Non-traded REITs such as Behringer Harvard REIT I, Behringer Harvard Opportunity, Wells Real Estate Investment Trust II, Inland America Real Estate Trust and Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust may become more transparent thanks to a new platform under development by the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC).
As reported June 6 by Investment News, the intent of the platform it to provide standards, centralize data and automate transactions for alternative investments like private placements, non-traded real estate investment trusts, limited partnerships and hedge funds. Through the new platform, the DTCC will operate as a go-between among firms that create alternative investments and the broker/dealers and companies selling them.
The platform – called the Alternative Investment Product (AIP) – currently is being used by Pershing LLC. The Charles Schwab Corp. is testing it, according to the Investment News story, and National Financial Services LLC, a clearing unit of Fidelity Investments, plans to have it operating by 2011.
In the interim, about 15 DTCC- affiliated sponsors of alternative investment products are testing the platform.
Alternative investments like non-traded REITs and private placements have come under fire by regulators in recent months for their lack of transparency. In July 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed fraud charges against the Tustin, California, lender Medical Capital Holdings in connection to private placements that the company issued to more than 20,000 investors nationwide.
Non-traded REITs also faced intense scrutiny lately. Last year, some of the most prominent non-traded REITs, including Behringer Harvard REIT I, Inland America Real Estate Trust, Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust and Piedmont Office Realty Trust slashed dividends to investors and/or shut down their redemption programs.
The AIP is intended to standardize the way the alternative investment industry communicates information about these types of investments, providing more new clarity.
“The challenge for many alternative investments is that they’re non-standardized,” said one anonymous industry executive in the June 6 Investment News story. “They’re not always priced and valued on a regular basis. This is an investor need, a broker/dealer need.”