Restructuring (including bankruptcy): municipal in United States

Arent Fox LLP

The municipal bankruptcy team at Arent Fox LLP is spread across in New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles. The firm specializes in structuring unrated distressed transactions for investors, as well as Chapter 9, contingency planning and municipal bond default workouts. Strong in the intersection where employee benefits meets bankruptcy, a particular asset for the practice is its experience in pension liabilities, which bolsters its capacity to deal with complex benefits issues faced by municipalities. The national team has appeared in municipal bankruptcy and Chapter 9 proceedings for clients including Morgan Stanley, UMB Bank, Ambac Assurance Corporation and Nuveen Asset Management. Working from New York, David Dubrow specializes in structuring and evaluating high-yield credits and in workouts or defaults on tax-exempt bonds. Also working from the firm’s New York office are Mark Angelov, who represents bondholders, trustees and bond insurers in connection with a broad variety of municipal and corporate bankruptcies, and Les Jacobowitz, who specializes in restructurings related to the unwinding of securitization programs.

Ballard Spahr LLP

The Ballard Spahr LLP practice specializes in bonded debt, and benefits from the firm’s expertise in local and labor tax. Vincent Marriott, based in Philadelphia, leads a team that is experienced Chapter 9, acting for indenture trustees, credit enhancers and borrowers. Public finance specialist William Rhodes, also in Philadelphia, is head of the firm’s municipal recovery initiative. The department represented the National Federation of Municipal Analysts in the preparation and submission of an amicus curia brief at the First Circuit. The matter relates to a ruling at the US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico against the holders and insurers of special revenue bonds issued by the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority; associate Chantelle McClamb was heavily involved in this case. In another highlight, the practice is representing Wells Fargo, as indenture trustee, in the default and bankruptcy of a multi-hospital health system in California that has multiple series of municipal bonds outstanding. Adding strength to the national finance and bankruptcy bench are William Wassweiler, who joined the team in Minneapolis after the firm merged with legacy firm Lindquist & Vennum LLP; and David Fernandez, who arrived in the New York office from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Particularly experienced in complex reorganizations, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP focuses on the creditor side - notably, in recent times, in the landmark case of Puerto Rico. The firm represents Assured Guaranty and Assured Guaranty Municipal, which insured $5.4bn of the bonds issued by Puerto Rico and its public corporations. The team filed the first major litigation in the Title III case against Puerto Rico, the Oversight Board, the Governor of Puerto Rico and other Puerto Rican officials, in response to Puerto Rico’s fiscal plan that violated PROMESA and bondholders’ rights. Financial institutions and capital markets expert Lary Stromfeld leads the practice in New York with Ingrid Bagby, who represents creditors and debtors in Chapter 9 and Chapter 11 proceedings and out-of-court restructurings. Notable in the team is Ivan Loncar, also based in New York, who focuses on derivatives, structured finance and municipal finance; and associate Casey Servais, who specializes in the areas of bankruptcy litigation and financial restructuring.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP focuses on managing large, complex restructurings for financial creditor and committee clients, as well as leading major bondholder groups in municipal insolvencies. From the New York office, Kenneth Eckstein and Thomas Moers Mayer chair the firm’s bankruptcy and restructuring department, which can call on the expertise of 16 partners. Notable in the team is mutual funds, distressed investors and creditor groups specialist Amy Caton, who is leading for the firm in representing the ad hoc group holding 35% of the bonds issued by PREPA, amounting to $3bn, in litigation and restructuring negotiations. The firm is also acting for Oppenheimer and Franklin mutual funds with respect to its $5bn investments, including general obligation bonds and COFINA sales tax revenue bonds, in all aspects of the restructurings of Puerto Rico and its public corporations. The firm won an appeal in the First Circuit Court, which upheld the right of the bondholders to seek a receiver for PREPA to protect their collateral.

Norton Rose Fulbright

The New York-based team of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP represents creditors in major municipal restructurings, in and out of court and is particularly ‘strong in workouts for monoline insurers’. The team is representing a group of insured bondholders, who are part of the COFINA bondholder coalition, which collectively represents the largest group of organized holders of bonds issued. The firm acted for a bond insurer with $300m in general obligation bonds issued by Hartford, the capital city of Connecticut, when the city was in severe financial distress. The team also assisted the insurer of approximately $2bn of warrants, in the Jefferson County, Alabama Chapter 9 case, obtaining a favorable ruling for the client. A key figure in the team is recently promoted partner Eric Daucher, who is noted for his ‘extensive experience’.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s restructuring team works closely with its public finance practice, allowing for particular expertise in out-of-court public finance restructurings. The firm also has experience in representing bondholders and assisting municipalities in restructuring debt and long-term liabilities. New York-based Raniero D’Aversa leads the tea, which includes senior counsel Marc Levinson in California, who focuses on insolvency planning, bankruptcy cases and out-of-court reorganizations. Douglas Mintz is head of the Washington DC restructuring team and, in relation to the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt, he is leading in advising COFINA on transactional, finance and tax issues related to the proposed Title III plan of adjustment and financing. In another highlight, the practice represented Oppenheimer Funds in the Chapter 11 case of Lombard Public Facilities, a not-for-profit corporation formed to own a Westin hotel and conference center in Illinois, a novel matter in that it was taxpayer-funded through the issuance of municipal bonds.

Jones Day

Jones Day is particularly experienced in high-profile municipal bankruptcies and complex distressed asset sales. In addition, the practice has expertise in municipal revitalization, as well as other matters involving government operations, labor relations and debt, from both the debtor and creditor side. Based out of the firm’s Los Angeles office, global practice head Bruce Bennett represents debtors, creditors and business acquirers in reorganizations across different industries. He is leading, along with Benjamin Rosenblum from the firm’s New York office, in representing a group of investment funds in connection with holdings of approximately $1.4bn of secured bonds issued by the Employees Retirement System of the Government of Puerto Rico. In another recent highlight, the team assisted the owners of the Allen W. Vogtle nuclear plant in obtaining a full recovery of their $3.7bn breach of contract claim against Westinghouse Electric, less than nine months after it filed for bankruptcy in March 2017 in the Southern District of New York. David Heiman departed for JAMS Mediation, Arbitration, 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.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s restructuring and bankruptcy practice is led by the well-regarded James Sprayregen, who splits his time between the firm’s Chicago and New York offices. The team specializes in complex cross-border restructurings and insolvency matters, with experience in financial and operational matters. An area of particular expertise for the practice lies in representing governmental entities and holders of government debt, with a focus on municipal and public bond obligations, pensions and related restructurings.

Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP

Los Angeles-based boutique firm Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP has experience in out-of-court restructurings, as well as deep expertise in litigation. Co-founder Kenneth Klee specializes in bankruptcy law and is well regarded in the market for corporate and municipal work.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP

McDermott Will & Emery LLP focuses on the areas of healthcare bankruptcy, municipal insolvency and transactional advice. New York-based Timothy Walsh leads a team experienced in acting for debtors, creditors and committees, in pre- and post-bankruptcy filings. In a highlight, the firm is acting for Goldman Sachs Asset Management as a holder of several billion in debt instruments related to the $73bn Puerto Rico owes to creditor; healthcare-related bankruptcy and restructuring specialist William Smith, and James Kapp, who focuses on distressed companies and interested creditors, are leading in this matter from the firm’s Chicago office. The team also advised Presence Health, an operator of 11 hospitals and 28 senior living facilities in Illinois, in relation to $1bn worth of debt it incurred. The matter was resolved in 2018 when the client joined Ascension, the largest nonprofit operator of hospital in the US.

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

The multidisciplinary team at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. brings the firm’s public finance and restructuring expertise to bear on Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcies and governmental unit restructurings. Primarily representing creditors and bondholders, the practice is involved in issues arising from the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, notably representing institutional debt holders with regard to restructuring and litigation strategy, on various bond issues. Boston-based William Kannel leads the team and specializes in Chapter 9 cases, as well as municipal bankruptcy issues related to the energy sector. His group also represented the indenture trustee in a state court insolvency proceeding related to the Central Falls Detention Center Corporation, a quasi-public facility located in Rhode Island; as well as negotiating a multi-year forbearance agreement, the team developed an efficiency plan to return the facility to profitability. Recommended associate Eric Blythe contributed to this matter.

Reed Smith LLP

The ‘attention to detail and knowledge of bankruptcy law’ at Reed Smith LLP, particularly in relation to indenture trustees and creditors, ‘is second to none’. The municipal team can call on experienced practitioners in restructuring and insolvency, global corporate trust and public finance, with a particular focus on complex financial restructurings. Philadelphia-based Peter Clark is global head of restructuring and insolvency with Edward Estrada, who practices out of the firm’s New York office. Also notable is Eric Schaffer, who specializes in representing indenture trustees and bondholders in municipal, territorial and sovereign debt restructurings, splitting his time between New York and Pittsburgh.

Squire Patton Boggs

The municipal practice at Squire Patton Boggs covers a broad range of matters, with notable experience in education and healthcare. In a highlight, the practice is representing Syncora Guarantee in connection with the Chapter 9 restructuring and potential sale of a hospital by the debtor in the Tulare Health Care District. The team also acted for Ambac Assurance Corporation in the Chapter 9 proceedings of West Contra Costa Hospital District, resulting in a consensual restructuring plan and enforcement of rights under the insurance policy. Cincinnati-based Stephen Lerner is global practice head and leads a team that also includes Karol Denniston, who is active in the high-profile Puerto Rico COFINA-PROMESA Title III restructuring proceedings, working from the firm’s San Francisco office.