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Restructuring (including bankruptcy): municipal in United States

Arent Fox LLP

The dedicated team at Arent Fox LLP has acted in almost every major municipal bankruptcy and set of Chapter 9 proceedings in the past several years. Of note, the team has core strength in advising on issues at the intersection of employee benefits and bankruptcy, and also has extensive knowledge of tax-exempt bond financing matters; New York-based practitioners David Dubrow and Mark Angelov are key figures in the latter area. The New York office also houses recommended lawyer Les Jacobowitz, who has handled several work-outs of multi-family housing, not-for-profit and healthcare loan, tax credit, and bond transactions. In a recent matter related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the practice group is assisting the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with the development of a $500bn municipal government program.

Practice head(s):

David Dubrow

Other key lawyers:

Les Jacobowitz; Mark Angelov

Testimonials

‘Ability to effectively and efficiently get through difficult situations to avoid permanent stalling of workouts. David Dubrow and Mark Angelov have both been tremendous partners and helped in very complex situations requiring outside the box thinking.’

Key clients

Ambac Assurance Corporation

Nuveen Asset Management

Vanguard Mutual Funds

Goldman Sachs

UMB Bank

Lapis Advisors

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Work highlights

  • Assisted with the establishment of the $500bn municipal liquidity facility for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Assisting a financial services holding company with the protection of its bond insurance exposure in the Puerto Rico bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Representing a leading US bank in payment and non-payment, defaults, related litigation in multiple jurisdictions, and the exercise of rights and remedies in connection with a continuing care community in Georgia.

Ballard Spahr LLP

Headed up by Vincent Marriott, the bankruptcy, reorganization and capital recovery group at Ballard Spahr LLP has a national reputation for public finance and municipal bankruptcy work, and is also well known for its dedicated municipal recovery practice, led by William Rhodes. The firm's workload extends well beyond Chapter 9 cases; the group also frequently handles Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 cases for special districts, hospital systems, and public housing companies. Kimberly Magrini, who maintains a special focus on disclosure issues for distressed municipalities, was promoted to partner in July 2020. Marriott and Rhodes are based in Philadelphia, while Magrini divides time between Philadelphia and New York. James Lodoen left the firm in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Vincent Marriott; William Rhodes

Other key lawyers:

Kimberly Magrini

Key clients

KBC Bank N.V.

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

National Federation of Municipal Analysts

Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority

City of Chester

Wilmington Trust, National Association

UMB Bank, N.A.

Build America Mutual Assurance Company

U.S. Bank National Association

Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A.

Goldman Sachs

Morgan Stanley

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

For over two decades, the distressed municipal finance team at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP has been involved in countless complex and challenging situations involving state and local governments. New York is the base for a number of key practitioners, including Lary Stromfeld, who handles transactions, disputes and advisory matters involving a wide variety of financial products and complex financings; Ivan Loncar, who focuses on the representation of creditors in connection with tax-exempt and taxable financings; Ingrid Bagby, who handles Chapter 9 work on behalf of both creditors and debtors; and special counsel Casey Servais, who has recently represented the single-largest creditor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Practice head(s):

Ivan Loncar; Ingrid Bagby

Other key lawyers:

Lary Stromfeld; Casey Servais

Key clients

Assured Guaranty Corp. and Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Fundamental Advisors

Morgan Stanley

Goldman Sachs

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

Based in New York, the team at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP is noted for its ability to effectively represent major bondholder groups in the largest municipal insolvencies. Kenneth Eckstein and Thomas Moers Mayer jointly chair the group. Of particular note in the municipal space, Moers Mayer is acting alongside Amy Caton in the representation of holders of more than $10bn of bonds issued by heavily indebted Puerto Rico; the team has already secured one victory in the Supreme Court and two in the First Circuit on behalf of the bondholders of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

Practice head(s):

Kenneth Eckstein; Thomas Moers Mayer

Other key lawyers:

Amy Caton

Key clients

Official committee of unsecured creditors of Hertz Global Holdings Inc.

Official committee of unsecured creditors of the Boy Scouts of America

Brigade Capital Management LP, a senior creditor in McClatchy Co.

Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Frontier Communications Corp.

Ad hoc group of guaranteed noteholders of Noble Corp. plc

Official Committee of unsecured creditors of California Resources

Official committee of unsecured creditors of California Pizza

Kitchen, Inc. and affiliates

Ad Hoc Group of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority

(PREPA) Bondholders

Bluestem Group

Ad hoc lender group in the Chapter 11 cases of Payless and its affiliated debtors

Bristow Helicopters (creditors’ committee)

Official committee of unsecured creditors of Forever 21

PG&E (lender group)

Creditors’ committee for RAIT Funding

2178 Atlantic Avenue HDFC

Invesco Funds

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. fields one of the nation’s pre-eminent buy-side practices focusing on the municipal market, regularly representing indenture trustees and large institutional investors in matters relating to tax-exempt and taxable securities. In addition to taking an important role in advising on myriad issues surrounding the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, the firm has recently been involved in Chapter 9 work in healthcare districts, out-of-court workouts, and proposed bond issuances of territories including the US Virgin Islands. The practice group is headed by William Kannel, and associate Eric Blythe is also recommended; both lawyers are based in Boston.

Practice head(s):

William Kannel

Other key lawyers:

Eric Blythe

Testimonials

‘Mintz Levin maintains both a municipal restructuring and public finance practice. This is key, because the outcome of a bankruptcy depends heavily upon state law, and most municipal issuers have significant bodies of bespoke state law that governs how they may and must operate.’

‘In particular, Mintz has been able to assist us in constructing better transactions when restructuring is still only hypothetical, something that other public finance firms have been less able to do, since most public finance lawyers do not have municipal restructuring partners with Chapter 9 experience to use as a resource.’

‘I’ve worked with Bill Kannel and Eric Blythe in particular. They are very responsive. More importantly, their analysis is well-supported. They have helped to educate the other members of my team who have less of a restructuring focus. As a result, we have been able to propose transactions with more confidence that they were well-constructed at the start, and would not need re-negotiation.’

Work highlights

  • Acting as counsel to several institutional bondholders of Puerto Rico bonds, including advising on PROMESA, commonwealth and related fiscal plans and plans of adjustment.
  • Served as counsel to the indenture trustee/paying agent in the Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Proceedings of California-based Tulare Local Health Care District.
  • Advised rating agencies, client base, and trade organizations on state and municipal statutory lien statutes and municipal securitizations.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright's municipal restructuring and bankruptcy practice has a proven track record of representing key parties, both in- and out-of-court, in various municipalities across the US. The group remains particularly active in matters concerning the ongoing Puerto Rico debt crisis, a recent example of which was Dallas-based Toby Gerber's representation of the Puerto Rico Public Buildings Authority in its defense of claims brought by the Federal Oversight and Management Board relating to the Government of Puerto Rico’s Title III proceedings. Contacts in New York include practice head Eric Daucher and standout senior associate James Copeland.

Practice head(s):

Eric Daucher

Other key lawyers:

Toby Gerber; James Copeland

Key clients

Goldentree Asset Management

Puerto Rico Public Buildings Authority

Work highlights

  • Represented an ad hoc group of insured bondholders in connection with the PROMESA Title III restructuring of COFINA’s approximately $17.5bn of debt.
  • Represented Puerto Rico Public Buildings Authority in connection with its PROMESA Title III restructuring, and the related restructurings of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and certain of its instrumentalities.
  • Advised the general account ad hoc policyholder group in connection with the rehabilitation exit proceedings of the segregated account of a financial services holding company.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

The restructuring team at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP works extremely closely with the firm's stellar public finance practice, and has thus been able to distinguish itself as a leader in the field of public finance restructuring. Contacts in the New York office include Raniero D’Aversa, who chairs the practice group, and experienced practitioner Lorraine McGowen, who has played a key role in several matters concerning Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring. Thomas Laryea in Washington DC stands out for his expertise in sovereign debt restructuring, while San Francisco-based senior counsel Marc Levinson is widely recognized as a go-to name for Chapter 9 work, having acted as the lead insolvency lawyer in the City of Stockton case. In November 2020, Douglas Mintz left the firm for Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP.

Practice head(s):

Raniero D’Aversa

Other key lawyers:

Marc Levinson; Lorraine McGowen; Thomas Laryea

Testimonials

‘I worked closely with Thomas Laryea in several high profile sovereign restructurings. Thomas provided invaluable advice on the IMF policies, individual personalities and missions which helped us to understand the sovereign’s priorities with the IMF. This will then frame our negotiations with the sovereign. Overall, Thomas is highly respected in the sovereign restructuring space.’

Key clients

PG&E Equity Holders

COFINA Senior Bondholder Coalition

EDF Renewables

City of Stockton, CA

City of Beaumont, CA

Work highlights

  • Advised the steering members of the Argentina Creditor Committee (ACC) on reaching an agreement in principle between the Republic of Argentina and its supporting creditors.

Jones Day

Under the leadership of Bruce Bennett in Los Angeles, the team at Jones Day has built up a formidable reputation for handling municipal revitalizations and other matters involving government operations, labor relations and debt, both from a debtor and creditor perspective. Heather Lennox, who splits her time between the Cleveland and New York offices (and also serves as partner-in-charge of the former), has acted in many of the nation's largest in- and out-of-court municipal restructurings. The firm continues to be known for its advice to the City of Detroit in its historic Chapter 9 debt adjustment case; both Bennett and Lennox were heavily involved in this matter.

Practice head(s):

Bruce Bennett

Other key lawyers:

Heather Lennox

Key clients

Creditors of Verity Health System of California: Integrity Healthcare, LLC, NantWorks, LLC and several related entities

Ad hoc group of Puerto Rico ERS bondholders

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Over the course of 2020, the restructuring group at O'Melveny & Myers LLP played a key role in a number of high-profile municipal restructurings; the firm's ongoing lead role in the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt obligations is of particular note. The team was also involved in the development, negotiation and drafting of landmark legislation to reform California’s wildfire liability framework, and provided advice to California Governor Gavin Newsom in the wake of the PG&E cases. Global practice chair John Rapisardi in New York and bankruptcy litigation expert Peter Friedman in Washington DC are key figures in the team.

Practice head(s):

John Rapisardi; Peter Friedman

Key clients

Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority

Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority

State of California Governor’s Office and Department of Finance

Work highlights

  • Represented California Governor Newsom in the PG&E Chapter 11 cases, and in developing, negotiating and drafting landmark legislation to reform California’s wildfire liability framework.
  • Serving as lead counsel for all of the Puerto Rico governmental agencies in the ongoing restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt obligations.
  • Achieved a unanimous verdict in the US Supreme Court after successfully opposing a creditor’s suit alleging that President Obama violated the Constitution’s Appointments Clause in making appointments to Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board.

Reed Smith LLP

The municipal restructuring and insolvency lawyers at Reed Smith LLP have a longstanding reputation for representing indenture trustees and bond holders, in both in- and out-of-court restructurings. Peter Clark in Philadelphia is one key contact for this type of work, while Kurt Gwynne, who acts as the managing partner of the Wilmington office, is another. In the Pittsburgh office, Luke Sizemore and Jared Roach stand out for their involvement in some of the largest municipal restructurings in recent years.

Practice head(s):

Peter Clark

Other key lawyers:

Kurt Gwynne; Luke Sizemore; Jared Roach

Squire Patton Boggs

The team at Squire Patton Boggs brings an integrated approach to municipal restructuring work, with practitioners equally able to advise on public finance, tax and public policy issues. Stephen Lerner , who chairs the firm's global restructuring and insolvency practice from New York and Cincinnati, has significant experience in Chapter 9 work. San Francisco-based practitioner Karol Denniston has been working with distressed governmental entities since 2009, and is a frequent speaker on the importance of mediation as part of the municipal restructuring process. Pedro Hernandez in Miami specializes in representing clients in public finance matters, with particular emphasis on bond issues in the State of Florida and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Practice head(s):

Karol Denniston; Stephen Lerner; Pedro Hernandez

Key clients

US Virgin Islands Department of Finance

Work highlights

  • Served as issuer counsel for the US Virgin Islands Department of Finance in connection with the refinancing of $1bn outstanding bond debt secured by federal rum tax proceeds.