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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549



FORM 10-K

ý   ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014

OR

o

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                        to                         

Commission File No. 814-00663



ARES CAPITAL CORPORATION
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Maryland   33-1089684
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
  (I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

245 Park Avenue, 44th Floor, New York, New York 10167
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)

(212) 750-7300
(Registrant's telephone number, including area code)



Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class    Name of each exchange on which registered 
Common Stock, par value $0.001 per share   The NASDAQ Global Select Market
5.875% Senior Notes due 2022   The New York Stock Exchange
7.00% Senior Notes due 2022   The New York Stock Exchange
7.75% Senior Notes due 2040   The New York Stock Exchange
6.875% Senior Notes due 2047   The New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

         Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes o    No ý

         Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes o    No ý

         Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days: Yes ý    No o

         Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (Section §232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes o    No o

         Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o

         Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:

Large accelerated filer ý   Accelerated filer o   Non-accelerated filer o
(Do not check if a smaller
reporting company)
  Smaller reporting company o

         Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes o    No ý

         The aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 30, 2014, based on the closing price on that date of $17.86 on The NASDAQ Global Select Market, was approximately $5,262,205,318. As of February 24, 2015, there were 314,108,062 shares of the registrant's common stock outstanding.

         Portions of the registrant's Proxy Statement for its 2015 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed not later than 120 days after the end of the fiscal year covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.



PART I

Item 1.    Business

GENERAL

        Ares Capital Corporation, a Maryland corporation (together with its subsidiaries, where applicable, "Ares Capital" or the "Company," which may also be referred to as "we," "us" or "our"), is a specialty finance company that is a closed-end, non-diversified management investment company. We have elected to be regulated as a business development company, or a "BDC," under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder or the "Investment Company Act." We were founded on April 16, 2004, were initially funded on June 23, 2004 and completed our initial public offering on October 8, 2004. We are one of the largest BDCs with approximately $9.5 billion of total assets as of December 31, 2014.

        We are externally managed by our investment adviser, Ares Capital Management LLC ("Ares Capital Management" or our "investment adviser"), a subsidiary of Ares Management, L.P. (NYSE:ARES) ("Ares Management" or "Ares"), a publicly traded, leading global alternative asset manager with approximately $86 billion of assets under management ("AUM")(1) as of December 31, 2014. Ares Operations LLC ("Ares Operations" or our "administrator"), our administrator, a subsidiary of Ares Management, provides certain administrative and other services necessary for us to operate.

        Our investment objective is to generate both current income and capital appreciation through debt and equity investments. We invest primarily in U.S. middle-market companies, where we believe the supply of primary capital is limited and the investment opportunities are most attractive. However, we may from time to time invest in larger or smaller (in particular, for investments in early-stage and/or venture capital-backed) companies. We generally use the term "middle-market" to refer to companies with annual EBITDA between $10 million and $250 million. As used herein, EBITDA represents net income before net interest expense, income tax expense, depreciation and amortization.

        We invest primarily in first lien senior secured loans (including "unitranche" loans, which are loans that combine both senior and mezzanine debt, generally in a first lien position), second lien senior secured loans and mezzanine debt, which in some cases includes an equity component. First and second lien senior secured loans generally are senior debt instruments that rank ahead of subordinated debt of a given portfolio company. Mezzanine debt is subordinated to senior loans and is generally unsecured. Our investments in corporate borrowers generally range between $30 million and $500 million each, investments in project finance/power generation projects generally range between $10 million and $200 million each and investments in early-stage and/or venture capital-backed companies generally range between $1 million and $25 million each. However, the investment sizes may be more or less than these ranges and may vary based on, among other things, our capital availability, the composition of our portfolio and general micro- and macro-economic factors.

        To a lesser extent, we also make preferred and/or common equity investments, which have generally been non-control equity investments of less than $20 million (usually in conjunction with a

   


(1)
Ares Management is the parent to several registered investment advisers, including Ares Capital Management. AUM refers to the assets of the funds, alternative asset companies and other entities and accounts that are managed or co-managed by Ares, including funds managed by IHAM. For Ares funds other than collateralized loan obligations ("CLOs"), AUM represents the sum of the net asset value of such funds, the drawn and undrawn debt (at the fund-level including amounts subject to restrictions) and uncalled committed capital (including commitments to funds that have yet to commence their investment periods). For Ares funds that are CLOs, AUM represents subordinated notes (equity) plus all drawn and undrawn debt tranches. AUM amounts are as of December 31, 2014 and pro forma for Ares' acquisition of Energy Investors Funds ("EIF"), which closed on January 1, 2015.

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concurrent debt investment). However, we may increase the size or change the nature of these investments.

        The proportion of these types of investments will change over time given our views on, among other things, the economic and credit environment in which we are operating. In connection with our investing activities, we may make commitments with respect to indebtedness or securities of a potential portfolio company substantially in excess of our final investment. In such situations, while we may initially agree to fund up to a certain dollar amount of an investment, we may subsequently syndicate or sell a portion of such amount (including, without limitation, to vehicles managed by our portfolio company, Ivy Hill Asset Management, L.P. ("IHAM")), such that we are left with a smaller investment than what was reflected in our original commitment. In addition to originating investments, we may also acquire investments in the secondary market (including purchases of a portfolio of investments).

        The first and second lien senior secured loans in which we invest generally have stated terms of three to 10 years and the mezzanine debt investments in which we invest generally have stated terms of up to 10 years, but the expected average life of such first and second lien loans and mezzanine debt is generally between three and seven years. However, we may invest in loans and securities with any maturity or duration. The instruments in which we invest typically are not rated by any rating agency, but we believe that if such instruments were rated, they would be below investment grade (rated lower than "Baa3" by Moody's Investors Service, lower than "BBB–" by Fitch Ratings or lower than "BBB–" by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services), which, under the guidelines established by these entities, is an indication of having predominantly speculative characteristics with respect to the issuer's capacity to pay interest and repay principal. Bonds that are rated below investment grade are sometimes referred to as "high yield bonds" or "junk bonds." We may invest without limit in debt or other securities of any rating, as well as debt or other securities that have not been rated by any nationally recognized statistical rating organization.

        We believe that our investment adviser, Ares Capital Management, is able to leverage the current investment platform, resources and existing relationships of Ares Management with financial sponsors, financial institutions, hedge funds and other investment firms to provide us with attractive investment opportunities. For purposes of this document, we refer to Ares Management and its affiliated companies (other than portfolio companies of its affiliated funds) as "Ares." In addition to deal flow, the Ares investment platform assists our investment adviser in analyzing, structuring and monitoring investments. Ares has been in existence for over 17 years and its senior partners have an average of over 27 years of experience in leveraged finance, private equity, distressed debt, commercial real estate finance, investment banking and capital markets. We have access to Ares' investment professionals and administrative professionals, who provide assistance in accounting, finance, legal, compliance, operations, information technology and investor relations. As of December 31, 2014, Ares had over 320 investment professionals and over 430 administrative professionals.

        We and General Electric Capital Corporation and GE Global Sponsor Finance LLC (collectively, "GE") also co-invest in first lien senior secured loans of middle market companies through an unconsolidated vehicle, the Senior Secured Loan Fund LLC, which operates using the name "Senior Secured Loan Program" (the "SSLP"). As of December 31, 2014, the SSLP had available capital of $11.0 billion of which approximately $9.9 billion in aggregate principal amount was funded at December 31, 2014. As of December 31, 2014, we had agreed to make available to the SSLP approximately $2.3 billion, of which approximately $2.0 billion was funded. The SSLP is capitalized as transactions are completed and all portfolio decisions and generally all other decisions in respect of the SSLP must be approved by an investment committee of the SSLP consisting of representatives of us and GE (with approval from a representative of each required). As of December 31, 2014, our investment in the SSLP was approximately $2.1 billion at fair value (including unrealized appreciation of $30.5 million), which represented approximately 23% of our total portfolio at fair value. As of December 31, 2014, the SSLP had 50 different underlying borrowers. For more information on the

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SSLP, see "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Portfolio and Investment Activity—Senior Secured Loan Program."

        While our primary focus is to generate current income and capital appreciation through investments in first and second lien senior secured loans and mezzanine debt and, to a lesser extent, equity securities of eligible portfolio companies, we also may invest up to 30% of our portfolio in non-qualifying assets, as permitted by the Investment Company Act. Specifically, as part of this 30% basket, we may invest in entities that are not considered "eligible portfolio companies" (as defined in the Investment Company Act), including companies located outside of the United States, entities that are operating pursuant to certain exceptions under the Investment Company Act, and publicly traded entities whose public equity market capitalization exceeds the levels provided for under the Investment Company Act.

        In the first quarter of 2011, the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") (the "Staff") informally communicated to certain BDCs the Staff's belief that certain entities, which would be classified as an "investment company" under the Investment Company Act but for the exception from the definition of "investment company" set forth in Rule 3a-7 promulgated under the Investment Company Act, could not be treated as eligible portfolio companies (as defined in Section 2(a)(46) under the Investment Company Act) (i.e., not eligible to be included in a BDC's 70% "qualifying assets" basket). Subsequently, in August 2011 the SEC issued a concept release (the "Concept Release") which stated that "[a]s a general matter, the Commission presently does not believe that Rule 3a-7 issuers are the type of small, developing and financially troubled businesses in which the U.S. Congress intended BDCs primarily to invest" and requested comment on whether or not a 3a-7 issuer should be considered an "eligible portfolio company." We provided a comment letter in respect of the Concept Release and continue to believe that the language of Section 2(a)(46) of the Investment Company Act permits a BDC to treat as "eligible portfolio companies" entities that rely on the 3a-7 exception. However, given the current uncertainty in this area (including the language in the Concept Release) and subsequent discussions with the Staff, we have, solely for purposes of calculating the composition of our portfolio pursuant to Section 55(a) of the Investment Company Act, identified such entities, which include the SSLP, as "non-qualifying assets" should the Staff ultimately disagree with our position.

        As of December 31, 2014, our portfolio company, IHAM, an SEC registered investment adviser, managed 13 vehicles and served as the sub-manager/sub-servicer for three other vehicles (these vehicles managed or sub-managed/sub-serviced by IHAM are collectively referred to as the "IHAM Vehicles"). As of December 31, 2014, IHAM had assets under management ("IHAM AUM")(2) of approximately $2.7 billion. As of December 31, 2014, Ares Capital had invested approximately $171.0 million (at amortized cost) in IHAM. In connection with IHAM's registration as a registered investment adviser, on March 30, 2012, we received exemptive relief from the SEC allowing us to, subject to certain conditions, own directly or indirectly up to 100% of IHAM's outstanding equity interests and make additional investments in IHAM. From time to time, IHAM or certain IHAM Vehicles may purchase investments from us or sell investments to us, in each case for a price equal to the fair market value of such investments determined at the time of such transactions. See Note 4 to our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2014 for more information about IHAM.

   


(2)
IHAM AUM refers to the assets of the vehicles managed, sub-managed and sub-serviced by IHAM. It includes drawn and undrawn amounts, including amounts that are subject to certain restrictions. IHAM AUM amounts are as of December 31, 2014 and are unaudited. Certain amounts are preliminary and remain subject to change, and differences may arise due to rounding.

3


Ares Management, L.P.

        Ares is a publicly traded, leading global alternative asset manager with approximately $86 billion of AUM as of December 31, 2014. As of December 31, 2014, Ares had over 750 employees in over 15 principal and originating offices across the United States, Europe and Asia. Since its inception in 1997, Ares has adhered to a disciplined investment philosophy that focuses on delivering strong risk-adjusted investment returns throughout market cycles. Ares believes each of its four distinct but complementary investment groups in Tradable Credit, Direct Lending, Private Equity and Real Estate is a market leader based on AUM and investment performance. Ares was built upon the fundamental principle that each group benefits from being part of the greater whole.

        The following chart shows the structure and various investment strategies of Ares as of December 31, 2014:

GRAPHIC


(1)
Ares Management is the parent to several registered investment advisers, including Ares Capital Management. AUM refers to the assets of the funds, alternative asset companies and other entities and accounts that are managed or co-managed by Ares, including funds managed by IHAM. For Ares funds other than CLOs, AUM represents the sum of the net asset value of such funds, the drawn and undrawn debt (at the fund-level including amounts subject to restrictions) and uncalled committed capital (including commitments to funds that have yet to commence their investment periods). For Ares funds that are CLOs, AUM represents subordinated notes (equity) plus all drawn and undrawn debt tranches. AUM amounts are as of December 31, 2014 and pro forma for Ares' acquisition of EIF, which closed on January 1, 2015.

(2)
Includes approximately $4 billion of AUM as of December 31, 2014 from Ares' acquisition of EIF on January 1, 2015.

Ares Capital Management LLC

        Ares Capital Management, our investment adviser, is served by an origination, investment and portfolio management team of over 90 U.S.-based investment professionals as of December 31, 2014 and led by the senior partners of the Ares Direct Lending Group: Michael Arougheti, Kipp deVeer, Mitchell Goldstein and Michael Smith. Ares Capital Management leverages off of Ares' investment platform and benefits from the significant capital markets, trading and research expertise of Ares' investment professionals. Ares Capital Management's investment committee has 12 members, including the senior partners and U.S.-based partners of the Ares Direct Lending Group, senior partners in the Ares Private Equity Group and a senior partner in the Ares Tradable Credit Group.

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MARKET OPPORTUNITY

        We believe that current market conditions present attractive opportunities for us to invest in middle-market companies, specifically:

    We believe that many commercial and investment banks have, in recent years, de-emphasized their service and product offerings to middle-market businesses in favor of lending to large corporate clients and managing capital markets transactions. In addition, these lenders may be constrained in their ability to underwrite and hold bank loans and high yield securities for middle-market issuers as they seek to meet existing and future regulatory capital requirements. These factors may result in opportunities for alternative funding sources to middle-market companies and therefore more new-issue market opportunities for us.

    We believe that the disruption and volatility in the credit markets between 2008 and 2009 reduced capital available to certain specialty finance companies and other capital providers, causing a reduction in competition. These market conditions may continue to create opportunities to achieve attractive risk-adjusted returns.

    We believe that there is a lack of market participants that are willing to hold meaningful amounts of certain middle-market loans. As a result, we believe our ability to minimize syndication risk for a company seeking financing by being able to hold our loans without having to syndicate them is a competitive advantage.

    We believe that middle-market companies have faced difficulty in raising debt through the capital markets. This approach to financing may become more difficult to the extent institutional investors seek to invest in larger, more liquid offerings, leaving less competition and fewer financing alternatives for middle-market companies.

    We believe there is a large pool of un-invested private equity capital for middle-market businesses. We expect private equity firms will seek to leverage their investments by combining equity capital with senior secured loans and mezzanine debt from other sources such as us.

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES

        We believe that we have the following competitive advantages over other capital providers to middle-market companies:

The Ares Platform

        As of December 31, 2014, Ares had approximately $86 billion of total AUM in the related asset classes of non-syndicated first and second lien senior secured corporate and commercial real estate loans, syndicated corporate and commercial real estate loans, high yield bonds, corporate and commercial real estate mezzanine debt and private equity. We believe Ares' current investment platform provides a competitive advantage in terms of access to origination and marketing activities and diligence for us. In particular, we believe that the Ares platform provides us with an advantage through its deal flow generation and investment evaluation process. Ares' asset management platform also provides additional market information, company knowledge and industry insight that benefit our investment and due diligence process. Ares' professionals maintain extensive financial sponsor and intermediary relationships, which provide valuable insight and access to transactions and information.

Seasoned Management Team

        The investment professionals in the Ares Direct Lending Group and members of our investment adviser's investment committee also have significant experience investing across market cycles. This

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experience also provides us with a competitive advantage in identifying, originating, investing in and managing a portfolio of investments in middle-market companies.

Broad Origination Strategy

        We focus on self-originating most of our investments by pursuing a broad array of investment opportunities in middle-market companies, venture capital backed businesses and power generation projects across multiple channels. We also leverage off of the extensive relationships of the broader Ares platform, including relationships with the portfolio companies in the IHAM Vehicles, to identify investment opportunities. We believe that this allows for asset selectivity and that there is a significant relationship between proprietary deal origination and credit performance. We believe that our focus on generating proprietary deal flow and lead investing also gives us greater control over capital structure, deal terms, pricing and documentation and enables us to actively manage our portfolio investments. Moreover, by leading the investment process, we are often able to secure controlling positions in credit tranches, thereby providing additional control in investment outcomes. We also have originated substantial proprietary deal flow from middle-market intermediaries, which often allows us to act as the sole or principal source of institutional capital to the borrower.

Scale and Flexible Transaction Structuring

        We believe that being one of the largest BDC's makes us a more desirable and flexible capital provider, especially in competitive markets. We are flexible with the types of investments we make and the terms associated with those investments. We believe this approach and experience enables our investment adviser to identify attractive investment opportunities throughout economic cycles and across a company's capital structure so we can make investments consistent with our stated investment objective and preserve principal while seeking appropriate risk adjusted returns. In addition, we have the flexibility to provide "one stop" financing with the ability to invest capital across the balance sheet and syndicate and hold larger investments than many of our competitors. We believe that the ability to underwrite, syndicate and hold larger investments benefits our stockholders by (a) potentially increasing net income and earnings through syndication, (b) increasing originated deal flow flexibility, (c) broadening market relationships and deal flow, (d) allowing us to optimize our portfolio composition and (e) allowing us to provide capital to a broader spectrum of middle-market companies, which we believe currently have limited access to capital from traditional lending sources. In addition, we believe that the ability to provide capital at every level of the balance sheet provides a strong value proposition to middle-market borrowers and our senior debt capabilities provide superior deal origination and relative value analysis capabilities compared to traditional "mezzanine only" lenders.

Experience with and Focus on Middle-Market Companies

        Ares has historically focused on investments in middle-market companies and we benefit from this experience. In sourcing and analyzing deals, our investment adviser benefits from Ares' extensive network of relationships focused on middle-market companies, including management teams, members of the investment banking community, private equity groups and other investment firms with whom Ares has had long-term relationships. We believe this network enables us to identify well-positioned prospective portfolio company investments. The Ares Direct Lending Group works closely with Ares' other investment professionals. As of December 31, 2014, Ares oversaw a portfolio of investments in over 1,000 companies, over 385 structured assets and over 185 properties across over 30 industries, which provides access to an extensive network of relationships and insights into industry trends and the state of the capital markets.

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Disciplined Investment Philosophy

        In making its investment decisions, our investment adviser has adopted Ares' long-standing, consistent, credit-based investment approach that was developed over 17 years ago by its founders. Specifically, our investment adviser's investment philosophy, portfolio construction and portfolio management involve an assessment of the overall macroeconomic environment and financial markets and company-specific research and analysis. Its investment approach emphasizes capital preservation, low volatility and minimization of downside risk. In addition to engaging in extensive due diligence from the perspective of a long-term investor, our investment adviser's approach seeks to reduce risk in investments by focusing on:

    businesses with strong franchises and sustainable competitive advantages;

    industries with positive long-term dynamics;

    businesses and industries with cash flows that are dependable and predictable;

    management teams with demonstrated track records and appropriate economic incentives;

    rates of return commensurate with the perceived risks;

    securities or investments that are structured with appropriate terms and covenants; and

    businesses backed by experienced private equity sponsors.

Extensive Industry Focus

        We seek to concentrate our investing activities in industries with a history of predictable and dependable cash flows and in which the Ares investment professionals have had extensive investment experience. Ares investment professionals have developed long-term relationships with management teams and management consultants in over 30 industries, and have accumulated substantial information and identified potential trends within these industries. In turn, we benefit from these relationships, information and identification of potential trends in making investments.

OPERATING AND REGULATORY STRUCTURE

        Our investment activities are managed by our investment adviser, Ares Capital Management, which is a subsidiary of Ares, and supervised by our board of directors, a majority of whom are independent of Ares and its affiliates. Ares Capital Management is registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, or the "Advisers Act." Under our Amended and Restated Investment Advisory and Management Agreement with Ares Capital Management, referred to herein as our "investment advisory and management agreement," we have agreed to pay Ares Capital Management base management fees based on our total assets, as defined under the Investment Company Act (other than cash and cash equivalents, but including assets purchased with borrowed funds) ("base management fees"), fees based on our net investment income ("income based fees") and fees based on our net capital gains ("capital gains incentive fees"). See "Investment Advisory and Management Agreement." Ares Operations provides us with certain administrative and other services necessary for us to operate pursuant to an Amended and Restated Administration Agreement, referred to herein as our "administration agreement." See "Administration Agreement."

        As a BDC, we are required to comply with certain regulatory requirements. For example, we are not generally permitted to invest in any portfolio company in which a fund managed by Ares or any of its downstream affiliates (other than us and our downstream affiliates) currently has an investment. However, we may co-invest with funds managed by Ares or any of its downstream affiliates, subject to compliance with existing regulatory guidance, applicable regulations and our allocation procedures. Certain types of co-investment transactions would only be permitted pursuant to an exemptive order

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from the SEC, for which we have applied. Any such order will be subject to certain terms and conditions. Further there is no assurance that this application for exemptive relief will be granted by the SEC.

        Also, while we may borrow funds to make investments, our ability to use debt is limited in certain significant aspects. In particular, BDC's must have at least 200% asset coverage calculated pursuant to the Investment Company Act in order to incur debt or issue preferred stock (which we refer to collectively as "senior securities"), which requires us to finance our investments with at least as much equity as senior securities in the aggregate. Certain of our credit facilities also require that we maintain asset coverage of at least 200%.

        In addition, as a consequence of our being a regulated investment company ("RIC") under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Code") for U.S. federal income tax purposes, our asset growth is dependent on our ability to raise equity capital through the issuance of common stock. RICs generally must distribute substantially all of their investment company taxable income (as defined under the Code) to stockholders as dividends in order to preserve their status as a RIC and not to be subject to additional U.S. Federal corporate-level taxes. This requirement, in turn, generally prevents us from using our earnings to support our operations, including making new investments.

MARKET CONDITIONS

        From time to time, capital markets may experience periods of disruption and instability. For example, between 2008 and 2009, the global financial markets experienced stress, volatility, instability, illiquidity and disruption, and as a result, during this time the availability of capital and access to capital markets was limited. While market conditions have experienced relative stability in recent years, there have been continuing periods of volatility and there can be no assurances that adverse market conditions will not repeat themselves in the future. If they do, we could face difficulty raising new capital on attractive terms. Consequently, our operating strategy could be materially and adversely affected. As the global liquidity situation and market conditions evolve, we will continue to monitor and adjust our approach to funding accordingly. See "Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Business—The capital markets may experience periods of disruption and instability. Such market conditions may materially and adversely affect debt and equity capital markets in the United States, which may have a negative impact on our business and operations."

        In connection with the prior depressed market conditions of the general economy during the period between 2008 and 2009, the stocks of BDCs as an industry traded at near historic lows as a result of concerns over liquidity, credit quality, leverage restrictions and distribution requirements. In some cases, certain BDCs became "forced sellers" of assets, defaulted on their indebtedness, decreased their distributions to stockholders or announced share repurchase programs. Although we believe that we currently have sufficient capital to fund our investments and operations, if such adverse market conditions repeat themselves, we cannot assure you that the market pressures we may face in the future will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

INVESTMENTS

Ares Capital Corporation Portfolio

        We have built an investment portfolio of primarily first and second lien senior secured loans, mezzanine debt and, to a lesser extent, equity investments in private middle-market companies. Our portfolio is well diversified by industry sector and its concentration to any single issuer is limited. Our largest investment as of December 31, 2014 was in the subordinated certificates of the SSLP. The SSLP consists of a diverse portfolio of first lien senior secured loans to 50 different borrowers as of December 31, 2014 and the portfolio companies in the SSLP are in industries similar to the companies

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in Ares Capital's portfolio. Our investment in the SSLP represented approximately 23% of our portfolio fair value as of December 31, 2014.

        Our debt investments in corporate borrowers generally range between $30 million and $500 million each, investments in project finance/power generation projects generally range between $10 million and $200 million each and investments in early-stage and/or venture capital-backed companies generally range between $1 million and $25 million each. However, the sizes of our investments may be more or less than these ranges and may vary based on, among other things, our capital availability, the composition of our portfolio and general micro- and macro-economic factors.

        Our preferred and/or common equity investments have generally been non-control equity investments of less than $20 million (usually in conjunction with a concurrent debt investment). However, we may increase the size or change the nature of these investments.

        In addition, the proportion of these types of investments will change over time given our views on, among other things, the economic and credit environment in which we are operating. In connection with our investing activities, we may make commitments with respect to indebtedness or securities of a potential portfolio company substantially in excess of our expected final hold size. In such situations, while we may initially agree to fund up to a certain dollar amount of an investment, we may subsequently syndicate a portion of such amount such that we are left with a smaller investment than what was reflected in our original commitment. We may also syndicate a "first out" tranche of a loan to an investor and retain a "last out" tranche of such loan, in which case the "first out" tranche of such loan will generally receive priority with respect to payments of principal, interest and any other amounts due thereunder. In addition to originating investments, we may also acquire investments in the secondary market (including purchases of a portfolio of investments).

        We make senior secured loans primarily in the form of first lien loans (including unitranche loans) and second lien loans. Our senior secured loans generally have terms of three to 10 years. In connection with our senior secured loans we generally receive a security interest in certain of the assets of the borrower and consequently such assets serve as collateral in support of the repayment of such senior secured loans. Senior secured loans are generally exposed to the least amount of credit risk because they typically hold a senior position with respect to scheduled interest and principal payments and security interests in assets of the borrower. However, unlike mezzanine debt, senior secured loans typically do not receive any stock, warrants to purchase stock or other yield enhancements. Senior secured loans may include both revolving lines of credit and term loans.

        Structurally, mezzanine debt usually ranks subordinate in priority of payment to senior secured loans and is often unsecured. However, mezzanine debt ranks senior to preferred and common equity in a borrower's capital structure. Mezzanine debt investments generally offer lenders fixed returns in the form of interest payments and will often provide lenders an opportunity to participate in the capital appreciation of a borrower, if any, through an equity interest. This equity interest typically takes the form of an equity co-investment and/or warrants. Due to its higher risk profile and often less restrictive covenants as compared to senior secured loans, mezzanine debt generally bears a higher stated interest rate than senior secured loans. The equity co-investment and warrants (if any) associated with a mezzanine debt investment typically allow lenders to receive repayment of their principal on an agreed amortization schedule while retaining their equity interest in the borrower. Equity issued in connection with mezzanine debt also may include a "put" feature, which permits the holder to sell its equity interest back to the borrower at a price determined through an agreed formula.

        In making an equity investment, in addition to considering the factors discussed below under "—Investment Selection," we also consider the anticipated timing of a liquidity event, such as a public offering, sale of the company or redemption of our equity securities.

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        We generally seek to invest in companies in the industries in which Ares' investment professionals have direct expertise. The following is a representative list of the industries in which we have invested:

    Aerospace and Defense

    Automotive Services

    Business Services

    Consumer Products

    Containers and Packaging

    Education

    Environmental Services

    Financial Services

    Food and Beverage

    Healthcare Services

    Investment Funds and Vehicles

    Manufacturing

    Oil and Gas

    Other Services

    Power Generation

    Restaurant and Food Services

    Retail

    Telecommunications

        However, we may invest in other industries if we are presented with attractive opportunities.

        The industrial and geographic compositions of our portfolio at fair value as of December 31, 2014 and 2013 were as follows:

 
  As of
December 31,
 
 
  2014   2013  

Industry

             

Investment Funds and Vehicles(1)

    23.3 %   23.6 %

Healthcare Services

    16.3     16.2  

Other Services

    8.8     7.2  

Consumer Products

    8.3     3.5  

Power Generation

    7.3     5.4  

Business Services

    5.8     9.9  

Education

    5.0     5.9  

Financial Services

    4.5     5.1  

Restaurants and Food Services

    3.7     5.2  

Manufacturing

    3.3     3.3  

Containers and Packaging

    2.8     3.3  

Oil and Gas

    1.9     0.6  

Retail

    1.4     1.6  

Aerospace and Defense

    1.4     1.3  

Commercial Real Estate Finance

    1.2     0.6  

Other

    5.0     7.3  

Total

    100.0 %   100.0 %

(1)
Includes our investment in the SSLP, which had made first lien senior secured loans to 50 and 47 different borrowers as of December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. The portfolio companies in the SSLP are in industries similar to the companies in our portfolio.

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  As of
December 31,
 
 
  2014   2013  

Geographic Region

             

West(1)

    46.2 %   50.0 %

Midwest

    18.1     15.8  

Southeast

    16.6     13.6  

Mid Atlantic

    15.4     15.9  

Northeast

    2.3     1.0  

International

    1.4     3.7  

Total

    100.0 %   100.0 %

(1)
Includes our investment in the SSLP, which represented 22.9% and 23.2% of the total investment portfolio at fair value as of December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively.

        Since our initial public offering on October 8, 2004 through December 31, 2014, our exited investments resulted in an aggregate cash flow realized internal rate of return (as discussed in more detail in footnote 1 to the table below) to us of approximately 13% (based on original cash invested, net of syndications, of approximately $9.9 billion and total proceeds from such exited investments of approximately $12.1 billion). Approximately 71% of these exited investments resulted in an aggregate cash flow realized internal rate of return to us of 10% or greater.

        The aggregate cash flow realized internal rate of return, original cash invested, net of syndications, and total proceeds, in each case from exited investments, are listed below from our initial public offering on October 8, 2004 through the end of each period shown below.

 
  Exited Investments IPO through December 31,  
(dollar amounts in millions)
  2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   2007   2006   2005   2004  

Realized internal rate of return(1)

    13 %   13 %   13 %   14 %   15 %   14 %   19 %   21 %   26 %   41 %   17 %

Original cash invested, net of syndications

  $ 9,883   $ 7,717   $ 6,817   $ 4,638   $ 2,696   $ 1,220   $ 923   $ 684   $ 424   $ 119   $ 28  

Total proceeds

  $ 12,121   $ 9,445   $ 8,264   $ 5,627   $ 3,256   $ 1,405   $ 1,104   $ 818   $ 511   $ 140   $ 32  

(1)
Internal rate of return is the discount rate that makes the net present value of all cash flows related to a particular investment equal to zero. Internal rate of return is gross of expenses related to investments as these expenses are not allocable to specific investments. Investments are considered to be exited when the original investment objective has been achieved through the receipt of cash and/or non-cash consideration upon the repayment of a debt investment or sale of an investment or through the determination that no further consideration was collectible and, thus, a loss may have been realized.

        Additionally, since our initial public offering on October 8, 2004 through December 31, 2014, our realized gains exceeded our realized losses by approximately $351 million (excluding a one-time gain on the acquisition of Allied Capital Corporation ("Allied Capital") (the "Allied Acquisition") and realized gains/losses from the extinguishment of debt and other assets). For the same time period, our average annualized net realized gain rate was approximately 1.1% (excluding a one-time gain on the Allied Acquisition and realized gains/losses from the extinguishment of debt and from other assets). Net realized gain/loss rates for a particular period are the amount of net realized gains/losses during such period divided by the average quarterly investments at amortized cost in such period.

        Information included herein regarding internal rates of return, realized gains and losses and annualized net realized gain rates are historical results relating to our past performance and are not necessarily indicative of future results, the achievement of which cannot be assured.

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INVESTMENT SELECTION

        Ares' investment philosophy was developed over 17 years ago and has remained consistent and relevant throughout a number of economic cycles. We are managed using a similar investment philosophy used by the investment professionals of Ares in respect of its other investment funds.

        This investment philosophy involves, among other things:

    an assessment of the overall macroeconomic environment and financial markets and how such assessment may impact industry and asset selection;

    company-specific research and analysis; and

    with respect to each individual company, an emphasis on capital preservation, low volatility and minimization of downside risk.

        The foundation of Ares' investment philosophy is intensive credit investment analysis, a portfolio management discipline based on both market technicals and fundamental value-oriented research, and diversification strategy. We follow a rigorous investment process based on:

    a comprehensive analysis of issuer creditworthiness, including a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the issuer's business;

    an evaluation of management and its economic incentives;

    an analysis of business strategy and industry trends; and

    an in-depth examination of capital structure, financial results and projections.

        We seek to identify those companies exhibiting superior fundamental risk-reward profiles and strong defensible business franchises while focusing on the relative value of the investment across the industry as well as for the specific company.

Intensive Due Diligence

        The process through which an investment decision is made involves extensive research into the target company, its industry, its growth prospects and its ability to withstand adverse conditions. If the senior investment professional responsible for the potential transaction determines that an investment opportunity should be pursued, we will engage in an intensive due diligence process. Approximately 30-40% of the investments initially reviewed by us proceed to this phase. Though each transaction will involve a somewhat different approach, the regular due diligence steps generally undertaken include:

    meeting with the target company's management team to get a detailed review of the business, and to probe for potential weaknesses in business prospects;

    checking management's backgrounds and references;

    performing a detailed review of historical financial performance, including performance through various economic cycles, and the quality of earnings;

    reviewing both short and long term projections of the business, and sensitizing them for both upside and downside risk;

    visiting headquarters and company operations and meeting with top and middle-level executives;

    contacting customers and vendors to assess both business prospects and standard practices;

    conducting a competitive analysis, and comparing the issuer to its main competitors on an operating, financial, market share and valuation basis;

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    researching the industry for historic growth trends and future prospects as well as to identify future exit alternatives (including available Wall Street research, industry association literature and general news);

    assessing asset value and the ability of physical infrastructure and information systems to handle anticipated growth; and

    investigating legal risks and financial and accounting systems.

Selective Investment Process

        After an investment has been identified and preliminary diligence has been completed, a credit research and analysis report is prepared. This report is reviewed by the senior investment professional in charge of the potential investment. If such senior and other investment professionals are in favor of the potential investment, then it is first presented to an underwriting committee, which is comprised of senior members of the Ares Direct Lending Group.

        After the investment is approved by the underwriting committee, a more extensive due diligence process is employed by the transaction team. Additional due diligence with respect to any investment may be conducted on our behalf by attorneys, independent accountants, and other third party consultants and research firms prior to the closing of the investment, as appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Approximately 7-10% of all investments initially reviewed by us will be presented to the investment committee. Approval of an investment for funding requires the approval of the majority of the investment committee of our investment adviser, although unanimous consent is sought.

Issuance of Formal Commitment

        Once we have determined that a prospective portfolio company is suitable for investment, we work with the management and/or sponsor of that company and its other capital providers, including senior, junior and equity capital providers, if any, to finalize the structure of the investment. Approximately 5-7% of the investments initially reviewed by us eventually result in the issuance of formal commitments and the closing of such transactions.

Debt Investments

        We invest in portfolio companies primarily in the form of first lien senior secured loans (including unitranche loans), second lien senior secured loans and mezzanine debt. The first and second lien senior secured loans generally have terms of three to 10 years. In connection with our first and second lien senior secured loans we generally receive security interests in certain assets of our portfolio companies that could serve as collateral in support of the repayment of such loans. First and second lien senior secured loans generally have floating interest rates, which may have LIBOR floors, and also may provide for some amortization of principal and excess cash flow payments, with the remaining principal balance due at maturity.

        We structure our mezzanine investments primarily as unsecured subordinated loans that provide for relatively higher fixed interest rates. The mezzanine debt investments generally have terms of up to 10 years. These loans typically have interest-only payments, with amortization of principal, if any, deferred to the later years of the mezzanine investment. In some cases, we may enter into loans that, by their terms, convert into equity or additional debt or defer payments of interest (or at least cash interest) for the first few years after our investment. Also, in some cases our mezzanine debt will be secured by a subordinated lien on some or all of the assets of the borrower.

        In some cases, our debt investments may provide for a portion of the interest payable to be payment-in-kind ("PIK") interest. To the extent interest is PIK, it will be payable through the increase

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of the principal amount of the loan by the amount of interest due on the then-outstanding aggregate principal amount of such loan.

        In the case of our first and second lien senior secured loans and mezzanine debt, we tailor the terms of the investment to the facts and circumstances of the transaction and the prospective portfolio company, negotiating a structure that aims to protect our rights and manage our risk while creating incentives for the portfolio company to achieve its business plan and improve its profitability. For example, in addition to seeking a senior position in the capital structure of our portfolio companies, we will seek, where appropriate, to limit the downside potential of our investments by:

    targeting a total return on our investments (including both interest and potential equity appreciation) that compensates us for credit risk;

    incorporating "put" rights, call protection and LIBOR floors for floating rate loans, into the investment structure; and

    negotiating covenants in connection with our investments that afford our portfolio companies as much flexibility in managing their businesses as possible, consistent with preservation of our capital. Such restrictions may include affirmative and negative covenants, default penalties, lien protection, change of control provisions and board rights, including either observation or participation rights.

        We generally require financial covenants and terms that require an issuer to reduce leverage, thereby enhancing credit quality. These methods include: (a) maintenance leverage covenants requiring a decreasing ratio of indebtedness to cash flow over time, (b) maintenance cash flow covenants requiring an increasing ratio of cash flow to the sum of interest expense and capital expenditures and (c) indebtedness incurrence prohibitions, limiting a company's ability to take on additional indebtedness. In addition, by including limitations on asset sales and capital expenditures we may be able to prevent a borrower from changing the nature of its business or capitalization without our consent.

        Our debt investments may include equity features, such as warrants or options to buy a minority interest in the portfolio company. Warrants we receive with our debt investments may require only a nominal cost to exercise, and thus, as a portfolio company appreciates in value, we may achieve additional investment return from this equity interest. We may structure the warrants to provide provisions protecting our rights as a minority-interest holder, as well as puts, or rights to sell such securities back to the portfolio company, upon the occurrence of specified events. In many cases, we also obtain registration rights in connection with these equity interests, which may include demand and "piggyback" registration rights.

Equity Investments

        To a lesser extent, we also make preferred and/or common equity investments, which have generally been non-control equity investments of less than $20 million (usually in conjunction with a concurrent debt investment). However, we may increase the size or change the nature of these investments.

ON-GOING RELATIONSHIPS WITH AND MONITORING OF PORTFOLIO COMPANIES

        We closely monitor each investment we make, maintain a regular dialogue with both the management team and other stakeholders and seek specifically tailored financial reporting. In addition, senior investment professionals may take board seats or obtain board observation rights in connection with our portfolio companies. As of December 31, 2014, of our 205 portfolio companies, we were entitled to board seats or board observation rights on 39% of these companies and these companies represented approximately 64% of our portfolio at fair value.

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        We seek to exert significant influence post-investment, in addition to covenants and other contractual rights and through board participation, when appropriate, by actively working with management on strategic initiatives. We often introduce managers of companies in which we have invested to other portfolio companies to capitalize on complementary business activities and best practices.

        Our investment adviser employs an investment rating system to categorize our investments. In addition to various risk management and monitoring tools, our investment adviser grades the credit risk of all investments on a scale of 1 to 4 no less frequently than quarterly. This system is intended primarily to reflect the underlying risk of a portfolio investment relative to our initial cost basis in respect of such portfolio investment (i.e., at the time of origination or acquisition), although it may also take into account under certain circumstances the performance of the portfolio company's business, the collateral coverage of the investment and other relevant factors. Under this system, investments with a grade of 4 involve the least amount of risk to our initial cost basis. The trends and risk factors for this investment since origination or acquisition are generally favorable, which may include the performance of the portfolio company or a potential exit. Investments graded 3 involve a level of risk to our initial cost basis that is similar to the risk to our initial cost basis at the time of origination or acquisition. This portfolio company is generally performing as expected and the risk factors to our ability to ultimately recoup the cost of our investment are neutral to favorable. All investments or acquired investments in new portfolio companies are initially assessed a grade of 3. Investments graded 2 indicate that the risk to our ability to recoup the initial cost basis of such investment has increased materially since origination or acquisition, including as a result of factors such as declining performance and non-compliance with debt covenants; however, payments are generally not more than 120 days past due. An investment grade of 1 indicates that the risk to our ability to recoup the initial cost basis of such investment has substantially increased since origination or acquisition, and the portfolio company likely has materially declining performance. For debt investments with an investment grade of 1, most or all of the debt covenants are out of compliance and payments are substantially delinquent. For investments graded 1, it is anticipated that we will not recoup our initial cost basis and may realize a substantial loss of our initial cost basis upon exit. For investments graded 1 or 2, our investment adviser enhances its level of scrutiny over the monitoring of such portfolio company. The grade of a portfolio investment may be reduced or increased over time.

        As of December 31, 2014, the weighted average grade of our portfolio at fair value was 3.0. For more information, see "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Portfolio and Investment Activity."

MANAGERIAL ASSISTANCE

        As a BDC, we must offer, and must provide upon request, significant managerial assistance to certain of our portfolio companies. This assistance could involve, among other things, monitoring the operations of our portfolio companies, participating in board and management meetings, consulting with and advising officers of portfolio companies and providing other organizational and financial guidance. Ares Operations may provide all or a portion of this assistance pursuant to our administration agreement, the costs of which will be reimbursed by us. We may receive fees for these services.

COMPETITION

        Our primary competitors include public and private funds, commercial and investment banks, commercial finance companies, other BDCs and private equity funds, each of which we compete with for financing opportunities. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial and marketing resources than we do. For example, some competitors may have access to funding sources that are not available to us. In addition, some of our competitors may have higher

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risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which could allow them to consider more investments and establish more relationships than we do. Furthermore, many of our competitors are not subject to the regulatory restrictions that the Investment Company Act imposes on us as a BDC. For additional information concerning the competitive risks we face, see "Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Business—We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities".

        We believe that the relationships of the members of our investment adviser's investment committee and of the senior partners of Ares enable us to learn about, and compete effectively for, financing opportunities with attractive middle-market companies in the industries in which we seek to invest. We believe that Ares' professionals' deep and long-standing direct sponsor relationships and the resulting proprietary transaction opportunities that these relationships often present, provide valuable insight and access to transactions and information. We use the industry information of Ares' investment professionals to which we have access to assess investment risks and determine appropriate pricing for our investments in portfolio companies.

STAFFING

        We do not currently have any employees and do not expect to have any employees. Services necessary for our business are provided by individuals who are employees or affiliates of our investment adviser, Ares Capital Management, and our administrator, Ares Operations, each of which is a subsidiary of Ares Management, pursuant to the terms of our investment advisory and management agreement and our administration agreement, respectively, each as described below. Each of our executive officers is an employee or affiliate of our investment adviser or our administrator. Our day-to-day investment activities are managed by our investment adviser. Most of the services necessary for the origination of our investment portfolio are provided by investment professionals employed by Ares Capital Management. Ares Capital Management had over 90 U.S.-based investment professionals as of December 31, 2014 who focus on origination, transaction development, investment and the ongoing monitoring of our investments. See "Investment Advisory and Management Agreement" below. We reimburse both our investment adviser and our administrator for a certain portion of expenses incurred in connection with such staffing, as described in more detail below. Because we have no employees, Ares Capital does not have a formal employee relations policy.

INVESTMENT ADVISORY AND MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT

Management Services

        Ares Capital Management serves as our investment adviser and is registered as an investment adviser under the Advisers Act. Subject to the overall supervision of our board of directors, our investment adviser manages the day-to-day operations of, and provides investment advisory and management services to, Ares Capital. Under the terms of the investment advisory and management agreement, our investment adviser:

    determines the composition of our portfolio, the nature and timing of the changes to our portfolio and the manner of implementing such changes;

    identifies, evaluates and negotiates the structure of the investments we make (including performing due diligence on our prospective portfolio companies);

    closes and monitors the investments we make;

    determines the investments and other assets that we purchase, retain or sell; and

    provides us with such other investment advisory and research and related services as we may from time to time reasonably require.

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        Ares Capital Management's services to us under the investment advisory and management agreement are not exclusive, and it is free to furnish similar services to other entities. Similarly, affiliates of our investment adviser may directly or indirectly manage funds or other investment vehicles with investment objectives similar to ours. Accordingly, we may compete with these Ares funds or other investment vehicles managed by our investment adviser and its affiliates for capital and investment opportunities. Ares Capital Management endeavors to allocate investment opportunities in a fair and equitable manner, and in any event consistent with any fiduciary duties owed to Ares Capital. Nevertheless, it is possible that we may not be given the opportunity to participate in certain investments made by investment funds or other investment vehicles managed by Ares Capital Management or its affiliates.

Base Management Fee

        Pursuant to the investment advisory and management agreement and subject to the overall supervision of our board of directors, our investment adviser provides investment advisory and management services to us. For providing these services, our investment adviser receives fees from us consisting of a base management fee, an income based fee and a capital gains incentive fee.

        The base management fee is calculated at an annual rate of 1.5% based on the average value of our total assets (other than cash or cash equivalents but including assets purchased with borrowed funds) at the end of the two most recently completed calendar quarters. The base management fee is payable quarterly in arrears.

Income Based Fee

        The income based fee is calculated and payable quarterly in arrears based on our net investment income excluding income based fees and capital gains incentive fees ("pre-incentive fee net investment income") for the quarter. Pre-incentive fee net investment income means interest income, dividend income and any other income (including any other fees such as commitment, origination, structuring, diligence and consulting fees or other fees that we receive from portfolio companies but excluding fees for providing managerial assistance) accrued during the calendar quarter, minus operating expenses for the quarter (including the base management fee, any expenses payable under the administration agreement, and any interest expense and dividends paid on any outstanding preferred stock, but excluding the income based fee and capital gains incentive fee accrued under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP")). Pre-incentive fee net investment income includes, in the case of investments with a deferred interest feature such as market discount, debt instruments with PIK interest, preferred stock with PIK dividends and zero coupon securities, accrued income that we have not yet received in cash. Our investment adviser is not under any obligation to reimburse us for any part of the income based fees it received that was based on accrued interest that we never actually received. See "Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Business—There are significant potential conflicts of interest that could impact our investment returns" and "Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Business—We may be obligated to pay our investment adviser certain fees even if we incur a loss."

        Pre-incentive fee net investment income does not include any realized capital gains, realized capital losses, unrealized capital appreciation, unrealized capital depreciation or income tax expense related to realized gains and losses. Because of the structure of the income based fee, it is possible that we may pay such fees in a quarter where we incur a loss. For example, if we receive pre-incentive fee net investment income in excess of the hurdle rate (as defined below) for a quarter, we will pay the applicable income based fee even if we have incurred a loss in that quarter due to realized and/or unrealized capital losses.

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        Pre-incentive fee net investment income, expressed as a rate of return on the value of our net assets (defined as total assets less indebtedness and before taking into account any income based fees and capital gains incentive fees payable during the period) at the end of the immediately preceding calendar quarter, is compared to a fixed "hurdle rate" of 1.75% per quarter. If market credit spreads rise, we may be able to invest in debt instruments that provide for a higher return, which may increase our pre-incentive fee net investment income and make it easier for our investment adviser to surpass the fixed hurdle rate and receive and income based fee based on such net investment income. To the extent we have retained pre-incentive fee net investment income that has been used to calculate the income based fee, it is also included in the amount of our total assets (other than cash and cash equivalents but including assets purchased with borrowed funds) used to calculate the 1.5% base management fee.

        We pay our investment adviser an income based fee with respect to our pre-incentive fee net investment income in each calendar quarter as follows:

    no income based fee in any calendar quarter in which our pre-incentive fee net investment income does not exceed the hurdle rate;

    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 2.1875% in any calendar quarter. We refer to this portion of our pre-incentive fee net investment income (which exceeds the hurdle rate but is less than 2.1875%) as the "catch-up" provision. The "catch-up" is meant to provide our investment adviser with 20% of the pre-incentive fee net investment income as if a hurdle rate did not apply if this net investment income exceeded 2.1875% in any calendar quarter; and

    20% of the amount of our pre-incentive fee net investment income, if any, that exceeds 2.1875% in any calendar quarter.

        The following is a graphical representation of the calculation of the income based fee:

Quarterly Income Based Fee Based on Net Investment Income
Pre-incentive fee net investment income return
(expressed as a percentage of the value of net assets)

GRAPHIC

Percentage of pre-incentive fee net investment income
allocated to income based fee

        These calculations are adjusted for any share issuances or repurchases during the quarter.

Capital Gains Incentive Fee

        The capital gains incentive fee is determined and payable in arrears as of the end of each calendar year (or, upon termination of our investment advisory and management agreement, as of the termination date) and is calculated at the end of each applicable year by subtracting (a) the sum of our cumulative aggregate realized capital losses and aggregate unrealized capital depreciation from (b) our cumulative aggregate realized capital gains, in each case calculated from October 8, 2004, (the date we completed our initial public offering). Realized capital gains and losses include gains and losses on investments and foreign currencies, gains and losses on extinguishment of debt and other assets, as well as any income tax expense related to realized gains and losses. If such amount is positive at the end of

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such year, then the capital gains incentive fee for such year is equal to 20% of such amount, less the aggregate amount of capital gains incentive fees paid in all prior years. If such amount is negative, then there is no capital gains incentive fee for such year.

        The cumulative aggregate realized capital gains are calculated as the sum of the differences, if positive, between (a) the net sales price of each investment in our portfolio when sold and (b) the accreted or amortized cost basis of such investment.

        The cumulative aggregate realized capital losses are calculated as the sum of the amounts by which (a) the net sales price of each investment in our portfolio when sold is less than (b) the accreted or amortized cost basis of such investment.

        The aggregate unrealized capital depreciation is calculated as the sum of the differences, if negative, between (a) the valuation of each investment in our portfolio as of the applicable capital gains incentive fee calculation date and (b) the accreted or amortized cost basis of such investment.

        Notwithstanding the foregoing, as a result of an amendment to the capital gains incentive fee under the investment advisory and management agreement that was adopted on June 6, 2011, if we are required by GAAP to record an investment at its fair value as of the time of acquisition instead of at the actual amount paid for such investment by us (including, for example, as a result of the application of the acquisition method of accounting), then solely for the purposes of calculating the capital gains incentive fee, the "accreted or amortized cost basis" of an investment shall be an amount (the "Contractual Cost Basis") equal to (1) (x) the actual amount paid by us for such investment plus (y) any amounts recorded in our financial statements as required by GAAP that are attributable to the accretion of such investment plus (z) any other adjustments made to the cost basis included in our financial statements, including PIK interest or additional amounts funded (net of repayments) minus (2) any amounts recorded in our financial statements as required by GAAP that are attributable to the amortization of such investment, whether such calculated Contractual Cost Basis is higher or lower than the fair value of such investment (as determined in accordance with GAAP) at the time of acquisition.

        We defer cash payment of any income based fee and the capital gains incentive fee otherwise earned by our investment adviser if during the most recent four full calendar quarter period ending on or prior to the date such payment is to be made the sum of (a) the aggregate distributions to our stockholders and (b) the change in net assets (defined as total assets less indebtedness and before taking into account any income based fees or capital gains incentive fees accrued during the period) is less than 7.0% of our net assets (defined as total assets less indebtedness) at the beginning of such period. Any such deferred fees are carried over for payment in subsequent calculation periods to the extent such payment is payable under our investment advisory and management agreement.

Payment of Our Expenses

        The services of all investment professionals and staff of our investment adviser, when and to the extent engaged in providing investment advisory and management services to us and routine overhead expenses of such personnel allocable to such services, are provided and paid for by our investment adviser. We bear all other costs and expenses of our operations and transactions, including, but not limited to, those relating to: rent; organization; calculation of our net asset value (including, but not limited to, the cost and expenses of any independent valuation firm); expenses incurred by our investment adviser payable to third parties, including agents, consultants or other advisers, in monitoring our financial and legal affairs and in monitoring our investments (including the cost of consultants hired to develop information technology systems designed to monitor our investments) and performing due diligence on our prospective portfolio companies; interest payable on indebtedness, if any, incurred to finance our investments; offerings of our common stock and other securities; investment advisory and management fees; administration fees; fees payable to third parties, including

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agents, consultants or other advisers, relating to, or associated with, evaluating and making investments (including payments to third party vendors for financial information services); transfer agent and custodial fees; registration fees; listing fees; taxes; independent directors' fees and expenses; costs of preparing and filing reports or other documents with the SEC; the costs of any reports, proxy statements or other notices to stockholders, including printing costs; to the extent we are covered by any joint insurance policies, our allocable portion of the insurance premiums for such policies; direct costs and expenses of administration, including auditor and legal costs; and all other expenses incurred by us or our administrator in connection with administering our business as described in more detail under "Administration Agreement" below.

Duration, Termination and Amendment

        At an in-person meeting of our board of directors on March 16, 2011, the form of our current investment advisory and management agreement, including two proposed amendments to our then existing investment advisory and management agreement, was approved by our board of directors with the recommendation that our stockholders vote to approve the proposed amendments. On June 6, 2011, our stockholders approved the proposed amendments and we entered into a restated investment advisory and management agreement, reflecting such amendments on June 6, 2011. At an in-person meeting of our board of directors on April 30, 2014, our board of directors, including a majority of the directors who are not "interested persons" of the Company as defined in the Investment Company Act, voted to approve the continuation of the investment advisory and management agreement to June 6, 2015. A discussion regarding the basis for our board of directors' approval of the 2011 adoption of the form of our current investment advisory and management agreement is available in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011.

        Unless terminated earlier, the investment advisory and management agreement will automatically renew for successive annual periods if approved annually by our board of directors or by the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of our outstanding voting securities, including, in either case, approval by a majority of our directors who are not "interested persons" of the Company.

        In voting to approve the continuation of the investment advisory and management agreement, the independent directors had the opportunity to consult in executive session with counsel to the Company regarding the approval of such agreement. In reaching a decision to approve the continuation of the investment advisory and management agreement, our board of directors reviewed a significant amount of information and considered, among other things:

    (i)
    the nature, extent and quality of the advisory and other services to be provided to the Company by our investment adviser;

    (ii)
    the long and short-term investment performance of the Company and our investment adviser;

    (iii)
    the costs of the services to be provided by our investment adviser (including the base management fee, the income based fee and the capital gains incentive fee (including hurdle rates) and expense ratios) and comparative data;

    (iv)
    the limited potential for economies of scale in investment management associated with a larger capital base for investments in first and second lien senior loans and mezzanine debt and whether such limited economies of scale would benefit our stockholders;

    (v)
    our investment adviser's estimated pro forma profitability with respect to managing us;

    (vi)
    the limited potential for additional benefits to be derived by our investment adviser and its affiliates as a result of our relationship with our investment adviser; and

    (vii)
    various other matters, including the alignment of interests of our stockholders.

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        In voting to approve the continuation of the investment advisory and management agreement, our board of directors, including all of the directors who are not "interested persons," of the Company, made the following conclusions:

    Nature, Extent and Quality of Services.  Our board of directors considered the nature, extent and quality of the investment selection process employed by our investment adviser, including the flow of transaction opportunities resulting from Ares Capital Management's investment professionals' significant capital markets, trading and research expertise, the employment of Ares Capital Management's investment philosophy, diligence procedures, credit recommendation process, investment structuring, and ongoing relationships with and monitoring of portfolio companies, in light of the investment objective of the Company. Our board of directors also considered our investment adviser's personnel and their prior experience in connection with the types of investments made by us, including such personnel's network of relationships with intermediaries focused on middle-market companies. Our board of directors also considered the benefit and increasing costs of our investment adviser continuing to be able to recruit and retain top talent. In addition, our board of directors considered the other terms and conditions of the investment advisory and management agreement. Our board of directors determined that the substantive terms of the investment advisory and management agreement (other than the fees payable thereunder, which our board of directors reviewed separately), including the services to be provided, are generally the same as those of comparable BDCs described in the available market data and that it would be difficult to obtain similar services of similar quality on a comparable basis from other third party service providers or through an internally managed structure. In addition, our board of directors considered the fact that we have the ability to terminate the investment advisory and management agreement without penalty upon 60 days' written notice to our investment adviser. Our board of directors further determined that our investment adviser is served by a dedicated origination, transaction development and investment team of investment professionals, and that these investment professionals have historically focused on investments in middle- market companies and have developed an investment evaluation process and an extensive network of relationships with financial sponsors and intermediaries focused on middle-market companies, which experience and relationships coincide with our investment objective and generally equal or exceed those of the management teams or investment advisers of other comparable BDCs described in the available market data.

    Investment Performance.  Our board of directors reviewed the long-term and short-term investment performance of the Company and our investment adviser, as well as comparative data with respect to the long-term and short-term investment performance of other externally managed BDCs and their investment advisers. Our board of directors determined that our investment adviser was delivering results consistent with the investment objective of the Company and that the Company's investment performance was generally above average when compared to comparable BDCs. Our board of directors further determined that in light of the performance history of the Company, our investment adviser's extensive experience with our particular investment objectives and policies and our investment adviser's commitment to the Company, the investment performance of the Company was likely to remain consistent with the approval of the investment advisory and management agreement.

    Costs of the Services Provided to the Company.  Our board of directors considered (i) comparative data based on publicly available information with respect to services rendered and the advisory fees (including the base management fee, the income based fee and the capital gains incentive fee (including hurdle rates)) of other BDCs with similar investment objectives, our operating expenses and expense ratios compared to other BDCs of similar size and with similar investment objectives and (ii) the administrative services that our administrator will provide to us at cost. Based upon its review, our board of directors determined that the fees to

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      be paid under the investment advisory and management agreement are generally equal to or less than those payable under agreements of comparable BDCs described in the available market data. In addition, after examining market data, information prepared by management and a detailed discussion with management, our board of directors determined that while our total expenses (adjusted for certain non-recurring items and including interest expense and credit facility fees) as a percentage of assets for the year ended December 31, 2013 were slightly above average as compared to those disclosed in market data by comparable externally managed BDCs, our total expenses (adjusted for certain non-recurring items and excluding interest expense and credit facility fees) as a percentage of assets for the year ended December 31, 2013 were similar to or lower than those disclosed by comparable externally managed BDCs. Our board of directors noted that the slightly above average total expenses as a percentage of assets were attributable to increased interest expense as a result of our strategy of decreasing our balance sheet risk by extending debt maturities and refinancing short-term borrowings under floating rate secured debt with long-term fixed rate unsecured debt. Our board of directors further noted that many of our BDC competitors have been unable to access such unsecured debt.

    Economies of Scale.  Our board of directors considered information about the potential for our stockholders to experience economies of scale as the Company grows in size. Our board of directors considered that the direct lending business is one of the least scalable businesses because it requires additional resources as it grows and also considered that because there are no break points in our investment adviser's fees, any benefits resulting from the growth in the Company's assets where the Company's fixed costs did not increase proportionately would not inure to the benefit of the stockholders. Taking into account such information, our board of directors determined that the advisory fee structure with respect to the investment advisory and management agreement was reasonable and that no changes were currently necessary to reflect economies of scale.

    Estimated Pro Forma Profitability of the Investment Adviser.  Our board of directors considered information about our investment adviser's budget and determined that, based on the information available to our board of directors, our investment adviser's estimated pro forma profitability with respect to managing the Company was generally equal to or less than the profitability of investment advisers managing comparable BDCs. Our board of directors noted that no market data was available for such advisers and that such determination was based, in particular, on the fact that the management fee payable to our investment adviser is 1.50% (compared to 2.00% for a number of the Company's competitors) and is not paid on cash or cash equivalents held by the Company (unlike several of the Company's competitors).

    Limited Potential for Additional Benefits Derived by the Investment Adviser.  Our board of directors considered whether there was potential for additional benefits, such as soft dollar arrangements with brokers, to be derived by our investment adviser and its affiliates as a result of our relationship with our investment adviser and noted that it believed any such potential was limited.

    Other Matters Considered.  Our board of directors considered the interests of senior management and concluded that the judgment and performance of our senior management were not impaired by those interests.

        In view of the wide variety of factors that our board of directors considered in connection with its evaluation of the investment advisory and management agreement, it is not practical to quantify, rank or otherwise assign relative weights to the specific factors it considered in reaching its decision. Our board of directors did not undertake to make any specific determination as to whether any particular factor, or any aspect of any particular factor, was favorable or unfavorable to the ultimate

22


determination of our board of directors. Rather, our board of directors based its approval on the totality of information presented to, and the investigation conducted by, it. In considering the factors discussed above, individual directors may have given different weights to different factors.

        Based on the information reviewed and the factors discussed above, our directors (including those directors who are not "interested persons" of the Company) concluded that the terms of the investment advisory and management agreement, including the fee rates thereunder, are fair and reasonable in relation to the services provided and approved the continuation of the investment advisory and management agreement with our investment adviser as being in the best interests of the Company and its stockholders.

        The investment advisory and management agreement will automatically terminate in the event of its assignment. The investment advisory and management agreement may be terminated by either party without penalty upon 60 days' written notice to the other party.

        Conflicts of interest may arise if our investment adviser seeks to change the terms of our investment advisory and management agreement, including, for example, the amount of the base management fee, the income based fee, the capital gains incentive fee or other compensation terms. Material amendments to our investment advisory and management agreement must be approved by the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of our outstanding voting securities and by a majority of our independent directors, and we may from time to time decide it is appropriate to seek the requisite approval to change the terms of the agreement.

Indemnification

        The investment advisory and management agreement provides that, absent willful misfeasance, bad faith or gross negligence in the performance of its duties or by reason of the reckless disregard of its duties and obligations, our investment adviser, its members and their respective officers, managers, partners, agents, employees, controlling persons and members and any other person or entity affiliated with it are entitled to indemnification from us for any damages, liabilities, costs and expenses (including reasonable attorneys' fees and amounts reasonably paid in settlement) arising from the rendering of our investment adviser's services under the investment advisory and management agreement or otherwise as our investment adviser.

Organization of our Investment Adviser

        Our investment adviser is a Delaware limited liability company that is registered as an investment adviser under the Advisers Act. The principal executive offices of Ares Capital Management are located at 2000 Avenue of the Stars, 12th Floor, Los Angeles, California 90067.

ADMINISTRATION AGREEMENT

        We are also party to an administration agreement, referred to herein as the "administration agreement", with our administrator, Ares Operations. Our board of directors approved the continuation of our administration agreement on April 30, 2014, which extended the term of the agreement until June 1, 2015. Pursuant to the administration agreement, Ares Operations furnishes us with office equipment and clerical, bookkeeping and record keeping services at our office facilities. Under the administration agreement, Ares Operations also performs, or oversees the performance of, our required administrative services, which include, among other things, providing assistance in accounting, legal, compliance, operations, investor relations and technology, being responsible for the financial records that we are required to maintain and preparing reports to our stockholders and reports filed with the SEC. In addition, Ares Operations assists us in determining and publishing our net asset value, assists us in providing managerial assistance to our portfolio companies, oversees the preparation and filing of our tax returns and the printing and dissemination of reports to our stockholders, and generally

23


oversees the payment of our expenses and the performance of administrative and professional services rendered to us by others. Payments under our administration agreement are equal to an amount based upon our allocable portion of Ares Operations' overhead and other expenses (including travel expenses) incurred by Ares Operations in performing its obligations under the administration agreement, including our allocable portion of the compensation of certain of our officers (including our chief compliance officer, chief financial officer, chief accounting officer, general counsel, treasurer and assistant treasurer) and their respective staffs. The administration agreement may be terminated by either party without penalty upon 60 days' written notice to the other party.

Indemnification

        The administration agreement provides that, absent willful misfeasance, bad faith or negligence in the performance of its duties or by reason of the reckless disregard of its duties and obligations, Ares Operations, its members and their respective officers, managers, partners, agents, employees, controlling persons and members and any other person or entity affiliated with it are entitled to indemnification from us for any damages, liabilities, costs and expenses (including reasonable attorneys' fees and amounts reasonably paid in settlement) arising from the rendering of Ares Operations' services under the administration agreement or otherwise as our administrator.

LEVERAGE

        We may from time to time borrow funds to make investments, a practice known as "leverage," to attempt to increase returns to our stockholders. With certain limited exceptions, we are only allowed to borrow amounts such that our asset coverage, as calculated in accordance with the Investment Company Act, equals at least 200% after such borrowing. The amount of leverage that we employ at any particular time will depend on our investment adviser's and our board of directors' assessments of market and other factors at the time of any proposed borrowing. As of February 20, 2015, we had $3.6 billion of total principal debt outstanding under the various debt instruments described below. See "Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Business—We borrow money, which magnifies the potential for gain or loss on amounts invested and may increase the risk of investing with us."

        We may from time to time seek to retire or repurchase our common stock through cash purchases, as well as retire, cancel or purchase our outstanding debt through cash purchases and/or exchanges, in open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions or otherwise. Such repurchases or exchanges, if any, will depend on prevailing market conditions, our liquidity requirements, contractual and regulatory restrictions and other factors. The amounts involved may be material.

        We are party to a revolving credit facility, which allows us to borrow up to $1.25 billion at any one time outstanding (the "Revolving Credit Facility"). The Revolving Credit Facility also includes an "accordion" feature that allows us, under certain circumstances, to increase the size of the facility to a maximum of $1.8 billion. The Revolving Credit Facility provides for a revolving period until May 18, 2018 and a stated maturity of May 4, 2019. Subject to certain exceptions, the interest rate charged on the Revolving Credit Facility is based on LIBOR plus an applicable spread of 2.00% or a "base rate" (as defined in the agreements governing the Revolving Credit Facility) plus an applicable spread of 1.00%.

        Our consolidated subsidiary, Ares Capital CP Funding LLC ("Ares Capital CP"), is party to a revolving funding facility, which allows us to borrow up to $540 million at any one time outstanding (the "Revolving Funding Facility"). The Revolving Funding Facility provides for a feature that allows, under certain circumstances, for an increase in the size of the facility to a maximum of $865 million. The Revolving Funding Facility provides for a reinvestment period until May 14, 2017 and a stated maturity of May 14, 2019. Subject to certain exceptions, the interest rate charged on the Revolving Funding Facility is based on applicable spreads ranging from 2.25% to 2.50% over LIBOR and ranging from 1.25% to 1.50% over "base rate" (as defined in the agreements governing the Revolving Funding

24


Facility) in each case, determined monthly based on the composition of the borrowing base relative to outstanding borrowings under the Revolving Funding Facility.

        Our consolidated subsidiary, Ares Capital JB Funding LLC ("ACJB LLC") is party to a revolving funding facility with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation ("SMBC"), which allows us to borrow up to $400 million at any one time outstanding (the "SMBC Funding Facility" and together with the Revolving Credit Facility and the Revolving Funding Facility, the "Facilities"). The SMBC Funding Facility provides for a reinvestment period until September 14, 2016 and a stated maturity of September 14, 2021. The reinvestment period and the stated maturity date are both subject to two one-year extensions by mutual agreement. Subject to certain exceptions, the interest rate charged on the SMBC Funding Facility is based on one month LIBOR plus an applicable spread of 2.00% or a "base rate" (as defined in the agreements governing the SMBC Funding Facility) plus an applicable spread of 1.00%.

        As of February 20, 2015, we had approximately $1.5 billion aggregate principal amount of convertible senior unsecured notes outstanding comprised of $575.0 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior unsecured notes that mature on February 1, 2016 and bear interest at a rate of 5.75% (the "February 2016 Convertible Notes"), $230.0 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior unsecured notes that mature on June 1, 2016 and bear interest at a rate of 5.125% (the "June 2016 Convertible Notes"), $162.5 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior unsecured notes that mature on March 15, 2017 and bear interest at rate of 4.875% (the "2017 Convertible Notes"), $270.0 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior unsecured notes that mature on January 15, 2018 and bear interest at a rate of 4.75% (the "2018 Convertible Notes"), and $300.0 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior unsecured notes that mature on January 15, 2019 and bear interest at a rate of 4.375% (the "2019 Convertible Notes", and together with the February 2016 Convertible Notes, the June 2016 Convertible Notes, the 2017 Convertible Notes and the 2018 Convertible Notes, the "Convertible Unsecured Notes").

        As of February 20, 2015, we had approximately $2.1 billion aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes outstanding comprised of $750.0 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes that mature on November 30, 2018 and bear interest at a rate of 4.875% (the "2018 Notes"), $600 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes that mature on January 15, 2020 and bear interest at a rate of 3.875% (the "2020 Notes"), $143.8 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes that mature on February 15, 2022 and bear interest at a rate of 7.00% (the "February 2022 Notes"), $182.5 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes that mature on October 1, 2022 and bear interest at a rate of 5.875% (the "October 2022 Notes"), $200.0 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes that mature on October 15, 2040 and bear interest at a rate of 7.75% (the "2040 Notes") and $229.5 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes that mature on April 15, 2047 and bear interest at a rate of 6.875% (the "2047 Notes" and together with the 2018 Notes, the 2020 Notes, the February 2022 Notes, the October 2022 Notes and the 2040 Notes, the "Unsecured Notes"). The Unsecured Notes, excluding the 2018 Notes and the 2020 Notes, are listed on The New York Stock Exchange. See "Management's Discussion And Analysis Of Financial Condition And Results Of Operations—Recent Developments," as well as Note 17 to our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2014 for more information on the 2020 Notes and the February 2022 Notes.

        We intend to continue borrowing under the Facilities in the future and we may increase the size of the Facilities, add additional credit facilities or otherwise issue additional debt securities or other evidences of indebtedness in the future, although there can be no assurance that we will be able to do so.

        For more information on our debt, see "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Financial Condition, Liquidity and Capital Resources."

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Small Business Investment Company

        We have applied to the Small Business Administration ("SBA") for a license to allow a new wholly owned subsidiary to operate as a Small Business Investment Company ("SBIC") under the Small Business Investment Act of 1958. In May 2014, we received a "green light" or "go forth letter" from the SBA inviting us to continue our application process to obtain a license to form and operate an SBIC subsidiary, and we submitted our license application in October 2014. If approved, the license would provide us with an incremental source of long-term debt capital. Receipt of a green light letter from the SBA does not assure an applicant that the SBA will ultimately issue an SBIC license, and we have received no assurance or indication from the SBA that we will receive an SBIC license or of the timeframe in which we would receive a license should one ultimately be granted.

REGULATION

        We have elected to be regulated as a BDC under the Investment Company Act and have elected to be treated as a RIC under the Code. As with other companies regulated by the Investment Company Act, a BDC must adhere to certain substantive regulatory requirements. The Investment Company Act contains prohibitions and restrictions relating to certain transactions between BDCs and certain affiliates (including any investment advisers or sub-advisers), principal underwriters and certain affiliates of those affiliates or underwriters. Among other things, we generally cannot invest in any portfolio company in which a fund managed by Ares or any of its downstream affiliates other than us and our downstream affiliates) currently has an investment (although we may co-invest with funds managed by Ares or any of its downstream affiliates, subject to compliance with existing regulatory guidance, applicable regulations and our allocation procedures). Certain types of co-investment transactions would only be permitted pursuant to an exemptive order from the SEC, for which we have applied. Any such order will be subject to certain terms and conditions. Further, there is no assurance that the application for exemptive relief will be granted by the SEC.

        The Investment Company Act contains certain restrictions on certain types of investments we may make. Specifically, we may only invest up to 30% of our portfolio in entities that are not considered "eligible portfolio companies" (as defined in the Investment Company Act), including companies located outside of the United States, entities that are operating pursuant to certain exceptions under the Investment Company Act, and publicly traded entities whose public equity market capitalization exceeds the levels provided for under the Investment Company Act.

        The Investment Company Act also requires that a majority of our directors be persons other than "interested persons," as that term is defined in Section 2(a)(19) of the Investment Company Act, referred to herein as "independent directors." In addition, the Investment Company Act provides that we may not change the nature of our business so as to cease to be, or to withdraw our election as, a BDC unless that change is approved by holders of at least a majority of our outstanding voting securities. Under the Investment Company Act, the vote of holders of at least a "majority of outstanding voting securities" means the vote of the holders of the lesser of: (a) 67% or more of the outstanding shares of our common stock present at a meeting or represented by proxy if holders of more than 50% of the shares of our common stock are present or represented by proxy or (b) more than 50% of the outstanding shares of our common stock.

        We may invest up to 100% of our assets in securities acquired directly from issuers in privately negotiated transactions. With respect to such securities, we may, for the purpose of public resale, be deemed an "underwriter" as that term is defined in the Securities Act of 1933 (the "Securities Act"). Our intention is to not write (sell) or buy put or call options to manage risks associated with the publicly traded securities of our portfolio companies. We may enter into hedging transactions to manage the risks associated with interest rate and currency fluctuations. We may purchase or otherwise receive warrants or options to purchase the common stock of our portfolio companies in connection with acquisition financings or other investments. In connection with such an acquisition, we may

26


acquire rights to require the issuers of acquired securities or their affiliates to repurchase them under certain circumstances.

        We also do not intend to acquire securities issued by any investment company that exceed the limits imposed by the Investment Company Act. Under these limits, we generally cannot acquire more than 3% of the voting stock of any investment company (as defined in the Investment Company Act), invest more than 5% of the value of our total assets in the securities of one investment company or invest more than 10% of the value of our total assets in the securities of investment companies in the aggregate. With regard to that portion of our portfolio invested in securities issued by investment companies, it should be noted that such investments might subject our stockholders to additional expenses.

PRIVACY PRINCIPLES

        We are committed to maintaining the privacy of our stockholders and to safeguarding their non-public personal information. The following information is provided to help you understand what personal information we collect, how we protect that information and why, in certain cases, we may share information with select other parties.

        Generally, we do not receive any non-public personal information relating to our stockholders, although certain non-public personal information of our stockholders may become available to us. The non-public personal information that we may receive falls into the following categories:

    information we receive from stockholders, whether we receive it orally, in writing or electronically. This includes stockholders' communications to us concerning their investment;

    information about stockholders' transactions and history with us; or

    other general information that we may obtain about stockholders, such as demographic and contact information such as a person's address.

        We do not disclose any non-public personal information about our stockholders or former stockholders to anyone, except:

    to our affiliates (such as our investment adviser and administrator) and their employees that have a legitimate business need for the information;

    to our service providers (such as our accountants, attorneys, custodians, transfer agent, underwriters and proxy solicitors) and their employees, as is necessary to service recordholder accounts or otherwise provide the applicable services;

    to comply with court orders, subpoenas, lawful discovery requests or other legal or regulatory requirements; or

    as allowed or required by applicable law or regulation.

        When we share non-public stockholder personal information referred to above, the information is made available for limited business purposes and under controlled circumstances designed to protect our stockholders' privacy. We do not permit use of stockholder information for any non-business or marketing purpose, nor do we permit third parties to rent, sell, trade or otherwise release or disclose information to any other party.

        Our service providers, such as its investment adviser, administrator and transfer agent, are required to maintain physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards to protect stockholder non-public personal information to prevent unauthorized access or use and to dispose of such information when it is no longer required.

27


        Personnel of our affiliates may access stockholder information only for business purposes. The degree of access is based on the sensitivity of the information and on personnel need for the information to service a stockholder's account or comply with legal requirements.

        If a stockholder ceases to be a stockholder, we will adhere to the privacy policies and practices as described above. We may choose to modify our privacy policies at any time. Before we do so, we will notify stockholders and provide a description of our privacy policy.

        In the event of a corporate change in control resulting from, for example, a sale to, or merger with, another entity, or in the event of a sale of assets, we reserve the right to transfer stockholders' non-public personal information to the new party in control or the party acquiring assets.

AVAILABLE INFORMATION

        We file with or submit to the SEC annual, quarterly and current periodic reports, proxy statements and other information meeting the informational requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act"). This information is available free of charge by calling us collect at (310) 201-4200 or on our website at www.arescapitalcorp.com. Information contained on our website is not incorporated into this Annual Report and you should not consider such information to be part of this Annual Report. You also may inspect and copy these reports, proxy statements and other information, as well as the Annual Report and related exhibits and schedules, at the Public Reference Room of the SEC at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549, the SEC's Northeast Regional Office at 3 World Financial Center, Suite 400, New York, NY 10281 and the SEC's Midwest Regional Office at 175 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60604. Such information is also available from the EDGAR database on the SEC's web site at http://www.sec.gov. You also can obtain copies of such information, after paying a duplicating fee, by sending a request by e-mail to publicinfo@sec.gov or by writing the SEC's Public Reference Branch, Office of Consumer Affairs and Information Services, Securities and Exchange Commission, Washington, D.C. 20549. You may obtain information on the operation of the SEC's Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at (202) 551-8090 or (800) SEC-0330.

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Item 1A.    Risk Factors

RISK FACTORS

        You should carefully consider the risk factors described below, together with all of the other information included in this Annual Report, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes thereto, 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 currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial also may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and/or operating results. If any of the following events occur, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected. In such case, the net asset value of our common stock and the trading price of our securities could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment.

RISKS RELATING TO OUR BUSINESS

The capital markets may experience periods of disruption and instability. Such market conditions may materially and adversely affect debt and equity capital markets in the United States, which may have a negative impact on our business and operations.

        From time to time, capital markets may experience periods of disruption and instability. For example, between 2008 and 2009, the global capital markets were unstable as evidenced by periodic disruptions in liquidity in the debt capital markets, significant write-offs in the financial services sector, the re-pricing of credit risk in the broadly syndicated credit market and the failure of major financial institutions. Despite actions of the U.S. federal government and foreign governments, these events contributed to worsening general economic conditions that materially and adversely impacted the broader financial and credit markets and reduced the availability of debt and equity capital for the market as a whole and financial services firms in particular. While market conditions have experienced relative stability in recent years, there have been continuing periods of volatility and there can be no assurance that adverse market conditions will not repeat themselves in the future.

        Equity capital may be difficult to raise during periods of adverse or volatile market conditions because, subject to some limited exceptions, as a BDC, we are generally not able to issue additional shares of our common stock at a price less than net asset value without first obtaining approval for such issuance from our stockholders and our independent directors. We generally seek approval from our stockholders so that we have the flexibility to issue up to 25% of our then outstanding shares of our common stock at a price below net asset value. Pursuant to approval granted at our 2014 annual stockholders meeting, we currently are permitted to sell or otherwise issue shares of our common stock at a price below net asset value, subject to certain limitations and determinations that must be made by our board of directors. Such stockholder approval expires the earlier of June 2, 2015 and the date of our 2015 annual stockholders meeting.

        At times, volatility and dislocation in the capital markets can also create a challenging environment in which to raise or access debt capital. The re-appearance of market conditions similar to those experienced from 2008 through 2009 for any substantial length of time could make it difficult to extend the maturity of or refinance our existing indebtedness or obtain new indebtedness with similar terms and any failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business. The debt capital that will be available to us in the future, if at all, may be at a higher cost and on less favorable terms and conditions than what we currently experience. If we are unable to raise or refinance debt, then our equity investors may not benefit from the potential for increased returns on equity resulting from leverage and we may be limited in our ability to make new commitments or to fund existing commitments to our portfolio companies.

        Significant changes or volatility in the capital markets may also have a negative effect on the valuations of our investments. While most of our investments are not publicly traded, applicable

29


accounting standards require us to assume as part of our valuation process that our investments are sold in a principal market to market participants (even if we plan on holding an investment through its maturity). Significant changes in the capital markets may also affect the pace of our investment activity and the potential for liquidity events involving our investments. Thus, the illiquidity of our investments may make it difficult for us to sell such investments to access capital if required, and as a result, we could realize significantly less than the value at which we have recorded our investments if we were required to sell them for liquidity purposes. An inability to raise or access capital could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Uncertainty about the financial stability of the United States and of several countries in the European Union (EU) could have a significant adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

        Due to federal budget deficit concerns, S&P downgraded the federal government's credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time in history on August 5, 2011. Further, Moody's and Fitch had warned that they may downgrade the federal government's credit rating. Further downgrades or warnings by S&P or other rating agencies, and the United States government's credit and deficit concerns in general, could cause interest rates and borrowing costs to rise, which may negatively impact both the perception of credit risk associated with our debt portfolio and our ability to access the debt markets on favorable terms. In addition, a decreased U.S. government credit rating could create broader financial turmoil and uncertainty, which may weigh heavily on our financial performance and the value of our common stock.

        In 2010, a financial crisis emerged in Europe, triggered by high budget deficits and rising direct and contingent sovereign debt in Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, which created concerns about the ability of these nations to continue to service their sovereign debt obligations. While the financial stability of such countries has improved significantly, risks resulting from any future debt crisis in Europe or any similar crisis could have a detrimental impact on the global economic recovery, sovereign and non-sovereign debt in these countries and the financial condition of European financial institutions. Market and economic disruptions have affected, and may in the future affect, consumer confidence levels and spending, personal bankruptcy rates, levels of incurrence and default on consumer debt and home prices, among other factors. We cannot assure you that market disruptions in Europe, including the increased cost of funding for certain governments and financial institutions, will not impact the global economy, and we cannot assure you that assistance packages will be available, or if available, be sufficient to stabilize countries and markets in Europe or elsewhere affected by a financial crisis. To the extent uncertainty regarding any economic recovery in Europe negatively impacts consumer confidence and consumer credit factors, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be significantly and adversely affected.

        In October 2014, the Federal Reserve announced that it was concluding its bond-buying program, or quantitative easing, which was designed to stimulate the economy and expand the Federal Reserve's holdings of long-term securities, suggesting that key economic indicators, such as the unemployment rate, had showed signs of improvement since the inception of the program. It is unclear what effect, if any, the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's bond-buying program will have on the value of our investments. However, it is possible that, without quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve, these developments, along with the United States government's credit and deficit concerns and the European sovereign debt crisis, could cause interest rates and borrowing costs to rise, which may negatively impact our ability to access the debt markets on favorable terms. Additionally, in January 2015, the Federal Reserve reaffirmed its view that the current target range for the federal funds rate was appropriate based on current economic conditions. However, if key economic indicators, such as the unemployment rate or inflation, do not progress at a rate consistent with the Federal Reserve's objectives, the target range for the federal funds rate may increase and cause interest rates and

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borrowing costs to rise, which may negatively impact our ability to access the debt markets on favorable terms.

A failure on our part to maintain our status as a BDC would significantly reduce our operating flexibility.

        If we fail to maintain our status as a BDC, we might be regulated as a closed-end investment company that is required to register under the Investment Company Act, which would subject us to additional regulatory restrictions and significantly decrease our operating flexibility. In addition, any such failure could cause an event of default under our outstanding indebtedness, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We are dependent upon certain key personnel of Ares for our future success and upon their access to other Ares investment professionals.

        We depend on the diligence, skill and network of business contacts of certain key personnel of the Ares Direct Lending Group. We also depend, to a significant extent, on access to the investment professionals of other groups within Ares and the information and deal flow generated by Ares' investment professionals in the course of their investment and portfolio management activities. Our future success depends on the continued service of the key personnel of the Ares Direct Lending Group. The departure of any of these individuals, or of a significant number of the investment professionals or partners of Ares, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, we cannot assure you that Ares Capital Management will remain our investment adviser or that we will continue to have access to Ares' investment professionals or its information and deal flow. Further, there can be no assurance that Ares Capital will replicate its own or Ares' historical success, and we caution you that our investment returns could be substantially lower than the returns achieved by other Ares-managed funds.

Our financial condition and results of operations depend on our ability to manage future growth effectively.

        Our ability to achieve our investment objective depends on our ability to acquire suitable investments and monitor and administer those investments, which depends, in turn, on our investment adviser's ability to identify, invest in and monitor companies that meet our investment criteria.

        Accomplishing this result on a cost-effective basis is largely a function of the structuring of our investment process and the ability of our investment adviser to provide competent, attentive and efficient services to us. Our executive officers and the members of our investment adviser's investment committee have substantial responsibilities in connection with their roles at Ares and with the other Ares funds, as well as responsibilities under the investment advisory and management agreement. They may also be called upon to provide significant managerial assistance to certain of our portfolio companies. These demands on their time, which will increase as the number of investments grow, may distract them or slow the rate of investment. In order to grow, Ares will need to hire, train, supervise, manage and retain new employees. However, we cannot assure you that Ares will be able to do so effectively. Any failure to manage our future growth effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

        In addition, as we grow, we may open up new offices in new geographic regions that may increase our direct operating expenses without corresponding revenue growth.

Our ability to grow depends on our ability to raise capital.

        We will need to periodically access the capital markets to raise cash to fund new investments in excess of our repayments and, beginning in 2016, we may also need to access the capital markets to

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refinance existing debt obligations to the extent such maturing obligations are not repaid with cash flows from operations. We have elected to be treated as a RIC and operate in a manner so as to qualify for the U.S. federal income tax treatment applicable to RICs. Among other things, in order to maintain our RIC status, we must distribute to our stockholders on a timely basis generally an amount equal to at least 90% of our investment company taxable income, and, as a result, such distributions will not be available to fund investment originations or repay maturing debt. We must continue to borrow from financial institutions and issue additional securities to fund our growth. Unfavorable economic or capital market conditions may increase our funding costs or limit our access to the capital markets, or could result in a decision by lenders not to extend credit to us. An inability to successfully access the capital markets may limit our ability to refinance our existing debt obligations as they become due and/or to fully execute our business strategy and could limit our ability to grow or cause us to have to shrink the size of our business, which could decrease our earnings, if any.

        In addition, with certain limited exceptions, we are only allowed to borrow amounts or issue debt securities or preferred stock, which we refer to collectively as "senior securities," such that our asset coverage, as calculated pursuant to the Investment Company Act, equals at least 200% immediately after such borrowing, which, in certain circumstances, may restrict our ability to borrow or issue debt securities or preferred stock. The amount of leverage that we employ will depend on our investment adviser's and our board of directors' assessments of market and other factors at the time of any proposed borrowing or issuance of senior securities. We cannot assure you that we will be able to maintain our current Facilities, obtain other lines of credit or issue senior securities at all or on terms acceptable to us.

Regulations governing our operation as a BDC affect our ability to, and the way in which we, raise additional capital.

        We may issue senior securities or borrow money from banks or other financial institutions, up to the maximum amount permitted by the Investment Company Act. Under the provisions of the Investment Company Act, we are permitted, as a BDC, to incur indebtedness or issue senior securities only in amounts such that our asset coverage, as calculated pursuant to the Investment Company Act, equals at least 200% after each such incurrence or issuance. If the value of our assets declines, we may be unable to satisfy this test, which may prohibit us from paying dividends and could prevent us from maintaining our status as a RIC or may prohibit us from repurchasing shares of our common stock. In addition, our inability to satisfy this test could cause an event of default under our existing indebtedness. If we cannot satisfy this test, we may be required to sell a portion of our investments at a time when such sales may be disadvantageous and, depending on the nature of our leverage, repay a portion of our indebtedness. Accordingly, any failure to satisfy this test could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. As of December 31, 2014, our asset coverage calculated in accordance with the Investment Company Act was 235%. Also, to generate cash for funding new investments, we may in the future seek to issue additional debt or to securitize certain of our loans. The Investment Company Act may impose restrictions on the structure of any such securitization.

        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 the 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 the best interests of our stockholders, and our stockholders approve such sale. Any such sale would be dilutive to the net asset value per share of our common stock. In any such case, the price at which our securities are to be issued and sold may not be less than a price that, in the determination of our board of directors, closely approximates the market value of such securities (less any commission or discount). If our common

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stock trades at a discount to net asset value, this restriction could adversely affect our ability to raise capital.

        Pursuant to approval granted at our 2014 annual stockholders meeting, we currently are permitted to sell or otherwise issue shares of our common stock at a price below net asset value, subject to certain limitations and determinations that must be made by our board of directors. Such stockholder approval expires the earlier of June 2, 2015 and the date of our 2015 annual stockholders meeting.

We borrow money, which magnifies the potential for gain or loss on amounts invested and may increase the risk of investing with us.

        Borrowings, also known as leverage, magnify the potential for gain or loss on amounts invested and, therefore, increase the risks associated with investing in our securities. We currently borrow under our Facilities and have issued or assumed other senior securities, and in the future may borrow from, or issue additional senior securities to, banks, insurance companies, funds, institutional investors and other lenders and investors. Lenders and holders of such senior securities have fixed dollar claims on our consolidated assets that are superior to the claims of our common stockholders or any preferred stockholders. If the value of our consolidated assets increases, then leveraging would cause the net asset value per share of our common stock to increase more sharply than it would have had we not incurred leverage.

        Conversely, if the value of our consolidated assets decreases, leveraging would cause net asset value to decline more sharply than it otherwise would have had we not incurred leverage. Similarly, any increase in our consolidated income in excess of consolidated interest payable on the borrowed funds would cause our net income to increase more than it would had we not incurred leverage, while any decrease in our consolidated income would cause net income to decline more sharply than it would have had we not incurred leverage. Such a decline could negatively affect our ability to make common stock dividend payments. There can be no assurance that a leveraging strategy will be successful.

        As of December 31, 2014, we had approximately $556.0 million of outstanding borrowings under the Facilities, approximately $1,537.5 million in aggregate principal amount outstanding of the Convertible Unsecured Notes and approximately $1,905.8 million in aggregate principal amount outstanding of the Unsecured Notes. In order for us to cover our annual interest payments on our outstanding indebtedness at December 31, 2014, we must achieve annual returns on our December 31, 2014 total assets of at least 2.1%. The weighted average stated interest rate charged on our principal amount of outstanding indebtedness as of December 31, 2014 was 4.9%. We intend to continue borrowing under the Facilities in the future and we may increase the size of the Facilities or issue additional debt securities or other evidences of indebtedness (although there can be no assurance that we will be successful in doing so). For more information on our indebtedness, see "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Financial Condition, Liquidity and Capital Resources." Our ability to service our debt depends largely on our financial performance and is subject to prevailing economic conditions and competitive pressures. The amount of leverage that we employ at any particular time will depend on our investment adviser's and our board of directors' assessments of market and other factors at the time of any proposed borrowing.

        The Facilities, the Convertible Unsecured Notes and the Unsecured Notes impose financial and operating covenants that restrict our business activities, including limitations that could hinder our ability to finance additional loans and investments or to make the distributions required to maintain our status as a RIC. A failure to renew the Facilities or to add new or replacement debt facilities or to issue additional debt securities or other evidences of indebtedness could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

        The following table illustrates the effect on return to a holder of our common stock of the leverage created by our use of borrowing at the weighted average stated interest rate of 4.9% as of

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December 31, 2014, together with (a) our total value of net assets as of December 31, 2014; (b) approximately $3,999.3 million in aggregate principal amount of indebtedness outstanding as of December 31, 2014 and (c) hypothetical annual returns on our portfolio of minus 15% to plus 15%.

Assumed Return on Portfolio (Net of Expenses)(1)

    –15 %   –10 %   –5 %   %   5 %   10 %   15 %

Corresponding Return to Common Stockholders(2)

    –31 %   –22 %   –13 %   –4 %   5 %   14 %   23 %

(1)
The assumed portfolio return is required by SEC regulations and is not a prediction of, and does not represent, our projected or actual performance. Actual returns may be greater or less than those appearing in the table. Pursuant to SEC regulations, this table is calculated as of December 31, 2014. As a result, it has not been updated to take into account any changes in assets or leverage since December 31, 2014.

(2)
In order to compute the "Corresponding Return to Common Stockholders," the "Assumed Return on Portfolio" is multiplied by the total value of our assets at December 31, 2014 to obtain an assumed return to us. From this amount, the interest expense (calculated by multiplying the weighted average stated interest rate of 4.9% by the approximately $3,999.3 million of principal debt outstanding) is subtracted to determine the return available to stockholders. The return available to stockholders is then divided by the total value of our net assets as of December 31, 2014 to determine the "Corresponding Return to Common Stockholders."

In addition to regulatory requirements that restrict our ability to raise capital, the Facilities, the Convertible Unsecured Notes and the Unsecured Notes contain various covenants that, if not complied with, could accelerate repayment under the Facilities, the Convertible Unsecured Notes and the Unsecured Notes, thereby materially and adversely affecting our liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

        The agreements governing the Facilities, the Convertible Unsecured Notes and the Unsecured Notes require us to comply with certain financial and operational covenants. These covenants may include, among other things:

    restrictions on the level of indebtedness that we are permitted to incur in relation to the value of our assets;

    restrictions on our ability to incur liens; and

    maintenance of a minimum level of stockholders' equity.

        As of the date of this Annual Report, we are in compliance in all material respects with the covenants of the Facilities, the Convertible Unsecured Notes and the Unsecured Notes. However, our continued compliance with these covenants depends on many factors, some of which are beyond our control. For example, depending on the condition of the public debt and equity markets and pricing levels, unrealized depreciation in our portfolio may increase in the future. Any such increase could result in our inability to comply with our obligation to restrict the level of indebtedness that we are able to incur in relation to the value of our assets or to maintain a minimum level of stockholders' equity.

        Accordingly, although we believe we will continue to be in compliance, there are no assurances that we will continue to comply with the covenants in the Facilities, the Convertible Unsecured Notes and the Unsecured Notes. Failure to comply with these covenants could result in a default under the Facilities, the Convertible Unsecured Notes or the Unsecured Notes that, if we were unable to obtain a waiver from the lenders or holders of such indebtedness, as applicable, such lenders or holders could accelerate repayment under such indebtedness and thereby have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities.

        A number of entities compete with us to make the types of investments that we make in middle-market companies. We compete with other BDCs, public and private funds, commercial and investment banks, commercial financing companies, insurance companies, hedge funds, and, to the extent they provide an alternative form of financing, private equity funds. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial, technical and marketing resources than we do. Some competitors may have a lower cost of funds and 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 Investment Company Act imposes on us as a BDC and that the Code imposes on us as a RIC. We cannot assure you that the competitive pressures we face will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Also, as a result of this competition, we may not be able to pursue attractive investment opportunities from time to time.

        We do not seek to compete primarily based on the interest rates we offer and we believe that some of our competitors may make loans with interest rates that are comparable to or lower than the rates we offer. Rather, we compete with our competitors based on our existing investment platform, seasoned investment professionals, experience and focus on middle-market companies, disciplined investment philosophy, extensive industry focus and flexible transaction structuring. For a more detailed discussion of these competitive advantages, see "Business—Competitive Advantages."

        We may lose investment opportunities if we do not match our competitors' pricing, terms and structure. If we match our competitors' pricing, terms and structure, we may experience decreased net interest income and increased risk of credit loss. As a result of operating in such a competitive environment, we may make investments that are on less favorable terms than what we may have originally anticipated, which may impact our return on these investments.

We may be subject to additional corporate-level income taxes if we fail to maintain our status as a RIC.

        We have elected to be treated as a RIC under the Code and operate in a manner so as to qualify for the U.S. federal income tax treatment applicable to RICs. As a RIC, we generally will not pay U.S. federal corporate-level income taxes on our income and net capital gains that we distribute to our stockholders as dividends on a timely basis. We will be subject to U.S. federal corporate-level income tax on any undistributed income and/or gains. To maintain our status as a RIC, we must meet certain source of income, asset diversification and annual distribution requirements. We may also be subject to certain U.S. federal excise taxes, as well as state, local and foreign taxes.

        To satisfy the annual distribution requirement applicable to RICs, we must distribute to our stockholders on a timely basis generally an amount equal to at least 90% of our investment company taxable income for each year. We have the ability to pay a large portion of our dividends in shares of our stock, and as long as a portion of such dividend is paid in cash and other requirements are met, such stock dividends will be taxable as a dividend for U.S. federal income tax purposes. This may result in our U.S. stockholders having to pay tax on such dividends, even if no cash is received, and may result in our non-U.S. stockholders being subject to withholding tax in respect of amounts distributed in our stock. Because we use debt financing, we are subject to certain asset coverage ratio requirements under the Investment Company Act and financial covenants under our indebtedness that could, under certain circumstances, restrict us from making distributions necessary to qualify as a RIC. If we are unable to obtain cash from other sources, we may fail to maintain our status as a RIC and, thus, may be subject to corporate-level income tax on all of our income and/or gains.

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        To maintain our status as a RIC, in addition to the annual distribution requirement applicable to RICs, we must also meet certain annual source of income requirements at the end of each taxable year and asset diversification requirements at the end of each calendar quarter. Failure to meet these requirements may result in our having to (a) dispose of certain investments quickly or (b) raise additional capital to prevent the loss of RIC status. Because most of our investments are in private companies and are generally illiquid, any such dispositions may be at disadvantageous prices and may result in losses. Also, the rules applicable to our qualification as a RIC are complex with many areas of uncertainty. Accordingly, no assurance can be given that we have qualified or will continue to qualify as a RIC. If we fail to maintain our status as a RIC for any reason and become subject to regular "C" corporation income tax, the resulting corporate-level income taxes could substantially reduce our net assets, the amount of income available for distribution and the amount of our distributions. Such a failure would have a material adverse effect on us and on any investment in us. The "Regulated Investment Company Modernization Act of 2010," which is effective for 2011 and later tax years, provides some relief from RIC disqualification due to failures of the source of income and asset diversification requirements, although there may be additional taxes due in such cases. We cannot assure you that we would qualify for any such relief should we fail the source of income or asset diversification requirements.

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

        For U.S. federal income tax purposes, we generally are required to include in income certain amounts that we have not yet received in cash, such as original issue discount, which may arise, for example, if we receive warrants in connection with the making of a loan or PIK interest representing contractual interest added to the loan principal balance and due at the end of the loan term. Such original issue discount or PIK interest is 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, including, for example, amounts attributable to hedging and foreign currency transactions or cancellation of indebtedness income resulting from a restructuring of an investment in debt securities.

        Since, in certain cases, we may recognize income before or without receiving cash in respect of such income, we may have difficulty meeting the U.S. federal income tax requirement to distribute generally an amount equal to at least 90% of our investment company taxable income to maintain our status as a RIC. Accordingly, we may have to sell some of our investments at times we would not consider advantageous, raise additional debt or equity capital or reduce new investment originations to meet these distribution requirements. If we are not able to obtain cash from other sources, we may fail to qualify as a RIC and thus be subject to additional corporate-level income taxes. Such a failure would have a material adverse effect on us and on any investment in us.

We are exposed to risks associated with changes in interest rates.

        General interest rate fluctuations may have a substantial negative impact on our investments and investment opportunities and, accordingly, may have a material adverse effect on our investment objective and rate of return on invested capital. Because we borrow money and may issue debt securities or preferred stock to make investments, our net investment income is dependent upon the difference between the rate at which we borrow funds or pay interest or dividends on such debt securities or preferred stock and the rate at which we invest these funds. As a result, there can be no assurance that a significant change in market interest rates will not have a material adverse effect on our net investment income.

        Trading prices for debt that pays a fixed rate of return tend to fall as interest rates rise. Trading prices tend to fluctuate more for fixed-rate securities that have longer maturities. In the past, we have entered into certain hedging transactions, such as interest rate swap agreements, to mitigate our

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exposure to adverse fluctuations in interest rates, and we may do so again in the future. In addition, we may increase our floating rate investments to position the portfolio for rate increases. However, we cannot assure you that such transactions will be successful in mitigating our exposure to interest rate risk. Hedging transactions may also limit our ability to participate in the benefits of lower interest rates with respect to our portfolio investments.

        Although we have no policy governing the maturities of our investments, under current market conditions we expect that we will invest in a portfolio of debt generally having maturities of up to 10 years. This means that we are subject to greater risk (other things being equal) than a fund invested solely in shorter-term securities. A decline in the prices of the debt we own could adversely affect the trading price of our common stock. Also, an increase in interest rates available to investors could make an investment in our common stock less attractive if we are not able to increase our dividend rate, which could reduce the value of our common stock.

Most of our portfolio investments are not publicly traded and, as a result, the fair value of these investments may not be readily determinable.

        A large percentage of our portfolio investments are not publicly traded. The fair value of investments that are not publicly traded may not be readily determinable. We value these investments quarterly at fair value as determined in good faith by our board of directors based on, among other things, the input of our management and audit committee and independent valuation firms that have been engaged at the direction of our board of directors to assist in the valuation of each portfolio investment without a readily available market quotation at least once during a trailing 12-month period (with certain de minimis exceptions). The valuation process is conducted at the end of each fiscal quarter, with a minimum of 55% (based on value) of our valuations of portfolio companies without readily available market quotations subject to review by an independent valuation firm each quarter. However, we may use these independent valuation firms to review the value of our investments more frequently, including in connection with the occurrence of significant events or changes in value affecting a particular investment. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm obtains an understanding of, and performs select procedures relating to, our investment valuation process within the context of performing the integrated audit.

        The types of factors that may be considered in valuing our investments include the enterprise value of the portfolio company (the entire value of the portfolio company to a market participant, including the sum of the values of debt and equity securities used to capitalize the enterprise at a point in time), the nature and realizable value of any collateral, the portfolio company's ability to make payments and its earnings and discounted cash flows, the markets in which the portfolio company does business, a comparison of the portfolio company's securities to similar publicly traded securities, changes in the interest rate environment and the credit markets generally that may affect the price at which similar investments would trade in their principal markets and other relevant factors. When an external event such as a purchase transaction, public offering or subsequent equity sale occurs, we consider the pricing indicated by the external event to corroborate our valuation. Because such valuations, and particularly valuations of private investments 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 investments existed and may differ materially from the values that we may ultimately realize. Our net asset value per share could be adversely affected if our determinations regarding the fair value of these investments are higher than the values that we realize upon disposition of such investments.

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

        As we generally make investments in private companies, substantially all of these investments are subject to legal and other restrictions on resale or are otherwise less liquid than publicly traded

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securities. The illiquidity of our 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 could realize significantly less than the value at which we have recorded our investments. In addition, we may face other restrictions on our ability to liquidate an investment in a portfolio company to the extent that we or an affiliated manager of Ares has material non-public information regarding such portfolio company.

We may experience fluctuations in our quarterly results.

        We could experience fluctuations in our quarterly operating results due to a number of factors, including the interest rates payable on the debt investments we make, the default rates on such investments, 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. As a result of these factors, results for any period should not be relied upon as being indicative of performance in future periods.

Our financial condition and results of operations could be negatively affected if a significant investment fails to perform as expected.

        Our investment portfolio includes investments that may be significant individually or in the aggregate. If a significant investment in one or more companies fails to perform as expected, such a failure could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations, and the magnitude of such effect could be more significant than if we had further diversified our portfolio.

        Our investment portfolio includes our investment in the SSLP, which as of December 31, 2014, represented approximately 23% of our total portfolio at fair value. In addition, for the year ended December 31, 2014, approximately 35% of our total investment income was earned from our investment in the SSLP. The income earned from the SSLP is derived from the interest and fee income earned by the SSLP from its investments in first lien senior secured loans of middle market companies. We provide capital to the SSLP in the form of subordinated certificates (the "SSLP Certificates"), which had a 13.55% yield at fair value as of December 31, 2014 and are junior in right of payment to the senior notes held by GE in the SSLP. For more information on the SSLP, see "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Portfolio and Investment Activity—Senior Secured Loan Program." Our return on and repayment of our investment in the SSLP Certificates depends on the performance of the loans in the SSLP's portfolio in the aggregate. Accordingly, any material degradation in the performance of the loans in the SSLP's portfolio in the aggregate would have a negative effect on the yield on our SSLP Certificates and could ultimately result in the loss of some or all of our investment in the SSLP Certificates.

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

        Certain of our executive officers and directors, and members of the investment committee of our investment adviser, serve or may serve as officers, directors or principals of other entities and affiliates of our investment adviser and investment funds managed by our affiliates. Accordingly, they may have obligations to investors in those entities, the fulfillment of which might not be in our or our stockholders' best interests or may require them to devote time to services for other entities, which could interfere with the time available to provide services to us. Certain members of our investment adviser's investment committee have significant responsibilities for other Ares funds. For example, Mr. Bennett Rosenthal is required to devote a substantial majority of his business time to the affairs of the Ares Private Equity Group. Similarly, although the professional staff of our investment adviser will devote as much time to the management of the Company as appropriate to enable our investment adviser to perform its duties in accordance with the investment advisory and management agreement, the investment professionals of our investment adviser may have conflicts in allocating their time and

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services among the Company, on the one hand, and investment vehicles managed by Ares or one or more of its affiliates, on the other hand. These activities could be viewed as creating a conflict of interest insofar as the time and effort of the professional staff of our investment adviser and its officers and employees will not be devoted exclusively to the business of the Company but will instead be allocated between the business of the Company and the management of these other investment vehicles. However, Ares believes that the efforts of such individuals are synergistic with and beneficial to the affairs of Ares Capital and these other investment vehicles managed by Ares or its affiliates.

        In addition, certain Ares funds may have investment objectives that compete or overlap with, and may from time to time invest in asset classes similar to those targeted by, Ares Capital. Consequently, we, on the one hand, and these other entities, on the other hand, may from time to time pursue the same or similar capital and investment opportunities. Ares and our investment adviser endeavor to allocate investment opportunities in a fair and equitable manner, and in any event consistent with any fiduciary duties owed to Ares Capital. Nevertheless, it is possible that we may not be given the opportunity to participate in certain investments made by investment funds managed by investment managers affiliated with Ares. In addition, there may be conflicts in the allocation of investment opportunities among us and the funds managed by investment managers affiliated with Ares or one or more of our controlled affiliates or among the funds they manage.

        We have from time to time sold assets to IHAM and certain of the vehicles managed by IHAM and, as part of our investment strategy, we may offer to sell additional assets to vehicles managed by one or more of our controlled affiliates (including IHAM) or we may purchase assets from vehicles managed by one or more of our controlled affiliates. In addition, vehicles managed by one or more of our controlled affiliates (including IHAM) may offer assets to or may purchase assets from one another. While assets may be sold or purchased at prices that are consistent with those that could be obtained from third parties in the marketplace, and although these types of transactions generally require approval of one or more independent parties, there may be an inherent conflict of interest in such transactions between us and funds managed by one of our controlled affiliates.

        We pay a base management fee, an income based fee and a capital gains incentive fee to our investment adviser, and reimburse our investment adviser for certain expenses it incurs. In addition, investors in our common stock will invest on a gross basis and receive distributions on a net basis after expenses, resulting in, among other things, a lower rate of return than one might achieve if distributions were made on a gross basis.

        Our investment adviser's base management fee is based on a percentage of our total assets (other than cash or cash equivalents but including assets purchased with borrowed funds) and, consequently, our investment adviser may have conflicts of interest in connection with decisions that could affect our total assets, such as decisions as to whether to incur indebtedness or to make future investments.

        The income based fees payable by us to our investment adviser that relate to our pre-incentive fee net investment income is computed and paid on income that may include interest that is accrued but not yet received in cash. If a portfolio company defaults on a loan that is structured to provide accrued interest, it is possible that accrued interest previously used in the calculation of such fee will become uncollectible. Our investment adviser is not under any obligation to reimburse us for any part of the income based fees it received that were based on accrued interest that we never actually receive.

        Our investment advisory and management agreement renews for successive annual periods if approved by our board of directors or by the affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of our outstanding voting securities, including, in either case, approval by a majority of our directors who are not "interested persons" of the Company as defined in Section 2(a)(19) of the Investment Company Act. However, both we and our investment adviser have the right to terminate the agreement without penalty upon 60 days' written notice to the other party. Moreover, conflicts of interest may arise if our investment adviser seeks to change the terms of our investment advisory and management agreement,

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including, for example, the terms for compensation. While any material change to the investment advisory and management agreement must be submitted to stockholders for approval under the Investment Company Act, we may from time to time decide it is appropriate to seek stockholder approval to change the terms of the agreement.

        We are party to an administration agreement with our administrator, Ares Operations, a subsidiary of Ares Management, pursuant to which our administrator furnishes us with administrative services and we pay our administrator at cost our allocable portion of overhead and other expenses (including travel expenses) incurred by our administrator in performing its obligations under our administration agreement, including our allocable portion of the cost of certain of our officers (including our chief compliance officer, chief financial officer, chief accounting officer, general counsel, treasurer and assistant treasurer) and their respective staffs, but not investment professionals.

        Our portfolio company, IHAM, is party to an administration agreement, referred to herein as the "IHAM administration agreement," with Ares Operations. Pursuant to the IHAM administration agreement, our administrator provides IHAM with administrative services and IHAM reimburses our administrator for all of the actual costs associated with such services, including its allocable portion of our administrator's overhead and the cost of our administrator's officers and respective staff in performing its obligations under the IHAM administration agreement. Prior to entering into the IHAM administration agreement, IHAM was party to a services agreement with our investment adviser, pursuant to which our investment adviser provided similar services.

        As a result of the arrangements described above, there may be times when the management team of Ares (including those members of management focused primarily on managing Ares Capital) has interests that differ from those of yours, giving rise to a conflict.

        Our stockholders may have conflicting investment, tax and other objectives with respect to their investments in us. The conflicting interests of individual stockholders may relate to or arise from, among other things, the nature of our investments, the structure or the acquisition of our investments, and the timing of dispositions of our investments. As a consequence, conflicts of interest may arise in connection with decisions made by our investment adviser, including with respect to the nature or structuring of our investments, that may be more beneficial for one stockholder than for another stockholder, especially with respect to stockholders' individual tax situations. In selecting and structuring investments appropriate for us, our investment adviser will consider the investment and tax objectives of the Company and our stockholders, as a whole, not the investment, tax or other objectives of any stockholder individually.

We are dependent on information systems and systems failures could significantly disrupt our business, which may, in turn, negatively affect our liquidity, financial condition or results of operations.

        Our business is dependent on our and third parties' communications and information systems. Any failure or interruption of those systems, including as a result of the termination of an agreement with any third-party service providers, could cause delays or other problems in our activities. Our financial, accounting, data processing, backup or other operating systems and facilities may fail to operate properly or become disabled or damaged as a result of a number of factors including events that are wholly or partially beyond our control and adversely affect our business. There could be:

    sudden electrical or telecommunications outages;

    natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes;

    disease pandemics;

    events arising from local or larger scale political or social matters, including terrorist acts; and

    cyber-attacks.

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        These events, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results and negatively affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.

Cybersecurity risks and cyber incidents may adversely affect our business by causing a disruption to our operations, a compromise or corruption of our confidential information and/or damage to our business relationships, all of which could negatively impact our business, financial condition and operating results.

        A cyber incident is considered to be any adverse event that threatens the confidentiality, integrity or availability of our information resources. These incidents may be an intentional attack or an unintentional event and could involve gaining unauthorized access to our information systems for purposes of misappropriating assets, stealing confidential information, corrupting data or causing operational disruption. The result of these incidents may include disrupted operations, misstated or unreliable financial data, liability for stolen assets or information, increased cybersecurity protection and insurance costs, litigation and damage to our business relationships. As our reliance on technology has increased, so have the risks posed to our information systems, both internal and those provided by Ares Management and third-party service providers. Ares Management has implemented processes, procedures and internal controls to help mitigate cybersecurity risks and cyber intrusions, but these measures, as well as our increased awareness of the nature and extent of a risk of a cyber incident, do not guarantee that a cyber incident will not occur and/or that our financial results, operations or confidential information will not be negatively impacted by such an incident.

Changes in laws or regulations governing our operations or the operations of our portfolio companies, changes in the interpretation thereof or newly enacted laws or regulations, such as the Dodd-Frank Act, and any failure by us or our portfolio companies to comply with these laws or regulations, could require changes to certain business practices of us or our portfolio companies, negatively impact the operations, cash flows or financial condition of us or our portfolio companies, impose additional costs on us or our portfolio companies or otherwise adversely affect our business or the business of our portfolio companies.

        We and our portfolio companies are subject to regulation by laws and regulations at the local, state, federal and, in some cases, foreign levels. These laws and regulations, as well as their interpretation, may be changed from time to time, and new laws and regulations may be enacted. Accordingly, any change in these laws or regulations, changes in their interpretation, or newly enacted laws or regulations and any failure by us or our portfolio companies to comply with these laws or regulations, could require changes to certain business practices of us or our portfolio companies, negatively impact the operations, cash flows or financial condition of us or our portfolio companies, impose additional costs on us or our portfolio companies or otherwise adversely affect our business or the business of our portfolio companies.

        On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Act. Many of the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act have had extended implementation periods and delayed effective dates and have required extensive rulemaking by regulatory authorities. While many of the rules required to be written have been promulgated, some have not yet been implemented. Although the full impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on us and our portfolio companies may not be known for an extended period of time, the Dodd-Frank Act, including the rules implementing its provisions and the interpretation of those rules, along with other legislative and regulatory proposals directed at the financial services industry or affecting taxation that are proposed or pending in the U.S. Congress, may negatively impact the operations, cash flows or financial condition of us or our portfolio companies, impose additional costs on us or our portfolio companies, intensify the regulatory supervision of us or our portfolio companies or otherwise adversely affect our business or the business of our portfolio companies.

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        Over the last several years, there also has been an increase in regulatory attention to the extension of credit outside of the traditional banking sector, raising the possibility that some portion of the non-bank financial sector will be subject to new regulation. While it cannot be known at this time whether any regulation will be implemented or what form it will take, increased regulation of non-bank credit extension could negatively impact our operating results or financial condition, impose additional costs on us, intensify the regulatory supervision of us or otherwise adversely affect our business.

Our investment adviser's liability is limited under the investment advisory and management agreement, and we are required to indemnify our investment adviser against certain liabilities, which may lead our investment adviser to act in a riskier manner on our behalf than it would when acting for its own account.

        Our investment adviser has not assumed any responsibility to us other than to render the services described in the investment advisory and management agreement, and it will not be responsible for any action of our board of directors in declining to follow our investment adviser's advice or recommendations. Pursuant to the investment advisory and management agreement, our investment adviser and its members and their respective officers, managers, partners, agents, employees, controlling persons and members and any other person or entity affiliated with it will not be liable to us for their acts under the investment advisory and management agreement, absent willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard in the performance of their duties. We have agreed to indemnify, defend and protect our investment adviser and its members and their respective officers, managers, partners, agents, employees, controlling persons and members and any other person or entity affiliated with it with respect to all damages, liabilities, costs and expenses resulting from acts of our investment adviser not arising out of willful misfeasance, bad faith, gross negligence or reckless disregard in the performance of their duties under the investment advisory and management agreement. These protections may lead our investment adviser to act in a riskier manner when acting on our behalf than it would when acting for its own account. See "Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Investments—Our investment adviser's fee structure may induce it to make certain investments, including speculative investments."

We may be obligated to pay our investment adviser certain fees even if we incur a loss.

        Our investment adviser is entitled to income based fees for each fiscal quarter in an amount equal to a percentage of the excess of our pre-incentive fee net investment income for that quarter (before deducting any income based fee and capital gains incentive fees and certain other items) above a threshold return for that quarter. Our pre-incentive fee net investment income for income based fee purposes excludes realized and unrealized capital losses or depreciation and income taxes related to realized gains that we may incur in the fiscal quarter, even if such capital losses or depreciation and income taxes related to realized gains result in a net loss on our statement of operations for that quarter. Thus, we may be required to pay our investment adviser income based fees 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.

        Under the investment advisory and management agreement, we will defer cash payment of any income based fee and the capital gains incentive fee otherwise earned by our investment adviser if, during the most recent four full calendar quarter periods ending on or prior to the date such payment is to be made, the sum of (a) our aggregate distributions to our stockholders and (b) our change in net assets (defined as total assets less indebtedness and before taking into account any income based fees or capital gains incentive fees accrued during the period) is less than 7.0% of our net assets (defined as total assets less indebtedness) at the beginning of such period. These calculations will be adjusted for any share issuances or repurchases. Any such deferred fees will be carried over for payment in subsequent calculation periods to the extent such payment can then be made under the investment advisory and management agreement.

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        If a portfolio company defaults on a loan that is structured to provide accrued interest, it is possible that accrued interest previously used in the calculation of income based fees will become uncollectible. Our investment adviser is not under any obligation to reimburse us for any part of income based fees it received that was based on accrued income that we never receive as a result of a default on the obligation that resulted in the accrual of such income.

RISKS RELATING TO OUR INVESTMENTS

Declines in market prices and liquidity in the corporate debt markets can result in significant net unrealized depreciation of our portfolio, which in turn would reduce our net asset value.

        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 or under the direction of our board of directors. We may take into account the following types of factors, if relevant, in determining the fair value of our investments: the enterprise value of a portfolio company (the entire value of the portfolio company to a market participant, including the sum of the values of debt and equity securities used to capitalize the enterprise at a point in time), 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, a comparison of the portfolio company's securities to similar publicly traded securities, changes in the interest rate environment and the credit markets generally that may affect the price at which similar investments would trade in their principal markets and other relevant factors. 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. While most of our investments are not publicly traded, applicable accounting standards require us to assume as part of our valuation process that our investments are sold in a principal market to market participants (even if we plan on holding an investment through its maturity). As a result, volatility in the capital markets can also adversely affect our investment valuations. Decreases in the market values or fair values of our investments are recorded as unrealized depreciation. The effect of all of these factors on our portfolio can 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 unrealized losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Economic recessions or downturns could impair our portfolio companies and harm our operating results.

        Many of our portfolio companies may be susceptible to economic downturns or recessions and may be unable to repay our loans during these periods. Therefore, during these periods our non-performing assets may increase and the value of our portfolio may decrease if we are required to write down the values of our investments. Adverse economic conditions may also decrease the value of collateral securing some of our loans 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 investments and harm our operating results. We experienced to some extent such effects as a result of the economic downturn that occurred from 2008 through 2009 and may experience such effects again in any future downturn or recession.

        A portfolio company's failure to satisfy financial or operating covenants imposed by us or other lenders could lead to defaults and, potentially, acceleration of the time when the loans are due and foreclosure on its assets representing collateral for its obligations, which could trigger cross defaults under other agreements and jeopardize our portfolio company's ability to meet its obligations under the

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debt that we hold and the value of any equity securities we own. We may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms with a defaulting portfolio company.

Investments in privately held middle-market companies involve significant risks.

        We primarily invest in privately held U.S. middle-market companies. Investments in privately held middle-market companies involve a number of significant risks, including the following:

    these companies may have limited financial resources and may be unable to meet their obligations, which may be accompanied by a deterioration in the value of any collateral and a reduction in the likelihood of us realizing any guarantees we may have obtained in connection with our investment;

    they 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;

    they typically 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 effect on our portfolio company and, in turn, on us;

    there is generally little public information about these companies. These companies and their financial information are not subject to the Exchange Act and other regulations that govern public companies, and we may be unable to uncover all material information about these companies, which may prevent us from making a fully informed investment decision and cause us to lose money on our investments;

    they generally have less predictable operating results and may require substantial additional capital to support their operations, finance expansion or maintain their competitive position;

    our executive officers, directors and our investment adviser may, in the ordinary course of business, be named as defendants in litigation arising from our investments in our portfolio companies;

    changes in laws and regulations, as well as their interpretations, may adversely affect their business, financial structure or prospects; and

    they may have difficulty accessing the capital markets to meet future capital needs.

Our debt investments may be risky and we could lose all or part of our investment.

        The debt that we invest in is typically not initially rated by any rating agency, but we believe that if such investments were rated, they would be below investment grade (rated lower than "Baa3" by Moody's Investors Service, lower than "BBB–" by Fitch Ratings or lower than "BBB–" by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services), which under the guidelines established by these entities is an indication of having predominantly speculative characteristics with respect to the issuer's capacity to pay interest and repay principal. Bonds that are rated below investment grade are sometimes referred to as "high yield bonds" or "junk bonds." Therefore, our investments may result in an above average amount of risk and volatility or loss of principal. While the debt we invest in is often secured, such security does not guarantee that we will receive principal and interest payments according to the terms of the loan, or that the value of any collateral will be sufficient to allow us to recover all or a portion of the outstanding amount of the loan should we be forced to enforce our remedies.

        We also may invest in assets other than first and second lien and mezzanine debt investments, including high-yield securities, U.S. government securities, credit derivatives and other structured

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securities and certain direct equity investments. These investments entail additional risks that could adversely affect our investment returns.

Investments in equity securities, many of which are illiquid with no readily available market, involve a substantial degree of risk.

        We may purchase common and other equity securities. Although common stock has historically generated higher average total returns than fixed income securities over the long-term, common stock also has experienced significantly more volatility in those returns. The equity securities we acquire may fail to appreciate and may decline in value or become worthless and our ability to recover our investment will depend on our portfolio company's success. Investments in equity securities involve a number of significant risks, including:

    any equity investment we make in a portfolio company could be subject to further dilution as a result of the issuance of additional equity interests and to serious risks as a junior security that will be subordinate to all indebtedness (including trade creditors) or senior securities in the event that the issuer is unable to meet its obligations or becomes subject to a bankruptcy process;

    to the extent that the portfolio company requires additional capital and is unable to obtain it, we may not recover our investment; and

    in some cases, equity securities in which we invest will not pay current dividends, and our ability to realize a return on our investment, as well as to recover our investment, will be dependent on the success of the portfolio company. Even if the portfolio company is successful, our ability to realize the value of our investment may be dependent on the occurrence of a liquidity event, such as a public offering or the sale of the portfolio company. It is likely to take a significant amount of time before a liquidity event occurs or we can otherwise sell our investment. In addition, the equity securities we receive or invest in may be subject to restrictions on resale during periods in which it could be advantageous to sell them.

        There are special risks associated with investing in preferred securities, including:

    preferred securities may include provisions that permit the issuer, at its discretion, to defer distributions for a stated period without any adverse consequences to the issuer. If we own a preferred security that is deferring its distributions, we may be required to report income for tax purposes before we receive such distributions;

    preferred securities are subordinated to debt in terms of priority to income and liquidation payments, and therefore will be subject to greater credit risk than debt;

    preferred securities may be substantially less liquid than many other securities, such as common stock or U.S. government securities; and

    generally, preferred security holders have no voting rights with respect to the issuing company, subject to limited exceptions.

        Additionally, when we invest in first lien senior secured loans (including unitranche loans), second lien senior secured loans or mezzanine debt, we may acquire warrants or other equity securities as well. Our goal is ultimately to dispose of such equity interests and realize gains upon our disposition of such interests. However, the equity interests we receive may not appreciate in value and, in fact, may decline in value. Accordingly, 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.

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        We may invest, to the extent permitted by law, in the equity securities of investment funds that are operating pursuant to certain exceptions to the Investment Company Act and in advisers to similar investment funds and, to the extent we so invest, will bear our ratable share of any such company's expenses, including management and performance fees. We will also remain obligated to pay the base management fee, income based fee and capital gains incentive fee to our investment adviser with respect to the assets invested in the securities and instruments of such companies. With respect to each of these investments, each of our common stockholders will bear his or her share of the base management fee, income based fee and capital gains incentive fee due to our investment adviser as well as indirectly bearing the management and performance fees and other expenses of any such investment funds or advisers.

There may be circumstances in which our debt investments could be subordinated to claims of other creditors or we could be subject to lender liability claims.

        If one of our portfolio companies were to go bankrupt, even though we may have structured our interest as senior debt, depending on the facts and circumstances, a bankruptcy court might recharacterize our debt holding as an equity investment and subordinate all or a portion of our claim to that of other creditors. 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's liability claim, if, among other things, we actually render significant managerial assistance.

Our portfolio companies may incur debt or issue equity securities that rank equally with, or senior to, our investments in such companies.

        Our portfolio companies may have, or may be permitted to incur, other debt, or issue other equity securities, that rank equally with, or senior to, our investments. By their terms, such instruments may provide that the holders are entitled to receive payment of dividends, interest or principal on or before the dates on which we are entitled to receive payments in respect of our investments. These debt instruments would usually prohibit the portfolio companies from paying interest on or repaying our investments in the event and during the continuance of a default under such debt. Also, in the event of insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of a portfolio company, holders of securities ranking senior to our investment in that portfolio company typically are entitled to receive payment in full before we receive any distribution in respect of our investment. After repaying such holders, the portfolio company may not have any remaining assets to use for repaying its obligation to us. In the case of securities ranking equally with our investments, we would have to share on an equal basis any distributions with other security holders in the event of an insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or bankruptcy of the relevant portfolio company.

        The rights we may have with respect to the collateral securing any junior priority loans we make to our portfolio companies may also be limited pursuant to the terms of one or more intercreditor agreements (including agreements governing "first out" and "last out" structures) that we enter into with the holders of senior debt. Under such an intercreditor agreement, at any time that senior obligations are outstanding, we may forfeit certain rights with respect to the collateral to the holders of the senior obligations. These rights may include the right to commence enforcement proceedings against the collateral, the right to control the conduct of such enforcement proceedings, the right to approve amendments to collateral documents, the right to release liens on the collateral and the right to waive past defaults under collateral documents. We may not have the ability to control or direct such actions, even if as a result our rights as junior lenders are adversely affected.

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When we are a debt or minority equity investor in a portfolio company, we are often not in a position to exert influence on the entity, and other equity holders and management of the company may make decisions that could decrease the value of our portfolio holdings.

        When we make debt or minority equity investments, we are subject to the risk that a portfolio company may make business decisions with which we disagree and the other equity holders and management of such company may take risks or otherwise act in ways that do not serve our interests. As a result, a portfolio company may make decisions that could decrease the value of our investment.

Our portfolio companies may be highly leveraged.

        Some of our portfolio companies may be highly leveraged, which may have adverse consequences to these companies and to us as an investor. These companies may be subject to restrictive financial and operating covenants and the leverage may impair these companies' ability to finance their future operations and capital needs. As a result, these companies' flexibility to respond to changing business and economic conditions and to take advantage of business opportunities may be limited. Further, a leveraged company's income and net assets will tend to increase or decrease at a greater rate than if borrowed money were not used.

Our investment adviser's fee structure may induce it to make certain investments, including speculative investments.

        The fees payable by us to our investment adviser may create an incentive for our investment adviser to make investments on our behalf that are risky or more speculative than would be the case in the absence of such compensation arrangement. The way in which income based fees payable to our investment adviser are determined, which are calculated as a percentage of the return on invested capital, may encourage our investment adviser to use leverage to increase the return on our investments. Under certain circumstances, the use of leverage may increase the likelihood of default, which would disfavor the holders of our common stock and the holders of securities convertible into our common stock. In addition, our investment adviser will receive the capital gains incentive fee based, in part, upon net capital gains realized on our investments. Unlike income based fees, there is no hurdle rate applicable to the capital gains incentive fee. As a result, our investment adviser may have a tendency to invest more 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.

        The income based fees will be computed and paid on income that has been accrued but not yet received in cash, including as a result of investments with a deferred interest feature such as debt instruments with PIK interest, preferred stock with PIK dividends and zero coupon securities. If a portfolio company defaults on a loan that is structured to provide accrued interest, it is possible that accrued interest previously used in the calculation of the income based fee will become uncollectible. Our investment adviser is not under any obligation to reimburse us for any part of the fees it received that were based on such accrued interest that we never actually received.

        Because of the structure of the income based fees, it is possible that we may have to pay income based fees in a quarter during which we incur a loss. For example, if we receive pre-incentive fee net investment income in excess of the hurdle rate for a quarter, we will pay the applicable income based fees even if we have incurred a loss in that quarter due to realized and/or unrealized capital losses. In addition, if market interest rates rise, our investment adviser may be able to invest our funds in debt instruments that provide for a higher return, which would increase our pre-incentive fee net investment income and make it easier for our investment adviser to surpass the fixed hurdle rate and receive income based fees.

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Our investments in foreign companies may involve significant risks in addition to the risks inherent in U.S. investments.

        Our investment strategy contemplates potential investments in foreign companies. Investing in foreign companies may expose us to additional risks not typically associated with investing in U.S. companies. These risks include changes in exchange control regulations, political and social instability, expropriation, imposition of foreign taxes (potentially at confiscatory levels), less liquid markets, less available information than is generally the case in the United States, higher transaction costs, less government supervision of exchanges, brokers and issuers, less developed bankruptcy laws, difficulty in enforcing contractual obligations, lack of uniform accounting and auditing standards and greater price volatility.

        Although most of our investments will be U.S. dollar denominated, our investments that are denominated in a foreign currency will be subject to the risk that the value of a particular currency will change in relation to one or more other currencies. Among the factors that may affect currency values are trade balances, the level of short-term interest rates, differences in relative values of similar assets in different currencies, long-term opportunities for investment and capital appreciation and political developments. We may employ hedging techniques to minimize these risks, but we cannot assure you that such strategies will be effective or without risk to us.

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

        We have and may in the future enter into hedging transactions, which may expose us to risks associated with such 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 include 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 may also limit the opportunity for gain if the values of the underlying portfolio positions should increase. Moreover, it may not be possible to hedge against an exchange rate or interest rate fluctuation that is so generally anticipated that we are not able to enter into a hedging transaction at an acceptable price.

        The success of our hedging transactions will depend on our ability to correctly predict movements in currencies and interest rates. Therefore, while we may enter into such transactions to seek to reduce currency exchange rate and interest rate risks, unanticipated changes in currency exchange rates or interest rates may result in poorer overall investment performance than if we had not engaged in any such hedging transactions. In addition, the degree of correlation between price movements of the instruments used in a hedging strategy and price movements in the portfolio positions being hedged may vary. Moreover, for a variety of reasons, we may not seek to (or be able to) establish a perfect correlation between such hedging instruments and the portfolio holdings being hedged. Any such imperfect correlation may prevent us from achieving the intended hedge and expose us to risk of loss. In addition, it may not be possible to hedge fully or perfectly against currency fluctuations affecting the value of securities denominated in non-U.S. currencies because the value of those securities is likely to fluctuate as a result of factors not related to currency fluctuations. See also "Risk Factors-Risk Relating to Our Business-We are exposed to risks associated with changes in interest rates."

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RISKS RELATING TO OUR COMMON STOCK AND PUBLICLY TRADED NOTES

Our shares of common stock have traded at a discount from net asset value and may do so again in the future, which could limit our ability to raise additional equity capital.

        Shares of closed-end investment companies frequently trade at a market price that is less than the net asset value that is attributable to those shares. This characteristic of closed-end investment companies is separate and distinct from the risk that our net asset value per share may decline. It is not possible to accurately predict whether any shares of our common stock will trade at, above, or below net asset value. In the recent past, the stocks of BDCs as an industry, including at times shares of our common stock, have traded below net asset value and during much of 2009 traded at near historic lows as a result of concerns over liquidity, leverage restrictions and distribution requirements. When our common stock is trading below its net asset value per share, we will generally not be able to issue additional shares of our common stock at its market price without first obtaining approval for such issuance from our stockholders and our independent directors. Pursuant to approval granted at our 2014 annual stockholders meeting, we currently are permitted to sell or otherwise issue shares of our common stock at a price below net asset value, subject to certain limitations and determinations that must be made by our board of directors. Such stockholder approval expires the earlier of June 2, 2015 and the date of our 2015 annual stockholders meeting.

There is a risk that investors in our common stock may not receive dividends or that our dividends may not grow over time and that investors in our debt securities may not receive all of the interest income to which they are entitled.

        We intend to make distributions on a quarterly basis to our stockholders out of assets legally available for distribution. 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. If we declare a dividend and if more stockholders opt to receive cash distributions rather than participate in our dividend reinvestment plan, we may be forced to sell some of our investments in order to make cash dividend payments.

        In addition, due to the asset coverage test applicable to us as a BDC, we may be limited in our ability to make distributions. Certain of the Facilities may also limit our ability to declare dividends if we default under certain provisions. Further, if we invest a greater amount of assets in equity securities that do not pay current dividends, it could reduce the amount available for distribution. See "Dividend/Distribution Policy."

        The above-referenced restrictions on distributions may also inhibit our ability to make required interest payments to holders of our debt, which may cause a default under the terms of our debt agreements. Such a default could materially increase our cost of raising capital, as well as cause us to incur penalties under the terms of our debt agreements.

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

        The Maryland General Corporation Law, our charter and our bylaws contain provisions that may discourage, delay or make more difficult a change in control of Ares Capital or the removal of our directors. We are subject to the Maryland Business Combination Act (the "Business Combination Act"), subject to any applicable requirements of the Investment Company 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, including approval by a majority of our disinterested directors. If the resolution exempting business combinations is repealed or our board or disinterested directors do not approve a business combination, the Business Combination Act may discourage third parties from trying to acquire control of us and may increase the difficulty of consummating such an offer. Our bylaws exempt from the

49


Maryland Control Share Acquisition Act (the "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, subject to any applicable requirements of the Investment Company Act, the Control Share Acquisition Act also may make it more difficult for a third party to obtain control of us and may increase the difficulty of consummating such an offer.

        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 into three classes serving staggered three-year terms, and provisions of our charter authorizing our board of directors to classify or reclassify shares of our stock into one or more classes or series, to cause the issuance of additional shares of our stock, and to amend our charter from time to time, without stockholder approval, to increase or decrease the aggregate number of shares of stock or the number of shares of stock of any class or series that we have authority to issue. These provisions, as well as other provisions of our charter and bylaws, may discourage, delay, defer, make more difficult or prevent a transaction or a change in control that might otherwise be in your best interest.

Investing in our common stock 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 than alternative investment options and volatility or loss of principal. Our investments in portfolio companies may be highly speculative and aggressive and, therefore, an investment in our securities may not be suitable for someone with lower risk tolerance.

The market price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly.

        The capital and credit markets have experienced periods of extreme volatility and disruption over the past several years. The market price and liquidity of the market for shares of our common stock 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 publicly traded RICs, BDCs or other companies in our sector, which are not necessarily related to the operating performance of these companies;

    price and volume fluctuations in the overall stock market from time to time;

    the inclusion or exclusion of our common stock from certain indices;

    changes in law, regulatory policies or tax guidelines, or interpretations thereof, particularly with respect to RICs or BDCs;

    loss of our RIC status;

    changes in our earnings or variations in our operating results;

    changes in the value of our portfolio of investments;

    any shortfall in revenue or net income or any increase in losses from levels expected by investors or securities analysts;

    departure of Ares Capital Management's key personnel;

    operating performance of companies comparable to us;

    short-selling pressure with respect to shares of our common stock or BDCs generally;

    future sales of our securities convertible into or exchangeable or exercisable for our common stock or the conversion of such securities, including the Convertible Unsecured Notes;

    uncertainty surrounding the strength of the U.S. economic recovery;

50


    concerns regarding European sovereign debt;

    general economic trends and other external factors; and

    loss of a major funding source.

        In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company's securities, securities class action litigation has often been brought against that company. If our stock price fluctuates significantly, we may be the target of securities litigation in the future. Securities litigation could result in substantial costs and divert management's attention and resources from our business.

We may in the future determine to issue preferred stock, which could adversely affect the market value of our common stock.

        The issuance of shares of preferred stock with dividend or conversion rights, liquidation preferences or other economic terms favorable to the holders of preferred stock could adversely affect the market price for our common stock by making an investment in the common stock less attractive. In addition, the dividends on any preferred stock we issue must be cumulative. Payment of dividends and repayment of the liquidation preference of preferred stock must take preference over any dividends or other payments to our common stockholders, and holders of preferred stock 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 (other than convertible preferred stock that converts into common stock). In addition, under the Investment Company Act, preferred stock constitutes a "senior security" for purposes of the 200% asset coverage test.

Our stockholders will experience dilution in their ownership percentage if they opt out of our dividend reinvestment plan.

        All dividends declared in cash payable to stockholders that are participants in our dividend reinvestment plan are automatically reinvested in shares of our common stock. As a result, our stockholders that opt out of our dividend reinvestment plan will experience dilution in their ownership percentage of our common stock over time.

Our stockholders may experience dilution upon the conversion of the Convertible Unsecured Notes.

        The February 2016 Convertible Notes are convertible into shares of our common stock beginning August 15, 2015 or, under certain circumstances, earlier. The June 2016 Convertible Notes are convertible into shares of our common stock beginning on December 15, 2015 or, under certain circumstances, earlier. The 2017 Convertible Notes are convertible into shares of our common stock beginning on September 15, 2016 or, under certain circumstances, earlier. The 2018 Convertible Notes are convertible into shares of our common stock beginning on July 15, 2017 or, under certain circumstances, earlier. The 2019 Convertible Notes are convertible into shares of our common stock beginning on July 15, 2018 or, under certain circumstances, earlier. Upon conversion of the Convertible Unsecured Notes, we have the choice to pay or deliver, as the case may be, at our election, cash, shares of our common stock or a combination of cash and shares of our common stock. As of December 31, 2014, the conversion price of the February 2016 Convertible Notes was effectively $18.52 per share of common stock, the conversion price of the June 2016 Convertible Notes was effectively $18.43 per share, the conversion price of the 2017 Convertible Notes was effectively $19.01 per share, the conversion price of the 2018 Convertible Notes was effectively $19.70 per share and the conversion price of the 2019 Convertible Notes was effectively $20.05 per share, in each case taking into account certain de minimis adjustments that will be made on the conversion date and subject to further adjustment in certain circumstances. If we elect to deliver shares of common stock upon a conversion at the time our tangible book value per share exceeds the conversion price in effect at such time, our stockholders may incur dilution. In addition, our stockholders will experience dilution in their ownership percentage of common stock upon our issuance of common stock in connection with

51


the conversion of the Convertible Unsecured Notes and any dividends paid on our common stock will also be paid on shares issued in connection with such conversion after such issuance.

Our stockholders may receive shares of our common stock as dividends, which could result in adverse tax consequences to them.

        In order to satisfy the annual distribution requirement applicable to RICs, we have the ability to declare a large portion of a dividend in shares of our common stock instead of in cash. As long as a portion of such dividend is paid in cash (which portion could be as low as 20%) and certain requirements are met, the entire distribution would be treated as a dividend for U.S. federal income tax purposes. As a result, a stockholder would be taxed on 100% of the fair market value of the shares received as part of the dividend on the date a stockholder received it in the same manner as a cash dividend, even though most of the dividend was paid in shares of our common stock.

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

        Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock, or the availability of such common stock for sale (including as a result of the conversion of our Convertible Unsecured Notes into common stock), could adversely affect the prevailing market prices for our common stock. If this occurs and continues, it could impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of securities should we desire to do so.

The trading market or market value of our publicly issued debt securities may fluctuate.

        Our publicly issued debt securities may or may not have an established trading market. We cannot assure holders of our debt securities that a trading market for our publicly issued debt securities will ever 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. 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 ratings assigned by national statistical ratings agencies;

    the general economic environment;

    the supply of such debt securities trading in the secondary market, if any;

    the redemption or repayment features, if any, of these debt securities;

    the level, direction and volatility of market interest rates generally; and

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

        Holders of our debt securities should also be aware that there may be a limited number of buyers if and when they decide to sell their debt securities. This too may materially adversely affect the market value of the debt securities or the trading market for the debt securities.

Terms relating to redemption may materially adversely affect our noteholders' return on any debt securities that we may issue.

        If our noteholders' debt securities are redeemable at our option, we may choose to redeem their debt securities at times when prevailing interest rates are lower than the interest rate paid on their debt securities. In addition, if our noteholders' debt securities are subject to mandatory redemption, we may be required to redeem their debt securities also at times when prevailing interest rates are lower than the interest rate paid on their debt securities. In this circumstance, our noteholders may not be able to

52


reinvest the redemption proceeds in a comparable security at an effective interest rate as high as their debt securities being redeemed.

Our credit ratings may not reflect all risks of an investment in our debt securities.

        Our credit ratings are an assessment by third parties of our ability to pay our obligations. Consequently, real or anticipated changes in our credit ratings will generally affect the market value of our debt securities. Our credit ratings, however, may not reflect the potential impact of risks related to market conditions generally or other factors discussed above on the market value of or trading market for the publicly issued debt securities.

Item 1B.    Unresolved Staff Comments

        None.

Item 2.    Properties

        We do not own any real estate or other physical properties materially important to our operation. Our headquarters are currently located at 245 Park Avenue, 44th Floor, New York, New York 10167. We are party to office leases pursuant to which we are leasing office facilities from third parties. For certain of these office leases, we have also entered into separate subleases with Ares Management LLC and IHAM, pursuant to which Ares Management LLC, the sole member of Ares Capital Management, and IHAM sublease a portion of these leases. Ares Management LLC has also entered into separate subleases with us, pursuant to which we sublease certain office spaces from Ares Management LLC.

Item 3.    Legal Proceedings

        We are party to certain lawsuits in the normal course of business. In addition, Allied Capital was involved in various legal proceedings that we assumed in connection with the Allied Acquisition. Furthermore, third parties may try to seek to impose liability on us in connection with our activities or the activities of our portfolio companies. While the outcome of any such legal proceedings cannot at this time be predicted with certainty, we do not expect that these legal proceedings will materially affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

        On May 20, 2013, we were named as one of several defendants in an action (the "Action") filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (the "Pennsylvania Court") by the bankruptcy trustee of DSI Renal Holdings LLC and two related companies. On March 17, 2014, the Action was transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Delaware (the "Delaware Court") pursuant to a motion filed by the defendants and granted by the Pennsylvania Court. On May 6, 2014, the Delaware Court referred the Action to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The complaint in the Action alleges, among other things, that each of the named defendants participated in a purported "fraudulent transfer" involving the restructuring of a subsidiary of DSI Renal Holdings LLC. Among other things, the complaint seeks, jointly and severally from all defendants, (1) damages of approximately $425 million, of which the complaint states our individual share is approximately $117 million, and (2) punitive damages. We are currently unable to assess with any certainty whether we may have any exposure in the Action. We believe the plaintiff's claims are without merit and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in the Action.

Item 4.    Mine Safety Disclosures

        Not applicable.

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PART II

Item 5.    Market For Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters And Issuer Purchases Of Equity Securities

PRICE RANGE OF COMMON STOCK

        Our common stock is traded on The NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "ARCC." Our common stock has historically traded at prices both above and below our net asset value per share. It is not possible to accurately predict whether our common stock will trade at, above or below net asset value. See "Risk Factors—Risks Relating to our Common Stock and Publicly Traded Notes—Our shares of common stock have traded at a discount from net asset value and may do so again in the future, which could limit our ability to raise additional equity capital."

        The following table sets forth the net asset value per share of our common stock, the range of high and low closing sales prices of our common stock as reported on The NASDAQ Global Select Market and the dividends paid by us in each fiscal quarter for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013. On February 24, 2015, the last reported closing sales price of our common stock on The NASDAQ Global Select Market was $17.05 per share, which represented a premium of approximately 1.4% to the net asset value per share reported by us as of December 31, 2014.

 
   
  Price Range    
 
 
  Net Asset
Value(1)
  Cash Dividend
Per Share(2)
 
 
  High   Low  

Fiscal 2013

                         

First Quarter

  $ 15.98   $ 18.54   $ 17.66   $ 0.38  

Second Quarter

  $ 16.21   $ 18.27   $ 16.42   $ 0.38  

Third Quarter

  $ 16.35   $ 18.12   $ 17.03   $ 0.38  

Fourth Quarter

  $ 16.46   $ 18.38   $ 17.06   $ 0.43 (3)

Fiscal 2014

                         

First Quarter

  $ 16.42   $ 18.51   $ 17.36   $ 0.43 (3)

Second Quarter

  $ 16.52   $ 17.86   $ 16.50   $ 0.38  

Third Quarter

  $ 16.71   $ 17.80   $ 16.12   $ 0.38  

Fourth Quarter

  $ 16.82   $ 16.45   $ 14.66   $ 0.38  

(1)
Net asset value per share is determined as of the last day in the relevant quarter and therefore may not reflect the net asset value per share on the date of the high and low closing sales prices. The net asset values shown are based on outstanding shares at the end of the relevant quarter.

(2)
Represents the dividends paid in the relevant quarter.

(3)
Consists of a quarterly dividend of $0.38 per share and an additional dividend of $0.05 per share.


HOLDERS

        As of February 24, 2015, there were 1,682 holders of record of our common stock (including Cede & Co.).


DIVIDEND/DISTRIBUTION POLICY

        We currently intend to distribute dividends or make distributions to our stockholders on a quarterly basis out of assets legally available for distribution. We may also distribute additional dividends or make additional distributions to our stockholders from time to time. Our quarterly and additional dividends or distributions, if any, will be determined by our board of directors.

54


        The following table summarizes our dividends declared and payable for 2013 and 2014:

Date Declared
  Record Date   Payment Date   Amount  

February 27, 2013

  March 15, 2013   March 29, 2013   $ 0.38  

May 7, 2013

  June 14, 2013   June 28, 2013   $ 0.38  

August 6, 2013

  September 16, 2013   September 30, 2013   $ 0.38  

November 5, 2013

  December 16, 2013   December 31, 2013   $ 0.38  

November 5, 2013

  December 16, 2013   December 31, 2013   $ 0.05 (1)

Total declared and payable for 2013

          $ 1.57  

November 5, 2013

  March 14, 2014   March 28, 2014   $ 0.05 (1)

February 26, 2014

  March 14, 2014   March 31, 2014   $ 0.38  

May 6, 2014

  June 16, 2014   June 30, 2014   $ 0.38  

August 5, 2014

  September 15, 2014   September 30, 2014   $ 0.38  

November 4, 2014

  December 15, 2014   December 31, 2014   $ 0.38  

Total declared and payable for 2014

          $ 1.57  

(1)
Represents an additional dividend.

        Of the $1.57 per share in dividends declared and payable for the year ended December 31, 2014, the entire $1.57 per share was comprised of ordinary income. Of the $1.57 per share in dividends declared and payable for the year ended December 31, 2013, the entire $1.57 per share was comprised of ordinary income.

        To maintain our RIC status, we must timely distribute an amount equal to at least 90% of our investment company taxable income (as defined by the Code, which generally includes net ordinary income and net short term capital gains) to our stockholders. In addition, we generally will be required to pay an excise tax equal to 4% on certain undistributed taxable income unless we distribute in a timely manner an amount at least equal to the sum of (i) 98% of our ordinary income recognized during a calendar year and (ii) 98.2% of our capital gain net income, as defined by the Code, recognized for the one year period ending October 31st in that calendar year and (iii) any income recognized, but not distributed, in preceding years. The taxable income on which we pay excise tax is generally distributed to our stockholders in the next tax year. Depending on the level of taxable income earned in a tax year, we may choose to carry forward such taxable income for distribution in the following year, and pay any applicable excise tax. For the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013, we recorded a net excise tax expense of $5.5 million and $10.3 million, respectively. We cannot assure you that we will achieve results that will permit the payment of any cash distributions. We maintain an "opt out" dividend reinvestment plan for our common stockholders. As a result, if we declare a cash dividend, stockholders' cash dividends will be automatically reinvested in additional shares of our common stock, unless they specifically opt out of the dividend reinvestment plan so as to receive cash dividends.


RECENT SALES OF UNREGISTERED EQUITY SECURITIES

        We did not sell any securities during the period covered by this Annual Report that were not registered under the Securities Act.


ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

        During the year ended December 31, 2014, as a part of our dividend reinvestment plan for our common stockholders, we purchased 336,262 shares of our common stock for an average price per share of $16.19 in the open market in order to satisfy the reinvestment portion of our dividends. The

55


following chart outlines such purchases of our common stock during the year ended December 31, 2014.

Period
  Total
Number of
Shares
Purchased
  Average
Price Paid
Per Share
  Total Number of
Shares Purchased as
Part of Publicly
Announced Plans
or Programs
  Maximum (or
Approximate
Dollar Value) of
Shares that May
Yet Be Purchased
Under the Plans or
Programs
 

January 1, 2014 through January 31, 2014

                 

February 1, 2014 through February 28, 2014

                 

March 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014

                 

April 1, 2014 through April 30, 2014

                 

May 1, 2014 through May 31, 2014

                 

June 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014

                 

July 1, 2014 through July 31, 2014

                 

August 1, 2014 through August 31, 2014

                 

September 1, 2014 through September 30, 2014

                 

October 1, 2014 through October 31, 2014

    336,262   $ 16.19          

November 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014

                 

December 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014

                 

Total

    336,262   $ 16.19          

56



COMPARISON OF CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN AMONG ARES CAPITAL
CORPORATION, S&P 500 INDEX AND SNL US INVESTMENT COMPANY INDEX

Total Return Performance

GRAPHIC

SOURCE:   SNL Financial LC
NOTES:   Assumes $100 invested December 31, 2009 in Ares Capital, the S&P 500 Index and the SNL US Investment Company Index. Assumes all dividends are reinvested on the respective dividend payment dates without commissions.

 

 
  Dec09   Dec10   Dec11   Dec12   Dec13   Dec14  

Ares Capital

    100.00     145.42     149.19     185.78     206.06     198.50  

S&P 500 Index

    100.00     115.06     117.49     136.30     180.44     205.14  

SNL US Investment Company Index

    100.00     133.13     128.33     158.81     165.72     177.23  

        The graph and other information furnished under this Part II Item 5(d) of this Form 10-K shall not be deemed to be "soliciting material" or to be "filed" with the SEC or subject to Regulation 14A or 14C, or to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, as amended.

57


Item 6.    Selected Financial Data

        The following selected financial and other data for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 are derived from our consolidated financial statements which have been audited by KPMG LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm whose report thereon is included elsewhere in this Annual Report. The data should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," which are included elsewhere in this Annual Report.


ARES CAPITAL CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
(dollar amounts in millions, except per share data)

 
  As of and For the Years Ended December 31,  
 
  2014   2013   2012   2011   2010  

Total Investment Income

  $ 989.0   $ 881.7   $ 748.0   $ 634.5   $ 483.4  

Total Expenses

    532.9     437.2     387.9     344.6     262.2  

Net Investment Income Before Income Taxes

    456.1     444.5     360.1     289.9     221.2  

Income Tax Expense, Including Excise Tax

    18.3     14.1     11.2     7.5     5.4  

Net Investment Income

    437.8     430.4     348.9     282.4     215.8  

Net Realized and Unrealized Gains on Investments, Foreign Currencies, Extinguishment of Debt and Other Assets

    153.2     58.1     159.3     37.1     280.1  

Gain on the Allied Acquisition

                    195.9  

Net Increase in Stockholders' Equity Resulting from Operations

  $ 591.0   $ 488.5   $ 508.2   $ 319.5   $ 691.8  

Per Share Data:

                               

Net Increase in Stockholders' Equity Resulting from Operations:

                               

Basic

  $ 1.94   $ 1.83   $ 2.21   $ 1.56   $ 3.91  

Diluted

  $ 1.94   $ 1.83   $ 2.21   $ 1.56   $ 3.91  

Cash Dividends Declared and Payable(1)

  $ 1.57   $ 1.57   $ 1.60   $ 1.41   $ 1.40  

Net Asset Value

  $ 16.82   $ 16.46   $ 16.04   $ 15.34   $ 14.92  

Total Assets

  $ 9,497.8   $ 8,141.5   $ 6,401.2   $ 5,387.4   $ 4,562.5  

Total Debt (Carrying Value)

  $ 3,924.5   $ 2,986.3   $ 2,195.9   $ 2,073.6   $ 1,378.5  

Total Debt (Principal Value)

  $ 3,999.3   $ 3,078.8   $ 2,293.8   $ 2,170.5   $ 1,435.1  

Total Stockholders' Equity

  $ 5,283.7   $ 4,904.4   $ 3,988.3   $ 3,147.3   $ 3,050.5  

Other Data:

                               

Number of Portfolio Companies at Period End(2)

    205     193     152     141     170  

Principal Amount of Investments Purchased

  $ 4,534.3   $ 3,493.2   $ 3,161.6   $ 3,239.0   $ 1,583.9  

Principal Amount of Investments Acquired as part of the Allied Acquisition

  $   $   $   $   $ 1,833.8  

Principal Amount of Investments Sold and Repayments

  $ 3,212.8   $ 1,801.4   $ 2,482.9   $ 2,468.2   $ 1,555.9  

Total Return Based on Market Value(3)

    (3.3 )%   10.5 %   23.6 %   2.3 %   43.6 %

Total Return Based on Net Asset Value(4)

    11.8 %   11.4 %   14.3 %   10.5 %   31.6 %

Weighted Average Yield of Debt and Other Income Producing Securities at Fair Value(5)

    10.1 %   10.4 %   11.3 %   12.0 %   12.9 %

Weighted Average Yield of Debt and Other Income Producing Securities at Amortized Cost(5)

    10.1 %   10.4 %   11.4 %   12.1 %   13.2 %

(1)
Includes an additional dividend of $0.05 per share paid in the year ended December 31, 2014, an additional dividend of $0.05 per share paid in the year ended December 31, 2013 and additional dividends of $0.10 per share in the aggregate paid in the year ended December 31, 2012.

(2)
Includes commitments to portfolio companies for which funding had yet to occur.

(3)
For the year ended December 31, 2014, the total return based on market value equaled the decrease of the ending market value at December 31, 2014 of $15.61 per share from the ending market value at December 31, 2013 of $17.77 per share plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.57 per share for the

58


    year ended December 31, 2014, divided by the market value at December 31, 2013. For the year ended December 31, 2013, the total return based on market value equaled the increase of the ending market value at December 31, 2013 of $17.77 per share from the ending market value at December 31, 2012 of $17.50 per share plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.57 per share for the year ended December 31, 2013, divided by the market value at December 31, 2012. For the year ended December 31, 2012, the total return based on market value equaled the increase of the ending market value at December 31, 2012 of $17.50 per share from the ending market value at December 31, 2011 of $15.45 per share plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.60 per share for the year ended December 31, 2012, divided by the market value at December 31, 2011. For the year ended December 31, 2011, the total return based on market value equaled the decrease of the ending market value at December 30, 2011 of $15.45 per share from the ending market value at December 31, 2010 of $16.48 per share plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.41 per share for the year ended December 31, 2011, divided by the market value at December 31, 2010. For the year ended December 31, 2010, the total return based on market value equaled the increase of the ending market value at December 31, 2010 of $16.48 per share from the ending market value at December 31, 2009 of $12.45 per share plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.40 per share for the year ended December 31, 2010, divided by the market value at December 31, 2009. The Company's shares fluctuate in value. The Company's performance changes over time and currently may be different than that shown. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

(4)
For the year ended December 31, 2014, the total return based on net asset value equaled the change in net asset value during the period plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.57 per share for the year ended December 31, 2014, divided by the beginning net asset value. For the year ended December 31, 2013, the total return based on net asset value equaled the change in net asset value during the period plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.57 per share for the year ended December 31, 2013, divided by the beginning net asset value. For the year ended December 31, 2012, the total return based on net asset value equaled the change in net asset value during the period plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.60 per share for the year ended December 31, 2012 divided by the beginning net asset value for the period. For the year ended December 31, 2011, the total return based on net asset value equaled the change in net asset value during the period plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.41 per share for the year ended December 31, 2011 divided by the beginning net asset value for the period. For the year ended December 31, 2010, the total return based on net asset value equaled the change in net asset value during the period plus the declared and payable dividends of $1.40 per share for the year ended December 31, 2010, divided by the beginning net asset value. These calculations are adjusted for shares issued in connection with the dividend reinvestment plan and the issuance of common stock in connection with any equity offerings and the equity components of any convertible notes issued during the period. The Company's performance changes over time and currently may be different than that shown. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

(5)
Weighted average yield of debt and other income producing securities at fair value is computed as (a) the annual stated interest rate or yield earned plus the net annual amortization of original issue discount and market discount or premium earned on accruing debt and other income producing securities, divided by (b) total accruing debt and other income producing securities at fair value and other income producing securities. Weighted average yield of debt and other income producing securities at amortized cost is computed as (a) annual stated interest rate or yield earned plus the net annual amortization of original issue discount and market discount or premium earned on accruing debt and other income producing securities, divided by (b) total accruing debt and other income producing securities at amortized cost.

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Item 7.    Management's Discussion And Analysis Of Financial Condition And Results Of Operations

        The information contained in this section should be read in conjunction with the Selected Financial Data and our financial statements and notes thereto appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report. In addition, some of the statements in this Annual Report (including in the following discussion) constitute forward- looking statements, which relate to future events or the future performance or financial condition of Ares Capital Corporation (the "Company," "ARCC," "Ares Capital," "we," "us," or "our"). The forward-looking statements contained in this report involve a number of risks and uncertainties, including statements concerning:

    our, or our portfolio companies', future business, operations, operating results or prospects;

    the return or impact of current and future investments;

    the impact of a protracted decline in the liquidity of credit markets on our business;

    the impact of fluctuations in interest rates on our business;

    the impact of changes in laws or regulations (including the interpretation thereof) governing our operations or the operations of our portfolio companies or the operations of our competitors;

    the valuation of our investments in portfolio companies, particularly those having no liquid trading market;

    our ability to recover unrealized losses;

    market conditions and our ability to access alternative debt markets and additional debt and equity capital;

    our contractual arrangements and relationships with third parties;

    the general economy and its impact on the industries in which we invest;

    uncertainty surrounding the financial stability of the U.S. and the EU;

    Middle East turmoil and the potential for fluctuating energy prices and its impact on the industries in which we invest;

    the financial condition of and ability of our current and prospective portfolio companies to achieve their objectives;

    our expected financings and investments;

    our ability to successfully complete and integrate any acquisitions;

    the adequacy of our cash resources and working capital;

    the timing, form and amount of any dividend distributions;

    the timing of cash flows, if any, from the operations of our portfolio companies; and

    the ability of our investment adviser to locate suitable investments for us and to monitor and administer our investments.

        We use words such as "anticipates," "believes," "expects," "intends," "will," "should," "may" and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements include these words. Our actual results and condition could differ materially from those implied or expressed in the forward-looking statements for any reason, including the factors set forth in "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in this Annual Report.

        We have based the forward-looking statements included in this Annual Report on information available to us on the date of this Annual Report, and we assume no obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Although we undertake no obligation to revise or update any forward-

60


looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, you are advised to consult any additional disclosures that we may make directly to you or through reports that we have filed or in the future may file with the SEC, including annual reports on Form 10-K, registration statements on Form N-2, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K.

OVERVIEW

        We are a specialty finance company that is a closed-end, non-diversified management investment company incorporated in Maryland. We have elected to be regulated as a BDC under the Investment Company Act.

        We are externally managed by Ares Capital Management, a subsidiary of Ares Management, a publicly traded, leading global alternative asset manager, pursuant to our investment advisory and management agreement. Ares Operations, a subsidiary of Ares Management, provides certain administrative and other services necessary for us to operate.

        Our investment objective is to generate both current income and capital appreciation through debt and equity investments. We invest primarily in first lien senior secured loans (including unitranche loans), second lien senior secured loans and mezzanine debt, which in some cases includes an equity component like warrants.

        To a lesser extent, we also make preferred and/or common equity investments, which have generally been non-control equity investments, of less than $20 million (usually in conjunction with a concurrent debt investment). However, we may increase the size or change the nature of these investments.

        Since our initial public offering on October 8, 2004 through December 31, 2014, our exited investments resulted in an aggregate cash flow realized internal rate of return to us of approximately 13% (based on original cash invested, net of syndications, of approximately $9.9 billion and total proceeds from such exited investments of approximately $12.1 billion). Internal rate of return is the discount rate that makes the net present value of all cash flows related to a particular investment equal to zero. Internal rate of return is gross of expenses related to investments as these expenses are not allocable to specific investments. Investments are considered to be exited when the original investment objective has been achieved through the receipt of cash and/or non-cash consideration upon the repayment of a debt investment or sale of an investment or through the determination that no further consideration was collectible and, thus, a loss may have been realized. Approximately 71% of these exited investments resulted in an aggregate cash flow realized internal rate of return to us of 10% or greater.

        Additionally, since our initial public offering on October 8, 2004 through December 31, 2014, our realized gains have exceeded our realized losses by approximately $351 million (excluding a one-time gain on the acquisition of Allied Capital and realized gains/losses from the extinguishment of debt and other assets). For this same time period, our average annualized net realized gain rate was approximately 1.1% (excluding a one-time gain on the acquisition of Allied Capital and realized gains/losses from the extinguishment of debt and other assets). Net realized gain/loss rates for a particular period are the amount of net realized gains/losses during such period divided by the average quarterly investments at amortized cost in such period.

        Information included herein regarding internal rates of return, realized gains and losses and annualized net realized gain rates are historical results relating to our past performance and are not necessarily indicative of future results, the achievement of which cannot be assured.

        As a BDC, we are required to comply with certain regulatory requirements. For instance, we generally have to invest at least 70% of our total assets in "qualifying assets," including securities and indebtedness of private U.S. companies and certain public U.S. companies, cash, cash equivalents, U.S. government securities and high-quality debt investments that mature in one year or less. We also may

61


invest up to 30% of our portfolio in non-qualifying assets, as permitted by the Investment Company Act. Specifically, as part of this 30% basket, we may invest in entities that are not considered "eligible portfolio companies" (as defined in the Investment Company Act), including companies located outside of the United States, entities that are operating pursuant to certain exceptions under the Investment Company Act, and publicly traded entities whose public equity market capitalization exceeds the levels provided for under the Investment Company Act.

        We have elected to be treated as a RIC, under the Code, and operate in a manner so as to qualify for the tax treatment applicable to RICs. To qualify as a RIC, we must, among other things, meet certain source-of-income and asset diversification requirements and timely distribute to our stockholders generally at least 90% of our investment company taxable income, as defined by the Code, for each year. Pursuant to this election, we generally will not have to pay U.S. federal corporate-level taxes on any income that we distribute to our stockholders provided that we satisfy those requirements.

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PORTFOLIO AND INVESTMENT ACTIVITY

        Our investment activity for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012 is presented below (information presented herein is at amortized cost unless otherwise indicated).

 
  For the Years Ended December 31,  
(dollar amounts in millions)
  2014   2013   2012  

New investment commitments(1):

                   

New portfolio companies

  $ 2,283.8   $ 2,148.5   $ 1,794.7  

Existing portfolio companies(2)

    2,294.8     1,854.4     1,402.3  

Total new investment commitments

    4,578.6     4,002.9     3,197.0  

Less:

                   

Investment commitments exited

    3,539.8     1,840.0     2,614.5  

Net investment commitments

  $ 1,038.8   $ 2,162.9   $ 582.5  

Principal amount of investments funded:

                   

First lien senior secured loans

  $ 2,642.1   $ 2,011.1   $ 1,953.3  

Second lien senior secured loans

    1,046.9     602.8     733.1  

Subordinated certificates of the SSLP(3)

    463.6     652.5     270.0  

Senior subordinated debt

    298.8     181.0     101.3  

Preferred equity securities

    13.7     1.8      

Other equity securities

    69.2     44.0     103.9  

Total

  $ 4,534.3   $ 3,493.2   $ 3,161.6  

Principal amount of investments sold or repaid:

                   

First lien senior secured loans

    2,326.0   $ 885.8   $ 1,455.9  

Second lien senior secured loans

    444.3     526.1     331.0  

Subordinated certificates of the SSLP

    174.3     145.2     66.3  

Senior subordinated debt

    143.5     201.0     409.0  

Preferred equity securities

    31.2     26.3     26.2  

Other equity securities

    88.7     16.8     126.0  

Commercial real estate

    4.8     0.2     13.0  

Collateralized loan obligations

            55.5  

Total

  $ 3,212.8   $ 1,801.4   $ 2,482.9  

Number of new investment commitments(4)

    115     95     82  

Average new investment commitment amount

  $ 39.8   $ 42.1   $ 39.0  

Weighted average term for new investment commitments (in months)

    73     74     66  

Percentage of new investment commitments at floating rates

    90 %   89 %   88 %

Percentage of new investment commitments at fixed rates

    8 %   10 %   8 %

Weighted average yield of debt and other income producing securities(5):

                   

Funded during the period at amortized cost

    9.0 %   9.8 %   9.9 %

Funded during the period at fair value(6)

    9.0 %   9.8 %   9.9 %

Exited or repaid during the period at amortized cost

    8.3 %   9.8 %   9.7 %

Exited or repaid during the period at fair value(6)

    8.3 %   9.7 %   9.6 %

(1)
New investment commitments include new agreements to fund revolving credit facilities or delayed draw loans.

(2)
Includes investment commitments to the SSLP to make co-investments with GE in first lien senior secured loans of middle market companies of $494.2 million, $736.6 million and $270.0 million for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively.

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(3)
See "Senior Secured Loan Program" below and Note 4 to our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2014 for more information on the SSLP.

(4)
Number of new investment commitments represents each commitment to a particular portfolio company or a commitment to multiple companies as part of an individual transaction (e.g., the purchase of a portfolio of investments).

(5)
"Weighted average yield of debt and other income producing securities at amortized cost" is computed as the (a) annual stated interest rate or yield earned plus the net annual amortization of original issue discount and market discount or premium earned on accruing debt and other income producing securities, divided by (b) total accruing debt and other income producing securities at amortized cost. "Weighted average yield of debt and other income producing securities at fair value" is computed as the (a) annual stated interest rate or yield earned plus the net annual amortization of original issue discount and market discount or premium earned on accruing debt and other income producing securities, divided by (b) total accruing debt and other income producing securities at fair value.

(6)
Represents fair value for investments in the portfolio as of the most recent prior quarter end, if applicable.

        As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, our investments consisted of the following:

 
  As of December 31,  
 
  2014   2013  
(in millions)
  Amortized Cost   Fair Value   Amortized Cost   Fair Value  

First lien senior secured loans

  $ 3,728.9   $ 3,700.6   $ 3,461.6   $ 3,433.6  

Second lien senior secured loans

    1,938.9     1,900.5     1,335.8     1,319.2  

Subordinated certificates of the SSLP(1)

    2,034.5     2,065.0     1,745.2     1,771.4  

Senior subordinated debt

    524.1     523.3     308.1     267.2  

Preferred equity securities

    206.5     190.2     226.0     229.0  

Other equity securities

    440.1     642.8     453.7     600.2  

Commercial real estate

    2.1     6.0     7.0     12.3  

Total

  $ 8,875.1   $ 9,028.4   $ 7,537.4   $ 7,632.9  

(1)
The proceeds from these certificates were applied to co-investments with GE to fund first lien senior secured loans to 50 and 47 different borrowers as of December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively.

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        The weighted average yields at amortized cost and fair value of the following portions of our portfolio as of December 31, 2014 and 2013 were as follows:

 
  As of December 31,  
 
  2014   2013  
 
  Amortized Cost   Fair Value   Amortized Cost   Fair Value  

Debt and other income producing securities(1)

    10.1 %   10.1 %   10.4 %   10.4 %

Total portfolio(2)

    9.3 %   9.1 %   9.4 %   9.3 %

First lien senior secured loans(2)

    8.1 %   8.2 %   7.8 %   7.9 %

Second lien senior secured loans(2)

    8.7 %   8.8 %   9.4 %   9.5 %

Subordinated certificates of the SSLP(2)(3)

    13.8 %   13.5 %   15.0 %   14.8 %

Senior subordinated debt(2)

    11.2 %   11.2 %   10.4 %   12.0 %

Income producing equity securities (2)

    9.4 %   9.4 %   10.1 %   9.1 %

(1)
"Weighted average yield of debt and other income producing securities at amortized cost" is computed as the (a) annual stated interest rate or yield earned plus the net annual amortization of original issue discount and market discount or premium earned on accruing debt and other income producing securities, divided by (b) total accruing debt and other income producing securities at amortized cost. "Weighted average yield of debt and other income producing securities at fair value" is computed as the (a) annual stated interest rate or yield earned plus the net annual amortization of original issue discount and market discount or premium earned on accruing debt and other income producing securities, divided by (b) total accruing debt and other income producing securities at fair value.

(2)
"Weighted average yields at amortized cost" are computed as the (a) annual stated interest rate or yield earned plus the net annual amortization of original issue discount and market discount or premium earned on the relevant accruing debt and other income producing securities, divided by (b) the total relevant investments at amortized cost. "Weighted average yields at fair value" are computed as the (a) annual stated interest rate or yield earned plus the net annual amortization of original issue discount and market discount or premium earned on the relevant accruing debt and other income producing securities, divided by (b) the total relevant investments at fair value.

(3)
The proceeds from these certificates were applied to co-investments with GE to fund first lien senior secured loans.

        Ares Capital Management, our investment adviser, employs an investment rating system to categorize our investments. In addition to various risk management and monitoring tools, our investment adviser grades the credit risk of all investments on a scale of 1 to 4 no less frequently than quarterly. This system is intended primarily to reflect the underlying risk of a portfolio investment relative to our initial cost basis in respect of such portfolio investment (i.e., at the time of origination or acquisition), although it may also take into account under certain circumstances the performance of the portfolio company's business, the collateral coverage of the investment and other relevant factors. Under this system, investments with a grade of 4 involve the least amount of risk to our initial cost basis. The trends and risk factors for this investment since origination or acquisition are generally favorable, which may include the performance of the portfolio company or a potential exit. Investments graded 3 involve a level of risk to our initial cost basis that is similar to the risk to our initial cost basis at the time of origination or acquisition. This portfolio company is generally performing as expected and the risk factors to our ability to ultimately recoup the cost of our investment are neutral to favorable. All investments or acquired investments in new portfolio companies are initially assessed a grade of 3. Investments graded 2 indicate that the risk to our ability to recoup the initial cost basis of such investment has increased materially since origination or acquisition, including as a result of factors such as declining performance and non-compliance with debt covenants; however, payments are generally not more than 120 days past due. An investment grade of 1 indicates that the risk to our

65


ability to recoup the initial cost basis of such investment has substantially increased since origination or acquisition, and the portfolio company likely has materially declining performance. For debt investments with an investment grade of 1, most or all of the debt covenants are out of compliance and payments are substantially delinquent. For investments graded 1, it is anticipated that we will not recoup our initial cost basis and may realize a substantial loss of our initial cost basis upon exit. For investments graded 1 or 2, our investment adviser enhances its level of scrutiny over the monitoring of such portfolio company. The grade of a portfolio investment may be reduced or increased over time.

        Set forth below is the grade distribution of our portfolio companies as of December 31, 2014 and 2013:

 
  As of December 31,  
 
  2014   2013  
(dollar amounts in millions)
  Fair
Value
  %   Number of
Companies
  %   Fair
Value
  %   Number of
Companies
  %  

Grade 1

  $ 49.9     0.6 %   5     2.4 % $ 54.6     0.7 %   7     3.6 %

Grade 2

    298.5     3.3 %   11     5.4 %   256.3     3.4 %   12     6.2 %

Grade 3

    7,847.6     86.9 %   171     83.4 %   6,636.2     86.9 %   162     83.9 %

Grade 4

    832.4     9.2 %   18     8.8 %   685.8     9.0 %   12     6.2 %

Total

  $ 9,028.4     100.0 %   205     100.0 % $ 7,632.9     100.0 %   193     100.0 %

        As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, the weighted average grade of the investments in our portfolio at fair value was 3.0 and 3.0, respectively.

        As of December 31, 2014, loans on non-accrual status represented 2.2% and 1.7% of the total investments at amortized cost and at fair value, respectively. As of December 31, 2013, loans on non-accrual status represented 3.1% and 2.1% of the total investments at amortized cost and at fair value, respectively.

Senior Secured Loan Program

        We co-invest in first lien senior secured loans of middle market companies with GE through an unconsolidated Delaware limited liability company, the Senior Secured Loan Fund LLC (d/b/a "the Senior Secured Loan Program") or the SSLP. The SSLP is capitalized as transactions are completed and all portfolio decisions and generally all other decisions in respect of the SSLP must be approved by an investment committee of the SSLP consisting of representatives of ours and GE (with approval from a representative of each required). We provide capital to the SSLP in the form of subordinated certificates (the "SSLP Certificates").

        As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, we and GE had agreed to make $11.0 billion of capital available to the SSLP, of which approximately $9.9 billion and $8.7 billion in aggregate principal amount, respectively, was funded. As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, we had agreed to make available to the SSLP approximately $2.3 billion, of which approximately $2.0 billion and $1.7 billion in aggregate principal amount, respectively, was funded. Investment of any unfunded amount must be approved by the investment committee of the SSLP as described above.

        As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, the SSLP had total assets of $10.0 billion and $8.7 billion, respectively. As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, GE's investment in the SSLP consisted of senior notes of $7.6 billion and $6.7 billion, respectively, and SSLP Certificates of $290.6 million and $249.3 million, respectively. The SSLP Certificates are junior in right of payment to the senior notes held by GE. As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, we and GE owned 87.5% and 12.5%, respectively, of the outstanding SSLP Certificates.

        As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, the SSLP portfolio was comprised of all first lien senior secured loans to U.S. middle-market companies. As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, one loan was on

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non-accrual status, representing 1.0% and 1.0%, respectively, of the total loans at principal amount in the SSLP. The portfolio companies in the SSLP are in industries similar to the companies in our portfolio. Additionally, as of December 31, 2014 and 2013, the SSLP had commitments to fund various delayed draw investments to certain of its portfolio companies of $484.3 million and $510.4 million, respectively, which had been approved by the investment committee of the SSLP. As of December 31, 2014 and 2013, we had commitments to co-invest in the SSLP for our portion of the SSLP's commitments to fund such delayed draw investments of up to $92.5 million and $85.1 million, respectively.

        Below is a summary of the SSLP's portfolio, followed by a listing of the individual first lien senior secured loans in the SSLP's portfolio as of December 31, 2014 and 2013:

 
  As of December 31,  
(dollar amounts in millions)
  2014   2013  

Total first lien senior secured loans(1)

  $ 9,522.6   $ 8,664.4  

Weighted average yield on first lien senior secured loans(2)

    6.7 %   7.1 %

Number of borrowers in the SSLP

    50     47  

Largest loan to a single borrower(1)

  $ 331.5   $ 321.7  

Total of five largest loans to borrowers(1)

  $ 1,571.7   $ 1,510.7  

(1)
At principal amount.

(2)
Computed as the (a) annual stated interest rate on accruing first lien senior secured loans, divided by (b) total first lien senior secured loans at principal amount.

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SSLP Loan Portfolio as of December 31, 2014

(dollar amounts in millions)
Portfolio Company
  Business Description   Maturity
Date
  Stated
Interest
Rate(1)
  Principal
Amount
  Fair
Value(2)
 

ADG, LLC

  Dental services provider     9/2019     8.1 % $ 212.6   $ 212.6  

AMZ Holding Corp. 

  Specialty chemicals manufacturer     12/2018     6.8 %   235.2     230.5  

Argon Medical Devices, Inc. 

  Manufacturer and marketer of single-use specialty medical devices     4/2018     6.5 %   221.3     221.3  

Argotec LLC

  Producer of thermoplastic polyurethane film and sheet used for paint production, glass lamination, medical use, graphics, and textile lamination.     12/2019     7.5 %   93.0     93.0  

Athletico Management, LLC and Accelerated Holdings, LLC(3)

  Provider of outpatient rehabilitation services     12/2020     6.3 %   325.0     325.0  

Breg, Inc. 

  Designer, manufacturer, and distributor of non-surgical orthopedic products for preventative, post-operative and rehabilitative use     10/2020     6.5 %   150.0     150.0  

Brewer Holdings Corp. and Zywave, Inc. 

  Provider of software and technology-enabled content and analytical solutions to insurance brokers     11/2019     7.0 %   173.7     173.7  

Cambridge International, Inc. 

  Manufacturer of custom designed and engineered metal products     4/2018     8.0 %   82.9     82.1  

CH Hold Corp.(3)

  Collision repair company     11/2019     5.5 %   298.5     298.5  

Chariot Acquisition, LLC

  Distributor and designer of aftermarket golf cart parts and accessories     1/2019     7.8 %   152.2     152.2  

CIBT Holdings, Inc.(5)

  Expedited travel document processing services     12/2018     6.8 %   204.4     204.4  

Connoisseur Media, LLC

  Owner and operator of radio stations     6/2019     7.3 %   134.3     133.0  

CWD, LLC

  Supplier of automotive aftermarket brake parts     6/2016     7.0 %   125.9     125.9  

Drayer Physical Therapy Institute, LLC

  Outpatient physical therapy provider     7/2018     8.0 %   133.9     133.9  

Driven Brands, Inc.(3)(5)

  Automotive aftermarket car care franchisor     3/2017     6.0 %   201.2     201.2  

DTI Holdco, Inc.(3)(5)

  Provider of legal process outsourcing and managed services     8/2020     5.8 %   300.3     300.3  

ECI Purchaser Company, LLC

  Manufacturer of equipment to safely control pressurized gases     12/2019     6.0 %   235.0     232.6  

Excelligence Learning Corporation

  Developer, manufacturer and retailer of educational products     12/2020     6.8 %   180.0     180.0  

Fleischmann's Vinegar Company, Inc. 

  Manufacturer and marketer of industrial vinegar products     5/2016     8.0 %   70.4     70.4  

Gentle Communications, LLC

  Dental services provider     6/2020     6.5 %   84.8     84.0  

III US Holdings, LLC

  Provider of library automation software and systems     6/2018     6.0 %   215.2     213.0  

Implus Footcare, LLC(5)

  Provider of footwear and other accessories     4/2019     6.8 %   264.9     264.9  

Instituto de Banca y Comercio, Inc.(3)(5)

  Private school operator     12/2016           91.5     73.2 (6)

Intermedix Corporation(4)

  Revenue cycle management provider to the emergency healthcare industry     12/2019     5.8 %   267.9     267.9  

Laborie Medical Technologies Corp(5)

  Developer and manufacturer of medical equipment     10/2018     6.8 %   125.4     125.4  

Mavis Tire Supply LLC

  Auto parts retailer     10/2020     6.3 %   184.5     184.5  

MCH Holdings, Inc.(5)

  Healthcare professional provider     1/2020     6.3 %   179.1     179.1  

MWI Holdings, Inc.(3)

  Engineered springs, fasteners, and other precision components     3/2019     7.4 %   259.2     259.2  

Noranco Manufacturing (USA) Ltd. 

  Supplier of complex machined and sheet metal components for the aerospace industry     4/2019     6.8 %   156.3     156.3  

Nordco Inc. 

  Designer and manufacturer of railroad maintenance-of-way machinery     8/2019     7.0 %   217.3     217.3  

Oak Parent, Inc.(3)

  Manufacturer of athletic apparel     4/2018     7.5 %   297.6     297.6  

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(dollar amounts in millions)
Portfolio Company
  Business Description   Maturity
Date
  Stated
Interest
Rate(1)
  Principal
Amount
  Fair
Value(2)
 

Palermo Finance Corporation

  Provider of mission-critical integrated public safety software and services to local, state, and federal agencies     11/2020     7.0 %   135.0     135.0  

Penn Detroit Diesel Allison, LLC

  Distributor of new equipment and aftermarket parts to the heavy-duty truck industry     10/2019     7.3 %   71.6     71.6  

PetroChoice Holdings, LLC

  Provider of lubrication solutions     1/2017     10.0 %   238.5     238.5  

PODS Funding Corp. II(3)

  Storage and warehousing     12/2018     7.0 %   331.5     331.5  

Pretium Packaging, L.L.C(5)

  Manufacturer and supplier of high performance plastic containers     6/2020     6.2 %   209.2     209.2  

Protective Industries, Inc. dba Caplugs(3)(5)

  Plastic protection products     10/2019     6.3 %   275.5     275.5  

Restaurant Technologies, Inc. 

  Provider of bulk cooking oil management services to the restaurant and fast food service industries     6/2018     7.0 %   198.5     198.5  

Sanders Industries Holdings, Inc.(5)

  Elastomeric parts, mid-sized composite structures, and composite tooling     5/2020     7.0 %   83.8     83.8  

Selig Sealing Products, Inc. 

  Manufacturer of container sealing products for rigid packaging applications     10/2019     6.8 %   188.5     188.5  

Singer Sewing Company

  Manufacturer of consumer sewing machines     6/2017     7.3 %   195.0     191.1  

STATS Acquisition, LLC

  Sports technology, data and content company     6/2020     7.0 %   103.5     103.5  

Strategic Partners, Inc.(5)

  Supplier of medical uniforms, specialized medical footwear and accessories     8/2018     7.3 %   289.3     289.3  

TA THI Buyer, Inc. and TA THI Parent, Inc.(5)

  Collision repair company     7/2020     6.5 %   312.7     312.7  

The Linen Group

  Provider of outsourced commercial linen and laundry services     8/2019     8.0 %   92.6     92.6  

The Teaching Company, LLC(3)(5)

  Education publications provider     3/2017     9.0 %   109.2     108.1  

Towne Holdings, Inc. 

  Provider of contracted hospitality services and parking systems     12/2019     6.8 %   167.8     167.8  

U.S. Anesthesia Partners, Inc.(3)(4)

  Anesthesiology service provider     12/2019     6.0 %   264.0     264.0  

Universal Services of America, LP

  Provider of security officer and guard services     7/2019     6.0 %   302.2     302.2  

WCI-Quantum Holdings, Inc.(5)

  Distributor of instructional products, services and resources     10/2020     5.8 %   80.7     80.7  

                  $ 9,522.6   $ 9,487.1  

(1)
Represents the weighted average annual stated interest rate as of December 31, 2014. All interest rates are payable in cash. For loans on non-accrual status, the stated interest rate is not shown as there is no current yield on such loans.

(2)
Represents the fair value in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification ("ASC") 820-10. The determination of such fair value is not included in our board of directors valuation process described elsewhere herein.

(3)
We also hold a portion of this company's first lien senior secured loan.

(4)
We also hold a portion of this company's second lien senior secured loan.

(5)
We hold an equity investment in this company.

(6)
Loan was on non-accrual status, as determined by the investment committee of the SSLP, as of December 31, 2014.

69



SSLP Loan Portfolio as of December 31, 2013

(dollar amounts in millions)
Portfolio Company
  Business Description   Maturity
Date
  Stated
Interest
Rate(1)
  Principal
Amount
  Fair
Value(2)
 

Access CIG, LLC(3)

  Records and information management services provider     10/2017     7.0 % $ 186.9   $ 186.9  

ADG, LLC

  Dental services provider     9/2019     8.1 %   217.5     217.5  

AMZ Holding Corp. 

  Specialty chemicals manufacturer     12/2018     6.8 %   237.6     237.6  

Argon Medical Devices, Inc. 

  Manufacturer and marketer of single-use specialty medical devices     4/2018     6.5 %   239.2     239.2  

BECO Holding Company, Inc.(5)

  Wholesale distributor of first response fire protection equipment and related parts     12/2017     8.3 %   143.4     143.4  

Brewer Holdings Corp. and Zywave, Inc. 

  Provider of software and technology-enabled content and analytical solutions to insurance brokers     11/2019     7.0 %   175.5     175.5  

Cambridge International, Inc. 

  Manufacturer of custom designed and engineered metal products     4/2018     8.0 %   86.0     86.0  

CCS Group Holdings, LLC(5)

  Correctional facility healthcare operator     4/2016     8.0 %   134.5     134.5  

CH Hold Corp. 

  Collision repair company     11/2019     5.5 %   270.0     270.0  

Chariot Acquisition, LLC

  Distributor and designer of aftermarket golf cart parts and accessories     1/2019     7.8 %   142.3     142.3  

CIBT Holdings, Inc.(5)

  Expedited travel document processing services     12/2018     6.8 %   178.9     178.9  

CWD, LLC

  Supplier of automotive aftermarket brake parts     6/2016     10.0 %   130.5     130.5  

Drayer Physical Therapy Institute, LLC

  Outpatient physical therapy provider     7/2018     7.5 %   136.7     136.7  

Driven Brands, Inc.(5)

  Automotive aftermarket car care franchisor     3/2017     7.0 %   159.1     159.1  

ECI Purchaser Company, LLC

  Manufacturer of equipment to safely control pressurized gases     12/2019     6.0 %   209.0     209.0  

Excelligence Learning Corporation(5)

  Developer, manufacturer and retailer of educational products     8/2018     7.8 %   174.0     174.0  

Fleischmann's Vinegar Company, Inc. 

  Manufacturer and marketer of industrial vinegar products     5/2016     8.0 %   74.7     74.7  

Fox Hill Holdings, LLC(3)

  Third party claims administrator on behalf of insurance carriers     6/2018     6.8 %   289.5     289.5  

III US Holdings, LLC

  Provider of library automation software and systems     3/2018     7.6 %   194.5     194.5  

Implus Footcare, LLC(5)

  Provider of footwear and other accessories     10/2016     9.0 %   210.3     210.3  

Instituto de Banca y Comercio, Inc.(3)(5)

  Private school operator     6/2015           82.4     74.2 (6)

Intermedix Corporation(4)

  Revenue cycle management provider to the emergency healthcare industry     12/2018     6.3 %   321.7     321.7  

iParadigms, LLC

  Provider of anti-plagiarism software to the education industry     4/2019     6.5 %   164.2     164.2  

JHP Pharmaceuticals, LLC(5)

  Manufacturer of specialty pharmaceutical products     12/2019     6.8 %   182.2     182.2  

Laborie Medical Technologies Corp(5)

  Developer and manufacturer of medical equipment     10/2018     6.8 %   113.5     113.5  

LJSS Acquisition, Inc. 

  Fluid power distributor     10/2017     6.8 %   159.8     159.8  

MWI Holdings, Inc.(3)

  Engineered springs, fasteners, and other precision components     3/2019     7.4 %   261.6     261.6  

Noranco Manufacturing (USA) Ltd. 

  Supplier of complex machined and sheet metal components for the aerospace industry     4/2019     6.8 %   161.1     161.1  

Nordco, Inc. 

  Designer and manufacturer of railroad maintenance-of-way machinery     8/2019     7.0 %   224.7     224.7  

Oak Parent, Inc.(3)

  Manufacturer of athletic apparel     4/2018     7.5 %   307.1     307.1  

Penn Detroit Diesel Allison, LLC

  Distributor of new equipment and aftermarket parts to the heavy-duty truck industry     12/2016     9.0 %   59.5     59.5  

70


(dollar amounts in millions)
Portfolio Company
  Business Description   Maturity
Date
  Stated
Interest
Rate(1)
  Principal
Amount
  Fair
Value(2)
 

PetroChoice Holdings, LLC

  Provider of lubrication solutions     1/2017     10.0 %   158.3     158.3  

PODS Funding Corp. II(3)

  Storage and warehousing     12/2018     7.0 %   314.1     314.1  

Pregis Corporation, Pregis Intellipack Corp. and Pregis Innovative Packaging Inc.(3)

  Provider of highly-customized, tailored protective packaging solutions     3/2017     7.8 %   152.0     152.0  

Protective Industries, Inc. dba Caplugs(3)(5)

  Plastic protection products     10/2019     6.8 %   278.3     278.3  

PSSI Holdings, LLC(3)

  Provider of mission-critical outsourced cleaning and sanitation services to the food processing industry     6/2018     6.0 %   224.4     224.4  

Restaurant Technologies, Inc. 

  Provider of bulk cooking oil management services to the restaurant and fast food service industries     6/2018     7.0 %   202.7     202.7  

Selig Sealing Products, Inc. 

  Manufacturer of container sealing products for rigid packaging applications     10/2019     6.8 %   209.0     209.0  

Singer Sewing Company

  Manufacturer of consumer sewing machines     6/2017     7.3 %   197.0     197.0  

Strategic Partners, Inc.(5)

  Supplier of medical uniforms, specialized medical footwear and accessories     8/2018     7.8 %   232.1     232.1  

Talent Partners G.P. and Print Payroll Services, G.P. 

  Provider of technology-enabled payroll to the advertising industry     10/2017     8.0 %   62.0     62.0  

TecoStar Acquisition Company

  Manufacturer of precision components for orthopedic medical devices     12/2019     6.4 %   118.0     118.0  

The Teaching Company, LLC(3)(5)

  Education publications provider     3/2017     9.0 %   111.5     109.3  

Towne Holdings, Inc. 

  Provider of contracted hospitality services and parking systems     12/2019     6.8 %   154.0     154.0  

U.S. Anesthesia Partners, Inc.(3)

  Anesthesiology service provider     12/2019     6.0 %   210.0     210.0  

Universal Services of America, LP

  Provider of security officer and guard services     7/2019     6.0 %   253.9     253.9  

WB Merger Sub, Inc. 

  Importer, distributor and developer of premium wine and spirits     12/2016     9.0 %   159.2     159.2  

                  $ 8,664.4   $ 8,654.0  

(1)
Represents the weighted average annual stated interest rate as of December 31, 2013. All interest rates are payable in cash. For loans on non-accrual status, the stated interest rate is not shown as there is no current yield on such loans.

(2)
Represents the fair value in accordance with ASC 820-10. The determination of such fair value is not included in our board of directors valuation process described elsewhere herein.

(3)
We also hold a portion of this company's first lien senior secured loan.

(4)
We also hold a portion of this company's second lien senior secured loan.

(5)
We hold an equity investment in this company.

(6)
Loan was on non-accrual status, as determined by the investment committee of the SSLP, as of December 31, 2013.

        The amortized cost and fair value of our SSLP Certificates was $2.0 billion and $2.1 billion, respectively, as of December 31, 2014, and $1.7 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively, as of December 31, 2013. The SSLP Certificates pay a weighted average coupon of LIBOR plus approximately 8.0% and also entitle the holders thereof to receive a portion of the excess cash flow from the underlying loan portfolio, which may result in a return to the holders of the SSLP Certificates that is greater than both the coupon on the SSLP Certificates as well as the weighted average yield on the SSLP's portfolio of 6.7% and 7.1% at December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. Our yield on our investment in the SSLP at amortized cost and fair value was 13.8% and 13.5%, respectively, as of December 31, 2014, and 15.0% and 14.8%, respectively, as of December 31, 2013. For the years ended

71


December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, we earned interest income of $275.0 million, $224.9 million and $184.7 million, respectively, from our investment in the SSLP Certificates.

        We are also entitled to certain fees in connection with the SSLP. For the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, in connection with the SSLP, we earned capital structuring service, sourcing and other fees totaling $69.7 million, $66.6 million and $58.2 million, respectively.

        Selected financial information for the SSLP as of and for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013 is as follows:

 
  As of and For the Years
Ended December 31,
 
(in millions)
  2014   2013  

Selected Balance Sheet Information:

             

Investments in loans receivable, net

  $ 9,442.6   $ 8,601.6  

Cash and other assets

  $ 563.3   $ 142.3  

Total assets

  $ 10,005.9   $ 8,743.9  

Senior notes

 
$

7,613.7
 
$

6,699.5
 

Other liabilities

  $ 77.7   $ 64.2  

Total liabilities

  $ 7,691.4   $ 6,763.7  

Subordinated certificates and members' capital

  $ 2,314.5   $ 1,980.2  

Total liabilities and members' capital

  $ 10,005.9   $ 8,743.9  

Selected Statement of Operations Information:

   
 
   
 
 

Total revenues

  $ 668.3   $ 554.2  

Total expenses

  $ 362.5   $ 296.7  

Net income

  $ 305.8   $ 257.5  

RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

For the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012

        Operating results for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012 are as follows:

 
  For the Years Ended
December 31,
 
(in millions)
  2014   2013   2012  

Total investment income

  $ 989.0   $ 881.7   $ 748.0  

Total expenses

    532.9     437.2     387.9  

Net investment income before income taxes

    456.1     444.5     360.1  

Income tax expense, including excise tax

    18.3     14.1     11.2  

Net investment income

    437.8     430.4     348.9  

Net realized gains on investments

    93.9     63.7     46.7  

Net unrealized gains (losses) on investments

    59.4     (5.6 )   115.3  

Realized losses on extinguishment of debt

    (0.1 )       (2.7 )

Net increase in stockholders' equity resulting from operations

  $ 591.0   $ 488.5   $ 508.2  

72


Investment Income

 
  For the Years Ended
December 31,
 
(in millions)
  2014   2013   2012  

Interest income from investments

  $ 741.4   $ 647.9   $ 571.5  

Capital structuring service fees

    113.6     91.7     102.1  

Dividend income

    84.3     99.6     39.7  

Management and other fees

    24.6     20.2     18.9  

Other income

    25.1     22.3     15.8  

Total investment income

  $ 989.0   $ 881.7   $ 748.0  

        The increase in interest income from investments for the year ended December 31, 2014 from the comparable period in 2013 was primarily due to an increase in the size of our portfolio, which increased from an average of $6.7 billion at amortized cost for the year ended December 31, 2013 to an average of $8.1 billion at amortized cost for the comparable period in 2014. The increase in capital structuring service fees for the year ended December 31, 2014 from the comparable period in 2013 was primarily due to the increase in new investment commitments, which increased from $4.0 billion for the year ended December 31, 2013 to $4.6 billion for the comparable period in 2014, as well as the increase in the average capital structuring service fees received on new investment commitments, from 2.3% for the year ended December 31, 2013 to 2.5% in the comparable period in 2014. Dividend income for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013 included dividends received from IHAM totaling $50.0 million and $72.4 million, respectively. The dividends received from IHAM for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013 included additional dividends of $10.0 million and $32.4 million, respectively, that were paid in addition to the quarterly dividends generally paid by IHAM. IHAM paid the additional dividends out of accumulated earnings that had previously been retained by IHAM. Also during the year ended December 31, 2014, we received $19.0 million in other non-recurring dividends from non-income producing equity securities compared to $9.0 million for the comparable period in 2013. The increase in management and other fees for the year ended December 31, 2014 from the comparable period in 2013 was primarily attributable to higher sourcing and other fees received from the SSLP.

        The increase in interest income from investments for the year ended December 31, 2013 from the comparable period in 2012 was primarily due to the increase in the size of the portfolio, which increased from an average of $5.5 billion at amortized cost for the year ended December 31, 2012 to an average of $6.7 billion at amortized cost for the comparable period in 2013. Even though new investment commitments increased from $3.2 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012 to $4.0 billion for the comparable period in 2013, capital structuring service fees decreased for the year ended December 31, 2013 from the comparable period in 2012 primarily due to the decrease in the average capital structuring service fees received on new investment commitments, which decreased from 3.2% in 2012 to 2.3% in 2013. The increase in dividend income for the year ended December 31, 2013 from the comparable period in 2012 was primarily due to $72.4 million in dividends received from IHAM for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to $19.9 million for the comparable period in 2012. The dividends received from IHAM for the year ended December 31, 2013 included additional dividends of $32.4 million that were paid in addition to the quarterly dividends generally paid by IHAM. Also during the year ended December 31, 2013, we received $9.0 million in other non-recurring dividends from non-income producing equity securities compared to $2.2 million for the comparable period in 2012. The increase in other income for the year ended December 31, 2013 from the comparable period in 2012 was primarily attributable to higher amendment fees.

73


Operating Expenses

 
  For the Years Ended
December 31,
 
(in millions)
  2014   2013   2012  

Interest and credit facility fees

  $ 216.0   $ 171.5   $ 143.0  

Base management fees

    128.0     104.9     86.2  

Income based fees

    118.3     110.5     95.2  

Capital gains incentive fees

    29.5     11.6     31.9  

Administrative fees

    13.7     12.3     9.3  

Other general and administrative

    27.4     26.4     22.3  

Total operating expenses

  $ 532.9   $ 437.2   $ 387.9  

        Interest and credit facility fees for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, were comprised of the following:

 
  For the Years Ended
December 31,
 
(in millions)
  2014   2013   2012  

Stated interest expense

  $ 173.7   $ 136.3   $ 113.1  

Facility fees

    10.8     8.2     5.5  

Amortization of debt issuance costs

    16.4     13.2     13.1  

Accretion of net discount on notes payable

    15.1     13.8     11.3  

Total interest and credit facility fees

  $ 216.0   $ 171.5   $ 143.0  

        Stated interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2014 increased from the comparable period in 2013 primarily due to the increase in the average principal amount of debt outstanding, partially offset by a decrease in our weighted average stated interest rate of our debt outstanding. For the year ended December 31, 2014, our average principal debt outstanding increased to $3.3 billion as compared to $2.6 billion for the comparable period in 2013, and the weighted average stated interest rate on our outstanding debt was 4.8% for the year ended December 31, 2014 as compared to 5.3% for the comparable period in 2013.

        Stated interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2013 increased from the comparable period in 2012 primarily due to the increase in the average principal amount of debt outstanding and an increase in our weighted average stated interest rate of our debt outstanding. For the year ended December 31, 2013, our average principal debt outstanding was $2.6 billion as compared to $2.2 billion for the comparable period in 2012, and the weighted average stated interest rate on our outstanding debt was 5.3% for the year ended December 31, 2013 as compared to 5.2% for the comparable period in 2012.

        The increase in base management fees and our income based fees for the year ended December 31, 2014 from the comparable period in 2013 and for the year ended December 31, 2013 from the comparable period in 2012 were primarily due to the increases in the size of the portfolio in the case of base management fees and in the case of income based fees, the related increase in net investment income excluding income based fees and capital gains incentive fees.

        For the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, the capital gains incentive fee expense accrual calculated in accordance with GAAP was $29.5 million, $11.6 million and $31.9 million, respectively. Capital gains incentive fee expense accrual for the year ended December 31, 2014 increased from the comparable period in 2013 primarily due to higher net gains on investments and foreign currency transactions, which increased from $58.1 million during the year ended December 31,

74


2013 to $156.3 million for the comparable period in 2014. Capital gains incentive fee expense accrual for the year ended December 31, 2013 decreased from the comparable period in 2012 primarily due to lower net gains on investments and foreign currency transactions, which decreased from $159.3 million during the year ended December 31, 2012 to $58.1 million for the comparable period in 2013. The capital gains incentive fee accrued under GAAP includes an accrual related to unrealized capital appreciation, whereas the capital gains incentive fee actually payable under our investment advisory and management agreement does not. There can be no assurance that such unrealized capital appreciation will be realized in the future. The accrual for any capital gains incentive fee under GAAP in a given period may result in an additional expense if such cumulative amount is greater than in the prior period or a reduction of previously recorded expense if such cumulative amount is less than in the prior period. If such cumulative amount is negative, then there is no accrual. As of December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, the total capital gains incentive fee accrual calculated in accordance with GAAP was $93.0 million, $80.9 million and $80.8 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, the capital gains incentive fee actually payable under our investment advisory and management agreement was $24.0 million, $17.4 million and $11.5 million, respectively. See Note 3 to our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2014, for more information on the base management fees, income based fees and capital gains incentive fees.

        Administrative fees represent fees paid to Ares Operations for our allocable portion of overhead and other expenses incurred by Ares Operations in performing its obligations under the administration agreement, including our allocable portion of the cost of certain of our executive officers and their respective staffs. Other general and administrative expenses include professional fees, rent, insurance, depreciation and director's fees, among other costs.

Income Tax Expense, Including Excise Tax

        We have elected to be treated as a RIC under the Code and operate in a manner so as to qualify for the tax treatment applicable to RICs. To qualify as a RIC, we must, among other things, timely distribute to our stockholders generally at least 90% of our investment company taxable income, as defined by the Code, for each year. In order to maintain our RIC status, we, among other things, have made and intend to continue to make the requisite distributions to our stockholders which will generally relieve us from U.S. federal corporate-level income taxes.

        Depending on the level of taxable income earned in a tax year, we may choose to carry forward such taxable income in excess of current year dividend distributions from such current year taxable income into the next tax year and pay a 4% excise tax on such income, as required. To the extent that we determine that our estimated current year annual taxable income will be in excess of estimated current year dividend distributions from such income, we accrue excise tax on estimated excess taxable income as such taxable income is earned. For the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, we recorded a net expense of $5.5 million, $10.3 million and $7.9 million, respectively, for U.S. federal excise tax. The net expense for the year ended December 31, 2014 included a reduction in expense related to the recording of a requested refund resulting from the overpayment of 2013 excise tax of $1.7 million.

        Certain of our consolidated subsidiaries are subject to U.S. federal and state income taxes. For the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, we recorded a tax expense of approximately $12.8 million, $3.8 million and $3.2 million, respectively, for these subsidiaries. The increase in income tax expense for our taxable consolidated subsidiaries for the year ended December 31, 2014 from the comparable period in 2013 was primarily driven by the realized gains from the exits of certain investments held by such subsidiaries during the year ended December 31, 2014.

75


Net Realized Gains/Losses

        During the year ended December 31, 2014, we had $3.3 billion of sales, repayments or exits of investments resulting in $91.7 million of net realized gains. These sales, repayments or exits included $219.6 million of investments sold to IHAM and certain vehicles managed by IHAM. A net realized loss of $0.1 million was recorded on these transactions. See Note 4 to our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2014 for more detail on IHAM and its managed vehicles. Net realized gains of $91.7 million on investments were comprised of $153.8 million of gross realized gains and $62.1 million of gross realized losses.

        The net realized gains on investments during the year ended December 31, 2014 consisted of the following:

(in millions)
Portfolio Company
  Net Realized
Gains (Losses)
 

Insight Pharmaceuticals Corporation

  $ 33.1  

The Dwyer Group

    21.1  

Waste Pro USA, Inc. 

    18.4  

Service King Paint & Body, LLC

    10.4  

The Thymes, LLC

    9.8  

CT Technologies Intermediate Holdings, Inc. 

    6.7  

ELC Acquisition Corp. 

    5.9  

VSS-Tranzact Holdings, LLC

    5.1  

Platform Acquisition, Inc. 

    4.7  

Apple & Eve, LLC

    4.3  

Pillar Processing LLC

    (6.6 )

CitiPostal Inc. 

    (20.8 )

MVL Group, Inc. 

    (27.7 )

Other, net

    27.3  

Total

  $ 91.7  

        During the year ended December 31, 2014, we purchased $0.4 million aggregate principal amount of the 2047 Notes and as a result of these transactions, we recognized realized losses of $0.1 million. During the year ended December 31, 2014, we also recognized net realized gains on foreign currency transactions of $2.2 million.

        During the year ended December 31, 2013, we had $1.8 billion of sales, repayments or exits of investments resulting in $63.7 million of net realized gains. These sales, repayments or exits included $442.3 million of investments sold to IHAM and certain vehicles managed by IHAM. A net realized loss of $0.1 million was recorded on these transactions. Net realized gains of $63.7 million on investments were comprised of $112.9 million of gross realized gains and $49.2 million of gross realized losses.

76


        The net realized gains on investments during the year ended December 31, 2013 consisted of the following:

(in millions)
Portfolio Company
  Net Realized
Gains (Losses)
 

Passport Health Communications, Inc. 

  $ 19.8  

Financial Pacific Company

    17.7  

Component Hardware Group, Inc. 

    17.2  

Tradesmen International, Inc. 

    10.0  

AWTP, LLC

    8.7  

Performant Financial Corporation

    8.6  

Senior Secured Loan Fund LLC

    7.1  

Performance Food Group, Inc. 

    4.1  

eInstruction Corporation

    (40.3 )

Other, net

    10.8  

Total

  $ 63.7  

        During the year ended December 31, 2012, we had $2.5 billion of sales, repayments or exits of investments resulting in $46.7 million of net realized gains. These sales, repayments or exits included $256.9 million of investments sold to IHAM and certain vehicles managed by IHAM. A net realized gain of $2.3 million was recorded on these transactions. Net realized gains of $46.7 million on investments were comprised of $172.0 million of gross realized gains and $125.3 million of gross realized losses.

        The net realized gains on investments during the year ended December 31, 2012 consisted of the following:

(in millions)
Portfolio Company
  Net Realized
Gains (Losses)
 

Reed Group, Ltd. 

  $ 41.5  

Stag-Parkway, Inc. 

    30.0  

R3 Education, Inc. and EIC Acquisitions Corp. 

    18.3  

Savers, Inc. and SAI Acquisition Corporation

    15.2  

BenefitMall Holdings Inc. 

    12.5  

Things Remembered Inc. and TRM Holdings Corporation

    9.6  

Sunquest Information Systems, Inc. 

    9.1  

Norwesco Acquisition Company

    5.7  

OTG Management, Inc. 

    4.0  

Crescent Hotels & Resorts, LLC and affiliates

    (5.5 )

LVCG Holdings LLC

    (6.6 )

Direct Buy Holdings, Inc. and Direct Buy Investors, LP

    (8.3 )

Aquila Binks Forest Development, LLC

    (9.5 )

Making Memories Wholesale, Inc. 

    (12.3 )

Firstlight Financial Corporation

    (26.0 )

Prommis Solutions, LLC

    (46.8 )

Other, net

    15.8  

Total

  $ 46.7  

        Additionally, during the year ended December 31, 2012, in connection with the repayment in full of the $60.0 million aggregate principal amount of our asset-backed notes issued under our 2006 debt

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securitization ahead of their scheduled maturities, $2.7 million of unamortized debt issuance costs were expensed and recorded as a realized loss on the extinguishment of debt.

Net Unrealized Gains/Losses

        We value our portfolio investments quarterly and the changes in value are recorded as unrealized gains or losses. Net unrealized gains and losses for our portfolio for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, were comprised of the following:

 
  For the Years Ended
December 31,
 
(in millions)
  2014   2013   2012  

Unrealized appreciation

  $ 176.6   $ 106.5   $ 151.0  

Unrealized depreciation

    (120.4 )   (105.1 )   (126.7 )

Net unrealized (appreciation) depreciation reversal related to net realized gains or losses(1)

    1.6     (7.0 )   91.0  

Total net unrealized gains (losses)

  $ 57.8   $ (5.6 ) $ 115.3  

(1)
The net unrealized (appreciation) depreciation reversal related to net realized gains or losses represents the unrealized appreciation or depreciation recorded on the related asset at the end of the prior period.

        The changes in net unrealized appreciation and depreciation during the year ended December 31, 2014 consisted of the following:

(in millions)
Portfolio Company
  Net Unrealized
Appreciation
(Deprecation)
 

10th Street, LLC

  $ 43.7  

UL Holding Co., LLC

    15.0  

Cast & Crew Payroll, LLC

    11.6  

Imperial Capital Private Opportunities, LP

    10.1  

Ciena Capital LLC

    9.8  

Tripwire, Inc. 

    8.4  

Senior Secured Loan Fund LLC

    7.0  

Campus Management Corp.