Weil’s premier Business Finance & Restructuring practice – recipient of the Chambers USA Award for Excellence in Bankruptcy for three consecutive years: 2009, 2010 and 2011, recognized by Chambers as the “gold standard” of bankruptcy practices, and described by The Deal as a “restructuring powerhouse” – has been involved in countless international and U.S. restructurings over the past decade, with representations ranging from top global corporations in mega-restructurings to middle-market debtors. Weil has served as chief debtors’ counsel in five of the six largest U.S. bankruptcy filings in history and has represented clients in numerous complicated cross-border insolvency and restructuring matters. Significantly, and unlike most other large firms’ bankruptcy and restructuring practices, Weil’s broad-based experience also includes numerous creditor representations, representations of purchasers and sellers of distressed assets, and substantial bankruptcy litigation. Clients across industries and continents have benefited not only from the group’s versatility, expertise, and dedication to client service, but also from the firm’s ability to marshal the requisite legal skills quickly and coordinate across practice groups and continents to provide the most effective counsel companies on the brink of crisis.
Weil reaffirmed its preeminence in the restructuring sector during the most recent financial crisis by managing numerous large-scale and complex cases concurrently. These representations include:
- Lehman Brothers, which, with $630 billion of assets on its balance sheet, constituted the largest bankruptcy in history
- General Motors, the beleaguered icon of American manufacturing that was saved from the brink of extinction by an innovative strategy that involved an unprecedented chapter 11 sale of the ongoing company to the government sponsored “New GM,” consummated in only 40 days
- General Growth Properties, the second-largest owner and operator of shopping malls in the U.S., which, despite approximately $27.3 billion in debt, emerged in November 2010 as a public company with a plan that paid creditors in full and returned substantial value to shareholders
- Washington Mutual, Inc., the largest filing in U.S. history by a bank holding company, which was forced into bankruptcy after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation seized Washington Mutual Bank and placed it into receivership.
Working with these companies to develop and execute creative and inventive legal strategies, Weil helped preserve untold billions of dollars of corporate value for these companies and their stakeholders. During the financial crisis of the early 2000s Weil represented the largest and most complex debtors of the time, including Enron, WorldCom/MCI, and Global Crossing, concurrently and successfully. During the latest period of crisis, Weil once again proved itself to be the “go-to” firm when the stakes are the highest.
The firm’s out-of-court restructuring skill has also received much attention throughout the recent financial crisis and its aftermath. Notably, Weil’s representation of AIG, the large U.S.-based insurer, required a broad-based approach that integrated restructuring with structured finance, derivatives, securities litigation, and corporate governance. In addition, Weil represented Security Capital Assurance (now, Syncora Holdings, Ltd.) in its out-of-court restructuring – marking the first substantial monoline insurance restructuring. Together with its experience in mastering chapter 11 bankruptcies, Weil’s out-of-court restructuring experience provides the group’s attorneys with an unprecedented breadth and depth of understanding regarding novel restructuring trends and issues relating to financial institutions, including counterparty disputes, derivatives contracts and transactions, executive compensation, and government interventions.
The department continues to demonstrate leadership in developing novel ways to help clients achieve their business objectives. The attorneys are pioneers in the use of prepackaged and prenegotiated chapter 11 filings, discovering new methods of limiting a company’s duration in bankruptcy and the uncertainty that may be involved in a traditional chapter 11 reorganization. Weil’s ability to innovate can be seen in numerous filings, including the 2008 filing of Vertis Holdings, the first “double prepack merger” in history, where the team effectively managed dual prepackaged bankruptcies and coordinated extensively with co-counsel leading to a merger of the debtor with another bankruptcy debtor (American Color Graphics) as part of a chapter 11 reorganization plan.
Although the group’s ability to handle mega-bankruptcies has traditionally received a great deal of media attention, Weil has also assisted numerous middle-market companies on restructuring issues by bringing the same characteristic judgment and experience to such matters, utilizing decades of experience to cut through tough issues and conduct the restructuring process in the most efficient manner possible. The firm’s industry experience is broad. In 2009 and 2010 alone, Weil represented debtor clients in the banking, commercial real estate, energy, food, construction, entertainment and gaming, automotive, sports, shipping, hospitality, professional services, aluminum manufacturing, retail, and consumer goods industries.
In addition, the Business Finance & Restructuring Department represents boards of directors, secured and unsecured creditors, lenders, investors, purchasers of distressed assets and court-appointed officers. For instance, Weil represented General Motors Corporation as one of the largest creditors in the chapter 11 cases of its former subsidiary Delphi Corporation, a case that spanned over four years, and Weil is currently representing Anadarko in the Tronox bankruptcy, a large creditor and the defendant in a significant fraudulent transfer claim based on the spin-off of Tronox by Anadarko’s subsidiary Kerr-McGee prior to being acquired by Anadarko.
Weil’s international capability has also become increasingly important as bankruptcies or restructurings of companies with global operations often require critical strategies to protect assets and operations outside of the United States. The firm’s international bankruptcy skill in its handling the insolvency of Parmalat SpA, Europe’s largest dairy product and fruit juice group, was confirmed once again with Lehman Brothers, which featured significant international legal challenges and representation of Kaupthing Bank hf., Iceland’s largest bank, in its insolvency case in Iceland and chapter 15 proceedings in the United States. Once again, Weil applied its “gold standard” bankruptcy experience by coordinating a diverse team of lawyers working in Europe, Asia, and the United States to untangle an incredibly complex business.
With our many international offices, including London, Frankfurt, Munich and Paris, we spearhead numerous cross-border restructurings involving multiple laws and jurisdictions and are routinely asked by governmental authorities to help develop or draft restructuring legislation, including projects in China, Iceland, and Italy.
For any distressed situation, Weil is the go-to firm. From big debtors to mid-size debtors to creditors to investors to litigation defendants, Weil’s Business Finance and Restructuring practice is unparalleled in experience, client service, and results.
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