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Arent Fox LLP leverages its municipal financing capabilities to advise clients in bankruptcy cases across the country. The firm has been representing a number of clients, including Centerbridge Partners and Vanguard Mutual Funds, in connection with Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis and assisted with evaluating legislation, risks involved with bond structures and potential strategies that may be utilized by the Commonwealth. Most recently, the firm has been addressing issues raised by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), the new bankruptcy regime for Puerto Rico. The team has also advised Vanguard Mutual Funds, as an owner of Atlantic City general obligation bonds, on legislative developments and strategy options for addressing the city’s fiscal crisis, particularly since a plan developed by local government was rejected by the state, which has now exercised its right to take over the city’s governance. It has also represented Wells Fargo as trustee in a $50m defaulted bond transaction relating to the financing of a medical laboratory building in Albany, New York. David Dubrow heads the five-partner practice, which includes fellow New York lawyers Mark Angelov and Les Jacobowitz, and Washington DC-based Carol Connor Cohen and Caroline Turner English.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP is well known for its distressed municipal finance practice and has previously had roles in the Chapter 9 cases of Orange County and Jefferson County. The firm has represented Assured as the largest creditor in the debt crisis of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, including negotiating the terms of a restructuring support agreement involving an exchange of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) legacy bonds for securitized bonds. Key partner Ivan Loncar also represents the client in litigation against Puerto Rico for violations of PROMESA regarding the diversion of pledged revenues. In the Detroit bankruptcy, the firm represented Bank of America Merrill Lynch as counterparty to several interest rate swaps with the city; led by Lary Stromfeld and the corporate restructuring and litigation departments, the settlement of the swaps was an unprecedented structure in bankruptcy and municipal finance. Stromfeld and Ingrid Bagby co-chair the practice from New York.

Jones Day advises a host of distressed investment and other funds on exposures to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its various instrumentalities and public corporations. It also represents funds as holders of secured bonds issued by the Employees Retirement System of the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in litigation with the Commonwealth regarding the constitutional and contractual rights of secured creditors in the context of PROMESA. Other work included Washington DC-based Kevyn Orr advising the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority on certain operations, including financing and governance. Bruce Bennett heads the restructuring practice and splits his time between New York and Los Angeles.

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Boutique Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP has a longstanding reputation for its expertise in municipal bankruptcy and restructuring matters. The Los Angeles-based firm has represented several municipal debtors, including Jefferson County and the Californian town of Mammoth Lakes. All of the name partners are recommended for their expertise in this area, but Kenneth Klee is particularly well regarded in the field of restructuring and insolvency.

Since publication, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP has subsumed the legacy practice of Chadbourne & Parke LLP, which primarily acts for bond insurers, such as Assured Guaranty, which it is advising on exposure of over $100m in bonds issued by Atlantic City. Previously it has also advised the client on the City of Detroit and Jefferson County Chapter 9 cases. The group is also assisting the general account ad hoc policyholder group in Ambac’s Wisconsin state-law rehabilitation proceedings with ensuring distributions to creditors of the segregated account do not impair Ambac’s ability to pay back the clients in full. Led by Lawrence Larose and Samuel Kohn, the team is also representing National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation in connection with exposure of over $25m in bonds issued by the Scranton Parking Authority in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Howard Seife heads the global bankruptcy and restructuring practice. Named attorneys are based in New York.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is strong on both the debtor and creditor side, and has recently represented Stockton in its mediation process, and advised a group of senior bondholders of government-owned entity COFINA in relation to the Puerto Rico debt crisis. Other recent highlights include advising the city council, the interim city manager and the city attorney of the City of Beaumont in analyzing and restructuring the city’s debt, and representing Goldman Sachs - as lead underwriter, and placement and exchange agent in connection with the restructuring of PREPA - with the issuance of a $7.4bn exchange and new money offering of restructuring bonds. The team has also been representing other bondholders, leading financial institutions and other parties in the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt. Raniero D’Aversa heads the practice, which also includes fellow New York attorney Lorraine McGowen, Douglas Mintz in Washington DC and senior counsel Marc Levinson in Sacramento.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP continues to represent the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla in defense of the constitutionality of the Puerto Rico Emergency Moratorium and financial Rehabilitation Act and numerous executive orders, and the applicability of the automatic stay included in PROMESA. This is following on from the defense of the constitutionality of the Puerto Rico Public Sector Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act, which ultimately was ruled by the US Supreme Court to be preempted by US Bankruptcy Code. The team is led by Paul Basta in New York and James Sprayregen, who splits his time between New York and Chicago.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. typically represents the buy side in municipal and corporate restructuring transactions, with clients including bondholders, bond trustees and bond insurers. In the Puerto Rico debt crisis, the firm has been assisting numerous institutional investors with general advice, restructuring and litigation strategy, and related public corporation issues, particularly in the wake of PROMESA. The team also represents the indenture trustee in a multi-year receivership involving defaulted parking revenue bonds issued by Scranton Parking Authority; this has involved various litigation and negotiating a general obligation bond issuance. In bankruptcy-related litigation, Adrienne Walker (Boston) represented the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as party to derivative agreements in the Lehman bankruptcy, in defending breach of contract litigation brought by Lehman’s bankruptcy plan administrator; she worked closely with the state treasurer to negotiate a settlement. William Kannel leads the practice from Boston.

Sidley Austin LLP combines the expertise of its partners from its corporate restructuring, finance, litigation, tax and real estate practices to service clients in municipal debt restructurings. The firm has acted as counsel to National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation, an insurer of over $2bn of Detroit’s debt obligations, as well as to Assured Guaranty in relation to the San Bernardino Chapter 9 case. It has also been advising various bond insurers in connection with other distressed municipalities and financial credits, including the City of Chicago, the Chicago Board of Education and PREPA. James Conlan and Larry Nyhan head the restructuring group from Chicago. Since publication, Jeffrey Bjork has moved to Latham & Watkins LLP.

Ballard Spahr LLP is highly regarded for its strength in navigating state and local laws that govern financially distressed government entities and for its representations in high-profile Chapter 9 cases. In the San Bernardino bankruptcy, the firm achieved confirmation of a plan for its clients, the bondholders, at the end of the year. It has also advised parties in the Detroit and Harrisburg bankruptcies. The Los Angeles team expanded with the additions of Brian Huben and Dustin Branch from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, both of whom have experience in representing owners, developers and managers of commercial real estate in litigation and bankruptcy matters. Philadelphia-based Vincent Marriott III leads the bankruptcy, reorganization and capital recovery practice.

The New York-based team at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, which is headed by Kenneth Eckstein and Thomas Moers Mayer, has been engaged in a number of engagements in connection with the Puerto Rico fiscal crisis. It was successful in protecting the interests of its clients Franklin Mutual and Oppenheimer Funds after the US Supreme Court ruled that Puerto Rico’s Recovery Act is preempted by the US Bankruptcy Code, and continues to represent them as investors of $10bn into the Commonwealth. In addition, Amy Caton represented the two funds in restructuring negotiations with Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico’s numerous other creditors. In a separate engagement, the firm represents the $3.3bn ad hoc bondholder group in its restructuring negotiations with PREPA, resulting in a restructuring support agreement that reflects the only Puerto Rican creditor that has managed to negotiate a resolution to its liquidity issues since restructuring discussions began in 2014.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP advises financial institutions in municipal restructuring and insolvency matters, and had notable roles in the Detroit bankruptcy, advising US Bank and Barclays. It has also been representing Goldman Sachs Asset Management in Puerto Rico in connection with significant amounts of general obligation and COFINA junior bonds, and has been advising Barclays as underwriter in relation to up to $840m worth of bonds to be issued by the Chicago public school board. Timothy Walsh heads the restructuring practice, which includes fellow New York attorneys Alexandra Scheibe, Douglas Youngman and David Taub as well as Nathan Coco and William Smith in Chicago.

Reed Smith LLP is experienced representing indenture trustees and advised UMB Bank, National Association as successor indenture trustee for bonds issued by the City of Port St Lucie, Florida. The firm also represented the Bank of New York Mellon in the Energy Future Holdings bankruptcy case in connection with $1.7bn in pollution control bonds issued by three authorities in Texas. Key names are Eric Schaffer, who splits his time between Pittsburgh and New York, and Philadelphia-based William Richter. Peter Clark heads the commercial restructuring and bankruptcy group from Philadelphia.

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