The Next Chapter – Issue 3
Welcome to Spring!
While it’s true that nobody can do anything about the weather, what we can do is keep you apprised of what we’ve been doing – for clients, in the industry, and how we’re giving back to our professional community. The restructuring industry continues to confound observers – but we’ve seen growing diversification in our practice, with the addition of new engagements for CRO and turnaround cases, expert witness matters in large-scale litigation and fiduciary engagements. The team has grown, too – you’ll meet two of our new members in this newsletter and see how they make the team better and stronger.
We love to help – it’s ingrained in our firm culture and our profession. We run toward problems. At our annual all-hands meeting in January, the firm voted to direct our philanthropic program, G/S IMPACT, toward two worthy causes. First, we’ve taken on CARE, administered by the American Bankruptcy Institute, as a beneficiary. This means that firm resources, personnel and funds will be directed to help CARE achieve its mission of educating teenagers about responsible money habits. Also, G/S professionals will identify small non-profit organizations nationwide that would use our help in becoming more efficient, effective and successful and we will engage with these non-profits on a pro bono basis.
We especially like to share the spotlight – so you’ll read about some of our colleagues in the profession, about our team members and what makes them tick, and you’ll see why we enjoy what we do so much by the accolades we get. Want to know where we spend our time in the professional community when we’re not working cases? That’s inside, too.
Thanks for reading and best wishes for a successful spring!
Ted & Joe
Bob Fishman – Attorney, Advocate, Mediator, Examiner, and …
Robert M. Fishman, bankruptcy attorney with Shaw Fishman Glantz & Towbin LLC in Chicago, was appointed last summer by Judge Steven Rhodes as Fee Examiner in the City of Detroit bankruptcy case. Fishman, who is a Former President of the American Bankruptcy Institute as well as an experienced mediator, recently spoke with Ted Gavin and discussed the pros and cons of mediation, municipal bankruptcies in general, and something you probably don’t know about him…
How have your practice and career changed during the last 10 years?
The most important change that has affected my practice, and most likely everyone else’s, is that banks now appear to look at insolvency and bankruptcy in a whole different way. A decade or more ago, when banks had loans to companies who were in financial distress, banks were usually willing to work (at least a little) at finding a strategy that involved preserving a going concern and funding a Chapter 11 case with appropriate limitations — and trying to work together to maximize value. It appears to me that financial institutions have largely abandoned that philosophy, except in the largest cases. Now, their attitude is to cut their losses and move on.
This adverse interaction between the financial institution and the debtor does not foster the semi-cooperative environment that once existed in these cases, at least to a certain degree. That’s the biggest change in the practice that I’ve noticed.
My own practice has also changed in the last 10 years, in that I added mediation to our core of services. I now find myself doing more mediation, which I think is good. And I should note that being a mediator does not mean that I am retiring!
What drove your decision to focus more on mediation and how do you see that shift fitting into the changing market for legal services in and around bankruptcy?
I don’t think it was a complex analysis or well-formed plan that led me to mediation. I began to see it utilized more across the country. It appears to have been more warmly received in some jurisdictions more so than others. But I feel that there is momentum for it to become more widely accepted in the bankruptcy practice across the country.
I’ve always liked the idea of mediation, and when I received an unexpected call several years ago about whether I’d be willing to mediate a very complicated situation, I accepted the opportunity, and discovered that I really enjoyed the process. Since then, I have worked at expanding my skills and opportunities in the area. I think mediation is gaining traction because it can often be a less expensive and less time-consuming way to reach a consensual business resolution. Mediation may not be as valuable a tool when the controversy is principally a real legal dispute where one lawyer says the law is X and another says Y and the outcome is likely to be winner-take-all.
But in so many situations, it is the business outcome that people really care about. And in those cases, mediation can be a good tool to help the parties get to that consensual business resolution.
Is that because as a mediator you are testing each side’s perception of risk and their appetite for resolving that?
Yes. There are some mediation experts who say that there is a right way and a wrong way to mediate. In reality, mediators have varying approaches and utilize various tactics/approaches to facilitate a successful mediation. I think a good mediator is one who helps parties understand the strengths and weaknesses of their positions without telling the parties who is right and who is wrong. The best skill a mediator can bring to the table is to convince people to move away from talking about their legal positions, and start focusing on their interests.
A mediation will have the greatest chance to be successful when people address their interests. If you come in to the process only wanting to tell people how right you are, the mediation will be more difficult. I usually begin a mediation by telling people that if you came here to win, you are wasting your time — because no one wins in mediation.
In 2012, you took the lead in resurrecting the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Mediation Committee. What led to that decision and how is it working out?
The resurrection flowed directly from the ABI and St. John’s Law School putting on the first bankruptcy mediation program in 2011. I attended that program as a student, knowing that if I wanted to make mediation an important part of my practice, I needed to enhance my skills in that area. It was a sophisticated program and tailored to bankruptcy, and the first mediation training program was packed with many powerful, senior bankruptcy practitioners. The energy and excitement that group created made me want to explore how we could capitalize on that interest.
That bankruptcy mediation training program was the impetus for the revival of the ABI committee – it had previously existed, but had fallen by the wayside. The ABI’s mediation training program has regenerated interest in a big way. In fact, it has just become an “official” ABI committee. We have received many requests from people who have not done the training who want to be involved in the Committee, and those who do the training are automatically appointed as members of the Committee. There is a lot of traction and interest now to utilize that Committee further, to advance the effective use of mediation in the insolvency community.
There are strong parallels between the skills required to be a mediator and the skills required to be a successful fee examiner. How does that play out in the real world?
The discussions that take place between a fee examiner and the firms whose fees are being reviewed are a little different from mediation, in that the mediation has two or more interested parties plus the neutral mediator, whereas the fee examiner discussion involves only two parties — the fee examiner and a representative of the firm, both of whom should be described as interested parties. However, a principal role of the fee examiner is to serve as an objective third party in reviewing fees and determining if they are reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances.
In a typical fee examiner setting, most firms seem to prefer to have a private conversation about potential criticisms and adjustments, without having to publically address issues in a pleading. The alternative would be to have a public conversation with allegations and positions set forth in pleadings and ultimately rulings by a court. In a private conversation with a fee examiner, the firm has the option of simply agreeing in private to make certain adjustments and concessions — and that often that allows everyone to be “happy.”
In the context of the fee examiner in the Chapter 9 environment in which I am currently involved, there is a wrinkle – one that makes it different from any other fee examiner situation – in that there is a lack of a clear-cut role for the court in the fee examination process. In the more typical Chapter 11 environment, the statutory provisions applicable to retention and fee allowance govern the process. A firm seeking to be retained by the debtor or committee files an application to be retained, and the court enters an order approving that retention. When the firm seeks to be paid, it submits its fee application to the court, and the court reviews it and then enters an order ruling on the compensation and expense reimbursement requested.
The big difference in a Chapter 9 case — and I believe there has never been a fee examiner in a municipal case to this point — is that the firms who want to be hired by the debtor do not file retention applications, and no one files fee applications. So, the court does not directly rule on the fees – that makes for a different relationship between the fee examiner and firms. In normal Chapter 11 context, everyone knows that eventually everything will have to go before the court, and that the judge will rule on whatever is unresolved. Even after a private discussion between a fee examiner and a firm, the court will be the ultimate arbiter of what happens.
In a Chapter 9 case, the dynamic is different. The fee examiner and the firm discuss the firm’s compensation and expense reimbursement requests as set forth in the invoice submitted to the fee examiner. But, if they don’t reach an agreement, the fee examiner has no remedial rights and is only able to file a report (as I am periodically obligated to do in the Detroit case by court order) setting forth whatever issues that the fee examiner might have with the invoice in question. We know in Chapter 11 that when this type of dispute between the fee examiner and a firm occurs (and it seems to occur with some regularity) – we know that, if there is no agreement and there needs to be a dispute resolved, the court resolves it in the form of a fee application. In Chapter 9, we are not sure what happens.
So when the fee examiner and firms have discussions, you don’t have the same dynamic that ‘we will go to court and it will be resolved.’ The only power that I have as Detroit fee examiner is that I file quarterly reports and I address two specific topics — whether fees have been fully publicly disclosed, and I express my opinion regarding whether the expenses are reasonable. Those two charges come directly from the order appointing me, and those are my only jobs. I am not sure what happens if the fee examiner and a particular firm don’t reach an agreement on an issue of import because, so far, that has not happened. We have reached agreements thus far.
Public pressure is the fee examiner’s greatest weapon. If the fee examiner were to submit a quarterly report that was highly critical of a firm’s request for compensation, it would undoubtedly find its way to the media. Since we have not had that happen yet, we don’t know what impact it will have. But I am fairly certain that no firm – my own included – is anxious to be subject of such an article!
You were the seventh President of the American Bankruptcy Institute. How has ABI’s relationship with the restructuring industry changed since your term ended in 1997?
It has changed a lot, maybe more so because of the size of the organization than anything else. When I joined in 1985, the organization was only two or three years old and had less than 1,000 members. It would be fair to say that at that time, a large number of active participants in the insolvency community were not part of the ABI. When I became president in 1997, there were about 6,000 members; today there are nearly 14,000 members. The sheer volume of professionals currently involved has dramatically increased the reach of ABI within the community. There are not that many practitioners who are not members of ABI. There are a great number of non-lawyers who are active, far more than 17 years ago.
Also, the number of active judges in the ABI has increased. Participation of judges has always been an important part of ABI’s allure to the bankruptcy community, because it allows practitioners to interact with judges in the kind of environment that enables you to obtain insights outside of the courtroom. The more judges you have the occasion to interact with the more it will help you in your courtroom presentations.
Your partner, Brian Shaw, becomes president of ABI in April 2014, making yours only the second firm to produce two ABI presidents. What type of impact does the responsibility of that office have on a firm particularly a middle-market firm?
It has a major impact, because there are a lot of hours involved. In fact, by the time you assume the presidency, a great deal of time and energy has already been involved. As president-elect, Brian Shaw has dedicated a substantial amount of time to ABI-related activities. There is no doubt that in his year as president, that time will increase even more, and when he is past president and chairman in the following years, he will continue to have an active role in the ABI’s policy and decision making. There is no question that when you devote that many hours to a professional organization, it takes away from the number of hours you can devote to revenue-producing work. But Brian manages to do it all – he is one busy guy.
How has the relationship between attorneys and financial advisors changed during this market cycle, and how do you see it changing?
A long time ago, lawyers got to insolvency situations earlier, and lawyers played a big role in bringing financial advisors into them. Today, on the debtor side, I think the level of sophistication of professionals in the insolvency world has led to a positive development, which is that many people realize that a lawyer might not be the first (or best) person to be able to help you. A financial advisor or a turnaround professional could be of greater help in the early stages of financial distress. The evolution of ‘who gets there first’ and what they’re asked to do has been a positive one for companies. Banks are quicker to ‘suggest’ that a firm retain a certain kind of financial advisor, and I think that generally speaking, that is not a bad thing — if it is the right firm.
Committees develop on the fly, and sometimes a personal relationship with a financial advisor or an attorney is what makes that happen. That dynamic is different in every case, and there is no one format that makes it work. What will evolve in the future is unclear. At this point, I think that things are likely to stay somewhat the same in the short run unless some outside factor appears and influences the way things are done. Ordinarily, I don’t think things change dramatically or quickly.
You’re Chair of the host committee for the 2014 National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges in Chicago. What are the moving parts that go into planning and executing the restructuring industry’s largest event?
Our number one issue is raising money, because someone has to pay for a party for several thousand people! The NCBJ is not in that business, nor should it be. In Chicago, the host committee is trying to ensure that we produce an affair that will be memorable, and will be something people want to attend. Once you recognize that the budget controls what you can do, that filters down to the logistics, transportation, entertainment, and refreshments. There are numerous large and small moving parts that all are determined by the funds raised.
Tell us something about yourself that your professional colleagues don’t know.
I have been collecting postage stamps since I was 10 years old, and I have a fine collection, which I still very much enjoy.
“Tactics, Not Theatrics — How to Orchestrate a Successful Out-of-Court Restructuring,” was the subject of a December 2013 Corporate Counsel magazine article co-authored by Michael P. Richman, bankruptcy partner at Hunton & Williams, and our own Ted Gavin. The article recommends steps to help inform the thought process around the highly specialized tasks of corporate restructuring, pre serving value and saving jobs. In addition to partnering on more than several restructuring/bankruptcy cases over the last 10 years, Michael and Ted are both members of the ABI house band, the Indubitable Equivalents – next performing on July 19th at the ABI Northeast Bankruptcy Conference in Stowe, VT.
Tactics, not theatrics
How to Orchestrate a Successful Out-of-Court Restructuring
THERE IS A MOMENT IN EVERY transition from corporate health to cor porate distress—sometimes lengthy, other times fleeting—when failure can be averted. When a board of directors and management reacts to changing circumstances is often the single great est contributor to success: Act early and the company has options, act late and the company may not be able to avoid the sometimes crushing burden of bankruptcy.
Recognizing that something must be done is only the first step in a long process, however. Navigating the journey back to health requires a game plan. In that spirit, the authors offer these steps to help inform the thought process around the highly specialized tasks of corporate restructuring, pre serving value and saving jobs.
First, call in the battery. Place an expert restructuring financial con sultant and an expert restructuring/bankruptcy lawyer at the helm. Before looking at a single document, your advisers should have a thorough con versation with management to gain an understanding of what the company views as the key problems they face and the key interests of the company. Competing tranches of debt; compet ing shareholders; competing product lines; the oft-told tale of marketing versus engineering—all of these fac tors contribute to the issues at hand, and your advisers must understand these factors, and how they interre late, before considering any significant approach to a restructuring process.
Next, your advisers should under stand what the significant pressure points are for the company. What is causing the present stress? Are notes coming due that can’t be paid? Are loans maturing or being called? Is the company about to default on its bonds? Understand the nature of the counter parties to any restructuring and what their objectives will be from the outset. Perform basic due diligence on coun terparties. Knowing, for example, that the company’s secured lender is exit ing the company’s industry should affect how you approach any type of negotiation with that lender. Once the company’s pressure points are clearly understood, the company must priori tize these issues in order of criticality.
Your advisers should then establish a process to engage the coun terparties in appropriate discussions around the issue of restructuring the debt. These discussions should begin with a standstill agreement that pro vides breathing room for all sides to consider the restructuring. The term of the agreement should be long enough to allow for thorough analysis and dis cussion on both sides. When crafting a standstill agreement, important issues to keep in mind are:
- A standstill agreement is just that; it’s not the time for any party to seek to improve their position through oppor tunistic leverage.
- The company should expect to pay the professional fees of the counterpar ties—this is a typical cost of getting the standstill agreement and the coun terparties’ willingness to undertake a restructuring process.
- The company may have to con tinue to pay interest on a current basis during the restructuring process. This may be a cost of getting the counter party to the table.
Relatively simple things, like inter est payments, may have exponential beneficial effects on counterparties. For traditionally regulated lenders, for example, receiving current interest payments, even if a principal payment must be deferred, may be the difference between keeping a loan as “perform ing” on their balance sheet or having to declare it as underperforming and tak ing a reserve against it. Avoiding these regulatory headaches can be a powerful incentive to get the counterparty to the negotiating table.
Before the first meeting between the company and its counterparties, there is much to be done. The company and its advisers must thoroughly investigate the company’s underlying financial situation, and this is when information should be exchanged between the com pany and counterparties. The financials must be clear, consistent, correct and verifiable. One of the authors has a cli ent that just restated a 13-week cash flow by what will amount to 25 percent of its yearly income. That is absolutely going to be a conversation stopper with their lenders. The company should do a full valuation: Showing a lender that hasty action could have devastat ing consequences can be a powerful motivator. Conversely, if the valuation shows the counterparty sitting pretty, it may alleviate doubt as to the viability of a restructuring.
Know where the company needs to come out in a restructuring. The company needs to understand exactly what it needs to accomplish in any restructuring and what that looks like, both operationally and in terms of cash flow, and this knowledge should inform all discussions. And be prepared to open the kimono to all counterpar ties. Transparency is the key to cred ibility in a restructuring process, and credibility is the key to success of the restructuring process. Be mindful that, in an out-of-court restructuring, there is no judge to impose the company’s will. Everything is voluntary, so the credibil ity of the company and its advisers is what will get a deal done, whereas the lack of credibility will kill any chance of an out-of-court restructuring.
And finally, the negotiation. When orchestrating in-person meetings with counterparties, the company should host the meeting(s) unless another party insists and their request is reasonable. The company should insist that high-level decision makers with authority attend all parties. Professionals-only meetings generally go nowhere. You should plan for a meeting lasting no less than a half-day; ideally, schedule for a whole day.
Be hospitable. Shorter meetings rarely accomplish anything other than grandstanding and chest thumping. You want the meeting long enough such that everyone in attendance knows that something can be accomplished that day. The company should be prepared to dominate the first part of every meet ing with a presentation by its chief exec utive officer, and its advisers, that radiates honesty, transparency and sincerity in seeking a consensual resolution.
The interim goal of this kind of meet ing should be to begin to discuss the terms of a restructuring (and even finalize them, if possible). Points of agreement should be memorialized as soon as possible after they are agreed upon. Ultimately, depending upon how many meetings are required, an important objective is to reach a consensual term sheet executed by all parties as soon as possible.
How long will this take? It depends on how complex the situation is. A sin gle loan with a single lender group may take 30–60 days. For multiple tranches of debt, it could easily take 120–180 days or more. But here’s the thing—while there is no set time frame during which a specific deal should happen, the lon ger the process goes on, the less likely it is that the company will achieve a voluntary restructuring. Keep in mind, then, that it is the company that should be keeping the parties focused and con tinually working to move the ball down the field and advance the process.
SPOTLIGHT ON: Wayne P. Weitz, Managing Director
What is your area of focus at G/S?
I am a Managing Director at Gavin/Solmonese, and I lead engagements in all areas of distressed advisory services, including turnaround services, debtor advisory and bankruptcy committee advisory (creditors’ committees and equity committees).
What aspect(s) of your work do you find most surprising, most enjoyable?
You never know what new opportunities will show up each day. New cases file, referral sources call, and unexpected developments can happen in existing matters. I also enjoy being able to work with a variety of companies and industries, and interacting with different personalities in a range of organizations.
What trade groups and other outside organizations are you involved with?
I am a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute’s (ABI) Financial Advisors and Investment Banking Committee, for which I have served as Membership Relations Coordinator (2012-2014) and will be the next Newsletter Editor (2014-2015).
Additionally, I am a board member and membership vice president of the Turnaround Management Association (TMA), Philadelphia Chapter. I am also a member of the Board of Directors of the People’s Emergency Center Foundation, a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization which provides housing and transitional programs and services for single-parent families in need. And earlier this month, I was appointed to the Board of Directors of Liberty Resources, Inc., which is a not-for-profit organization that advocates and promotes independent living for persons with disabilities.
What are some major career accomplishments/achievements of which you are most proud?
I successfully restructured the balance sheet and loan for the construction of the Elysian Hotel, now the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, consistently ranked among the best business hotels in the United States. We completed construction, sold out 51 luxury residences in a challenging market, and completed the sale of the hotel to a new owner, fully repaying the loan and realizing a return for equity investors.
What are your most memorable client turnaround or bankruptcy cases?
In the case of Greater Ohio Ethanol, I was financial advisor to the Debtor. In what started out as a turnaround consulting engagement, I eventually helped to put the business into bankruptcy, ran the business during the wind-down to warm idle status (including ordering corn every morning), negotiated with lenders, and eventually sold the business in a Sec. 363 sale.
In the cross-border insolvency case of Waste2Energy, I was Chapter 11 Trustee for a business that had raised funds from U.S. investors and deployed them in Scotland and the U.K. via a complex Isle of Man holding company structure. I filed the Isle of Man subsidiaries into bankruptcy in the U.S., and successfully convinced the Isle of Man courts to not exercise jurisdiction over the Manx debtors, deferring instead to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
What is the most challenging case you’ve worked on and how did you overcome the obstacles?
In the Elysian restructuring, with each successful milestone reached, the risk of foreclosure also increased. The lender provided a series of short-term extensions that did not provide enough time to fully complete the project. Each further extension was predicated on meeting milestones, but meeting those milestones made foreclosing on the project more attractive to the lender. In the middle of the process, the lender’s portfolio was sold to a hedge fund with different investment objectives, thereby adding a new layer of risk and complexity to the situation. At the end of the day, it was a win for everyone.
What was your first job?
I was a real estate investment banker with Price Waterhouse, now PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in Atlanta.
Where do you live and where are you from?
I grew up in Hollywood, Florida, and spent some time in Boston and Chicago for school. I currently live in Merion, PA, just outside Philadelphia.
What was your first concert and your favorite concert?
My first concert was Billy Joel at the Hollywood Sportatorium in 1982. My favorite concert was Jackopierce at World Café Live in Philadelphia in 2012.
When you’re not busy advising and helping distressed companies, what is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
I enjoy traveling, reading and attending my kids’ sporting events, and my wife Marcy and I enjoy hanging out at the dog park with our golden retriever, Lucy.
Do you have a favorite charity?
My wife and I support our colleges, Wellesley College and Brandeis University, as well as several student groups at Vanderbilt University. We are also very involved with our synagogue. I am also on the board of the People’s Emergency Center Foundation.
What is one word or sentence that best describes you?
Is there anything else you’d like to mention/include?
There’s no substitute for integrity, honesty and openness in personal and professional relationships. Holding firm to this tenet has enabled me to build very successful partnerships in my personal and professional life.
Sharing our Successes
In March, Wayne Weitz was honored with inclusion on the Turnarounds & Workouts list of People to Watch – 2014. T&W noted that Wayne was, “…financial advisor to 11 statutory and ad hoc committees in bankruptcies, including equity committee in AgFeed Industries and creditors’ committees in Oreck Manufacturing, Conexant, Namco Pools, Highway Technologies and MFM Industries. Also an advisor to indenture Trustee in Exide and served as Chapter 11 Trustee in Waste2Energy.”
Our firm was recently honored with a few national industry rankings and awards, and we would like to share our good news with you. 2013 was a busy and productive year at Gavin/Solmonese, and 2014 appears to be following suit. It is gratifying to see that our successes on behalf of our clients are recognized among our peers and valued colleagues.
Note: The tables below appeared in The Deal Pipeline League Tables (www.pipeline.thedeal.com). All data official as of December 31, 2013.
Top Crisis Management Firms
(Fourth Quarter 2013)
Top Crisis Management Professionals
(Fourth Quarter 2013)
Top Crisis Management Firms, by volume (U.S. only)
(Fourth Quarter 2013)
Gavin/Solmonese was part of a tremendous team that received the Retail Manufacturing/Distribution Deal of the Year Award from The M&A Advisor for the sale of Oreck Corporation to Royal Appliance Mfg. Co. We are proud to have worked with our team members Lowenstein Sandler LLP, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, Black Diamond Commercial Finance, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Carl Marks & Co., Gleacher Products Corp., Oreck Corp., Royal Appliance Mfg. Co., Sawaya Segalas & Co. and Winston & Strawn LLP. The award was presented to our team at a dinner in March 2014.
We were also honored by The M&A Advisor for our role representing the Official Committee of Equity Security Holders in the Chapter 11 sale of AgFeed Industries, Inc. We are proud to have worked with our team members Elliott Greenleaf, Sugar Felsenthal Grais & Hammer LLP, Mackinac Partners LLC, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, Business Development Asia LLC, Foley & Lardner LLP, and Farm Credit Services of America.
Gavin/Solmonese Received TMA Transaction of the Year Award for Small Business Category
We are proud to have received the TMA Transaction of the Year Award for the Small Business Category a few months ago, at the TMA’s 25th anniversary conference in Washington. Wayne and G/S alumna Sarah Pugh were the key players in the firm’s engagement in the bankruptcy case of North American Specialty Glass (NASG), one of the largest domestic producers of safety and security glass in the United States.
At the time of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, NASG listed $3.5 million in assets and more than $14.6 million in debts. The company was forced to shut down and terminate all of its employees. In an emergency 363-sale filing, the Chapter 7 Trustee was able to convince the bankruptcy judge that the private equity firm Grey Mountain was the highest and best bidder. The successful and quick sale of the company’s assets to Grey Mountain enabled the business to reopen and remain in business with a better capital structure, while continuing U.S. manufacturing operations and also the rehiring of nearly every employee.
As Ted noted in the press release that was distributed in October, “This is a case where the entire team warrants recognition – especially the Chapter 7 Trustee Robert Holber, his counsel at Flaster/Greenberg and the purchaser’s advisors.” He also said that, “Everyone worked hard to protect operations and to ensure a swift sale that would reposition the company for growth and preserve jobs. We are proud to have contributed in the triumphant recovery of this once-struggling company.”
Meet Our New Team Members
Please join us in welcoming Christine Ward and Joe Richman to the Gavin/Solmonese team. Christine is Manager of Workflow Systems, and brings to G/S more than 25 years of management and paralegal experience in the legal industry, particularly in bankruptcy and litigation case administration in the Delaware Bankruptcy, District and Chancery Courts. Her responsibilities include oversight of client databases, calendaring, dockets and related client strategy and implementation.
Prior to joining G/S, Christine served as a paralegal in Wilmington, Philadelphia and Phoenix. She attended Mesa & Phoenix Community Colleges and the American Institute for Paralegal Studies. Christine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe is a consultant in our Wilmington office, focusing on restructuring work including claims analysis, avoidance actions and other creditors’ rights work. Prior to joining G/S, Joe was a proprietary equities trader with T3 Trading Group LLC, working on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Exchange. Joe is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science and Georgetown University. Joe can be reached at email@example.com.
We were recently selected as Financial Advisor to the Creditors’ Committee in Color Star Growers, pending in the Eastern District of Texas, and are pleased to be working with Ray Urbanik at Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C.
We’ve also been selected as Financial Advisor to the Official Committee of Equity Security Holders in the bankruptcy of Tuscany International Drilling currently pending in Delaware. We are working with friends Landis Rath & Cobb, who are serving as Equity Committee Counsel.
GAVIN/SOLMONESE IN THE NEWS
- Ted Gavin was quoted in articles in Bloomberg News and Law360 regarding the New York City Opera bankruptcy.
- Luke Snyder was named to the TMA Philly NextGen Committee.
- Ted wrote an article for ABL Online about the firm’s work on the North American Specialty Glass bankruptcy, entitled, “North American Specialty Glass – Skilled Professionals Keep a Workforce Intact.”
- Joe Solmonese was a guest on NPR’s Here and Now program in November, discussing the Illinois legislature’s approval of same-sex marriage, and what’s in the future for other states.
- Ted co-authored an article with bankruptcy attorney Michael Richman from Hunton & Williams in New York City, which appeared in the December 2013 issue of Corporate Counsel.
- The Deal Pipeline Q3 2013 Bankruptcy League Table ranked G/S fourth among top crisis management firms; Ted was ranked third and Wayne Weitz was ranked ninth among top crisis management professionals by number of engagements.
- Ted was quoted in a Law360 article regarding the uptick in municipal bankruptcies.
- Ted shared his 2014 outlook in an article in the January issue of Turnarounds & Workouts.
- Boris Steffen wrote an in-depth overview of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) in January’s American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Expert Witnesses Committee Newsletter.
- Boris discussed what’s happening in the world of corporate restructuring, challenges and what he expects for 2014, in the January issue of IBISWorld.
- Ted wrote an article for the February issue of the Bankruptcy Strategist Newsletter entitled, “A Tale of Two Asset Sales – When Highest Isn’t Necessarily Best,” which described the North American Specialty Glass case.
- Joe Solmonese talked with The Motley Fool in March about Disney’s pro-gay stance and decision to cut Boy Scouts funding.
- Joe Solmonese spoke with Computerworld in March to discuss Arizona’s tech firms fighting against the Arizona HB 1062.
- Ted was quoted in Law360 regarding Staples’ recent announcement to downsize and close 225 stores.
- Ted was quoted in the Los Angeles Times regarding the future of Malaysian Airlines following the crash of Flight 370.
EVENTS, CONFERENCES, SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS –
Where We’ve Been
Boris Steffen taught a two-day seminar at American University’s Washington College of Law on “Understanding Damages and Compensation in International Commercial and Investment Arbitration.” The two-day seminar, which was sponsored by the Center for International Commercial Arbitration at the American University, Washington College of Law, was attended by about 30 people, including current law students, lawyers in private practice, and government officials who traveled from China, Singapore, Brazil, Argentina and the Slovak Republic to attend. Following the program, the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic commented that he and his team had attended the program specifically to see Boris, and that his expertise across accounting, corporate finance, valuation and solvency in combination was especially useful and applicable to the arbitration of disputes relating to the privatization of state-owned assets across Europe.
Joe Solmonese served as a panelist at the Independent Sector’s 2013 Public Policy Action Institute conference in New York, where he discussed the “Blueprint for Advocacy Excellence and Messaging Effectiveness.”
Ted Gavin and Wayne Weitz attended the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges annual conference in Atlanta. At the conference, Ted served on a panel as part of the Commercial Law League of America’s Honorable Frank W. Koger Memorial Education Program: Current Developments in Hot and Emerging Areas of Bankruptcy. The panel was entitled, “The Evolving Bankruptcy Prohibition Against Opaqueness.”
Ted, along with Professor Nancy Rapoport of the UNLV School of Law, conducted a panel discussion for the American College of Bankruptcy in Minneapolis, in November.
Joe Solmonese was the keynote speaker at OUT @ Comcast’s end-of-year meeting, held at Comcast’s headquarters in Philadelphia. More than 45 members of the company’s LGBT affinity group attended to hear Joe discuss the latest developments in DOMA repeal legislation and what that means for corporations nationwide.
Ted spoke during the “Ethics Hour” at the Beard Group’s 20th Annual Distressed Investing Conference in New York City, in December. The panel examined timely ethical topics in the corporate restructuring industry such as the implications of “shareholder activism going mainstream” for distressed companies, and how distressed companies and their advisors should handle activist stakeholders whose actions are detrimental to the company’s prospects of restructuring.
Joe Solmonese, Ted and Wayne attended the ABI Winter Leadership Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, in December. Ted participated in a panel discussion, entitled, “The Chief Restructuring Officer’s Guide to Bankruptcy,” in which he and fellow panelists (who were also co-authors of the ABI publication of the same name), discussed various issues raised in the book and provided practical insight into the rights and responsibilities of CROs in distressed situations. Ted also had the unexpected honor of introducing the evening’s headliner, Jay Leno!
Ted spoke on two panels at the National CLE Conference in Vail earlier in January. The first topic was ‘Advanced Financial Issues in Reorganization – Wisdom from Our Turnaround Professionals,’ and the second panel covered ‘Creditor Committee Representation Issues: Standing to Pursue Estate Causes of Action, SPM Gifts, Claims Against D&Os and Lenders.
G/S sponsored the 25th Annual Forum for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Conference (EDPA) in Atlantic City, NJ, in January. Ted, Wayne, Jeremy and Stan represented G/S at the Forum and Ted was a panelist on the “60 in 60” panel, which reviewed 60 key decisions of 2013 in 60 minutes.
Wayne and Gary attended the TMA Distressed Investing Conference in Las Vegas, in February.
Luke and Stan attended The Wharton School’s 10th Annual Restructuring and Distressed Investing Conference at the Union League of Philadelphia.
Wayne, Boris, Ted and Joe Richman attended ABI’s VALCON in Las Vegas, in February. Ted and colleague Prof. Nancy Rapoport spoke on “Red Flags: When Your Valuation Expert’s Report Doesn’t Seem Right, What Are Your Options?”
Tim and Ted attended ABI’s Bankruptcy Battleground West in Los Angeles, in March.
Ted served as a panelist for a webinar hosted by Beard Group on March 4, in which he and the other panelists discussed the evolution of Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and how it pertains to the bankruptcy filing of the City of Detroit.
Joe Solmonese was selected as a speaker at this year’s TEDxNJIT, which took place April 3rd at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Joe discussed transformations in the 21st century workplace, and how the landscape for LGBT issues is changing and progressing.
EVENTS, CONFERENCES, SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS –
Where We’ll Be
Ted, Chuck, Amy, Judy, Jeremy and Christine will attend the IWIRC 11th Annual Spring Program and Presentation of Founders Awards in Washington, D.C., in April.
Wayne, Boris, Stan, Jeremy and Ted will attend the ABI Annual Spring Program in Washington, DC, also in April.
Ted and Joe Richman will attend the NYIC Credit & Bankruptcy Symposium in New York City, in May.
Wayne, Steve and Adam will attend the TMA Senate in Chicago, in May.