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Recent Developments in Distressed Debt, Restructurings & Workouts 2011

Speaker(s): Alice Belisle Eaton, Deirdre A. McGuinness, James M. Lukenda, Joseph Samet (Ret.), Michael L. Cook, Rick Antonoff, Ronit J. Berkovich, William Q. Derrough
Recorded on: Jan. 27, 2011
PLI Program #: 28422

Deirdre Martini is Managing Director of Wells Fargo Capital Finance in New York focusing on the restructuring sector in the Northeast with particular expertise in restructuring financings and insurance products.

From October 2003 through April 2006, Ms. Martini served as United States Trustee and oversaw the administration of the largest and most complex chapter 11 restructurings in recent history that were filed in the Southern District of New York.  Among the cases commenced during her tenure were Delphi Corporation, Delta Airlines, Dana Corporation, Northwest Airlines, Refco Inc., Calpine Corporation and St. Vincent's Medical Center, all multi-billion dollar reorganizations.

For several years before her appointment by the United States Attorney General, Ms. Martini chaired the restructuring practice at Ivey, Barnum & O'Mara, LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut. Before that from 1988 to 1999, she was as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, representing federal agencies in the bankruptcy court and prosecuting bankruptcy crimes. While at the United States Attorney's Office, she served as a mediator for the Senior Counsel for Alternative Dispute Resolution at the Department of Justice and developed a curriculum and teaching materials on mediation advocacy and advanced negotiations for civil assistants nationwide.

After leaving the Department of Justice, Deirdre joined CIT Group as a Managing Director and Senior Restructuring Advisor for Corporate Finance where she acted as strategic advisor to the industry business units on all areas and opportunities in restructuring.

Joseph Samet has been a partner and member of Baker McKenzie's Global Recovery, Restructuring and Bankruptcy Group, residing in the New York office. He retired from the firm in 2015, and still teaches and writes in the R & B fields. He is available for mediating, expert witness, officer/director, and other work. Since 1975, Mr. Samet has been immersed in national and international restructurings, chapter 11 reorganizations, distressed sales of assets, SIPC and bankruptcy practice, representing all parties in interest. This includes chapter 15 cases. He counsels parties in interest and transactional lawyers on potential creditors’ rights/bankruptcy implications of deals, sales, investments and litigation settlements they are considering. His experience includes structured finance, corporate governance, pre- and post-bankruptcy litigation, negotiations and mediation. He counseled on insurance, monolines and bank liquidations, and advises corporate boards. He analyzes executory contract issues, including licenses for businesses in the e-commerce economy, and gave written opinions and analysis in transactions. His practice has involved diverse businesses, including in manufacturing, financial services, retail, service, airlines, energy, healthcare, real estate, e-commerce, sports and telecommunications. He prosecuted and defended preference, fraudulent conveyance, equitable subordination and substantive consolidation actions, officer/director liability and Ponzi scheme issues.  He counsels professional firms and their principals on risk management, “unfinished business” and clawback type issues. Mr. Samet has prepared expert reports and testified as an expert witness in jury trials and in an international arbitration.  He is on the SDNY bankruptcy court mediation panel and took extensive meditation training courses in 1994, and in 2015 through the ABI.

Mr. Samet is the principal co-author of the two-volume annotated Herzog’s Bankruptcy Forms and Practice published by Thomson Reuters. He has been a contributing author of Collier on Bankruptcy 15th Edition, and the Collier Bankruptcy Practice Guide treatises, having written and updated for many years three chapters on voluntary and involuntary bankruptcies totaling about 400 printed pages. He has written or co-authored published articles and outlines including on Arbitration and Intellectual Property in Bankruptcy; Breakup Fees and Topping Agreements in Sales of Assets; Multinational Insolvencies; Duties of Officers and Directors and Liability Issues; Unfinished Business; Mediation; Partners and Partnerships; The Basics of Chapter 11 and Chapter 15; and Research Tools.  Since 1981, he has chaired or lectured at over 250 CLE and Industry programs in the U.S. and internationally on pre-bankruptcy restructuring and bankruptcy-related issues, including programs of the National Bankruptcy Judges’ Conference, the Practising Law Institute, The American Bankruptcy Institute, the Commercial Law League, the Turnaround Management Association, and INSOL. He is chair of the annual PLI programs “Current Developments in Bankruptcy and Reorganizations” 2009-2018, and “Recent Developments in Distressed Debt, Restructurings and Workouts” 2008-2018. Mr. Samet was an Associate Conferee of the National Bankruptcy Conference and a member of its Bankruptcy Code Review project which was submitted to the United States Congress in 1994.  He has been an Adjunct Professor at Brooklyn Law School, and served on bankruptcy committees of national and local bar associations. Mr. Samet has been regularly selected by Super Lawyers as one of the Leading Insolvency and Restructuring Lawyers, the Best Lawyers in America, in Banking and Finance Law, and Who’s Who in America. He received the 2004 Burton Award for Legal Writing at the Library of Congress as co-author of the article entitled “When Worlds Collide: Intellectual Property and Arbitration Rights in Bankruptcy Cases.”  Mr. Samet is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the ABA, the NYS Bar Association, TMA, the NYC Bar Association and CPR relating to mediation. He has served as a member of boards of directors of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the CLLA Fund for Public Education and the NY Chapter of the TMA, and is a member of the Steering Committee of the Zaretsky Roundtable at Brooklyn Law School.

Michael L. Cook is of counsel in the New York office of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. He served as a partner in the New York office for 16 years, devoting his practice to business reorganization and creditors' rights litigation after leading the reorganization practice at another international law firm for 20 years. His clients include professional firms, lenders, acquirers, trustees, creditors' committees, troubled companies and other

Michael is past chair of the American College of Bankruptcy, which has established the "Michael L. Cook Extraordinary Grant" for legal services organizations that provide pro bono bankruptcy services for indigent consumer debtors. He is also the former chair of the American Bar Association's Creditors' Rights Litigation Committee, Lawyers Alliance for New York, and the New York City Bankruptcy Assistance project.

A frequent contributor to major publications, Michael serves as lead editor and contributing author of Bankruptcy Litigation Manual (rev. ed., Aspen Law & Business, 2019), is on the editorial boards of Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law and The Bankruptcy Strategist, is a contributing author to Collier Bankruptcy Guide (rev. ed., Matthew Bender, 2018) and Collier on Bankruptcy (15th rev. ed., 2003), and he co-authored Creditors’ Rights, Debtors’ Protection and Bankruptcy (3rd ed., Matthew Bender, 1997) (with NYU School of Law Professor Lawrence P. King). Michael served for 26 years as an Adjunct Professor at New York University School of Law, teaching courses on creditors’ rights, debtors’ protection and bankruptcy. He received his A.B. from Columbia University and his J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Rick Antonoff is a Partner in the Finance, Bankruptcy and Restructuring practice at Blank Rome LLP in New York City.  Rick represents global banks and other financial institutions, direct lenders, private equity and alternative investment firms, landlords, intellectual property licensors and licensees, trade creditors and other parties in bankruptcy proceedings, out-of-court restructuring, M&A transactions and commercial litigation.  His clients are secured and unsecured creditors, strategic and financial buyers of distressed companies, lenders, foreign receivers in cross-border cases and defendants in preference and fraudulent transfer cases and mediation.

Rick is a member of the Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization Committee of the New York City Bar Association where he also Co-Chairs Puerto Rico Task Force. He has been an observer at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Insolvency Working Group sessions since 2014.  He earned his law degree with honors from Cardozo Law School where he was a Law Review Editor and a bachelor of arts degree from Harpur College at Binghamton University.

Ronit J. Berkovich is a partner in the Business Finance & Restructuring Department of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Ms. Berkovich represents debtors, secured and unsecured creditors, committees, investors, and acquirers of assets in all aspects of distressed situations. She has served as debtors’ counsel in several of the largest and most significant chapter 11 cases in history, including General Motors, Lehman Brothers, WorldCom (MCI), BearingPoint, the Texas Rangers, and the Dallas Stars. She also has extensive experience representing parties in prepackaged chapter 11 cases, out-of-court workouts, and international restructurings and has provided restructuring advisory services to Fortune 500 companies.

Ms. Berkovich actively lectures on various topics relating to restructuring (including for organizations such as the American Bankruptcy Institute, Bloomberg Law, the Practicing Law Institute, the Turnaround Management Association, the Loan Syndications and Trading Association, the New York City Bar Association, Harvard Law School, and Columbia Law School). She taught legal research and writing at Harvard Law School for two years and taught a seminar in economics at Harvard College. She has also written extensively, including articles published in The Banking Law Journal, The American University Law Review, Real Estate Finance, and the Bankruptcy Bulletin.

Ms. Berkovich was recently named a 2015 Bankruptcy “Rising Star” by Law360. She has also been named a Restructuring and Insolvency “Rising Star” by IFLR1000 and has been recognized by Turnarounds & Workouts magazine as one of its Outstanding Young Restructuring Lawyers. She serves on Weil’s Hiring Committee, Ethics Committee, and Professional Evaluation & Compensation Committee, and is on the editorial board of Weil’s Bankruptcy Blog.

Ms. Berkovich is active in her community. Among other things, she serves on the Board of Directors of the UJA Federation of New York, co-chairs its Next Generation Bankruptcy and Reorganization Group, and is a member of its Lawyers Executive Committee.  In 2013 she received the James H. Fogelson Emerging Leadership Award from the UJA Federation of New York.  She is also on the Alumni Advisory Board for the Harvard Association for Law and Business.

Ms. Berkovich received a bachelor’s degree with distinction in Economics and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School.

A partner in the Restructuring Department, Alice advises creditor and debtor clients in corporate reorganizations and bankruptcies, with a focus on postpetition financings, exit financings and related transactions. Her recent company-side matters include advising Animal Supply Company, Preferred Sands, Expro Holdings, Performance Sports Group and Foresight Energy LP, and recent creditor-side experience includes advising stakeholders in Neiman Marcus Group, Inc., PetSmart, Inc., Exide Technologies and an informal committee of certain holders of secured and unsecured notes of Chassix Inc. and Chassix Holdings, Inc.

Chambers USA recognizes Alice for her “rare combination of bankruptcy and financing experience” in dealing with distressed companies in major chapter 11 cases, and cites clients who have called her “terrific” and “one of the best deal-side lawyers I have ever worked with.” The Legal 500 writes that Alice’s “ease in grasping complex structures make her the perfect lawyer to attack difficult restructuring issues” and she is also recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for her work in Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law. Alice was selected by Law360 to its list of Rising Stars for 2011, recognizing her as a legal talent under the age of 40, notably in connection with the successful bankruptcies of AbitibiBowater and CIT Group Inc.

Alice’s matters are routinely recognized by industry publications and associations. The M&A Advisor selected the restructuring of BPS US Holdings and its debtor affiliates (the Performance Sports Group restructuring) as its “Restructuring of the Year ($500M-$1B)” in its 10th Annual International M&A Awards. The Turnaround Management Association (TMA) has honored Alice in two awards; 2018 “Transaction of the Year: Large Company” for her work on Performance Sports Group’s chapter 11 case, as well as 2016 “Turnaround of the Year: Mega Company” for her work on behalf of Chassix Holdings Inc. debtholders. The Financial Times has recognized Alice’s work on a number of restructurings in its annual report on “U.S. Innovative Lawyers,” including “Highly Commending” her work on behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee of Dynegy Bondholders (2012) and CIT Group bondholders (2010), and “Commending” her work on the successful restructuring of AbitibiBowater (2011).

Alice received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and graduated summa cum laude from Bowdoin College.

Jim provides assistance to clients with troubled debt restructurings, mergers, acquisitions and dispositions, litigation and claims analysis, fraud investigations, and other financial consulting and bankruptcy assignments.

His experience spans numerous industries including financial services, heavy manufacturing, retailing, electronics, consumer products and distribution, construction and contracting, communications and publishing, real estate, and hospitality.

Jim’s extensive experience includes:

Financial Forensics

  • Analysis of a multimillion dollar construction contract and lost profits claim from a troubled state highway contract;
  • Financial records disentanglement assignment to locate misappropriated funds;
  • Analysis of inventory procedures and record keeping to explain product shortages and operating losses;
  • Investigation of trading pattern velocity and investment portfolio mismanagement of a not-for- profit institution.

Bankruptcy & Restructuring

  • Expert testimony on issues of business plans, liquidations, avoidance actions, substantive consolidation, and other reorganization and bankruptcy issues;
  • Development and evaluation of strategic business plans on behalf of debtors and creditors including the evaluation of customer and product profitability, store and plant profitability, overhead structure, and industry viability;
  • Analysis for providing expert testimony on business performance, lost profits, and claims for damages;
  • Preparation of valuation reports including enterprise value and liquidation analyses;
  • Negotiation and evaluation of out-of-court debt restructuring proposals.

Education and Certification

  • BSBA, cum laude, Georgetown University School of Business Administration
  • Certified Public Accountant (New Jersey and New York)
  • Certified Insolvency and Restructuring Advisor
  • Certified in Financial Forensics
  • Instructor, AIRA coursework, Certified Insolvency and Restructuring Advisor and Certification in Distressed Business Valuation