EB-5移民项目中,过桥融资(贷款)的恩恩怨怨-纽约大学研究报告

今天继续玩高深的,学金融的朋友们别笑。

还是纽约大学STERN商学院房地产金融研究中心的EB-5融资分析报告,该报告主要是以研究者的态度,向开发商和区域中心解释,传统房地产市场如何融资,开发商又应该怎样进行EB-5融资的,非常有技术含量。EB5Sir将其中关于房地产融资的关键部分,慢慢翻译给各位业内朋友参考。

上上周发过一篇优先股和夹层贷款的介绍和区别,今天发关于过桥融资的,本文由业内朋友Dora义务翻译,特此感谢。

Eb5

过桥融资

为缓解投资者(希望使用监管银行来保护投资)和开发人员(他们希望EB-5资金无需等待直接释放到项目)之间的紧张关系,一些开发商转向过桥融资。在EB-5项目中,过桥融资是过度融资或临时融资 - 以债务或股权的形式 - 在开发商收到EB-5资金之前。

过桥融资描述了资金的用途 - 也就是说,项目的一部分是过桥融资,直到最终计划的资金来源成为可用的。过桥融资不是特指融资的类型。类似于EB-5投资,过桥融资可能的结构可以是高级债务,次级债、无担保债务或股权。不过,过桥融资通常采用贷款的形式。

USCIS长期以来一直担心,过桥贷款可能是开发商用EB-5资金,通过替代融资来降低资本成本,从而成为一个事后的借口,这就会对创造新的就业影响最小。USCIS认为,EB-5过桥融资只是增加开发商的利润率。因为,USCIS是否会计入在EB-5资金释放到项目之前的就业创造,存在不确定性,所以直到最近,EB-5资金的过桥贷款市场一直疲弱。

然而,在2013年5月的政策备忘录中,USCIS在这个问题上采用了一种非常有利的观点。这带来了一定程度的确定性,导致对EB-5项目的过桥融资需求增加。

政策备忘录在相关的部分说明:“开发商或新商业企业(NCE)实体,直接或通过一个单独的就业创造实体(JCE),可以利用…过桥融资…如果项目在收到EB-5资金之前,是基于使用过桥融资开始,并在随后用EB-5资金取代过桥融资,NEC仍然可以享受这些就业创造机会…即使在获取临时融资之前没有考虑EB-5融资,只要融资是作为短期临时融资考虑的,并且在随后是要被替换的,那么EB-5资金的注入仍可能导致和享有新的就业机会创造。开发商不应该排除使用EB-5资本作为代替短期融资的替代资金来源,仅仅因为它在获得过桥或临时融资之前没有考虑EB-5资金。”

因此,即使在取得过桥融资之前没有考虑EB-5资金,但是只要临时融资(最终被取代)被视为最终要被取代的,开发商随后就可以使用EB-5资金作为重置资本的来源,并仍然享有所创造的就业机会。这种解释,比不认可EB-5资金释放到项目之前产生的就业创造,能支持募集更多潜在的EB-5资金。

基于USCIS该解释,伴随着EB-5资金作为一种融资工具的日益流行,越来越多的银行和其他机构愿意借出过桥贷款来填补资金缺口,直到EB-5资金从监管账户中释放出来。一些银行,如花旗银行,已经成立了一个特殊的部门来提供这些贷款。即使意识到,USCIS对于批准I-526申请的不确定性,这些银行仍然给没有EB-5资金的项目发放贷款。因此,过桥融资借款者必须准备好,不依赖于EB-5资金作为替换资金来源的,退出战略。

同样,EB-5监管资金不能作为抵押品的来源。根据花旗银行,过桥贷款占EB-5项目所有资金来源的比例,从50%最多到80%。

必须强调的是,USCIS不限制EB-5已经在监管银行中的过桥融资情况。USCIS的解释没有提到监管银行,按照其解释条款,甚至允许在考虑EB-5资金之前就已经到位的过桥融资。

很显然如果使用过桥贷款,项目的成本将高于,EB-5资金能够在需要的时候立即注入的情况。通常过桥贷款会被使用在工程建设花费上。即使最终NCE提供给JCE的贷款是夹层贷款的情况下,过桥融资贷款人通常用高级抵押贷款来担保。

不同地区抵押贷款税率不同。例如,在纽约,税率接近于贷款本金的3%,这一点是很重要的,特别是考虑到过桥贷款的短期性。将带来额外的交易成本。此外,过桥贷款的利率也会高于EB-5资金贷款。

因此,过桥贷款增加了一层成本并使融资交易复杂化。相应地,在评估是否使用EB-5资金作为资金来源时,开发商必须考虑过桥贷款是否会是必要的,如果是必要的,那么必须估计采用过桥贷款带来的相关的额外资金成本。

过桥贷款也为开发商创造了一个机会,来减少在高风险的项目建设阶段,募集移民投资者资金而承担的风险。过桥贷款借款人最初注入的资金将由EB-5资金替换。虽然开发商可能希望移民资金能尽早进项目,并且最好没有过桥贷款及其附加成本,不过,从投资移民者的角度,过桥融资看起来是有利的,尤其是被替换的过桥融资所创造的就业能够分配给EB-5投资者。

在政策备忘录发布之后,USCIS已经表明,在对由过桥融资创造的就业的自由解释是有限制的。例如,如果EB-5资金用于替换,最初考虑为长期贷款,那么EB-5资金就不能享有所创造的就业。不过,政策备忘录的宽泛解释,为EB-5资金开放很多创造就业机会的渠道,即使这些就业是在EB-5资金释放到项目之前创造的。

从技术上讲,在大多数情况下,过桥贷款人向NCE提供贷款,因为NCE是接收从监管账户释放的EB-5资金的实体。然后,NCE将过桥贷款转移给JCE。由于EB-5资金是从监管账户释放,所以EB-5资金应用于减少过桥贷款余额。

同样还存在其他的过桥融资来源。开发商子公司或其他相关方有时也会提供过桥贷款。例如,Lightstone REIT,开发商的子公司,给 Lightstone的EB-5项目提供过桥融资。筹集了占据EB-5募资额75%的4500万美元的过桥融资。很明显,这个选择不是很多开发商会具备的。

不同类型的“过桥”融资:

EB-5用于公共基础设施项目融资缺口

如上所示,不仅私人开发商利用EB-5资金为它们的大型项目融资,地方政府也正越来越多地利用这个资金来源来资助它们自己的大型公共基础设施项目。然而,地方政府以稍微不同的方式利用EB-5资金。

对于大型项目,一些地方政府获得联邦资金来支持,可能是由地方政府承担,一部分资金成本。项目总成本与政府资金之间的差距通常通过发行市政债券来弥补。然而,在一些情况下,地方政府通过创造性的方式利用EB-5资金来填补全部或部分的资金差距。这些项目明显依赖贷款模式,因为个人不能拥有当地政府或机构的权益。

EB-5资金可以与税收减免(Tax Credit)计划相结合

一些开发商选择,将EB-投资与税收减免计划相结合来满足资金缺口,或减少对其他资金的需求。这些税收减免计划,包括新市场税收减免(NMTC),低收入住房税收减免(LIHTC),历史性税收减免(HTC)和/或布朗菲尔德税收抵免(Brownfield Tax Credits)。

讨论如何将这些税收抵免计划与EB-5资金结合来实现资金来源超出了本文的范围。然而,需要指出的是,EB-5资金的适用范围远远超过通过这些税收减免计划获得的资金。

NMTC只适用于“低收入社区”,即基于独立的“低收入”的人口普查区(比EB-5的TEA范畴更窄)。LIHTC仅限于一种资产类别:住宅项目,有收入的局限性 - 低于市场利率。HTC可以适用于多种资产类别,但它有非常有限的应用方面,因为它通常只适用于历史和某些其他老建筑的修复。布朗菲尔德税收抵免额度,通常涉及工业场所,并仅限于需要广泛的环境修复的资产。这些项目提供了税收减免的发行,其所有者可以出售税收减免,来转为项目股权,尽管这在布朗菲尔德税收方面并不常见。

相比之下,EB-5资金不涉及税收减免或任何政府补贴。不像税收优惠程序仅可用于有限的资产类别或特定条件下的现有资产,EB-5资金可用于更广泛领域,更少的限制。另一方面,项目的就业创造能力作为限制EB-5资金的因素,但不构成税收抵免计划的限制。

本文来源

纽约大学STERN商学院房地产金融研究中心的EB-5融资分析报告。

“A Roadmap to the Use of EB-5 Capital: An Alternative Financing Tool for Commercial Real Estate Projects”

Bridge Financing

To relieve the tension between investors (who desire escrow protection of their funds) and developers (who wish to proceed with the project without waiting for release of the EB-5 capital), some developers have turned to bridge financing. Bridge financing
in the EB-5 context is interim financing or temporary financing – in the form of debt or equity – prior to the developer’s receipt of EB-5 capital.

Bridge financing describes the use of the funds – that is, to bridge the financing of a portion of a project until the ultimate intended source of financing is available. Bridge financing does not refer to the type of financing. Similar to EB-5 capital, bridge financing could be structured as senior debt, subordinated debt, unsecured debt or equity. However, bridge financing typically takes the form of a loan.

The USCIS had long been concerned that bridge loans might be an after-the-fact pretext by an EB-5 developer for lowering its cost of capital by replacing financing, with minimal impact on new job creation. It had been argued that EB-5 bridge financing simply increases the profit margin of developers. Until recently, the bridge loan market for EB-5 capital was weak due to uncertainty about whether USCIS would count, for EB-5 purposes, jobs created before the EB-5 capital was released into the project.

However, the USCIS took a very favorable view on this issue in its May 2013 Policy Memorandum. This has brought a measure of certainty to the area and has resulted in an increase in demand for bridge financing for EB-5 projects.

The Policy Memorandum states in pertinent part: “[T]he developer or the principal of the new commercial enterprise, either directly or through a separate job-creating entity, may utilize…bridge financing… If the project commences based on the bridge financing prior to the receipt of the EB-5 capital and subsequently replaces it with EB-5 capital, the NCE may still receive credit for the job creation… Even if the EB-5 financing was not contemplated prior to acquiring the temporary financing, as long as the financing to be replaced was contemplated as short-term temporary financing which would be subsequently replaced, the infusion of EB-5 financing could still result in the creation of, and credit for, new jobs. Developers should not be precluded from using EB-5 capital as an alternative source to replace temporary financing simply because it was not contemplated prior to obtaining the bridge or temporary financing.”

Thus, even if the EB-5 financing was not contemplated prior to placement of the bridge financing, so long as the financing to be replaced was viewed as temporary financing (which would ultimately be replaced) the developer could later use EB-5 capital as the source of replacement capital and still obtain credit for the job creation. This interpretation supports a potentially far greater EB-5 capital raise than if the EB-5 capital were not credited with job creation generated for the period prior to the release of the EB-5 capital to the project.

Based on this interpretation and the increased popularity of EB-5 capital as a financing tool, more banks and other institutions are willing to make bridge loans to fill the financing gap until the EB-5 funds are released from escrow. Some banks, such as Citibank, have formed a special division to provide these loans. These banks still underwrite the loan based on the project without EB-5 capital, in recognition that USCIS approval of the I-526 petitions is uncertain. Thus, the bridge lender must be prepared to have an exit strategy that does not rely upon the EB-5 capital as the takeout source.

Similarly, the EB-5 escrowed funds are not available as a source of collateral. According to Citibank291, the principal amount of the bridge loan is a percentage, from 50% to at most 80%, of the project’s total EB-5 capital component.

It must be emphasized that the USCIS does not limit bridge financing to situations where the EB-5 capital is being held in escrow. The USCIS interpretation does not mention escrow and by its terms allows the bridge financing to be in place before EB-5 capital is even contemplated.

Where a bridge loan is required, obviously the costs to the project will be higher than where the EB-5 capital could be immediately funded when needed. The bridge loan proceeds are typically used to fund project construction costs. The bridge lender typically secures the loan with a senior mortgage loan, even if the ultimate loan to the JCE by the NCE will be a mezz loan.

The mortgage tax rate varies by jurisdiction. For example, in New York City the rate approaches 3% of the loan’s principal amount, which is significant especially given the short duration of the bridge loan.294 Additional closing costs will apply. Furthermore, the interest rate on the bridge loan might be higher than on the EB-5 capital loan.

Thus, the bridge loan adds a layer of costs and complexity to the financing transaction. Accordingly, in evaluating whether to use EB-5 capital in its capital stack, a developer must take into account whether a bridge loan will be necessary and, if so, must estimate the additional costs of capital associated with that bridge loan.

The bridge loan also creates an opportunity for the developer to reduce the risk that the immigrant investor assumes by funding capital during the risky construction phase of a project. The bridge lender initially funds some of the costs that otherwise would be funded by the EB-5 capital. Although the developer presumably desires that the immigrant fund these costs as early as possible, and preferably without the necessity of a bridge loan and its additional costs, bridge financing arguably might be viewed favorably by the immigrant investor, particularly since the jobs created during the period the bridge financing is in place are allocated to the EB-5 investor. Subsequent to the issuance of the Policy Memorandum, USCIS has indicated that there are limits on its liberal interpretation of job creation funded by bridge financing. For example, if EB-5 funds are used to refinance debt initially contemplated as longer-term debt, then the EB-5 funds would not be credited with job creation.295 Nevertheless, the broad terms of the Policy Memorandum open many avenues for EB-5 capital to be credited with job creation, even where the jobs are created before the EB-5 capital is released to the project.

Technically, in most cases, the bridge lender makes the loan to the NCE as that is the entity that will be the recipient of the EB-5 capital upon its release from escrow. The NCE then transfers the bridge loan proceeds to the JCE. As the EB-5 capital is released from escrow, the funds are applied to reduce the bridge loan balance.

Other sources of bridge financing are also available. Affiliates or other related parties to the developer sometimes fund the bridge loan. For example, the Lightstone REIT, an affiliate of the developer, is providing bridge financing for the Lightstone’s EB-5 project. There the bridge financing of $45 million represents 75% of the EB-5 capital raise.297 Obviously, this alternative is not available to many developers.

A different type of “bridge” financing: EB-5 gap financing utilized for public infrastructure projects

As indicated above, not only are private developers tapping EB-5 capital to finance their large-scale projects, but local governments are increasingly utilizing this source to fund their own large-scale public infrastructure projects. However, the local governments utilize the capital in a slightly different manner.

For large projects, some local governments obtain Federal funding to support part of the capital improvement cost that may be borne by the local government. The gap between the total project cost and the government funding is often filled by the issuance of municipal bonds. However, in a few instances, local governments have used EB-5 capital in creative ways to fill all or part of this gap. These projects obviously rely upon the loan model because individuals do not own interests in the local government or agency.

EB-5 capital may be combined with tax credit programs

Some developers choose to combine EB-5 capital with tax credit programs to close a funding gap or reduce the need for other capital. These tax credit programs include New Market Tax Credits (NMTC)302, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC),303 Historic Tax Credits (HTC)304 and/or Brownfield Tax Credits.

A discussion of how these programs can be combined with EB-5 funds in the capital stack is beyond the scope of this paper. However, it is noted that the availability of EB-5 capital has much broader application than capital provided through those tax credit programs.

NMTC is restricted to “low-income communities” based on an individual census tract in a “low income” area (a much narrower category than EB-5 TEAs). LIHTC is restricted to an asset class and has income limitations - below market rate, residential projects. HTC is not limited to an asset class, but it has very limited application since it applies generally only to the rehabilitation of historic and certain other older buildings. Brownfield credits typically involve industrial sites and are limited to properties that require extensive environmental remediation. Each of these programs provides for the issuance of tax credits that can be sold by the owner to generate equity for the project, although it is not common in the Brownfield context.

NMTC is restricted to “low-income communities” based on an individual census tract in a “low income” area (a much narrower category than EB-5 TEAs). LIHTC is restricted to an asset class and has income limitations - below market rate, residential projects. HTC is not limited to an asset class, but it has very limited application since it applies generally only to the rehabilitation of historic and certain other older buildings. Brownfield credits typically involve industrial sites and are limited to properties that require extensive environmental remediation. Each of these programs provides for the issuance of tax credits that can be sold by the owner to generate equity for the project, although it is not common in the Brownfield context.

 

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    • avatar eb5研究者 @回复 6

      实际操作过程中,采用贷款融资的方式办理eb5移民的客户数量还是非常之多的