Reorganization and restructuring these words were used sparingly during the economic boom of the last decade. But with the list of troubled companies growing, a cadre of L.A. professionals is being pressed into service to help out distressed companies and their creditors. Business is booming these days for the turnaround artists. The following is a list of some of the best and most sought after.Paul Aronzon Age:
Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloySpecialty:
Cal State Northridge, B.A., cum laude, political science, 1976 Southwest University Law School, 1979 Partner at Gendel Raskoff Shapiro & Quittner, 1980-1989 Joined Milbank in 1989, heads its financial restructuring practice Charges $675 an hour L.A. native, grew up in San Fernando Valley Lives in Santa Monica with wife, two sons Avid golfer Rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell, indicating the highest levels of legal and ethical standards.Accomplishments:
"When you need to unload debt and you bet the company, this is where you come," says Aronzon "Paul's an incredibly quick study," said M. Freddie Reiss, managing partner of PriceWaterhouseCooper's corporate recovery practice. "He understands both the business and financial issues more quickly than any attorney I've ever met." Represents official unsecured creditors' committee in PG & E; bankruptcy, who hold more than half of the utility's $13.5 billion in outstanding debt Also represents Southern California Edison's bank group, which is owed about $1.3 billion Has been active in the telecommunications industry, organizing the sale of GST Telecommunications for more than $700 million in summer 2000 Says he fell into the troubled-company practice. "As (bankruptcy) lawyers, we come in and help companies find solutions to their problems," he says.
Anthony PalazzoBruce W. Ballenger Age:
Ballenger, Strike and Associates LLCSpecialty:
Reorganization and turnaround consultingBackground:
University of Cincinnati, College of Business Administration, B.B.A, honors, 1966 Completed advanced courses at USC and UCLA Chief financial officer, real estate developer J.W. Colachis Co., 1978-1984 Independent insolvency and reorganization consultant, Ballenger & Associates, 1984-1988 Partner, Arthur Young & Co., 1988-1990 Partner in charge of L.A. real estate consulting, Coopers & Lybrand, 1900-1991 . Formed Ballenger Strike & Associates in 1991 Former member board of directors, L.A. Bankruptcy Forum Married with two adult children Lives in West L.A. Big Lakers fan.Accomplishments:
Has provided interim management to a number of troubled companies Recent stints include Quentra Networks, where he served as chief executive, and Fields Aircraft Spares "He did an excellent job helping us focus on some of the hard decisions that needed to be done," says Fields' Chief Executive Alan Fields. "There's an aura of confidence about him (that made me listen)." Got into restructuring via real estate, helping Colachis owner of Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego and Surf and Sand Hotel in Laguna Beach renegotiate its exposure to variable-rate loans that went upwards of 18 percent After fixing Colachis' portfolio, he turned to acquiring other properties with problematic financing, helping Colachis grow its assets to more than $300 million from $20 million.Marc A. Beilinson Age:
Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl, Young & JonesSpecialty:
Represents large public companies during bankruptcy proceedingsBackground:
B.A. in Political Science from UCLA (magna cum laude) in 1980 J.D. from UC Davis in 1983 Joined Buchalter, Nemer Fields and Younger as associate in 1983 Became shareholder in 1989 Joined current firm as shareholder in 1992 Gives lectures on insolvency for accounting groups and trade organizations Born and raised in Los Angeles Married for 22 years, three children Estimates that 80 percent of his work is done on the East Coast, "but when I'm home, I'm really home."Accomplishments:
Currently lead counsel for creditors' committees of Loews Cineplex Entertainment, GC Companies Inc. (the parent of General Cinema) and Mann Theatres Loews' creditors owed about $1 billion, while General Cinema's are owed $350 million Negotiated 25 cents on the dollar debt payment to secured creditors while lead counsel for TreeSweet Juice Co. in 1995-96, reducing company debt by $100 million Estimates that two-thirds of his work is done out of court "An extraordinarily hard worker, and very practical," says attorney Tom Walper. "He doesn't threaten to turn to litigation in order to carry out his solution." Finds the process of improving the financial position of an ailing company extremely gratifying. "If it wasn't for the travel," he says, "I'd be the luckiest human being alive."
Danny KingRussell A. Belinsky Age:
Chanin Capital PartnersSpecialty:
Helping private equity firms restructure distressed portfolio companiesBackground:
B.S. in business administration from Wayne State University in Detroit J.D. from Georgetown Law School Went to work at then-fledgling Los Angeles office of big New York law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in 1985 Got involved in corporate finance legal work connected to high-yield debt Then financial restructurings In 1990, was invited by Jeffrey Chanin and Skip Victor to join with them in co-founding Chanin Capital Partners Married Two children, daughter and son.Accomplishments:
Co-founder of a firm that has grown from a three-person operation in a tiny office to one of the nation's pre-eminent restructuring outfits, with 50 professionals in three offices L.A., New York and Dallas Represents various parties in multiple billion-dollar-plus restructurings, including reorganizations of Covad Communications Group ($1.4 billion and Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. ($1.3 billion). Has solid history dating back to reorganization of such venerable L.A. companies as Carolco Pictures Inc. and Carter Hawley Hale Stores Inc., the latter of which Belinsky helped position for sale to billionaire Sam Zell.
Michael StremfelIrwin Gold Age:
Houlihan Lokey Howard & ZukinSpecialty:
Restructuring financially distressed companiesBackground:
B.A. Economics, Duke University J.D. University of Virginia '82 Started career in corporate department of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Century City Became vice president and director of corporate finance of Wood Bros. Homes Inc., and negotiate a workout and sale of the company . Started Seneca Group, an investment banking and financial advisory firm, in '86 Co-founded Houlihan's financial restructuring group in 1988 Engaged Lives in Los Angeles.Accomplishments:
Credited with being a skilled negotiator someone who knows how to get a deal done Represented Covad Communications Group in a deal with the company's bondholders to retire $1.4 billion in debt with cash and preferred stock through a pre-negotiated Chapter 11 filing Represented NorthPoint Communications Group in the $135 million sale of virtually all `its assets to AT & T.;
Conor DoughertySteven J. Green Age:
Kibel Green Issa Inc.Specialty:
Financial restructuring and turnaround consultationBackground:
Born in Boston, raised in Swampscott, Mass BS in business from Northeastern University, 1977 MBA from USC, 1978 Self-employed turnaround consultant, 1978-84 Co-founded and named president of Kibel Green Issa Inc. in 1984 Married with one daughter Enjoys sailing, racquetball, snow skiing, traveling to tropical resorts.Accomplishments:
In 16 years, Green and partners oversaw restructuring of more than 1,000 middle-market companies with annual revenues of $20 million to $1 billion Associates say he's able to come into a difficult environment and quickly assess what has to be done to save the company Pulled Tustin-based aerospace parts maker Kayner Micro Dot out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1993 by negotiating agreement with bank to convert $85 million debt into equity and a $20 million line of credit, setting the stage for the company's sale six years later for more than $200 million.
David GreenbergRobert Greenfield Age:
60Firm: Stutman Treister & Glatt Specialty:
Bankruptcy and corporation reorganization lawBackground:
Born and raised in L.A B.S. in business, UCLA, 1963 Harvard Law School, 1966 Clerk with current firm in 1965 Joined practice in 1966 Married with four children and four grandchildren Enjoys reading fiction, movies, traveling to Europe, doing crossword puzzles Co-owns art gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.Accomplishments:
Lead reorganization counsel for Southern California Edison in its successful efforts to avoid Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after accruing $3.3 billion in debt Negotiated $56 million investment from Anschutz Corp. and Oaktree Capital Management for 51 percent of bankrupt Edwards Theatres Circuits Inc. of Newport Beach. That investment and oversight of corporate restructuring helped Edwards erase $280 million debt and climb out of bankruptcy last year "Definitely a fighter but he's straightforward and honest," says one bankruptcy lawyer who has faced Greenfield. "If both sides can't settle, he's not afraid of putting the question to a judge, unlike some lawyers."Kenneth Klee Age:
Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & SternSpecialty:
Financial restructuring and business bankruptcyBackground:
Stanford University, B.A. economics, 1971 Harvard Law School, 1974 Associate counsel to House Judiciary Committee, 1974-77 Associate at Shutan & Trost, 1977-80 Associate and later partner at Stutman Treister & Glatt, 1980-97 UCLA School of Law professor, 1997 to present Born and raised in L.A Married with two sons Spends free time doing yoga, meditation, reading books on metaphysics and listening to classical music.Accomplishments:
One of principal draftsmen of U.S. Bankruptcy Code 1974-77 "It substantially updated a law that had been written in 1898 and amended in 1938 to provide distressed businesses with important new powers to turn their fortunes around," said Klee "Ken is probably the smartest bankruptcy lawyer in the country," says a rival attorney. "He's very well respected and tough and brought into some of the biggest cases because of that." Helped obtain loan guarantee package from Michigan and federal government in 1979-80 that restored Chrysler Corp.'s ability to borrow amid restructuring to eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in debt As special counsel for Barney's New York Inc., he helped negotiate restructuring plan with banks and foreign creditors to pull company out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1995-97 Worked on sale of L.A. Kings franchise by debt-ridden owner Bruce McNall in 1996.
David GreenbergAndrew Miller Age:
Buying and selling troubled companiesBackground:
Originally from Woodland Hills B.S. UC Berkeley in Business Administration Received J.D./M.B.A. from University of Chicago '87 Started career at Bain & Co., management consulting firm in San Francisco Moved back to Los Angeles in 1990 and started at Houlihan Lokey "I wanted to do deals," he says, "and in 1990 the only deals getting done were distressed deals" Says he was "bored" with management consulting Management consulting, he said, had too much "hand holding" for him "Instead of thinking about strategy and brainstorming, I'm doing deals, I'm getting things done" Married, first child on the way Lives in Santa Monica Makes furniture in spare time Also plays bass guitar.Accomplishments:
Represented Bugle Boy Industries in the $68.6 million sale of its wholesale business to Schottenstein Stores Represented Outboard Marine Corp. in the $95 million sale of the company's Evinrude and Johnson engine manufacturing operations and certain boat manufacturing operations to affiliates of Bombadier Inc. and Genmar Holdings Inc. Handled PageNet's $1.9 billion sale to Arch Communications Group Built Houlihan's distressed company M & A; practice from scratch "Andrew is a true expert at distressed M & A;," said one lawyer who has dealt with him. "There are only so many ways you can restructure a company. If you're selling an asset or selling and entire company, Andrew is truly one of the best."Richard M. Pachulski Age: Firm: Specialty:
Business reorganizations and debtor/creditor litigationBackground:
B.A. from UCLA, summa cum laude, in 1976 J.D. from Stanford in 1979 Associate with Shutan & Trost (which became L.A. office for Sidley Austin Brown & Wood in 1980) 1979-1983 co-founded current firm with fellow Shutan & Trost associate James I. Stang in 1983 Lectures 3 to 4 times a year to organizations like the American Bankruptcy Institute and the real estate and criminal law section of the L.A. County Bar Association Raised in Los Angeles Recently married, no children.Accomplishments:
Santa Clara-based broadband services company Covad Communications, which is attempting to satisfy $1.4 billion in debt with $250 million Lead counsel in reorganization of Sizzler International Inc. in 1996-97. Reduced company's $200 million debt by more than half by restructuring franchise system while helping company get out of leases at 200 locations. "To a great extent, we owe the company's emergence to the work of him and his company," said Michael Green, vice president, general counsel of Worldwide Restaurant Concepts Inc. (formerly Sizzler International) Lead attorney for creditors' committee in multi-billion dollar First Executive Corp. case Built reputation by being "unbelievably aggressive on behalf of his clients," according to fellow Pachulski shareholder Marc Beilinson, who also praised his acute understanding of financials.Jonathan Rosenthal Age: Firm:
Insolvency and workoutsBackground:
Native Angeleno Attended Cal State Northridge J.D. Southwestern University Started career as law clerk in Washington Moved to Denver in 1980 to work in real estate and securities litigation at Brownstein Hyatt Started NetAir International, aviation and aerospace firm, in upstairs bedroom in 1983 Took company public in 1985 Moved headquarters from Denver to Los Angeles in 1988 Sold controlling interest in 1989 Joined current partners John Schotz and Jonathan Thomas at newly-formed Saybrook in 1990 Firm has gone from five to more than 25 employees today Married, two children Resident of Brentwood Park Has been a pilot since he was 16.Accomplishments:
Initiated the firm's restructuring business in 1991 Represented Japanese and domestic banks throughout turmoil of early and mid-1990s Estimates that the firm restructured $9 billion in assets between 1991 and 1995 Leading the firm's efforts in representing unsecured creditors in PG & E; bankruptcy case Firm represented Orange County investor pool in $7 billion Orange County bankruptcy case Also involved in securing financing for multi-billion dollar Playa Vista mixed-use project near Marina del Rey "He's a banker, he's an attorney and he was an entrepreneur, so he has a style that's conducive to getting the deal done," says film producer and former client Robert Fried. "A reference that comes to mind is a point guard in basketball you can always throw him the ball when it gets messy underneath but he's comfortable managing the flow."
Conor DoughertySkip Victor Age:
Restructuring debt in default, dealing with creditor constituencies, developing plans of reorganizationBackground:
B.A. in economics from Cornell University MBA from UCLA Joined Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. in 1985 out of graduate school Worked in Drexel's corporate finance group in Beverly Hills under Jeffrey Chanin When Drexel shut down in 1990, Chanin and Victor, along with Skadden Arps attorney Russell Belinsky, co-founded Chanin Capital Partners Keeps in touch with many Drexel alums, including Michael Milken Has two daughters.
Co-founder of what has grown into one of the nation's pre-eminent restructuring firms In recent years has served as adviser in restructuring almost every major movie theater chain Represented bondholders of Regal Cinemas in selling $400 million (face value) of bonds to billionaire Phillip Anschutz, getting the bondholders four times market value and avoiding reorganization that engulfed rest of company Served as lead adviser to creditors' committee in Orange County's $10 billion bankruptcy, getting them 100 cents on the dollar Regarded as one of the nation's top reorganization advisers by such big-name investment firms as Oaktree Capital Management, Hicks Muse Tate & Furst, Trust Co. of the West and others.Thomas B. Walper Age:
Munger, Tolles & Olson LLPSpecialty:
Bankruptcy and insolvency litigationBackground:
B.S. from USC, 1976 M.B.A. from USC in 1977 J.D. from Loyola University in 1980 Joined Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP as associate in 1980 Joined Stroock & Stroock & Levan in 1982, becoming a partner in 1989 Left to become partner with Munger, Tolles & Olson in 1991 Co-founder of Debtor Assistance Program, which has 150 local volunteer attorneys helping indigent debtors "The most successful bankruptcy case is the one that never gets filed," he says Raised in Pasadena Married, three children.Accomplishments:
Lead counsel for Edison International during recent settlement with Public Utilities Commission and resulting payment plan of $3.3 billion in debts Southern California Edison vice president general counsel Stephen Pickett praises Walper for his "calm, common sense and dispassionate reasoning in a crisis." "Would rather resolve issues on a consensual level based on business reality than fight about it in court," adds attorney Marc Beilinson Represented Berkshire Hathaway in its joint venture acquisition of 51 percent of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Finova Group for $6 billion in assumed debt.
Danny KingHoward Weg Age:
Peitzman, Glassman & WegSpecialty:
Business bankruptcy and corporate reorganizationBackground:
Born and raised in L.A B.A. in political science and economics, UCLA, 1976 Southwestern University Law School, 1979 Masters of law degree, Yale Law School, 1980 Practiced business or bankruptcy law at four L.A. law firms from 1980 to 1999 Married with two children Enjoys golf, reading history books, traveling to Europe and Middle East.Accomplishments:
Chairman of Official Committee of Participant Creditors representing nine creditors seeking more than $1 billion from Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. ("One of the most important and complex cases I've been involved in," he says) "He's a very worthy adversary," notes a turnaround consultant. "He's good at educating his client to understand what needs to be done. It speeds up the process and saves both parties sometimes millions of dollars in fees and lost opportunities." Organized 1996 sale of L.A.-based producer Carolco Pictures Inc.'s 75-film library, including "Rambo" series, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "Basic Instinct," to pay off $125 million debt that forced company to file for Chapter 11 protection.Richard L. Wynne Age: Firm:
Kirkland & EllisSpecialty:
Bankruptcy and restructuringBackground:
Originally from New York B.A., Political Science, Indiana University J.D. Columbia University '82 Started career in New York doing litigation and corporate bankruptcy Moved to Los Angeles in 1985, started at Levene & Eisenberg, a boutique bankruptcy firm Left in 1995 at partner level Founding partner of Wynne Spiegel Itkin in 1995 Merged with Kirkland & Ellis in June 2001 Active in amateur auto racing Races a BMW 325 and an Acura NSX Married, no children Bel-Air resident.Accomplishments:
Represented creditors committee in Carolco Pictures Chapter 11 case Negotiated sale of film library, including "Terminator 2," "Total Recall," "Basic Instinct," "Cliffhanger" and the "Rambo" series, for more than $100 million Represented McNall Sports & Entertainment as debtor in Chapter 11 case involving more than $400 million in claims Currently represents creditors committee in the $600 million Reed Slatkin bankruptcy case Focused on getting the maximum value for his clients. "There is some science to it, but there's a lot of art in being able to estimate what something will cost versus how much can be recovered," said a client. "I find his counsel to be extremely insightful in those areas. I just want to maximize my return, Rick is very focused on doing that for his clients."
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