Restructuring (including bankruptcy): corporate in United States
Traditionally, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is known as a creditors’ practice, where the team has deep experience, but the firm also has a strong offering on the debtor side. New York-based global head of financial restructuring Daniel Golden leads a national team with expertise in formal and out-of-court restructurings, as well as in financing and strategic transactions. A notable recent example of work has been representing the debtors in the FirstEnergy Solutions Chapter 11 case; the company, its subsidiaries and affiliates, which make up the debtors in the matter, are responsible for multiple fossil and nuclear power generating facilities throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania; the complex matter involves, among other things, negotiating with various creditor constituencies, preparing the first-day pleadings and working with the debtors’ regulators; the highly recommended Ira Dizengoff is leading with Abid Qureshi from New York and Scott Alberino in Washington DC. Also notable in the team is New York-based Philip Dublin, who is acting for the official committee of unsecured creditors in the Chapter 11 filing of iHeartMedia in negotiating the treatment for unsecured creditors under the the debtor's plan. The team is negotiating with the debtor's advisers with respect to, among other things, the debtor's key employee retention and incentive plans. In addition, the firm litigated the committee’s objection to the proposed retention of two investment bankers that could result in fees of $90m.
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP specializes in retail bankruptcies and restructurings, and has been involved in significant recent distressed transactions domestically and overseas. In addition, the group represents companies and constituents in energy and natural resource-related cases in and out of court. Donald Bernstein and Marshall Huebner lead the team from New York, which includes oil and gas expert Darren Klein, who is particularly well versed on the creditor side, and Brian Resnick, who is recommended for his work in prepackaged and traditional bankruptcies for debtors and lenders. Also notable is the recently promoted partner Lara Samet Buchwald, who focuses on litigation in the bankruptcy area. Cross-border work is another area of focus for the firm, examples of which have included advising a major creditor on the $20bn restructuring of Brazilian telecoms provider Oi under Brazilian law, as well as advising on the US-based Chapter 15 (which allows foreign parties access to US bankruptcy courts). In another standout highlight, the practice is representing the administrative agent, collateral agent, joint lead arranger and bookrunner, in connection with a $2.3bn debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing facility for Toys “R” Us Delaware. A matter arising from the retailer’s Chapter 11 filing in in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The ‘go-to firm for complex and high-profile Chapter 11 and restructuring mandates’, Kirkland & Ellis LLP ‘provides extraordinary service at a time of maximum stress for a company’. The firm specializes in complex cross-border restructurings and insolvency matters, representing debtors and distressed creditors in Chapter 11 cases and out-of-court restructurings across various industries. The large, multi-jurisdictional practice is led by Chicago and New York-based James Sprayregen, who ‘has unparalleled experience and credibility’ and ‘ is very well connected and able to steer the deal in the right direction’. He has ‘enormous resources’ to draw on, including ‘reassuring and good strategist’ Anup Sathy in Chicago, who is ‘very calm, always available to provide wise counsel and has enormous credibility with all key stakeholders’. He led for American Tire Distributors, one of the largest independent suppliers of replacement tires, in its prearranged Chapter 11 cases. Also notable in the ‘universally exceptionally skilled’ team is Chicago-based Ross Kwasteniet, who is ‘very bright, creative and always available to provide measured advice’, and Jonathan Henes in the New York office, who represents global provider of print and related resources Cenveo and its domestic subsidiaries in their prearranged Chapter 11 restructuring in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Agreements provided $290m in debtor-in-possession financing, giving the company $100m in incremental liquidity to support it in completing its reorganization. Also notable in the New York team is experienced restructuring practitioner Joshua Sussberg. Other key clients include Avaya, Exco Resources and Nine West Holdings.
‘Strong in court and in negotiating out-of-court resolutions’, Milbank is ‘extremely experienced, sophisticated and able to help clients navigate a very difficult and complicated negotiation’. In Chapter 11 cases, across a variety of industries, the firm is recommended ‘if you are facing a restructuring and you want the right lawyers at your side’. The group assists distressed debtors, official and ad hoc committees of creditors, leading financial institutions and hedge funds. The New York-based Dennis Dunne is ‘the best at what he does’ and is practice co-head with Paul Aronzon, who works from the Los Angeles office. They lead a ‘very commercial and practical’ team which includes the well-regarded Samuel Khalil, finance and restructuring expert Tyson Lomazow, and ‘trustworthy negotiator’ Gerald Uzzi, as well as experienced associate Matthew Brod - all based in New York. The practice represented the official committee of unsecured creditors in the Chapter 11 cases of TK Holdings and its affiliated debtors, which was one of the world’s largest producers of automobile safety products; after the company became distressed due to issues around malfunctioning airbags, the firm was able to negotiate for almost full recovery for creditors with non-contingent, liquidated claims. In another highlight, the department is representing Westinghouse, a global presence in nuclear technology design and construction, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2017 with reported assets in the amount of $4bn and liabilities in the amount of $9bn; the firm is advising on the the day-to-day operations of the company, as well as overseeing the process of marketing it for a sale and negotiating the terms of the transaction.
The ‘commercially savvy, always available and completely unflappable’ team at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is strong across the board, but has an especially good reputation for litigation. Experienced in domestic and cross-border representations for clients including debtors, official and unofficial committees of creditors, the firm is 'a huge comfort when going through a highly intensive and stressful restructuring transaction’. Alan Kornberg and Paul Basta chair the practice from New York and can call on the expertise of the ‘extremely knowledgeable, dedicated and highly ethical’ Andy Rosenberg, and ‘very strong contributor’ Elizabeth McColm. Led by the 'brilliant' Brian Hermann, Kyle Kimpler and ‘rising star’ Alice Belisle Eaton, the firm represented Expro Holdings, a UK-based provider of well flow management services to the oil and gas industry, in its prepackaged Chapter 11 case in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas; in a successful conclusion, the company emerged from Chapter 11 in 49 days, having eliminated its entire $1.4bn of funded bank debt. In another highlight, Jacob Adlerstein represented Cumulus Media, a radio company with 446 stations spread across 90 markets, in its heavily contested Chapter 11 cases, including a multi-day contested plan confirmation trial addressing, among other things, various valuation issues; the court eventually issued a decision that adopted the company’s valuation testimony, overruling all objections, and confirmed the Chapter 11 plan. Also notable in the team are Kelley Cornish and Jeffrey Saferstein.
‘Extremely experienced in all aspects of restructuring transactions’ and possessing a ‘very strong team’, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is among the very best firms for insolvency matters. The ‘smart, easy-to-work-with’ practice can ‘negotiate through a complicated transaction methodically to reach great results’. Gary Holtzer is co-chair of the firm’s business finance and restructuring department alongside Ray Schrock and the ‘calm but forceful’ Matt Barr; both based in New York. Also notable are Houston-based Alfredo Pérez, whose ‘knowledge of the process helps clients get through the court in minimal time’, Marcia Goldstein and Garrett Fail in the New York office, and new arrival Ryan Preston Dahl, who joined in New York from Kirkland & Ellis LLP. The practice is representing Sears Holdings Corporation and certain of its affiliates in its Chapter 11 proceedings, which commenced recently in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The department also led for Takata Corporation in the Chapter 11 of Takata's main subsidiary TK Holdings and certain of its affiliates; the matter required parallel proceedings in the US, Japan and Canada, as well as separate out-of-court sales in several other jurisdictions, and the resolution included a $650m settlement and the $1.6bn sale of Takata to Key Safety Systems. Other key clients for the firm are Westinghouse Electric, Claire’s Stores and iHeartRadio.
The ‘deeply knowledgeable’ Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has ‘a hands-on and practical approach to restructuring matters’. The practice is ‘particularly strong in cross-border cases’, with a deep understanding of ‘the legal nuances of each jurisdiction’ and is recommended as ‘the premiere law firm on Latin America restructurings’. The firm is acting as counsel to an ad hoc group of over 70 bondholder institutions in relation to the landmark restructuring of Brazilian telecoms provider Oi, which involves over $20bn in debt issued or guaranteed by the company. In a domestic matter, the department is representing ESL Investments and its affiliates as the largest creditor and equity holder in Sears Holdings Corporation’s ongoing Chapter 11 proceedings. The firm’s involvement includes advice relating to ESL’s pre-petition financings, a potential debtor-in-possession loan and acquisitions via court-approved sale. From New York, the ‘technically gifted and pragmatic’ Lisa Schweitzer leads the practice with ‘standout practitioner’ Richard Cooper. Also notable in the team is the ‘practical, cordial and even-handed’ Sean O’Neal; and the ‘extremely responsive’ Luke Barefoot, who is ‘sharp in his legal analysis and sets the right tone in communication’.
The transnational restructuring and bankruptcy practice of Jones Day is experienced in international insolvency, workout transactions and multi-jurisdictional reorganization and bankruptcy proceedings. Los Angeles-based Bruce Bennett leads the team, which advises debtors, creditors and lenders in matters across the US, including complex distressed asset sales and Chapter 11. Scott Greenberg in New York is acting as debtor's counsel to M&G Chemicals, one of the largest producers of polyethylene terephthalate resin for packaging in the world, in the company’s Chapter 11 cases filed in 2017; the cross-border spans the US, Luxembourg, Mexico and Brazil. In another highlight, Cleveland-based Heather Lennox is acting for parent-creditor FirstEnergy and its non-debtor affiliates in relation to the 2018 Chapter 11 cases of its subsidiary First Energy Solutions. Also notable in the team is complex corporate reorganizations and distressed acquisitions expert Corinne Ball in New York. David Heiman moved to JAMS Mediation, Arbitration and ADR Services, Pedro Jimenez went to Paul Hastings LLP, Amy Edgy to Linklaters LLP and Erin Brady, Bennett Spiegel and Richard Wynne left for Hogan Lovells US LLP.
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
New York-based Kenneth Eckstein and Thomas Moers Mayer lead the team at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, which specializes in representing creditors and creditors' committees in complex restructurings. The firm also has experience as counsel for debtors, independent directors and other fiduciaries. The team is acting for the official committee of unsecured creditors of Toys “R” Us and its affiliates in the company’s Chapter 11 proceedings. The department’s involvement includes negotiating valuable protections and improvement in the DIP financing orders, as well as changes to the debtor's proposed executive compensation program. The firm is also representing two original equipment manufacturers, Subaru and Mazda, in issues arising from the global restructuring of Takata Corporation, the Japanese automotive supplier subject to a large recall due to faulty airbag inflators; the complex matter includes Chapter 11 and Chapter 15 cases pending in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware and an insolvency proceeding under the Civil Rehabilitation Act in the Tokyo District Court. Also notable in the team is Joshua Brody in New York.
Latham & Watkins LLP specializes in representing distressed companies and acquirers in the sale and purchase of distressed assets. The growing debtor practice was boosted by the additions in New York of George Davis, who acts as global chair of the restructuring, insolvency and workouts practice, and Andrew Parlen, both from O'Melveny & Myers LLP. Also leading the team are global vice chairs Jeff Bjork, who joined the Los Angeles office from Sidley Austin LLP, and Chicago-based Richard A. Levy. Other contacts in the team include Peter Knight and Jim Ktsanes in Chicago, New York's Mitchell Seider and Ted Dillman in Los Angeles. The practice is acting for Citibank as administrative agent for PetSmart’s first lien term loan of approximately $4.5bn, in the ongoing challenge to PetSmart’s out-of-court reorganization and financial restructuring. In another highlight, the department is representing Blackhawk Mining in the out-of-court restructuring of the company’s capital structure, including its asset-based lending, first lien term loan, and second lien term loan credit facilities. The team also continues to represent Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin in litigation related to the 2016 Chapter 11 plan agreed for online mobile payments and identity verification company Jumio.
Best known for its creditors and creditors' committees practice, Morrison & Foerster LLP also has an increasingly strong debtor-side practice, as well as representing bondholders and trustees in offshore matters. The team is led from New York by Lorenzo Marinuzzi and senior counsel James Peck, who can call on the expertise of finance department deputy chair Jennifer Marines. Also notable is New York-based Gary Lee, who led in representing holding company Real Industry in its Chapter 11 case in Delaware. The practice assisted with a plan that preserved the company’s tax attributes, allowing it to emerge from Chapter 11 in May 2018. In another highlight, Dennis Jenkins in Boston represented an ad hoc group of investors and fund managers holding notes issued by subsidiaries of Southeastern Grocers, in connection with the prepackaged Chapter 11 proceedings of Southeastern Grocers and its affiliates, a major grocery store chain that entered bankruptcy with approximately 700 stores; after filing in March 2018, the company emerged from Chapter 11 in May 2018.
Jointly leading the practice at Proskauer Rose LLP are Chicago-based Jeff Marwil and Mark Thomas, and Martin Bienenstock in New York. The team represented the statutory unsecured claimholders’ committee in the Chapter 11 of Westinghouse Electric, which filed for bankruptcy with almost $10bn of estimated debt; the firm negotiated for a segregated fund of $1.15bn to pay allowed unsecured claims, and with the confirmation of the company’s Chapter 11 plan, unsecured creditors are expected to receive complete recovery on account of their allowed claims. In another energy related matter, the team is acting for the statutory committee of equity security holders in the Chapter 11 of Breitburn Energy Partners, an independent oil and gas partnership with more than $3bn of funded debt; associate Maja Zerjal acted in this matter. In the retail sector, the department is representing the TRU Taj Entities, affiliates of Toys “R” Us, in a Chapter 11 pending before the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The TRU Taj Entities obtained a DIP financing facility totaling approximately $500m.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
The corporate restructuring practice of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is experienced in prepackaged bankruptcies as well as representing buyers and sellers of distressed assets. New York-based Jay Goffman and Paul Leake chair the department, which is advising Toshiba Corporation, as controlling shareholder of Westinghouse Electric, in connection with the Chapter 11 case of Westinghouse in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York; this includes the sale of substantially all of the clients claims against the distressed company, as well as its residual equity interests for over $2bn. In another highlight, the firm represented pharmaceutical company Concordia International in the completion of its recapitalization transaction, which included a reduction in the company’s $3.7bn of debt. The transaction was completed under the Canadian Business Corporations Act, with a prepackaged Chapter 11 plan.
The ‘well-coordinated cross-border team’ at White & Case LLP houses ‘a deep and strong bench of lawyers who understand business and litigation’. Specializing in multi-jurisdictional matters, particularly involving Latin America, the firm has notable expertise acting as counsel for creditor groups. Practice head Thomas Lauria is ‘an exceptional trial lawyer’ and combines ‘legal acumen with a principled commercial approach that produces a good result for clients’. Splitting his time between New York and Miami, he leads a team of ‘highly experienced and respected professionals’ that includes the recently promoted partners Elizabeth Feld and Andrew Zatz in New York. The firm has experience in offshore oil and gas restructurings, an example of which was representing the official committee of unsecured creditors in the Chapter 11 of crude oil and natural gas company Samson Resources and certain of its subsidiaries; the firm achieved on behalf of the clients an increased pay-out from $6m, under the debtor's Chapter 11 plan, to $168.5m, plus certain leveraged buyout claims. In another highlight, the practice is representing Wilmington Fund Savings Society, as indenture trustee for $475m of pre-leveraged buyout notes of iHeartCommunications; the matter relates to the high-profile Chapter 11 proceedings of iHeart, the largest owner and operator of radio stations in the US.
The well-regarded litigators at Brown Rudnick LLP specialize in contentious issues in the restructuring and bankruptcy area. The firm has a particular focus on representing hedge funds and other sophisticated distressed debt investors in disputes over the value of bankruptcy estates and avoidance, and also has experience arguing toward a change in case law. Working from New York and Boston, William Baldiga is managing director and can call on the expertise of practice group co-heads Edward Weisfelner in New York and Jeffrey Jonas, who splits his time between New York and Boston. Also notable in the team is New York-based Robert Stark, who is leading for the official creditors' committee of Exco Reasources. Exco filed for Chapter 11 in Houston, with a $2bn debt structure dominated by insider-creditors; the team conducted an in-depth investigation, including document discovery and depositions. The case is now being mediated by the chief bankruptcy judge. In another highlight, the firm is acting for the class of sexual assault victims in relation to the Chapter 11 filing of the Weinstein Company; the team's role involves voicing the interests and concerns of the victims and helping to formulate a Chapter 11 plan that will provide compensation.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has a notable focus on representing private equity and hedge funds, and has particular experience in the insurance sector. The multidisciplinary team is led by ‘go-to reorganization expert’ Natasha Labovitz, who assisted David’s Bridal in developing balance sheet options with respect to its $750m funded term loan and bond debt. Also notable in the team is My Chi To, who is leading for Crescent Capital Group, KKR Credit Advisors and GoldPoint Partners, as holders of approximately $188m of senior secured notes of the Rockport Company and its subsidiaries. The department advised in the sale of Rockport’s business as a going concern to Charlesbank Capital Partners. The firm also represents Georgia-Pacific and Koch Industries in the Chapter 11 proceedings of Bestwall in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The client is party to a funding agreement whereby it agrees to fund all of Bestwall’s asbestos liability including any trust established in the bankruptcy. The firm also assisted Georgia-Pacific Holdings in a reorganization of its corporate structure that separated its main operating businesses from the Bestwall unit to ensure that it is excluded from the Chapter 11 filing. Christopher Updike left the firm to take up the position of general counsel at Stretto.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP represents debtors and creditors in out-of-court restructurings as well as bankruptcies and is experienced in distressed acquisitions and cross-border insolvency matters. David Feldman and Michael Rosenthal lead the team from New York, while Robert Klyman and Jeffrey Krause lead from Los Angeles. Also notable is Keith Martorana in the New York office, who was promoted to partner in 2018. The team represented healthcare real estate investment fund Welltower in the Chapter 11 reorganization of HCR ManorCare, one of the largest nursing and home health care providers in the US; the matter involved the client merging with HCR’s principal creditor, Quality Care Properties, in a transaction valued in excess of $2bn. In another highlight, the firm acted for specialty retailer Brookstone in its Chapter 11 filing in Delaware, with plans to close 102 mall stores and sell its airport locations and wholesale and e-commerce operations; with the client $215m in debt, the team led a successful four-day auction in which the buyers ultimately paid $66m in cash, plus additional value in the form of waivers of approximately $126m of secured and unsecured debt.
‘Practical, creative and fantastic on their feet’, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP is a ‘go-to adviser in bankruptcy and litigation matters’. The firm focuses on representing holders of securities in distressed companies, including working with hedge funds, private equity funds and other creditors. The ‘very dependable’ team is led by New York-based David Rosner and includes the ‘impressive’ Andrew Glenn, also in New York, and new arrival Kyung Lee, who joined in Houston from Diamond McCarthy LLP. The practice is representing an ad hoc group of parent company creditors in the $500m administrative claim allocation litigation arising from the Chapter 11 of Energy Future Holdings and its affiliates. In another highlight, the firm is acting for White Energy and three of its directors in litigation related to a corporate governance dispute following a reorganization of the company. Other clients include the official committee of unsecured creditors of Nine West Holdings, TPG Capital and Waterfall Asset Management. Daniel Fliman left to join Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.
O'Melveny & Myers LLP provides ‘the highest integrity’ and ‘a very strong relationship with clients’. The multidisciplinary team draws on the firm’s capabilities in litigation, corporate transactions, finance and capital markets to advise borrowers, creditors and potential buyers of distressed assets. Practice head John Rapisardi is leading in advising the Government of Puerto Rico in its landmark restructuring. He can call on the expertise of the ‘incredibly well-read’ Steve Warren in Los Angeles, as well as new arrivals in the New York office from Greenberg Traurig, LLP: Nancy Mitchell, Maria DiConza and counsel Matthew Hinker. Also notable in the team is well-regarded counsel Joseph Zujkowski, and Washington DC-based Peter Friedman, who is representing Apollo Global Management as one of the largest creditors in its investment in the first lien debt of Texas Competitive Electric Holdings, a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings, which filed a Chapter 11 with $40bn of debt. In another highlight, the team acted for General Motors in connection with the global insolvency proceedings of Takata and the related sale of certain of its assets and business lines to Key Safety Systems for a purchase price of approximately $1.6bn; the team, lead by Gary Svirsky in New York, played a critical role in US and Japan, including leading Chapter 11 plan negotiations on behalf of the client. George Davis and Andrew Parlen departed for Latham & Watkins LLP.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Particularly well regarded for litigation, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP provides bankruptcy and restructuring advice from offices in New York, Los Angeles, London and Sydney. The firm is experienced in representing ad hoc committees of creditors in Chapter 11 cases, where litigation and threats of litigation drives recoveries, as well as assisting debtors-in-possession in connection with estate litigation. The team achieved victory for Amplify Energy in a bankruptcy appeal in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas; three energy companies disputed the firm's plan of reorganization, which was to replace $160m of cash the client had placed in a trust; on appeal, the district court adopted the proposed interpretation of the trust agreement. In another highlight, the team represented Hildene Opportunities Master Fund II and EJF Capital in successfully opposing an involuntary Chapter 11 petition filed against Taberna Preferred Funding IV; after a five-day trial, the court granted the motion for judgment as a matter of law and dismissed the involuntary petition. New York-based Susheel Kirpalani is chair of the firm’s bankruptcy and restructuring group.
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP's ‘key strengths are creativity and persistence in finding new solutions to problems’. The financial restructuring group is known for creative transactional, regulatory and litigation counsel, particularly in acting for hedge funds and mutual funds. Industry expertise includes oil and gas, retail, healthcare and for-profit education industries. Kristopher Hansen leads the New York-based team, which includes the ‘incredibly creative’ Brett Lawrence, who is 'always looking for new and innovative ways to get transactions done’, the well-regarded Jonathan Canfield, and recently promoted partner Alon Goldberger. Further strengthening the New York office is Daniel Fliman, who joined from Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP in 2018. The team represented an ad hoc group of holders of unsecured bonds, whose members held approximately 30% of the unsecured bonds issued, in connection with the Chapter 11 proceedings of Seadrill and North Atlantic Drilling, pending in the Southern District of Texas; the client ultimately became a restructuring support party and plan backstop proponent, with the company emerging from Chapter 11 in July 2018.
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz focuses on representing banks, hedge funds, private equity firms and other creditors in bankruptcy cases and out-of-court restructurings. In addition, the firm has experience in cross-border restructurings, including Chapter 15 cases. Bankruptcy specialist Richard Mason leads the team, which represented the US Treasury in connection with the rescues of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and acted in Chapter 11 cases involving Westinghouse, Caesars Entertainment and ExGen Texas Power. The department is also known for its contentious practice, an example of which was acting for Education Management in litigation arising out of its $1.5bn out-of-court restructuring, including its precedent-setting appeal in the Marblegate case.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP's department comprises dedicated restructuring professionals who act across the full spectrum of insolvency issues, in and out of court. The team is experienced in company and creditor-side mandates, as well as complex cross-border issues, including Chapter 15 proceedings. Matthew Feldman is co-chair of the business reorganization and restructuring department with Rachel Strickland, who led in representing an ad hoc group of noteholders in connection with the Chapter 11 of Remington Outdoor Company and its affiliates. The team also advised Brookfield Business Partners in closing the $4.6bn bankruptcy acquisition of Westinghouse Electric Company, previously owned by Toshiba Corp. In another highlight, the team is representing Aralez in its Chapter 11 proceedings pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The client filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2018 and is seeking to sell substantially all of its assets through the process. Also notable in the team is New York-based Paul Shalhoub, whose focus includes corporate restructuring transactions, acquisitions of distressed companies and debtor-in-possession financing.
The ‘top-notch’ Dechert LLP is known for its international expertise and ‘seasoned professionals with vast restructuring and bankruptcy experience’. The firm ‘excels particularly in contentious, litigation-driven matters, as well as cross-border restructurings’. The ‘highly effective’ Allan Brilliant is ‘a go-to for creditors in contentious corporate restructurings, particularly in Latin America’. He leads the practice from New York alongside Michael Sage, who is representing the ad hoc holders of first lien notes issued by Momentive Performance Materials and BOKF, as first lien trustee, in relation to the Chapter 11 of Momentive and certain of its affiliates. The team is also acting for the international bondholder committee in the restructuring of Brazilian telecoms giant Oi and its subsidiaries; the committee agreed to the terms of a Brazilian restructuring plan, under which it converted its debt to shares of the company and committed to backstop a R$3bn rights offering.
The ‘strong and extremely hardworking lawyers’ of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP provide ‘creative solutions to problems’ and ‘a broad range of expertise’. The ‘one-stop shop’ is experienced in Chapter 11 debtor-side work, particularly in the shipping sector, and can also draw on its ‘strong bench’ in contentious matters. The ‘standout’ Christopher Kiplok leads the team from New York, which includes Kathryn Coleman, who ‘is capable of driving a transaction agreement and inspires the confidence of senior management’. The firm represented CST Industries in its Chapter 11 proceedings, facilitating the sale of the company as a going concern, which right sized the balance sheet and resulted in substantial payouts to creditors while preserving 1,000 jobs; following a multi-day contested sale hearing, the company was sold to Solace Capital Partners. In another highlight, the department acted for Republic Airways Holdings in its restructuring and eventual emergence from bankruptcy protection; the Chapter 11 plan was approved in April 2018 after a victory against creditor ALF VI, which challenged the substantive consolidation provisions in the client’s plan of reorganization. Other key clients include Patriot National, Banco do Brasil and Eagle-Picher Trust.
Katten is experienced in representing financial institutions and lender groups in restructuring and bankruptcy-related financings, including DIP financing. The firm is also known for its work with indenture trustees relating to credit default administration and subsequent litigation, as well as for acquiring and selling assets of companies in distress. Chicago-based John Sieger leads a national practice with offices in Illinois, California and New York. The New York office was recently boosted by the arrival of a team from Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, including the 'exceedingly sophisticated' Steven Reisman (now head of insolvency and restructuring in New York), Theresa Foudy, Cindi Giglio, Shaya Rochester and corporate specialist Evan Borenstein. Also notable in the 'strong team' is Craig Barbarosh, who splits his time between Orange County and New York, and was lead counsel to Wilmington Trust, the indenture trustee with respect to $200m of notes issued by Canadian company Nortel Networks; the complex, cross-border matter relates to an allocation dispute involving more than $7bn of the company’s sale proceeds that was litigated in joint trial proceedings in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In another highlight, the team is representing a joint venture comprising Gordon Brothers Retail Partners and Hilco Merchant Resources in the Chapter 11 of retailers Brookstone Holdings and Samuels Jewelers pending in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware; the team successfully resolved the various objections filed against store closing sales, as well as litigating the application of Section 327 of the Bankruptcy Code to the joint venture.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
The ‘deep and experienced restructuring team’ at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP is particularly known for its energy sector and transport sector work as well as its experience in cross-border mandates. The firm provides ‘an understanding of business and the expertise to handle complicated contentious restructurings’. The practice is led by John Goodchild III in Philadelphia, Boston-based Jonathan Bernstein, and Daniel Papermaster, who splits his time between Hartford and New York, and was recently boosted by the arrivals in the New York office of debtor-side specialist Craig Wolfe from Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP and insurance insolvency practitioner Scott Fischer, who joined from the New York State Department of Financial Services. Also notable in the team is experienced counsel Rachel Jaffe Mauceri in Philadelphia and New York-based ‘strong advocate and skilled negotiator’ Glenn Siegel, who ‘brings creativity to his advice, as well as being adept in contentious circumstances’. Siegel is leading in representing Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas as indenture trustee to the holders of two series of notes of Seadrill. The client is the single-largest unsecured creditor in the Chapter 11 of Seadrill and its affiliates. In another highlight, the firm is acting for the indenture trustee for two series of senior secured notes of Avaya in the company’s Chapter 11 restructuring. The department is also lead US counsel for Servicios Tamaulipas in connection with M&G USA Corporation’s Chapter 11 proceedings. Renee Dailey left the practice to join Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
The ‘responsive, knowledgeable and easy-to-work with’ Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP has ‘an excellent reputation in the market’ and gives ‘very clear, concise advice with a global perspective’. Experienced in Chapter 11 cases for creditor committees as well as on the debtor side, the firm specializes in complex, cross-border work, particularly for energy, shipping and banking sector clients. The ‘world class leader’ Howard Seife is ‘very knowledgeable about both US and international restructuring and bankruptcy issues’. He chairs the practice from New York, alongside fellow chair Louis Strubeck, who splits his time between Dallas and New York. Their team includes recommended practitioner Andrew Rosenblatt in New York, who is ‘a pleasure to work with’, as well as the recently promoted partners Eric Daucher, also in New York, and Dallas-based Ryan Manns. The firm represents a bank, as indenture trustee, in the judicial restructuring of notes totaling over $5bn, related to a company that filed for bankruptcy in 2016. In another highlight, the department is acting for an client in a Chapter 11 relating to one of the world's largest suppliers of fuel to the shipping industry. The client is providing $532m in DIP financing and serving as stalking horse purchaser.
Ropes & Gray LLP traditionally focuses on representing official committees of creditors, equity security holders and ad hoc committees of lenders, but the firm also has increasing experience for distressed companies on the debtor side. New York-based Mark Bane and Stephen Moeller-Sally in Boston chair the practice, which was strengthened by the arrival in the New York office of Matthew Roose from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. The team represents Elliott Management Corporation as holder of $2.6bn of claims in the bankruptcy cases of Energy Future Holdings and Energy Future Intermediate Holdings; the team's work included assisting in negotiating a creditor-led plan for the debtors, ultimately concluding with the confirmation of the Chapter 11 plan and the merger with Sempra in 2018. On the debtor side, the practice acted for women’s fashion footwear brand AeroGroup in restructuring its business prior to filing its Chapter 11 petition in September 2017 in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware; following an auction, the court authorized the sale of substantially all of the client’s assets, pursuant to a purchase agreement with Alden Global Capital. In another highlight, the firm is representing Wilmington Trust as indenture trustee for $250m of 1.5 lien notes issued by quartz and silicone manufacturer Momentive Performance Materials, in relation to Momentive's Chapter 11.
Traditionally a creditors' practice, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is increasingly experienced in company-side work. The multidisciplinary team specializes in prepackaged Chapter 11 filings and can call on the expertise of the head of the restructuring and bankruptcy practice Sandeep Qusba, who leads the team from New York, which also includes William Russell Jr., Michael Torkin and Elisha Graff. The team represented Dixie Electric and its affiliates in its Chapter 11 filed in 2018 in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. It also acted for JPMorgan Chase as administrative agent for a $45m DIP loan facility for the Nordam Group, in relation to Nordam's Chapter 11. In another highlight, the firm is representing the committee of independent directors of the board of Danaos Corporation in connection with the company’s debt restructuring with its lenders, as well as its largest stockholder and manager; the transaction resulted in a debt reduction of $551m and the refinancing of approximately $2.2bn in credit facilities. Other key clients include Blackstone Group, Deutsche Bank and Templar Energy.
Bracewell LLP has a focus on mandates within the energy and maritime industries and is noted too for international restructurings. The firm has a strong bankruptcy litigation practice, which aids its ability to handle issues arising from Chapter 11 cases, including fraudulent transfer, fiduciary duty and valuation disputes. Connecticut-based Kurt Mayr leads the team, which also includes Jason Cohen in Houston, who focuses on corporate financial restructuring, debtor representation and creditors' rights; and recently promoted partner Mark Dendinger, who works out of the Connecticut office. Recent work for the team includes acting for independent energy company Venoco, which filed for bankruptcy in April 2017; the matter involved advising the client on abandoning or quitclaiming onshore and offshore oil and gas assets pursuant to litigation in the Delaware bankruptcy courts, and in reaching a full and final settlement agreement. The firm obtained a confirmation order from the bankruptcy court in May 2018, approving its liquidation plan. In another highlight, the team represented Platinum Equity in an out-of-court financial restructuring of more than $500m of funded debt obligations of its portfolio company, Transworld Systems; the restructuring, which was completed in May 2018, reduced Transworld’s debt by more than $460m and raised $40m of new equity capital.
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP’s experienced Chapter 11 practice is complemented by the firms's expertise in complex financing structures, and it has a particular focus on advising creditors and investors. Gregory Petrick is practice head and splits his time between New York and London. His team is representing MBIA in matters relating to two collateral loan obligation investment funds, referred to as Zohar I and Zohar II. The department is advising on the workout and other strategies to reduce the client’s exposure, as well as with restructuring efforts and potential litigation. In another highlight, the practice acted for the principal shareholder, Hemen Holdings and new money investor Hemen Investments, in the Chapter 11 restructuring of Seadrill, involving the issuance of $880m secured notes and $400m equity. The Chapter 11 plan included $2.3bn in unsecured bond obligations equitized and more than $1bn in contingent newbuild obligations.
Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP has 'strong all-round bankruptcy capabilities' and a leading international insolvency practice that spans issues in Mexico, Canada and Europe. The New York-based team also specializes in Chapter 11 litigation, particularly for indenture trustees and multinational corporations. 'Hardworking star individual' Lynn Harrison III leads the 'diligent and responsive' practice, which includes recently promoted partner James Drew. The team is acting as conflicts counsel to the Lehman reorganized debtors in their Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, handling all bankruptcy, corporate and litigation-related matters where the debtors' lead bankruptcy counsel has an actual or perceived conflict of interest. In 2018, the department achieved a $1.74bn recovery to the Lehman estate upon a settlement with Citibank. In another highlight, the group is representing Connecticut brokerage CRT Capital Group in connection with the Chapter 15 proceedings of Luxembourg-based SLS Capital and various related litigation. In July 2018, the practice filed a motion seeking details of all proceeds SLS’s foreign representative Yann Baden had obtained in the US, discovering that he collected nearly $20m and had distributed it without the permission of the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. In August 2018, Judge Shelly Chapman held that Baden had violated the US Bankruptcy Code and ordered him to return almost $3m of funds. Steven Reisman, Theresa Foudy, Cindi Giglio and Shaya Rochester left the firm for Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in March 2018.
Mayer Brown focuses on representing financial institutions in complex multi-tiered financing arrangements. The firm is particularly experienced in creditors' rights, contested bankruptcies and representing distressed investors. New York-based practice head Brian Trust specializes in advising large institutional creditors, including banks, lending syndicates and insurance companies. The team is acting for Maybank, as lender, in connection with a series of bilateral loans to certain of the debtors and affiliates in the China Fishery Group and Pacific Andes bankruptcy cases.
New York-based Stephen Lerner leads the team at Squire Patton Boggs, known for complex, cross-border bankruptcies and related litigation. The experienced practice was boosted by the additions in the Washington DC office of Chris Giaimo, who focuses on creditors' rights and litigation, and specialist in corporate trust and financial restructuring Jeff Rothleder; both arrived from Clark Hill PLC. The firm acted for an independent regional gas company headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, Dana Gas PJSC, in an issue involving the restructuring of a $700m Islamic financing vehicle called a mudarabah sukuk, which resulted in litigation seeking to declare it unlawful and unenforceable under the laws of the UAE; the matter was eventually settled as part of a successful restructuring completed in 2018. In another highlight, the group is advising the board of directors of FirstEnergy in the out-of-court restructuring of FirstEnergy Solutions and its subsidiaries; the company filed for Chapter 11 protection in the Northern District of Ohio in March 2018 and the firm assists the board on all related matters.
Vinson & Elkins LLP
The ‘depth of legal and industry knowledge’ at Vinson & Elkins LLP ‘is unparalleled’, and the team provides ‘hands down the best restructuring lawyers in the energy space’. The practice is involved in Chapter 11 cases and out-of-court restructurings across multiple industries and jurisdictions. Dallas-based William Wallander’s understanding of the law is ‘as deep as it gets and is matched with good commercial sense’. He leads the practice alongside David Meyer, who is also based in New York. The team advised EnCap portfolio company PennEnergy Resources in connection with its acquisition for $600m of substantially all the assets of Rex Energy in a Chapter 11 sale. The team also represented Harvey Gulf International Marine, a leading operator of Jones Act-qualified offshore supply vessels, in its restructuring of more than $1.2bn in secured debt obligations. The client and 90 affiliates filed prepackaged Chapter 11 cases in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in March 2018; after complex negotiations, the plan was confirmed in May 2018. Other clients include Apollo Global Management, Bellatrix Exploration and Morgan Stanley Capital Partners.
DLA Piper LLP (US)
The ‘effective and practical’ DLA Piper LLP (US) provides ‘solution-driven, consensus building and concise advice’, particularly in the healthcare, retail and manufacturing sectors. Chicago-based Richard Chesley jointly leads the practice alongside Tom Califano in New York, and they are supported by the ‘experienced, talented, attentive and creative’ John Lyons, who is ‘able to find imaginative solutions to complicated problems’. The team represented Appvion in its sale to the stalking horse bidder, led by Franklin Advisers, for $365m, in relation to the company’s Chapter 11 filings in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The team is also representing 4 West Holdings, Orianna Investment and 133 affiliates, collectively, as joint owners of a healthcare business that owns and operates skilled nursing homes across seven states in Chapter 11 proceedings in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas; the matter included a prepack followed by litigation. Other clients include Gordon Brothers Group, Black Diamond and CenterPoint Properties.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
The ‘very business-focused and commercial’ Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has ‘a high level of knowledge within its restructuring practice’. The firm specializes in cross-border mandates as well as advocating on inter-creditor issues and disputes. Practice head Mark Liscio leads the New York-based team, which includes Scott Talmadge, who is 'good at thinking through potential solutions to difficult issues’, and litigation and multi-jurisdictional restructurings specialist Madlyn Primoff. Primoff led in representing Mizuho Bank and the steering committee of lenders in connection with the Mexican semi-submersible project, La Muralla IV, which is undergoing a $1.5bn restructuring. The team also advised Expro Holdings UK 3 Limited and its subsidiaries on its $1.4bn Chapter 11 filing. Other key clients include Air Berlin, Bank of America and Octagon Credit Investors.
The ‘pragmatic and cost-effective’ Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP ‘knows how to go for the jugular to achieve the result for its client’. The multidisciplinary team of ‘great strategic thinkers’ specializes in investor work, representing buyers in distressed asset transactions, as well as cross-border litigation and capital markets deals related to Chapter 11 filings. New York-based practice head Brad Eric Scheler is ‘an exceptional adviser, very knowledgeable about his space’. He leads the ‘deep bench of talent’, which represented Centerbridge Partners, as the new capital provider in relation to the restructuring of Seadrill's bank and bond debt; the matter includes 13 credit facilities consisting of more than 70 banks across North America, South America, Europe and Asia within the Seadrill consolidated group. Former bankruptcy and restructuring partner Matthew Roose moved to Ropes & Gray LLP.
Goodwin acts for major stakeholders in distressed companies on issues ranging from exclusivity and contested plan confirmation to claims allowance and inter-creditor disputes, 'considering all aspects of an issue to find the best approach'. The team of experienced negotiators and litigators works for borrowers, lenders, acquirers and committees of creditors across a variety of sectors, often in matters with cross-border aspects. The 'intelligent, energetic and committed' Michael Goldstein jointly leads the New York-based practice and is representing musical instruments manufacturer Gibson Guitar in its Chapter 11 restructuring valued at $500m in funded indebtedness. In another highlight, co-head William Weintraub is acting for Charlesbank Capital Partners and CB Marathon Opco in the purchase of the assets of Rockport Company et al resulting from Rockport's Chapter 11 proceedings. Other clients include Urban Edge Properties, Amobee and SolarWorld Americas.
The ‘very commercial’ Greenberg Traurig, LLP ‘turns work around quickly and is great with clients’. The ‘effective and well-organized’ firm has experience handling cross-border insolvencies and restructurings, as well as representing debtors in Chapter 11 filings and litigation. The ‘very experienced industry player’ Mark Bloom in Miami is ‘a consummate professional and a pleasure to work with’. He leads the team with Shari Heyen in Houston, Chicago-based Keith Shapiro and David Kurzweil, who splits his time between Atlanta and New York. The practice was further strengthened by the arrival of bankruptcy veteran J. Gregory Milmoe, who joins as a shareholder. The department is representing Nader Tavakoli in his capacity as the plan administrator for the Cobalt International Energy Bankruptcy Estates, handling post-confirmation wind-up work. In another highlight, the firm acted for the official committee of unsecured creditors in the case of integrated oil field services company C&J Energy Services, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with approximately $1.4bn in pre-petition secured indebtedness. As committee counsel, the team worked with the other parties to develop a plan that would allow the company to emerge from bankruptcy while maximizing recoveries for unsecured creditors. Maria DiConza and Nancy Mitchell left for O'Melveny & Myers LLP, while Lenard Parkins moved to Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.
The ‘commercial and accessible’ Hogan Lovells US LLP combines ‘industry expertise with a practical approach to addressing complex and difficult legal issues, as well as the ability to see the big picture’. The firm’s ‘international experience is what really sets it apart’ and the team is known for its work in the regulated industries, with a particular specialty for insurance-related restructurings. Practice co-head Christopher Donoho ‘provides valuable advice with a constant eye on protecting the client’. He can call on a deep bench of expertise, which was further strengthened by the arrival of the ‘tremendously talented’ Richard Wynne as co-head working from the firm’s Los Angeles office. He joined in 2018 with Bennett Spiegel and Erin Brady from Jones Day, while lender-side specialist Doug Taber joined the New York group from GE Capital. Also notable in the team is the ‘top-notch’ Ronald Silverman, who is ‘dedicated to fighting hard for clients’. The department is advising biopharmaceutical company Orexigen Therapeutics on its Chapter 11 proceedings filed in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, which involved negotiating a court-approved sale of the client’s assets to stalking horse bidder Nalpropion Pharmaceuticals for $75m. In another highlight, the team is advising Samsung Heavy Industries in relation to the Chapter 11 proceedings of Seadrill. Other clients include The Bank of New York Mellon, Nigerian Agip Exploration and Scottish Re.
Jenner & Block LLP
Possessing ‘a strong bankruptcy practice’, Jenner & Block LLP focuses mainly on the creditor side, particularly litigation. The ‘extremely practical, very responsive and efficient’ practice is led by New York-based Richard Levin, and Catherine Steege in Chicago, who has ‘particular experience in employee-related matters’. The team also includes the ‘commercial and very user friendly’ Vincent Lazar in Chicago, who has ‘a wealth of bankruptcy knowledge and exercises great judgment’. The team represented Frederick J. Grede, the liquidation trustee of Sentinel Management Group, in matters relating to a $1bn investment adviser fraud case; the team prevailed three times in the Seventh Circuit, which adopted the arguments concerning a $300m fraudulent transfer and claim against Bank of New York Mellon. The firm is also acting for Ronald R. Peterson as the Chapter 7 trustee in 19 cases relating to the failed Lancelot and Colossus hedge funds. Other key clients include Caesars Entertainment Corporation, ArcelorMittal USA and Westinghouse Electric.
The ‘highly competent and experienced’ Linklaters LLP ‘delivers a strong product for clients’. The firm has ‘a rare combination of legal excellence and a marvelous client-service mindset’. The ‘intelligent and highly experienced’ Margot Schonholtz leads the practice from New York and is ‘an adept negotiator who understands all the stakeholders and their motivations’. Known for its cross-border work and global platform, as well as its strong creditor-side practice, the group increased its expertise in debtor representations and municipal offerings with the arrival to the Washington DC office of ‘best-in-class’ Amy Edgy, who arrived from Jones Day; Edgy brings ‘legal expertise as well as being a genuine pleasure to work with’. Also notable in the team is the ‘analytical and always available’ Penelope Jensen in New York, who can ‘easily dissect complicated matters and works relentlessly to deliver results’. The team is advising CGG and its subsidiaries in relation to the negotiation and documentation of its debt restructuring and the coordination of a French safeguard proceeding, as well as Chapter 11 and Chapter 15 cases for the client and certain of its US and overseas subsidiaries. In another highlight, the team is representing Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, a secured vessel lender, in connection with the Chapter 11 proceedings filed by Toisa and its affiliates. Aaron Javian left to join Reed Smith LLP.
The bankruptcy and debt-trading practice at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP has ‘a unique ability to craft complex international restructurings’. Known for cross-border work, the firm ‘can field any number of excellent litigators’ and has particular experience in the energy and automotive industries. Raniero D’Aversa is one of ‘the best Chapter 11 tacticians available’ and leads the team from New York that includes the ‘smart and very practical’ Laura Metzger, who is ‘amazingly responsive and closing-focused’, and ‘super litigator’ Alvin Lee, who specializes in ‘situations where you need to kick in the front door to get your stuff back’. The team advised Ocean Rig on its restructuring, including the terms of the schemes of arrangement approved by a Cayman court, the Chapter 15 proceedings and matters relating to the issuance of new equity to creditors. In another highlight, the firm represented the conflicts committee in connection with the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Seadrill and 86 of its affiliated debtors, which involved the restructuring of up to $14bn of Seadrill's debt. Other clients include Wells Fargo, Toyota Motor Corporation and EDP.
Reed Smith LLP
The ‘deep expertise, great judgment and outstanding lawyers’ at Reed Smith LLP enable the firm to provide ‘excellent strategic judgment, know the client's needs and achieve outstanding results in complex matters’. The practice focuses on financial restructurings, bankruptcy cases, workouts and other matters involving financially distressed transactions, with a particular focus on the creditor and investor side. Philadelphia-based Peter Clark leads the team, which ‘is very responsive and cares immensely about the client relationship’, and includes the ‘standout’ Kurt Gwynne, who is managing partner of the Wilmington, Delaware office. The group was strengthened by the arrival of financial industry specialist Aaron Javian, who joined the New York office from Linklaters LLP. Jennifer Knox left to join Wells Fargo.
Shearman & Sterling LLP focuses on representing senior lenders, creditors and banks, and is experienced in cross-border restructuring work. New York-based Frederic Sosnick leads the team, which is representing Bank of America, as administrative agent and collateral agent under a secured term loan of over $1bn, in the bankruptcy proceedings of Toys “R” Us and its affiliates; in July 2018, the company entered into a settlement agreement with the client and various other lenders and creditors that resolved issues relating to the liquidation of its assets and providing a framework for a plan of reorganization. The practice is also representing Citibank in issues arising from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Pacific Drilling and certain of its subsidiaries. In July 2018, the debtors filed a plan, which was agreed by all major creditor and equity holders, and gives the client a cash recovery of par plus contractual default interest on its claim. Douglas Bartner retired from the firm in 2018.