely affect our financial condition, business and results of operations.

Stellus Capital Management has the right under the investment advisory agreement to resign as our investment adviser at any time upon 60 days’ written notice, whether we have found a replacement or not. Similarly, Stellus Capital Management has the right under the administration agreement to resign at any time upon 60 days’ written notice, whether we have found a replacement or not. If Stellus Capital Management was to resign, we may not be able to find a new investment adviser or administrator or hire internal management with similar expertise and ability to provide the same or equivalent services on acceptable terms within 60 days, or at all. If we are unable to do so quickly, our operations are likely to experience a disruption, our financial condition, business and results of operations as well as our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders are likely to be adversely affected and the market price of our shares may decline. In addition, the coordination of our internal management and investment or administrative activities, as applicable, is likely to suffer if we are unable to identify and reach an agreement with a single institution or group of executives having the expertise possessed by Stellus Capital Management. Even if we are able to retain comparable management, whether internal or external, the integration of such management and their lack of familiarity with our investment objective may result in additional costs and time delays that may adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

30


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

If we fail to maintain our status as a BDC, our business and operating flexibility could be significantly reduced.

We qualify as a BDC under the 1940 Act. The 1940 Act imposes numerous constraints on the operations of BDCs. For example, BDCs are required to invest at least 70.0% of their total assets in specified types of securities, primarily in private companies or thinly-traded U.S. public companies, cash, cash equivalents, U.S. government securities and other high quality debt investments that mature in one year or less. Failure to comply with the requirements imposed on BDCs by the 1940 Act could cause the SEC to bring an enforcement action against us and/or expose us to claims of private litigants. In addition, upon approval of a majority of our stockholders, we may elect to withdraw their respective election as a BDC. If we decide to withdraw our election, or if we otherwise fail to qualify, or maintain our qualification, as a BDC, we may be subject to the substantially greater regulation under the 1940 Act as a closed-end investment company. Compliance with these regulations would significantly decrease our operating flexibility and could significantly increase our cost of doing business.

If we do not invest a sufficient portion of our assets in qualifying assets, we could fail to maintain our qualification as a BDC or be precluded from investing according to our current business strategy.

As a BDC, we may not acquire any assets other than “qualifying assets” unless, at the time of and after giving effect to such acquisition, at least 70% of our total assets are qualifying assets.

We believe that most of the investments that we may acquire in the future will constitute qualifying assets. However, we may be precluded from investing in what we believe to be attractive investments if such investments are not qualifying assets for purposes of the 1940 Act. If we do not invest a sufficient portion of our assets in qualifying assets, we could violate the 1940 Act provisions applicable to business development companies. As a result of such violation, specific rules under the 1940 Act could prevent us, for example, from making follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies (which could result in the dilution of our position).

If we do not maintain our status as a BDC, we would be subject to regulation as a registered closed-end investment company under the 1940 Act. As a registered closed-end investment company, we would be subject to substantially more regulatory restrictions under the 1940 Act which would significantly decrease our operating flexibility.

We may experience fluctuations in our annual and quarterly operating results.

We could experience fluctuations in our annual and quarterly operating results due to a number of factors, including the interest rate payable on the loans and debt securities we acquire, the default rate on such loans and securities, the level of our expenses, variations in and the timing of the recognition of realized and unrealized gains or losses, the degree to which we encounter competition in our markets and general economic conditions. In light of these factors, results for any period should not be relied upon as being indicative of performance in future periods.

Our board of directors may change our investment objective, operating policies and strategies without prior notice or stockholder approval.

Our board of directors has the authority, except as otherwise provided in the 1940 Act, to modify or waive certain of our operating policies and strategies without prior notice and without stockholder approval. However, absent stockholder approval, we may not change the nature of our business so as to cease to be, or withdraw our election as, a BDC. We cannot predict the effect any changes to our current operating policies and strategies would have on our business, operating results and the market price of our common stock. Nevertheless, any such changes could adversely affect our business and impair our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

Pending legislation may allow us to incur additional leverage.

As a BDC under the 1940 Act, we are generally not permitted to incur indebtedness unless immediately after such borrowing we have an asset coverage for total borrowings of at least 200% (i.e., the amount of debt may not exceed 50% of the value of our assets). Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives

31


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

would modify this section of the 1940 Act and increased the amount of debt that BDCs may incur by modifying the asset coverage percentage from 200% to 150%. As a result, we may be able to incur additional indebtedness in the future and therefore your risk of an investment in our common stock may increase.

Our board of directors is authorized to reclassify any unissued shares of common stock into one or more classes of preferred stock, which could convey special rights and privileges to its owners.

Under Maryland General Corporation Law and our charter, our board of directors is authorized to classify and reclassify any authorized but unissued shares of stock into one or more classes of stock, including preferred stock. Prior to issuance of shares of each class or series, the board of directors will be required by Maryland law and our charter to set the terms, preferences, conversion or other rights, voting powers, restrictions, limitations as to stockholder distributions, qualifications and terms or conditions of redemption for each class or series. Thus, the board of directors could authorize the issuance of shares of preferred stock with terms and conditions which could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a transaction or a change in control that might involve a premium price for holders of our common stock or that otherwise might be in their best interest. The cost of any such reclassification would be borne by our common stockholders. Certain matters under the 1940 Act require the separate vote of the holders of any issued and outstanding preferred stock. For example, the 1940 Act provides that holders of preferred stock are entitled to vote separately from holders of common stock to elect two preferred stock directors. We currently have no plans to issue preferred stock. The issuance of preferred shares convertible into shares of common stock may also reduce the net income and net asset value per share of our common stock upon conversion, provided, that we will only be permitted to issue such convertible preferred stock to the extent we comply with the requirements of Section 61 of the 1940 Act, including obtaining common stockholder approval. These effects, among others, could have an adverse effect on your investment in our common stock.

Provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law and of our charter and bylaws could deter takeover attempts and have an adverse impact on the price of our common stock.

The Maryland General Corporation Law and our charter and bylaws contain provisions that may discourage, delay or make more difficult a change in control of Stellus Capital Investment Corporation or the removal of our directors. We are subject to the Maryland Business Combination Act, subject to any applicable requirements of the 1940 Act. Our board of directors has adopted a resolution exempting from the Business Combination Act any business combination between us and any other person, subject to prior approval of such business combination by our board of directors, including approval by a majority of our independent directors. If the resolution exempting business combinations is repealed or our board of directors does not approve a business combination, the Business Combination Act may discourage third parties from trying to acquire control of us and increase the difficulty of consummating such an offer. Our bylaws exempt from the Maryland Control Share Acquisition Act acquisitions of our stock by any person. If we amend our bylaws to repeal the exemption from the Control Share Acquisition Act, the Control Share Acquisition Act also may make it more difficult for a third party to obtain control of us and increase the difficulty of consummating such a transaction.

We have also adopted measures that may make it difficult for a third party to obtain control of us, including provisions of our charter classifying our board of directors in three classes serving staggered three-year terms, and authorizing our board of directors to classify or reclassify shares of our stock in one or more classes or series, to cause the issuance of additional shares of our stock, to amend our charter without stockholder approval and to increase or decrease the number of shares of stock that we have authority to issue. These provisions, as well as other provisions of our charter and bylaws, may delay, defer or prevent a transaction or a change in control that might otherwise be in the best interests of our stockholders. See “Description of our Capital Stock — Certain Provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law and Our Charter and Bylaws.”

We are highly dependent on information systems and systems failures could significantly disrupt our business, which may, in turn, negatively affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

Our business is highly dependent on the communications and information systems of Stellus Capital Management. In addition, certain of these systems are provided to Stellus Capital Management by third party

32


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

service providers. Any failure or interruption of such systems, including as a result of the termination of an agreement with any such third party service provider, could cause delays or other problems in our activities. This, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our operating results and negatively affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.

The failure in cyber security systems, as well as the occurrence of events unanticipated in our disaster recovery systems and management continuity planning could impair our ability to conduct business effectively.

The occurrence of a disaster such as a cyber attack, a natural catastrophe, an industrial accident, a terrorist attack or war, events unanticipated in our disaster recovery systems, or a support failure from external providers, could have an adverse effect on our ability to conduct business and on our results of operations and financial condition, particularly if those events affect the Company’s computer-based data processing, transmission, storage, and retrieval systems or destroy data. If a significant number of our managers were unavailable in the event of a disaster, our ability to effectively conduct its business could be severely compromised.

We depend heavily upon computer systems to perform necessary business functions. Despite our implementation of a variety of security measures, our computer systems could be subject to cyber attacks and unauthorized access, such as physical and electronic break-ins or unauthorized tampering. Like other companies, we may experience threats to its data and systems, including malware and computer virus attacks, unauthorized access, system failures and disruptions. If one or more of these events occurs, it could potentially jeopardize the confidential, proprietary and other information processed and stored in, and transmitted through, our computer systems and networks, or otherwise cause interruptions or malfunctions in our operations, which could result in damage to our reputation, financial losses, litigation, increased costs, regulatory penalties and/or customer dissatisfaction or loss.

Risks Related to Economic Conditions

Global economic, political and market conditions may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition, including our revenue growth and profitability.

The U.S. and global capital markets experienced extreme volatility and disruption during the economic downturn that began in mid-2007, and the U.S. economy was in a recession for several consecutive calendar quarters during the same period. In 2010, a financial crisis emerged in Europe, triggered by high budget deficits and rising direct and contingent sovereign debt, which created concerns about the ability of certain nations to continue to service their sovereign debt obligations. Risks resulting from such debt crisis and any future debt crisis in Europe or any similar crisis elsewhere could have a detrimental impact on the global economic recovery, sovereign and non-sovereign debt in certain countries and the financial condition of financial institutions generally. In July and August 2015, Greece reached agreements with its creditors for bailouts that provide aid in exchange for certain austerity measures. These and similar austerity measures may adversely affect world economic conditions and have an adverse impact on our business and that of our portfolio companies. In the second quarter of 2015, stock prices in China experienced a significant drop, resulting primarily from continued sell-off of shares trading in Chinese markets. In August 2015, Chinese authorities sharply devalued China’s currency.

In June 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum in which voters approved an exit from the European Union, and the implications of the United Kingdom’s pending withdrawal from the European Union are unclear at present. In November 2016, voters in the United States elected a new president and the implications of a new presidential administration are unclear at present. These market and economic disruptions affected, and these and other similar market and economic disruptions may in the future affect, the U.S. capital markets, which could adversely affect our business and that of our portfolio companies and the broader financial and credit markets and have reduced the availability of debt and equity capital for the market as a whole and to financial firms, in particular. At various times, these disruptions resulted in, and may in the future result, a lack of liquidity in parts of the debt capital markets, significant write-offs in the financial services sector and the repricing of credit risk.

33


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

These conditions may reoccur for a prolonged period of time again or materially worsen in the future, including as a result of U.S. government shutdowns or further downgrades to the U.S. government’s sovereign credit rating or the perceived credit worthiness of the United States or other large global economies. Unfavorable economic conditions, including future recessions, also could increase our funding costs, limit our access to the capital markets or result in a decision by lenders not to extend credit to us. We may in the future have difficulty accessing debt and equity capital on attractive terms, or at all, and a severe disruption and instability in the global financial markets or deteriorations in credit and financing conditions may cause us to reduce the volume of loans we originate and/or fund, adversely affect the value of our portfolio investments or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Risks Related to our Investments

Our investments in the financial services sector are subject to various risks including volatility and extensive government regulation.

These risks include the effects of changes in interest rates on the profitability of financial services companies, the rate of corporate and consumer debt defaults, price competition, governmental limitations on a company’s loans, other financial commitments, product lines and other operations and recent ongoing changes in the financial services industry (including consolidations, development of new products and changes to the industry’s regulatory framework). The deterioration of the credit markets starting in late 2007 generally has caused an adverse impact in a broad range of markets, including U.S. and international credit and interbank money markets generally, thereby affecting a wide range of financial institutions and markets. In particular, events in the financial sector in late 2008 resulted, and may continue to result, in an unusually high degree of volatility in the financial markets, both domestic and foreign. This situation has created instability in the financial markets and caused certain financial services companies to incur large losses. Insurance companies have additional risks, such as heavy price competition, claims activity and marketing competition, and can be particularly sensitive to specific events such as man-made and natural disasters (including weather catastrophes), terrorism, mortality risks and morbidity rates.

Changes in healthcare laws and other regulations applicable to some of our portfolio companies’ businesses may constrain their ability to offer their products and services.

Changes in healthcare or other laws and regulations applicable to the businesses of some of our portfolio companies may occur that could increase their compliance and other costs of doing business, require significant systems enhancements, or render their products or services less profitable or obsolete, any of which could have a material adverse effect on their results of operations. There has also been an increased political and regulatory focus on healthcare laws in recent years, and new legislation could have a material effect on the business and operations of some of our portfolio companies.

An investment in media companies may be risky relative to an investment in companies operating in other industries.

Media companies typically have limited operating histories, narrower product lines and smaller market shares than larger businesses, which tend to render them more vulnerable to competitors’ actions and market conditions, as well as general economic downturns. In addition, media companies generally have less predictable operating results, may from time to time be parties to litigation, may be engaged in rapidly changing businesses with products subject to a substantial risk of obsolescence, and may require substantial additional capital to support their operations, finance expansion or maintain their competitive position.

In recent years, a number of internet companies have filed for bankruptcy or liquidated, and many large companies whose purchases affect the demand for products and services in the media industry have experienced financial difficulties, which may result in decreased demand for such products and services in the future. Our investments in the media industry may be risky and we could lose all or part of our investments.

Economic recessions or downturns could impair our portfolio companies, which would harm our operating results.

Many of the portfolio companies in which we make, and expect to make, investments, including those currently included in our portfolio, are likely to be susceptible to economic slowdowns or recessions and may

34


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

be unable to repay our loans during such periods. Therefore, the number of our non-performing assets is likely to increase and the value of our portfolio is likely to decrease during such periods. Adverse economic conditions may decrease the value of collateral securing some of our loans and debt securities and the value of our equity investments. Economic slowdowns or recessions could lead to financial losses in our portfolio and a decrease in revenues, net income and assets. Unfavorable economic conditions also could increase our funding costs, limit our access to the capital markets or result in a decision by lenders not to extend credit to us. These events could prevent us from increasing our investments and harm our operating results.

A portfolio company’s failure to satisfy financial or operating covenants imposed by us or other lenders could lead to defaults and, potentially, termination of its loans and foreclosure on its assets, which could trigger cross-defaults under other agreements and jeopardize our portfolio company’s ability to meet its obligations under the loans and debt securities that we hold. We may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms with a defaulting portfolio company. In addition, lenders in certain cases can be subject to lender liability claims for actions taken by them when they become too involved in the borrower’s business or exercise control over a borrower. It is possible that we could become subject to a lender’s liability claim, including as a result of actions taken if we render significant managerial assistance to the borrower. Furthermore, if one of our portfolio companies were to file for bankruptcy protection, a bankruptcy court might re-characterize our debt holding and subordinate all or a portion of our claim to claims of other creditors, even though we may have structured our investment as senior secured debt. The likelihood of such a re-characterization would depend on the facts and circumstances, including the extent to which we provided managerial assistance to that portfolio company.

Our investments in leveraged portfolio companies may be risky, and we could lose all or part of our investment.

Investment in leveraged companies involves a number of significant risks. Leveraged companies in which we invest may have limited financial resources and may be unable to meet their obligations under their loans and debt securities that we hold. Such developments may be accompanied by a deterioration in the value of any collateral and a reduction in the likelihood of our realizing any guarantees that we may have obtained in connection with our investment. Smaller leveraged companies also may have less predictable operating results and may require substantial additional capital to support their operations, finance their expansion or maintain their competitive position.

We may hold the loans and debt securities of leveraged companies that may, due to the significant operating volatility typical of such companies, enter into bankruptcy proceedings.

Leveraged companies may experience bankruptcy or similar financial distress. The bankruptcy process has a number of significant inherent risks. Many events in a bankruptcy proceeding are the product of contested matters and adversary proceedings and are beyond the control of the creditors. A bankruptcy filing by a portfolio company may adversely and permanently affect that company. If the proceeding is converted to a liquidation, the value of the portfolio company may not equal the liquidation value that was believed to exist at the time of the investment. The duration of a bankruptcy proceeding is also difficult to predict, and a creditor’s return on investment can be adversely affected by delays until the plan of reorganization or liquidation ultimately becomes effective. The administrative costs in connection with a bankruptcy proceeding are frequently high and would be paid out of the debtor’s estate prior to any return to creditors. Because the standards for classification of claims under bankruptcy law are vague, our influence with respect to the class of securities or other obligations we own may be lost by increases in the number and amount of claims in the same class or by different classification and treatment. In the early stages of the bankruptcy process, it is often difficult to estimate the extent of, or even to identify, any contingent claims that might be made. In addition, certain claims that have priority by law (for example, claims for taxes) may be substantial.

Our investments in private and middle-market portfolio companies are risky, and we could lose all or part of our investment.

Investment in private and middle-market companies involves a number of significant risks. Generally, little public information exists about these companies, and we rely on the ability of Stellus Capital Management’s investment professionals to obtain adequate information to evaluate the potential returns from

35


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

investing in these companies. If we are unable to uncover all material information about these companies, we may not make a fully informed investment decision, and we may lose money on our investments. Middle-market companies may have limited financial resources and may be unable to meet their obligations under their loans and debt securities that we hold, which may be accompanied by a deterioration in the value of any collateral and a reduction in the likelihood of our realizing any guarantees we may have obtained in connection with our investment. In addition, such companies typically have shorter operating histories, narrower product lines and smaller market shares than larger businesses, which tend to render them more vulnerable to competitors’ actions and market conditions, as well as general economic downturns. Additionally, middle-market companies are more likely to depend on the management talents and efforts of a small group of persons. Therefore, the death, disability, resignation or termination of one or more of these persons could have a material adverse impact on one or more of the portfolio companies we invest in and, in turn, on us. Middle-market companies also may be parties to litigation and may be engaged in rapidly changing businesses with products subject to a substantial risk of obsolescence. In addition, our executive officers, directors and investment adviser may, in the ordinary course of business, be named as defendants in litigation arising from our investments in portfolio companies.

The lack of liquidity in our investments may adversely affect our business.

Most of our assets are invested in illiquid loans and securities, and a substantial portion of our investments in leveraged companies are subject to legal and other restrictions on resale or are otherwise less liquid than more broadly traded public securities. The illiquidity of these investments may make it difficult for us to sell such investments if the need arises. In addition, if we are required to liquidate all or a portion of our portfolio quickly, we may realize significantly less than the value at which we have previously recorded our investments. Also, as noted above, we may be limited or prohibited in our ability to sell or otherwise exit certain positions in our portfolio as such a transaction could be considered a joint transaction prohibited by the 1940 Act.

Price declines and illiquidity in the corporate debt markets may adversely affect the fair value of our portfolio investments, reducing our net asset value through increased net unrealized depreciation.

As a BDC, we are required to carry our investments at market value or, if no market value is ascertainable, at fair value as determined in good faith by our board of directors. As part of the valuation process, we may take into account the following types of factors, if relevant, in determining the fair value of our investments:

available current market data, including relevant and applicable market trading and transaction comparables;
applicable market yields and multiples;
security covenants;
call protection provisions;
information rights;
the nature and realizable value of any collateral;
the portfolio company’s ability to make payments, its earnings and discounted cash flows and the markets in which it does business;
comparisons of financial ratios of peer companies that are public;
comparable merger and acquisition transactions; and
the principal market and enterprise values.

When an external event such as a purchase transaction, public offering or subsequent equity sale occurs, we use the pricing indicated by the external event to corroborate our valuation. We record decreases in the market values or fair values of our investments as unrealized depreciation. Declines in prices and liquidity in the corporate debt markets may result in significant net unrealized depreciation in our portfolio. The effect of

36


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

all of these factors on our portfolio may reduce our net asset value by increasing net unrealized depreciation in our portfolio. Depending on market conditions, we could incur substantial realized losses and may suffer additional unrealized losses in future periods, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

We are a non-diversified investment company within the meaning of the 1940 Act, and therefore we are not limited with respect to the proportion of our assets that may be invested in securities of a single issuer.

We are classified as a non-diversified investment company within the meaning of the 1940 Act, which means that we are not limited by the 1940 Act with respect to the proportion of our assets that we may invest in securities of a single issuer. Beyond the asset diversification requirements associated with our qualification as a RIC under the Code, we do not have fixed guidelines for diversification. To the extent that we assume large positions in the securities of a small number of issuers or our investments are concentrated in relatively few industries, our net asset value may fluctuate to a greater extent than that of a diversified investment company as a result of changes in the financial condition or the market’s assessment of the issuer. We may also be more susceptible to any single economic or regulatory occurrence than a diversified investment company.

Our failure to make follow-on investments in our portfolio companies could impair the value of our portfolio.

Following an initial investment in a portfolio company, we may make additional investments in that portfolio company as “follow-on” investments, in seeking to:

increase or maintain in whole or in part our position as a creditor or equity ownership percentage in a portfolio company;
exercise warrants, options or convertible securities that were acquired in the original or subsequent financing; or
preserve or enhance the value of our investment.

We have discretion to make follow-on investments, subject to the availability of capital resources. Failure on our part to make follow-on investments may, in some circumstances, jeopardize the continued viability of a portfolio company and our initial investment, or may result in a missed opportunity for us to increase our participation in a successful operation. Even if we have sufficient capital to make a desired follow-on investment, we may elect not to make a follow-on investment because we may not want to increase our level of risk, because we prefer other opportunities or because we are inhibited by compliance with BDC requirements of the 1940 Act or the desire to maintain our qualification as a RIC. Our ability to make follow-on investments may also be limited by our compliance with the conditions under the exemptive relief order we received from the SEC related to co-investments with investment funds managed by Stellus Capital Management or Stellus Capital Management’s allocation policy.

Because we generally do not hold controlling equity interests in our portfolio companies, we may not be able to exercise control over our portfolio companies or to prevent decisions by management of our portfolio companies that could decrease the value of our investments.

We do not hold controlling equity positions in any of the portfolio companies included in our portfolio and, although we may do so in the future, we do not currently intend to hold controlling equity positions in our portfolio companies (including those included in our portfolio). As a result, we are subject to the risk that a portfolio company may make business decisions with which we disagree, and that the management and/or stockholders of a portfolio company may take risks or otherwise act in ways that are adverse to our interests. Due to the lack of liquidity of the debt and equity investments that we hold in our portfolio companies, we may not be able to dispose of our investments in the event we disagree with the actions of a portfolio company and may therefore suffer a decrease in the value of our investments.

Defaults by our portfolio companies will harm our operating results.

A portfolio company’s failure to satisfy financial or operating covenants imposed by us or other lenders could lead to defaults and, potentially, termination of its loans and foreclosure on its assets. This could trigger

37


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

cross-defaults under other agreements and jeopardize such portfolio company’s ability to meet its obligations under the loans or debt or equity securities that we hold. We may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms, which may include the waiver of certain financial covenants, with a defaulting portfolio company.

Prepayments of our debt investments by our portfolio companies could adversely impact our results of operations and ability to make stockholder distributions and result in a decline in the market price of our shares.

We are subject to the risk that the debt investments we make in our portfolio companies may be repaid prior to maturity. We expect that our investments will generally allow for repayment at any time subject to certain penalties. When this occurs, we intend to generally reinvest these proceeds in temporary investments, pending their future investment in accordance with our investment strategy. These temporary investments will typically have substantially lower yields than the debt being prepaid, and we could experience significant delays in reinvesting these amounts. Any future investment may also be at lower yields than the debt that was repaid. As a result, our results of operations could be materially adversely affected if one or more of our portfolio companies elects to prepay amounts owed to us. Additionally, prepayments could negatively impact our ability to make, or the amount of, stockholder distributions with respect to our common stock, which could result in a decline in the market price of our shares.

Uncertainty relating to the LIBOR calculation process may adversely affect the value of our portfolio of the LIBOR-indexed, floating-rate debt securities.

Concerns have been publicized that some of the member banks surveyed by the British Bankers’ Association, or BBA, in connection with the calculation of LIBOR across a range of maturities and currencies may have been under-reporting or otherwise manipulating the inter-bank lending rate applicable to them in order to profit on their derivatives positions or to avoid an appearance of capital insufficiency or adverse reputational or other consequences that may have resulted from reporting inter-bank lending rates higher than those they actually submitted. A number of BBA member banks have entered into settlements with their regulators and law enforcement agencies with respect to alleged manipulation of LIBOR, and investigations and reviews of the framework for the setting of LIBOR by regulators and governmental authorities in various jurisdictions are ongoing. In this regard, the administration of LIBOR is now the responsibility of NYSE Euronext Rates Administration Limited.

Actions by the LIBOR Administrator, regulators or law enforcement agencies may result in changes to the manner in which LIBOR is determined. Uncertainty as to the nature of such potential changes may adversely affect the market for LIBOR-based securities, including our portfolio of LIBOR-indexed, floating-rate debt securities. In addition, any further changes or reforms to the determination or supervision of LIBOR may result in a sudden or prolonged increase or decrease in reported LIBOR, which could have an adverse impact on the market for LIBOR-based securities or the value of our portfolio of LIBOR-indexed, floating-rate debt securities.

The effect of global climate change may impact the operations of our portfolio companies.

There may be evidence of global climate change. Climate change creates physical and financial risk and some of our portfolio companies may be adversely affected by climate change. For example, the needs of customers of energy companies vary with weather conditions, primarily temperature and humidity. To the extent weather conditions are affected by climate change, energy use could increase or decrease depending on the duration and magnitude of any changes. Increases in the cost of energy could adversely affect the cost of operations of our portfolio companies if the use of energy products or services is material to their business. A decrease in energy use due to weather changes may affect some of our portfolio companies’ financial condition, through decreased revenues. Extreme weather conditions in general require more system backup, adding to costs, and can contribute to increased system stresses, including service interruptions. In December 2015, the United Nations, of which the U.S. is a member, adopted a climate accord with the long-term goal of limiting global warming and the short-term goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, our portfolio companies, particularly those operating in the energy sector, may be subject to new or strengthened regulations or legislation which could increase their operating costs and/or decrease their revenues.

38


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Our portfolio companies may incur debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, our investments in such companies.

We invest a portion of our capital in second lien and subordinated loans issued by our portfolio companies. The portfolio companies usually have, or may be permitted to incur, other debt that ranks equally with, or senior to, the loans in which we invest. By their terms, such debt instruments may provide that the holders are entitled to receive payment of interest or principal on or before the dates on which we are entitled to receive payments in respect of the loans in which we invest. Also, in the event of insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of a portfolio company, holders of debt instruments ranking senior to our investment in that portfolio company would typically be entitled to receive payment in full before we receive any distribution in respect of our investment. After repaying senior creditors, a portfolio company may not have any remaining assets to use for repaying its obligation to us. In the case of debt ranking equally with loans in which we invest, we would have to share any distributions on an equal and ratable basis with other creditors holding such debt in the event of an insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of the relevant portfolio company.

Additionally, certain loans that we make to portfolio companies may be secured on a second priority basis by the same collateral securing senior secured debt of such companies. The first priority liens on the collateral will secure the portfolio company’s obligations under any outstanding senior debt and may secure certain other future debt that may be permitted to be incurred by the portfolio company under the agreements governing the loans. The holders of obligations secured by first priority liens on the collateral will generally control the liquidation of, and be entitled to receive proceeds from, any realization of the collateral to repay their obligations in full before us. In addition, the value of the collateral in the event of liquidation will depend on market and economic conditions, the availability of buyers and other factors. There can be no assurance that the proceeds, if any, from sales of all of the collateral would be sufficient to satisfy the loan obligations secured by the second priority liens after payment in full of all obligations secured by the first priority liens on the collateral. If such proceeds were not sufficient to repay amounts outstanding under the loan obligations secured by the second priority liens, then we, to the extent not repaid from the proceeds of the sale of the collateral, will only have an unsecured claim against the portfolio company’s remaining assets, if any.

We may also make unsecured loans to portfolio companies, meaning that such loans will not benefit from any interest in collateral of such companies. Liens on such portfolio companies’ collateral, if any, will secure the portfolio company’s obligations under its outstanding secured debt and may secure certain future debt that is permitted to be incurred by the portfolio company under its secured loan agreements. The holders of obligations secured by such liens will generally control the liquidation of, and be entitled to receive proceeds from, any realization of such collateral to repay their obligations in full before us. In addition, the value of such collateral in the event of liquidation will depend on market and economic conditions, the availability of buyers and other factors. There can be no assurance that the proceeds, if any, from sales of such collateral would be sufficient to satisfy our unsecured loan obligations after payment in full of all secured loan obligations. If such proceeds were not sufficient to repay the outstanding secured loan obligations, then our unsecured claims would rank equally with the unpaid portion of such secured creditors’ claims against the portfolio company’s remaining assets, if any.

The rights we may have with respect to the collateral securing the loans we make to our portfolio companies with senior debt outstanding may also be limited pursuant to the terms of one or more intercreditor agreements that we enter into with the holders of such senior debt. Under a typical intercreditor agreement, at any time that obligations that have the benefit of the first priority liens are outstanding, any of the following actions that may be taken in respect of the collateral will be at the direction of the holders of the obligations secured by the first priority liens:

the ability to cause the commencement of enforcement proceedings against the collateral;
the ability to control the conduct of such proceedings;
the approval of amendments to collateral documents;
releases of liens on the collateral; and

39


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

waivers of past defaults under collateral documents.

We may not have the ability to control or direct such actions, even if our rights are adversely affected.

We may be exposed to special risks associated with bankruptcy cases.

One or more of our portfolio companies may be involved in bankruptcy or other reorganization or liquidation proceedings. Many of the events within a bankruptcy case are adversarial and often beyond the control of the creditors. While creditors generally are afforded an opportunity to object to significant actions, we cannot assure you that a bankruptcy court would not approve actions that may be contrary to our interests. There also are instances where creditors can lose their ranking and priority if they are considered to have taken over management of a borrower.

To the extent that portfolio companies in which we have invested through a unitranche facility are involved in bankruptcy proceedings, the outcome of such proceedings may be uncertain. For example, it is unclear whether a bankruptcy court would enforce an agreement among lenders which sets the priority of payments among unitranche lenders. In such a case, the “first out” lenders in the unitranche facility may not receive the same degree of protection as they would if the agreement among lenders was enforced.

The reorganization of a company can involve substantial legal, professional and administrative costs to a lender and the borrower. It is subject to unpredictable and lengthy delays and during the process a company’s competitive position may erode, key management may depart and a company may not be able to invest adequately. In some cases, the debtor company may not be able to reorganize and may be required to liquidate assets. The debt of companies in financial reorganization will, in most cases, not pay current interest, may not accrue interest during reorganization and may be adversely affected by an erosion of the issuer’s fundamental value.

In addition, lenders can be subject to lender liability claims for actions taken by them where they become too involved in the borrower’s business or exercise control over the borrower. For example, we could become subject to a lender liability claim (alleging that we misused our influence on the borrower for the benefit of its lenders), if, among other things, the borrower requests significant managerial assistance from us and we provide that assistance. To the extent we and an affiliate both hold investments in the same portfolio company that are of a different character, we may also face restrictions on our ability to become actively involved in the event that portfolio company becomes distressed as a result of the restrictions imposed on transactions involving affiliates under the 1940 Act. In such cases, we may be unable to exercise rights we may otherwise have to protect our interests as security holders in such portfolio company.

If we make subordinated investments, the obligors or the portfolio companies may not generate sufficient cash flow to service their debt obligations to us.

We may make subordinated investments that rank below other obligations of the obligor in right of payment. Subordinated investments are subject to greater risk of default than senior obligations as a result of adverse changes in the financial condition of the obligor or economic conditions in general. If we make a subordinated investment in a portfolio company, the portfolio company may be highly leveraged, and its relatively high debt-to-equity ratio may create increased risks that its operations might not generate sufficient cash flow to service all of its debt obligations.

The disposition of our investments may result in contingent liabilities.

Substantially all of our investments involve loans and private securities. In connection with the disposition of an investment in loans and private securities, we may be required to make representations about the business and financial affairs of the portfolio company typical of those made in connection with the sale of a business. We may also be required to indemnify the purchasers of such investment to the extent that any such representations turn out to be inaccurate or with respect to potential liabilities. These arrangements may result in contingent liabilities that ultimately result in funding obligations that we must satisfy through our return of distributions previously made to us.

40


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

We may not realize gains from our equity investments.

When we invest in loans and debt securities, we may acquire warrants or other equity securities of portfolio companies as well. We may also invest in equity securities directly. To the extent we hold equity investments, we will attempt to dispose of them and realize gains upon our disposition of them. However, the equity interests we receive may not appreciate in value and, may decline in value. As a result, we may not be able to realize gains from our equity interests, and any gains that we do realize on the disposition of any equity interests may not be sufficient to offset any other losses we experience.

Risks Relating to an Offering of Our Securities

We may be unable to invest a significant portion of the net proceeds raised from our offerings on acceptable terms, which would harm our financial condition and operating results.

Delays in investing the net proceeds raised in our offerings may cause our performance to be worse than that of other fully invested BDCs or other lenders or investors pursuing comparable investment strategies. We cannot assure you that we will be able to identify any investments that meet our investment objective or that any investment that we make will produce a positive return. We may be unable to invest the net proceeds from any offering on acceptable terms within the time period that we anticipate or at all, which could harm our financial condition and operating results. We anticipate that, depending on market conditions, it may take a substantial period of time to invest substantially all of the net proceeds of any offering in securities meeting our investment objective. During such a period, we will continue to invest the net proceeds of any offering primarily in cash, cash equivalents, U.S. government securities, repurchase agreements and high-quality debt instruments maturing in one year or less from the time of investment, which may produce returns that are significantly lower than the returns which we expect to achieve when our portfolio is fully invested in securities meeting our investment objective, and given our expense ratio and the prevailing interest rate climate, there is a possible risk of losing money on the offering proceeds of certain securities, such as debt securities during this interval. As a result, any distributions that we pay during such period may be substantially lower than the distributions that we may be able to pay when our portfolio is fully invested in securities meeting our investment objective. In addition, until such time as the net proceeds of any offering are invested in securities meeting our investment objective, the market price for our securities may decline. Thus, the return on your investment may be lower than when, if ever, our portfolio is fully invested in securities meeting our investment objective.

There is a risk that you may not receive distributions or that our distributions may not grow over time and a portion of our distributions may be a return of capital.

We intend to make distributions on a monthly basis to our stockholders out of assets legally available for distribution (i.e., not subject to any legal restrictions under Maryland law on the distribution thereof). We cannot assure you that we will achieve investment results that will allow us to make a specified level of cash distributions or year-to-year increases in cash distributions. All distributions will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our earnings, financial condition, maintenance of RIC status, compliance with applicable BDC, SBA regulations and such other factors as our board of directors may deem relative from time to time. We cannot assure you that we will make distributions to our stockholders in the future.

Our ability to pay distributions might be adversely affected by the impact of one or more of the risk factors described in this prospectus. Due to the asset coverage test applicable to us under the 1940 Act as a BDC, we may be limited in our ability to make distributions. In addition, restrictions and provisions in our Credit Facility, the Notes and any future credit facilities, as well as in the terms of any debt securities we issue, may limit our ability to make distributions in certain circumstances.

When we make distributions, we will be required to determine the extent to which such distributions are paid out of current or accumulated earnings and profits. Distributions in excess of current and accumulated earnings and profits will be treated as a non-taxable return of capital to the extent of an investor’s basis in our stock and, assuming that an investor holds our stock as a capital asset, thereafter as a capital gain. See “Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations.”

41


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

We may allocate the net proceeds from an offering in ways with which you may not agree.

We will have significant flexibility in investing the net proceeds of an offering and may use the net proceeds from an offering in ways with which you may not agree or for purposes other than those contemplated at the time of the offering. In addition, we can provide you with no assurance that by increasing the size of our available equity capital our expense ratio or debt ratio will be lowered.

Stockholders may experience dilution in their ownership percentage if they do not participate in our dividend reinvestment plan.

All distributions declared in cash payable to stockholders that are participants in our dividend reinvestment plan are generally automatically reinvested in shares of our common stock. As a result, stockholders that do not participate in the dividend reinvestment plan may experience dilution over time. Stockholders who receive distributions in shares of common stock may experience accretion to the net asset value of their shares if our shares are trading at a premium and dilution if our shares are trading at a discount. The level of accretion or discount would depend on various factors, including the proportion of our stockholders who participate in the plan, the level of premium or discount at which our shares are trading and the amount of the distribution payable to a stockholder.

Existing stockholders may incur dilution if, in the future, we sell shares of our common stock in one or more offerings at prices below the then current net asset value per share of our common stock.

The 1940 Act prohibits us from selling shares of our common stock at a price below the current net asset value per share of such stock, with certain exceptions. One such exception is prior stockholder approval of issuances below net asset value provided that our board of directors makes certain determinations. We did not seek stockholder approval to sell shares of our common stock below the then current net asset value per share of our common stock at our 2016 annual meeting of stockholders but will seek such approval at our 2017 annual meeting of stockholders, which is expected to be held on May 24, 2017. If we receive such stockholder approval, any decision to sell shares of our common stock below the then current net asset value per share of our common stock would be subject to the determination by our board of directors that such issuance is in our and our stockholders' best interests.

If we were to sell shares of our common stock below net asset value per share, such sales would result in an immediate dilution to the net asset value per share. This dilution would occur as a result of the sale of shares at a price below the then current net asset value per share of our common stock and a proportionately greater decrease in a stockholder’s interest in our earnings and assets and voting interest in us than the increase in our assets resulting from such issuance.

Because the number of shares of common stock that could be so issued and the timing of any issuance is not currently known, the actual dilutive effect cannot be predicted; however, the example below illustrates the effect of dilution to existing stockholders resulting from the sale of common stock at prices below the net asset value of such shares. Please see “Sales of Common Stock Below Net Asset Value” for a more complete discussion of the potentially dilutive impacts of an offering at a price less than net asset value per share.

Illustration: Example of Dilutive Effect of the Issuance of Shares Below Net Asset Value. Assume that Company XYZ has 12,500,000 total shares outstanding, $370,000,000 in total assets and $200,000,000 in total liabilities. The net asset value per share of the common stock of Company XYZ is $13.60. The following table illustrates the reduction to net asset value, or net asset value, and the dilution experienced by Stockholder A following the sale of 1,250,000 shares of the common stock of Company XYZ at $12.24 per share, a price below its net asset value per share.

     
  Prior to Sale
Below NAV
  Following Sale
Below NAV
  Percentage
Change
Reduction to NAV
                       
Total Shares Outstanding     12,500,000       13,750,000       10 %  
NAV per share   $ 13.60     $ 13.48       (0.9 )%  

42


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

     
  Prior to Sale
Below NAV
  Following Sale
Below NAV
  Percentage
Change
Dilution to Existing Stockholder
                       
Shares Held by Stockholder A     125,000       125,000 (1)       0.0 %  
Percentage Held by Stockholder A     1.00 %       0.91 %       (9.0 )%  
Total Interest of Stockholder A in NAV   $ 1,700,000     $ 1,684,545       (0.9 )%  

(1) Assumes that Stockholder A does not purchase additional shares in the sale of shares below NAV.

Our shares might trade at premiums that are unsustainable or at discounts from net asset value.

Shares of BDCs like us may, during some periods, trade at prices higher than their net asset value per share and, during other periods, as frequently occurs with closed-end investment companies, trade at prices lower than their net asset value per share. The perceived value of our investment portfolio may be affected by a number of factors including perceived prospects for individual companies we invest in, market conditions for common stock generally, for initial public offerings and other exit events for venture capital backed companies, and the mix of companies in our investment portfolio over time. Negative or unforeseen developments affecting the perceived value of companies in our investment portfolio could result in a decline in the trading price of our common stock relative to our net asset value per share.

The possibility that our shares will trade at a discount from net asset value or at premiums that are unsustainable are risks separate and distinct from the risk that our net asset value per share will decrease. The risk of purchasing shares of a BDC that might trade at a discount or unsustainable premium is more pronounced for investors who wish to sell their shares in a relatively short period of time because, for those investors, realization of a gain or loss on their investments is likely to be more dependent upon changes in premium or discount levels than upon increases or decreases in net asset value per share.

Investing in our securities may involve an above average degree of risk.

The investments we make in accordance with our investment objective may result in a higher amount of risk, and higher volatility or loss of principal, than alternative investment options. Our investments in portfolio companies may be speculative and, therefore, an investment in our securities may not be suitable for someone with lower risk tolerance.

The market price of our securities may fluctuate significantly.

The market price and liquidity of the market for our securities may be significantly affected by numerous factors, some of which are beyond our control and may not be directly related to our operating performance. These factors include:

significant volatility in the market price and trading volume of securities of BDCs or other companies in our sector, which is not necessarily related to the operating performance of these companies;
changes in regulatory policies or tax guidelines, particularly with respect to RICs, BDCs and SBICs;
loss of our qualification as a RIC or BDC or the status of our SBIC subsidiary as SBIC;
changes in earnings or variations in operating results;
changes in the value of our portfolio of investments;
changes in accounting guidelines governing valuation of our investments;
any shortfall in revenue or net income or any increase in losses from levels expected by investors or securities analysts;
departure of Stellus Capital Management’s key personnel;
operating performance of companies comparable to us; and
general economic trends and other external factors.

43


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock may have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.

As of December 31, 2016 we had 12,479,959 shares of common stock outstanding. When effective, our registration statement on Form N-2 will allow us to offer, from time to time, up to $200 million worth of our common stock, preferred stock, subscription rights, debt securities, or warrants representing rights to purchase shares of our common stock, preferred stock or debt securities on terms to be determined at the time of the offering. Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock, or the availability of shares for sale, could adversely affect the prevailing market price of our common stock. If this occurs and continues, it could impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of equity securities should we desire to do so.

If we issue preferred stock and/or debt securities, the net asset value and market value of our common stock may become more volatile.

We cannot assure you that the issuance of preferred stock and/or debt securities would result in a higher yield or return to the holders of our common stock. The issuance of preferred stock and/or debt securities would likely cause the net asset value and market value of our common stock to become more volatile. If the distribution rate on the preferred stock, or the interest rate on the debt securities, were to approach the net rate of return on our investment portfolio, the benefit of leverage to the holders of our common stock would be reduced. If the distribution rate on the preferred stock, or the interest rate on the debt securities, were to exceed the net rate of return on our portfolio, the use of leverage would result in a lower rate of return to the holders of common stock than if we had not issued the preferred stock and/or debt securities. Any decline in the net asset value of our investment would be borne entirely by the holders of our common stock. Therefore, if the market value of our portfolio were to decline, the leverage would result in a greater decrease in net asset value to the holders of our common stock than if we were not leveraged through the issuance of preferred stock and/or debt securities. This decline in net asset value would also tend to cause a greater decline in the market price for our common stock.

There is also a risk that, in the event of a sharp decline in the value of our net assets, we would be in danger of failing to maintain required asset coverage ratios which may be required by the preferred stock and/or debt securities or of a downgrade in the ratings of the preferred stock and/or debt securities or our current investment income might not be sufficient to meet the distribution requirements on the preferred stock or the interest payments on the debt securities. In order to counteract such an event, we might need to liquidate investments in order to fund redemption of some or all of the preferred stock and/or debt securities. In addition, we would pay (and the holders of our common stock would bear) all costs and expenses relating to the issuance and ongoing maintenance of the preferred stock and/or debt securities. Holders of preferred stock and/or debt securities may have different interests than holders of common stock and may at times have disproportionate influence over our affairs.

The trading market or market value of our debt securities or any convertible debt securities, if issued to the public, may be volatile.

Our debt securities or any convertible debt securities, if issued to the public, may or may not have an established trading market. We cannot assure investors that a trading market for our debt securities or any convertible debt securities, if issued to the public, would develop or be maintained if developed. In addition to our creditworthiness, many factors may materially adversely affect the trading market for, and market value of, our publicly issued debt securities or any convertible debt securities. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

the time remaining to the maturity of these debt securities;
the outstanding principal amount of debt securities with terms identical to these debt securities;
the general economic environment;
the supply of debt securities trading in the secondary market, if any;
the redemption, repayment or convertible features, if any, of these debt securities;
the level, direction and volatility of market interest rates generally; and

44


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

market rates of interest higher or lower than rates borne by the debt securities.

There also may be a limited number of buyers for our debt securities. This too may materially adversely affect the market value of the debt securities or the trading market for the debt securities. Our debt securities may include convertible features that cause them to more closely bear risks associated with an investment in our common stock.

Terms relating to redemption may materially adversely affect the return on any debt securities.

If we issue any debt securities or any convertible debt securities that are redeemable at our option, we may choose to redeem the debt securities at times when prevailing interest rates are lower than the interest rate paid on the debt securities. In addition, if the debt securities are subject to mandatory redemption, we may be required to redeem the debt securities at times when prevailing interest rates are lower than the interest rate paid on the debt securities. In this circumstance, a holder of our debt securities may not be able to reinvest the redemption proceeds in a comparable security at an effective interest rate as high as the debt securities being redeemed.

The issuance of subscription rights, warrants or convertible debt that are exchangeable for our common stock, will cause your interest in us to be diluted as a result of any such rights, warrants or convertible debt offering.

Stockholders who do not fully exercise rights, warrants or convertible debt issued to them in any offering of subscription rights, warrants or convertible debt to purchase our common stock should expect that they will, at the completion of the offering, own a smaller proportional interest in us than would otherwise be the case if they fully exercised their rights, warrants or convertible debt. We cannot state precisely the amount of any such dilution in share ownership because we do not know what proportion of the common stock would be purchased as a result of any such offering.

In addition, if the subscription price, warrant price or convertible debt price is less than our net asset value per share of common stock at the time of such offering, then our stockholders would experience an immediate dilution of the aggregate net asset value of their shares as a result of the offering. The amount of any such decrease in net asset value is not predictable because it is not known at this time what the subscription price, warrant price, convertible debt price or net asset value per share will be on the expiration date of such offering or what proportion of our common stock will be purchased as a result of any such offering. The risk of dilution is greater if there are multiple rights offerings. However, our board of directors will make a good faith determination that any offering of subscription rights, warrants or convertible debt would result in a net benefit to existing stockholders.

Future offerings of debt securities, which would be senior to our common stock upon liquidation, or equity securities, which could dilute our existing stockholders and may be senior to our common stock for the purposes of distributions, may harm the value of our common stock.

In the future, we may attempt to increase our capital resources by making offerings of debt or equity securities, including commercial paper, medium-term notes, senior or subordinated notes and classes of preferred stock or common stock, subject to the restrictions of the 1940 Act. Upon a liquidation of our company, holders of our debt securities and shares of preferred stock and lenders with respect to other borrowings would receive a distribution of our available assets prior to the holders of our common stock. Additional equity offerings by us may dilute the holdings of our existing stockholders or reduce the value of our common stock, or both. Any preferred stock we may issue would have a preference on distributions that could limit our ability to make distributions to the holders of our common stock. Because our decision to issue securities in any future offering will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing or nature of our future offerings. Thus, our stockholders bear the risk of our future offerings reducing the market price of our common stock and diluting their stock holdings in us. In addition, proceeds from a sale of common stock will likely be used to increase our total assets or to pay down our borrowings, among other uses. This would increase our asset coverage ratio and permit us to incur additional leverage under rules pertaining to business development companies by increasing our borrowings or issuing senior securities such as preferred stock or additional debt securities.

45


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Some of the statements in this prospectus and the accompanying prospectus supplement, if any constitute forward-looking statements, which relate to future events or our future performance or financial condition. The forward-looking statements contained in this prospectus and the accompanying prospectus supplement, if any involve risks and uncertainties, including statements as to:

our future operating results;
our business prospects and the prospects of our portfolio companies;
the effect of investments that we expect to make;
our contractual arrangements and relationships with third parties;
actual and potential conflicts of interest with Stellus Capital Management;
the dependence of our future success on the general economy and its effect on the industries in which we invest;
the ability of our portfolio companies to achieve their objectives;
the use of borrowed money to finance a portion of our investments;
the adequacy of our financing sources and working capital;
the timing of cash flows, if any, from the operations of our portfolio companies;
the ability of Stellus Capital Management to locate suitable investments for us and to monitor and administer our investments;
the ability of Stellus Capital Management to attract and retain highly talented professionals;
our ability to qualify and maintain our qualification as a RIC and as a BDC; and
the effect of future changes in laws or regulations (including the interpretation of these laws and regulations by regulatory authorities) and conditions in our operating areas, particularly with respect to business development companies or RICs.

Such forward-looking statements may include statements preceded by, followed by or that otherwise include the words “may,” “might,” “will,” “intend,” “should,” “could,” “can,” “would,” “expect,” “believe,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “predict,” “potential,” “plan” or similar words.

We have based the forward-looking statements included in this prospectus and the accompanying prospectus supplement, if any on information available to us on the date of this prospectus and the accompanying prospectus supplement, if any, and we assume no obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in our forward-looking statements, and future results could differ materially from historical performance. We undertake no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless required by law or SEC rule or regulation. You are advised to consult any additional disclosures that we may make directly to you, including in the form of a prospectus supplement or post-effective amendment to the registration statement to which this prospectus relates, or through reports that we in the future may file with the SEC, including annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K.

You should understand that, under Sections 27A(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Act and Section 21E(b)(2)B of the Exchange Act, the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 do not apply to statements made in connection with any offering of securities pursuant to this prospectus and the accompanying prospectus supplement, if any.

46


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

USE OF PROCEEDS

Unless otherwise specified in any prospectus supplement accompanying this prospectus, we intend to use the net proceeds of this offering, to make new investments in portfolio companies in accordance with our investment objective and strategies as described in this prospectus, to reduce a portion of our outstanding borrowings under the Credit Facility or the Notes and for general working capital purposes. Pending such use, we will invest the net proceeds primarily in high quality, short-term debt securities consistent with our BDC election and our election to be taxed as a RIC. We do not intend to use any portion of the net proceeds of this offering to fund distributions to our shareholders.

47


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRICE RANGE OF COMMON STOCK AND DISTRIBUTIONS

Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, under the symbol “SCM.” In connection with our initial public offering, our shares of common stock began trading on November 8, 2012, and before that date, there was no established trading market for our common stock.

The following table sets forth, for each fiscal quarter since our common stock began trading, the range of high and low closing prices of our common stock as reported on the NYSE, the sales price as a percentage of our net asset value, or NAV, and the dividends declared by us.

         
Fiscal Year Ended   NAV Per
Share (1)
  Closing Sales Price (2)   Premium or
Discount of High
Sales to NAV (3)
  Premium or
Discount of Low
Sales to NAV (3)
  High   Low
December 31, 2017
                                            
First Quarter (through March 29, 2017)       $ 14.57     $ 12.09          
December 31, 2016
                                            
Fourth Quarter     13.69     $ 12.33     $ 10.35       -9.93 %       -24.40 %  
Third Quarter   $ 13.57     $ 11.54     $ 10.35       -14.96 %       -23.73 %  
Second Quarter   $ 13.12     $ 10.59     $ 9.82       -19.28 %       -25.15 %  
First Quarter   $ 13.06     $ 10.22     $ 7.85       -21.75 %       -39.89 %  
December 31, 2015
                                            
Fourth Quarter   $ 13.19     $ 10.93     $ 9.53       -17.13 %       -27.75 %  
Third Quarter   $ 13.62     $ 11.84     $ 9.87       -13.07 %       -27.53 %  
Second Quarter   $ 14.01     $ 12.58     $ 11.36       -10.21 %       -18.92 %  
First Quarter   $ 14.03     $ 12.68     $ 11.80       -9.62 %       -15.89 %  

(1) NAV is determined as of the last date in the relevant quarter and therefore may not reflect the NAV per share on the date of the high and low sales prices. The NAVs shown are based on outstanding shares at the end of each period.
(2) Closing sales price is determined as the high or low closing sales price noted within the respective quarter, not adjusted for dividends.
(3) Calculated as of the respective high or low sales price divided by the quarter end NAV.
* Not determinable at the time of filing.

On March 29, 2017, the last reported sales price of our common stock was $14.26 per share. As of March 29, 2017, we had 12,479,957 stockholders of record, which did not include stockholders for whom shares are held in nominee or street name.

Shares of business development companies may trade at a market price that is less than the value of the net assets attributable to those shares. The possibility that our shares of common stock will trade at a discount from net asset value or at premiums that are unsustainable over the long term are separate and distinct from the risk that our net asset value will decrease. Since they began trading on November 8, 2012, in connection with our initial public offering, our shares of common stock have traded at times at a discount to the net assets attributable to those shares.

To the extent that we have income available, we intend to make quarterly distributions to our stockholders. Our quarterly stockholder distributions, if any, will be determined by our board of directors. Any stockholder distribution to our stockholders will be declared out of assets legally available for distribution.

We have elected to be treated as a RIC under the Code. To maintain RIC tax treatment, we must distribute at least 90% of our net ordinary income and net short-term capital gains in excess of our net long-term capital losses, if any, to our stockholders. In order to avoid certain excise taxes imposed on RICs, we currently intend to distribute during each calendar year an amount at least equal to the sum of: (a) 98% of our net ordinary income for such calendar year; (b) 98.2% of our capital gain net income for the one-year

48


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

period ending on October 31 of the calendar year; and (c) any net ordinary income and capital gain net income for preceding years that were not distributed during such years and on which we previously paid no U.S. federal income tax.

We currently intend to distribute net capital gains ( i.e. , net long-term capital gains in excess of net short-term capital losses), if any, at least annually out of the assets legally available for such distributions. However, we may decide in the future to retain such capital gains for investment and elect to treat such gains as deemed distributions to you. If this happens, you will be treated for U.S. federal income tax purposes as if you had received an actual distribution of the capital gains that we retain and reinvested the net after tax proceeds in us. In this situation, you would be eligible to claim a tax credit (or in certain circumstances a tax refund) equal to your allocable share of the tax we paid on the capital gains deemed distributed to you. See “Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations.” We cannot assure you that we will achieve results that will permit us to pay any cash distributions, and if we issue senior securities, we may be prohibited from making distributions if doing so would cause us to fail to maintain the asset coverage ratios stipulated by the 1940 Act or if such distributions are limited by the terms of any of our borrowings.

We have adopted an “opt out” dividend reinvestment plan for our common stockholders. Unless you elect to receive your distributions in cash, we intend to make such distributions in additional shares of our common stock under our dividend reinvestment plan. Although distributions paid in the form of additional shares of our common stock will generally be subject to U.S. federal, state and local taxes in the same manner as cash distributions, investors participating in our dividend reinvestment plan will not receive any corresponding cash distributions with which to pay any such applicable taxes. If you hold shares of our common stock in the name of a broker or financial intermediary, you should contact such broker or financial intermediary regarding your election to receive distributions in cash in lieu of shares of our common stock. Any distributions reinvested through the issuance of shares through our dividend reinvestment plan will increase our gross assets on which the base management fee and the incentive fee are determined and paid to Stellus Capital Management. See “Dividend Reinvestment Plan.”

     
Date Declared   Record Date   Payment Date   Per Share
December 7, 2012     December 21, 2012       December 27, 2012     $ 0.1812  
March 7, 2013     March 21, 2013       March 28, 2013     $ 0.3400  
June 7, 2013     June 21, 2013       June 28, 2013     $ 0.3400  
August 21, 2013     September 5, 2013       September 27, 2013     $ 0.3400  
November 22, 2013     December 9, 2013       December 23, 2013     $ 0.3400  
December 27, 2013     January 15, 2014       January 24, 2014     $ 0.0650  
January 20, 2014     January 31, 2014       February 14, 2014     $ 0.1133  
January 20, 2014     February 28, 2014       March 14, 2014     $ 0.1133  
January 20, 2014     March 31, 2014       April 15, 2014     $ 0.1133  
April 17, 2014     April 30, 2014       May 15, 2014     $ 0.1133  
April 17, 2014     May 30, 2014       June 16, 2014     $ 0.1133  
April 17, 2014     June 30, 2014       July 15, 2014     $ 0.1133  
July 7, 2014     July 31, 2014       August 15, 2014     $ 0.1133  
July 7, 2014     August 29, 2014       September 15, 2014     $ 0.1133  
July 7, 2014     September 30, 2014       October 15, 2014     $ 0.1133  
October 15, 2014     October 31, 2014       November 14, 2014     $ 0.1133  
October 15, 2014     November 28, 2014       December 15, 2014     $ 0.1133  
October 15, 2014     December 31, 2014       January 15, 2015     $ 0.1133  
January 22, 2015     February 2, 2015       February 13, 2015     $ 0.1133  
January 22, 2015     February 27, 2015       March 13, 2015     $ 0.1133  
January 22, 2015     March 31, 2015       April 15, 2015     $ 0.1133  
April 15, 2015     April 30, 2015       May 15, 2015     $ 0.1133  
April 15, 2015     May 29, 2015       June 15, 2015     $ 0.1133  
April 15, 2015     June 30, 2015       July 15, 2015     $ 0.1133  

49


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

     
Date Declared   Record Date   Payment Date   Per Share
July 8, 2015     July 31, 2015       August 14, 2015     $ 0.1133  
July 8, 2015     August 31, 2015       September 15, 2015     $ 0.1133  
July 8, 2015     September 30, 2015       October 15, 2015     $ 0.1133  
October 14, 2015     October 30, 2015       November 13, 2015     $ 0.1133  
October 14, 2015     November 30, 2015       December 15, 2015     $ 0.1133  
October 14, 2015     December 31, 2015       January 15, 2016     $ 0.1133  
January 13, 2016     January 29, 2016       February 12, 2016     $ 0.1133  
January 13, 2016     February 29, 2016       March 15, 2016     $ 0.1133  
January 13, 2016     March 31, 2016       April 15, 2016     $ 0.1133  
April 15, 2016     April 29, 2016       May 13, 2016     $ 0.1133  
April 15, 2016     May 31, 2016       June 15, 2016     $ 0.1133  
April 15, 2016     June 30, 2016       July 15, 2016     $ 0.1133  
July 7, 2016     July 29, 2016       August 15, 2016     $ 0.1133  
July 7, 2016     August 31, 2016       September 15, 2016     $ 0.1133  
July 7, 2016     September 30, 2016       October 14, 2016     $ 0.1133  
October 07, 2016     October 31, 2016       November 15, 2016     $ 0.1133  
October 07, 2016     November 30, 2016       December 15, 2016     $ 0.1133  
October 07, 2016     December 30, 2016       January 13, 2017     $ 0.1133  
January 13, 2017     January 31, 2017       February 15, 2017     $ 0.1133  
January 13, 2017     February 28, 2017       March 15, 2017     $ 0.1133  
January 13, 2017     March 29, 2017       April 14, 2017     $ 0.1133  
                 $ 6.025  

50


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

RATIOS OF EARNINGS TO FIXED CHARGES

The following table contains our ratio of earnings to fixed charges for the periods indicated, computed as set forth below. You should read these ratios of earnings to fixed charges in connection with our Consolidated Financial Statements, including the notes to those statements, included in this prospectus.

         
  For the
Year Ended
December 31,
2016
  For the
Year Ended
December 31,
2015
  For the
Year Ended
December 31,
2014
  For the
Year Ended
December 31,
2013
  For the
Year Ended
December 31,
2012
Earnings to Fixed Charges (1)     4.0       2.2       2.8       6.6       5.6  

(1) Earnings include net realized and unrealized gains or losses. Net realized and unrealized gains or losses can vary substantially from period to period.

For purposes of computing the ratios of earnings to fixed charges, earnings represent net increase in net assets resulting from operations plus (or minus) income tax expense (benefit) including excise tax expense plus fixed charges. Fixed charges include interest and credit facility fees expense and amortization of debt issuance costs.

51


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF
FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Overview

We were organized as a Maryland corporation on May 18, 2012 and formally commenced operations on November 7, 2012. Our investment objective is to maximize the total return to our stockholders in the form of current income and capital appreciation through debt and related equity investments in middle-market companies.

We are an externally managed, non-diversified, closed-end investment company that has elected to be regulated as a BDC under the 1940 Act. As a BDC, we are required to comply with certain regulatory requirements.

For instance, as a BDC, we may not acquire any assets other than “qualifying assets” specified in the 1940 Act unless, at the time the acquisition is made, at least 70% of our total assets are qualifying assets. Qualifying assets include investments in “eligible portfolio companies.” Under the relevant SEC rules, the term “eligible portfolio company” includes all private operating companies, operating companies whose securities are not listed on a national securities exchange, and certain public operating companies that have listed their securities on a national securities exchange and have a market capitalization of less than $250 million, in each case organized and with their principal of business in the United States.

We have elected to be treated for tax purposes as a RIC under Subchapter M of the Code. To maintain our qualification as a RIC, we must, among other things, meet certain source-of-income and asset diversification requirements. As of December 31, 2016, we were in compliance with the RIC requirements. As a RIC, we generally will not have to pay corporate-level taxes on any income we distribute to our stockholders.

Portfolio Composition and Investment Activity

Portfolio Composition

We originate and invest primarily in privately-held middle-market companies (typically those with $5.0 million to $50.0 million of EBITDA) through first lien, second lien, unitranche and mezzanine debt financing, often times with a corresponding equity investment.

As of December 31, 2016, we had $365.6 million (at fair value) invested in 45 companies. As of December 31, 2016, our portfolio included approximately 31% of first lien debt, 45% of second lien debt, 19% of mezzanine debt and 5% of equity investments at fair value. The composition of our investments at cost and fair value as of December 31, 2016 was as follows:

   
  Cost   Fair Value
Senior Secured – First Lien   $ 113,264,200     $ 113,482,205  
Senior Secured – Second Lien     163,112,172       162,486,388  
Unsecured Debt     70,919,986       70,725,412  
Equity     14,920,893       18,931,886  
Total Investments   $ 362,217,251     $ 365,625,891  

As of December 31, 2015, we had $349.0 million (at fair value) invested in 39 companies. As of December 31, 2015, our portfolio included approximately 38% of first lien debt, 38% of second lien debt, 20% of mezzanine debt and 4% of equity investments at fair value. The composition of our investments at cost and fair value as of December 31, 2015 was as follows:

   
  Cost   Fair Value
Senior Secured – First Lien   $ 133,344,891     $ 131,908,961  
Senior Secured – Second Lien     136,853,644       131,972,581  
Unsecured Debt     81,492,139       72,212,282  
Equity     12,521,785       12,923,873  
Total Investments   $ 364,212,459     $ 349,017,697  

52


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The following is a summary of geographical concentration of our investment portfolio as of December 31, 2016:

     
  Cost   Fair Value   % of Total Investments
Texas   $ 74,433,626     $ 73,576,277       20.13 %  
New York     36,651,725       36,479,999       9.98 %  
Colorado     27,855,053       28,979,651       7.93 %  
California     28,298,845       28,606,727       7.82 %  
Massachusetts     22,467,254       22,944,663       6.28 %  
Georgia     20,626,735       22,469,217       6.15 %  
New Jersey     20,710,728       20,804,704       5.69 %  
Illinois     17,554,821       17,590,281       4.81 %  
Alabama     16,191,841       16,584,379       4.54 %  
Missouri     14,096,725       14,441,599       3.95 %  
Tennessee     12,310,883       12,045,701       3.29 %  
Arkansas     9,912,815       10,102,283       2.76 %  
Pennsylvania     8,035,182       8,301,104       2.27 %  
Puerto Rico     8,712,537       8,229,054       2.25 %  
Florida     7,453,847       7,431,820       2.03 %  
Canada     6,765,448       6,692,648       1.83 %  
Minnesota     6,362,834       6,374,800       1.74 %  
New York     5,450,667       5,450,667       1.49 %  
North Carolina     4,920,321       5,000,000       1.37 %  
Washington     4,158,696       4,211,990       1.15 %  
Virginia     4,029,530       4,060,519       1.11 %  
Arizona     3,408,099       3,410,583       0.93 %  
Utah     1,291,083       1,311,789       0.36 %  
Ohio     517,956       525,436       0.14 %  
     $ 362,217,251     $ 365,625,891       100.00 %  

The following is a summary of geographical concentration of our investment portfolio as of December 31, 2015:

     
  Cost   Fair Value   % of Total Investments
New York   $ 53,089,906     $ 44,028,592       12.62 %  
Texas     44,455,960       42,224,563       12.10 %  
Colorado     27,775,081       28,719,072       8.23 %  
California     28,079,435       27,836,262       7.97 %  
Georgia     26,100,285       25,845,891       7.41 %  
Massachusetts     22,407,217       21,363,609       6.12 %  
New Jersey     21,285,356       20,943,875       6.00 %  
Alabama     18,330,990       18,153,182       5.20 %  
Illinois     17,514,510       17,452,318       5.00 %  
Missouri     14,067,329       13,369,069       3.83 %  
Tennessee     12,286,222       12,051,362       3.45 %  
Ohio     10,593,407       10,593,407       3.04 %  
Pennsylvania     9,827,328       9,827,328       2.82 %  
Puerto Rico     8,702,074       8,602,868       2.46 %  
Canada     9,411,185       8,300,280       2.38 %  
Florida     7,592,824       7,390,241       2.12 %  
Minnesota     6,881,287       6,839,308       1.96 %  
North Carolina     4,909,192       4,760,844       1.36 %  
Indiana     4,739,046       4,715,703       1.35 %  
Kentucky     4,473,006       4,518,888       1.29 %  
Washington     4,146,167       4,083,966       1.17 %  
Virginia     4,016,918       3,962,905       1.14 %  
Arizona     3,527,734       3,434,164       0.98 %  
     $ 364,212,459     $ 349,017,697       100.00 %  

53


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The following is a summary of industry concentration of our investment portfolio as of December 31, 2016:

     
  Cost   Fair Value   % of Total Investments
Finance   $ 56,663,586     $ 57,504,930       15.73 %  
Software     36,199,915       36,730,618       10.05 %  
Media: Broadcasting & Subscription     36,001,876       36,637,803       10.02 %  
Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals     35,002,051       35,583,505       9.73 %  
Services: Business     24,105,217       25,884,879       7.08 %  
Chemicals, Plastics, & Rubber     20,763,612       21,165,542       5.79 %  
Consumer Goods: Durable     18,957,486       19,146,954       5.24 %  
Retail     18,973,041       19,095,787       5.22 %  
Education     17,325,046       17,498,701       4.79 %  
Telecommunications     16,403,791       16,009,390       4.38 %  
High Tech Industries     16,486,738       15,382,000       4.21 %  
Consumer goods: non-durable     12,437,795       12,700,000       3.47 %  
Beverage, Food, & Tobacco     11,881,630       11,991,250       3.28 %  
Automotive     8,035,182       8,301,104       2.27 %  
Services: Consumer     8,453,847       8,153,879       2.23 %  
Transportation: Cargo     6,765,448       6,692,648       1.83 %  
Energy: Oil & Gas     7,320,058       6,654,662       1.82 %  
Services: Government     4,029,530       4,060,519       1.11 %  
Hotel, Gaming, & Leisure     3,408,099       3,410,583       0.93 %  
Construction & Building     2,485,347       2,495,701       0.68 %  
Environmental Industries     517,956       525,436       0.14 %  
     $ 362,217,251     $ 365,625,891       100.00 %  

The following is a summary of industry concentration of our investment portfolio as of December 31, 2015:

     
  Cost   Fair Value   % of Total Investments
Finance   $ 56,453,642     $ 56,020,910       16.05 %  
Services: Business     37,386,875       36,831,622       10.56 %  
Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals     35,457,015       36,161,248       10.36 %  
Retail     31,669,891       31,390,951       8.99 %  
Media: Broadcasting & Subscription     30,987,416       30,220,742       8.66 %  
Software     26,553,384       25,447,575       7.29 %  
Services: Consumer     25,265,858       16,531,754       4.74 %  
Telecommunications     16,369,463       14,347,366       4.11 %  
Chemicals, Plastics, & Rubber     13,912,209       13,695,631       3.92 %  
Consumer goods: non-durable     12,430,852       12,430,852       3.56 %  
Education     12,383,339       12,081,063       3.46 %  
Environmental Industries     10,593,407       10,593,407       3.04 %  
Automotive     9,827,328       9,827,328       2.82 %  
Beverage, Food, & Tobacco     7,901,427       8,000,000       2.29 %  
Transportation & Logistics     7,403,404       7,355,239       2.11 %  
High Tech Industries     6,644,181       6,581,989       1.89 %  
Transportation: Cargo     6,746,827       5,660,744       1.62 %  
Metals & Mining     4,473,006       4,518,888       1.29 %  
Services: Government     4,016,918       3,962,905       1.14 %  
Hotel, Gaming, & Leisure     3,527,734       3,434,164       0.98 %  
Construction & Building     2,481,388       2,455,931       0.70 %  
Energy: Oil & Gas     1,726,895       1,467,388       0.42 %  
     $ 364,212,459     $ 349,017,697       100.00 %  

54


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

At December 31, 2016, our average portfolio company investment at amortized cost and fair value was approximately $8.0 million and $8.1 million, respectively, and our largest portfolio company investment by amortized cost and fair value was approximately $22.5 million and $22.9 million, respectively. At December 31, 2015, our average portfolio company investment at amortized cost and fair value was approximately $9.3 million and $8.9 million, respectively, and our largest portfolio company investment by amortized cost and fair value was approximately $22.4 million and $21.4 million, respectively.

At December 31, 2016, 77% of our debt investments bore interest based on floating rates (subject to interest rate floors), such as LIBOR, and 23% bore interest at fixed rates. At December 31, 2015, 75% of our debt investments bore interest based on floating rates (subject to interest rate floors), such as LIBOR, and 25% bore interest at fixed rates.

The weighted average yield on all of our debt investments as of December 31, 2016 and December 31, 2015 was approximately 11.0% and 10.6%, respectively. The weighted average yield was computed using the effective interest rates for all of our debt investments, including accretion of original issue discount.

As of December 31, 2016 and December 31, 2015, we had cash and cash equivalents of $9.2 million and $10.9 million, respectively.

Investment Activity

During the year ended December 31, 2016, we made $65.7 million of investments at cost in 10 new portfolio companies and five to existing portfolio companies. During the year ended December 31, 2016, we received $55.9 million in proceeds principally from prepayments of our investments, including $9.9 million from amortization of certain other investments.

During the year ended December 31, 2015, we made $133.7 million of investments at cost in 14 new portfolio companies and seven to existing portfolio companies. During the year ended December 31, 2015, we received $93.3 million in proceeds principally from prepayments of our investments, including $5.6 million from amortization of certain other investments. Excluded from the numbers above is a non-cash transaction of $4.2 million related to the repayment and reinvestment in a new term loan of an existing portfolio company.

Our level of investment activity can vary substantially from period to period depending on many factors, including the amount of debt and equity capital to middle market companies, the level of merger and acquisition activity, the general economic environment and the competitive environment for the types of investments we make.

Asset Quality

In addition to various risk management and monitoring tools, Stellus Capital Management uses an investment rating system to characterize and monitor the credit profile and expected level of returns on each investment in our portfolio. This investment rating system uses a five-level numeric scale. The following is a description of the conditions associated with each investment category:

Investment Category 1 is used for investments that are performing above expectations, and whose risks remain favorable compared to the expected risk at the time of the original investment.
Investment Category 2 is used for investments that are performing within expectations and whose risks remain neutral compared to the expected risk at the time of the original investment. All new loans are initially rated 2.
Investment Category 3 is used for investments that are performing below expectations and that require closer monitoring, but where no loss of return or principal is expected. Portfolio companies with a rating of 3 may be out of compliance with financial covenants.
Investment Category 4 is used for investments that are performing substantially below expectations and whose risks have increased substantially since the original investment. These investments are often in work out. Investments with a rating of 4 are those for which some loss of return but no loss of principal is expected.

55


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Investment Category 5 is used for investments that are performing substantially below expectations and whose risks have increased substantially since the original investment. These investments are almost always in work out. Investments with a rating of 5 are those for which some loss of return and principal is expected.

           
  As of December 31, 2016   As of December 31, 2015
Investment Category   Fair Value
(in millions)
  % of Total
Portfolio
  Number of
Portfolio
Companies
  Fair Value
(in millions)
  % of Total
Portfolio
  Number of
Portfolio
Companies
1   $ 73.5       20 %       6     $ 36.1       10 %       3  
2     239.8       66 %       32       292.4       84 %       32  
3     50.7       14 %       5       15.8       5 %       3  
4     0.9       %       1             %        
5     0.7       %       1       5       1 %       1  
Total   $ 365.6       100 %       45     $ 349.0       100 %       39  

Loans and Debt Securities on Non-Accrual Status

We will not accrue interest on loans and debt securities if we have reason to doubt our ability to collect such interest. As of December 31, 2016, we had two loans on non-accrual status, which represents approximately 0.7% of the portfolio at cost and 0.4% at fair value. As of December 31, 2015, we had one loan on non-accrual status, which represented approximately 3.6% of the portfolio at cost and 1.3% at fair value.

Results of Operations

An important measure of our financial performance is net increase (decrease) in net assets resulting from operations, which includes net investment income (loss), net realized gain (loss) and net unrealized appreciation (depreciation). Net investment income (loss) is the difference between our income from interest, dividends, fees and other investment income and our operating expenses including interest on borrowed funds. Net realized gain (loss) on investments is the difference between the proceeds received from dispositions of portfolio investments and their amortized cost. Net unrealized appreciation (depreciation) on investments is the net change in the fair value of our investment portfolio.

Comparison of the Years ended December 31, 2016, 2015, and 2014

Revenues

We generate revenue in the form of interest income on debt investments and capital gains and distributions, if any, on investment securities that we may acquire in portfolio companies. Our debt investments typically have a term of five to seven years and bear interest at a fixed or floating rate. Interest on our debt securities is generally payable quarterly. Payments of principal on our debt investments may be amortized over the stated term of the investment, deferred for several years or due entirely at maturity. In some cases, our debt investments may pay interest in-kind, or PIK. Any outstanding principal amount of our debt securities and any accrued but unpaid interest will generally become due at the maturity date. The level of interest income we receive is directly related to the balance of interest-bearing investments multiplied by the weighted average yield of our investments. We expect that the total dollar amount of interest and any dividend income that we earn to increase as the size of our investment portfolio increases. In addition, we may generate revenue in the form of prepayment fees, commitment, loan origination, structuring or due diligence fees, fees for providing significant managerial assistance and consulting fees.

56


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The following shows the breakdown of investment income for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015, and 2014 (in millions).

     
  Year ended
December 31,
2016
  Year ended
December 31,
2015
  Year ended
December 31,
2014
Interest Income   $ 38.0     $ 34.3     $ 30.9  
PIK Income     0.2       0.4       0.7  
Miscellaneous fees     1.3       0.5       0.7  
Total   $ 39.5     $ 35.2     $ 32.3  

The increase in interest income from the respective periods were due to growth in the overall investment portfolio.

Expenses

Our primary operating expenses include the payment of fees to Stellus Capital Management under the investment advisory agreement, our allocable portion of overhead expenses under the administration agreement and other operating costs described below. We bear all other out-of-pocket costs and expenses of our operations and transactions, which may include:

the cost of calculating our net asset value, including the cost of any third-party valuation services;
the cost of effecting sales and repurchases of shares of our common stock and other securities;
fees payable to third parties relating to making investments, including out-of-pocket fees and expenses (such as travel expenses) associated with performing due diligence and reviews of prospective investments;
transfer agent and custodial fees;
out-of-pocket fees and expenses associated with marketing efforts;
federal and state registration fees and any stock exchange listing fees;
U.S. federal, state and local taxes;
independent directors’ fees and expenses;
brokerage commissions;
fidelity bond, directors’ and officers’ liability insurance and other insurance premiums;
direct costs, such as printing, mailing, long distance telephone and staff;
fees and expenses associated with independent audits and outside legal costs;
costs associated with our reporting and compliance obligations under the 1940 Act and other applicable U.S. federal and state securities laws; and
other expenses incurred by Stellus Capital Management or us in connection with administering our business, including payments under the administration agreement that are based upon our allocable portion of overhead (subject to the review of our board of directors).

57


 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The following shows the breakdown of operating expenses for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 (in millions).

     
  Year ended
December 31,
2016
  Year ended
December 31,
2015
  Year ended
December 31,
2014
Operating Expenses
                          
Management Fees   $ 6.3     $ 5.8     $ 5.2  
Valuation Fees     0.4       0.4       0.4  
Administrative services expenses     1.0       1.0       1.2  
Incentive fees (a)     4.3       4.0       3.1  
Professional fees     0.7       0.6       0.7  
Directors’ fees     0.3       0.3       0.4  
Insurance expense     0.5       0.5       0.5  
Interest expense and other fees     8.0       6.2       5.3  
Deferred Offering Costs     0.3              
Other general and administrative     0.4       0.4       0.4  
Total Operating Expenses   $ 22.2     $ 19.2     $ 17.2  
Waiver of Incentive Fees           (0.6 )       (1.4 )  
Total Expenses, net of fee waivers   $ 22.2     $ 18.6     $ 15.8  

(a) For the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, incentive fees include the effect of the Capital Gains Incentive Fee of $0, $0 million and ($0.3) million, respectively.

The increase in operating expenses for the respective periods was due to: 1) an increase in interest and fees on our SBA-guaranteed debentures, which were fully drawn in the fourth quarter of 2015 and pooled in the first quarter of 2016, and 6.50% notes (the “Notes”), which were issued in May 2014. 2) an increase in management and incentive fees, attributable to our growing portfolio and 3) deferred offering costs, which were fully expensed in the second quarter of 2016. Additional operating expense for the year ended December 31, 2014 includes ($0.3) million related to our Capital Gains Incentive Fee.

While under no obligation to do so, the Advisor waived incentive fees of $646,333 and $1,399,226 for the years ended December 31, 2015 and December 31, 2014 to the extent required to support an annualized dividend yield of 9.0% based on the price per share of our common stock in connection with the Offering. Such waiver in no way implies that the Advisor will waive incentive fees in any future period. The Advisor did not waive incentive fees during the year ended December 31, 2016.

Net Investment Income

Net investment income was $17.3 million, or $1.39 per common share based on 12,479,959 weighted-average common shares outstanding at December 31, 2016. Net investment income was $16.5 million, or $1.33 per common share based on 12,479,961 weighted-average common shares outstanding at December 31, 2015. Net investment income was $16.5 million, or $1.34 per common share based on 12,281,178 weighted-average common shares outstanding at December 31, 2014.

Net investment income for the year ended December 31, 2016 increased compared to the year ended December 31, 2015 as a result of our growing portfolio, which was partially offset by the increase in interest and fees on our SBA-guaranteed debentures and the Notes.

Net Realized Gains and Losses

We measure realized gains or losses by the difference between the net proceeds from the repayment, sale or other disposition and the amortized cost basis of the investment, using the specific identification method, without regard to unrealized appreciation or depreciation previously recognized.

58