White & Case has hired a pair of Ropes & Gray partners, including co-chair of the firm’s restructuring practice, Keith Wofford, continuing recent efforts to increase its bankruptcy firepower through side pickups of rivals.
Former New York State Attorney General candidate Wofford, who also served as managing partner of Ropes & Gray’s New York office, and Stephen Moeller-Sally will join the growing global practice of financial restructuring and l insolvency of the firm.
In October, the company hired a trio of partners of Sidley Austin, including co-directors of his bankruptcy practice, Jessica Boelter and Bojan Guzina. He also hired trial attorney Michael Andolina, deputy group leader of Sidley’s Chicago litigation group and selected up Sidley bankruptcy partner Andrew O’Neill and Chicago partner Matthew Linder.
New York-based Wofford and Boston-based Moeller-Sally are primarily lawyers on the creditors’ side, representing asset managers and investment funds, a key focus as companies seek protection from creditors. bankruptcies following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Practice on the creditors’ side has been a big part of White & Case’s reputation in the restructuring business, Wofford said. The firm wants to add high-level strength to this practice because of what is happening in the larger market, he added, but also to take advantage of the synergy that occurs when you both have a strong creditor and debtor practice. The company is representing Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. in its Chapter 11 restructuring.
“Our expectation is that we will continue to build White & Case’s restructuring department to be the premier platform,” said Wofford. “We have a number of good competitors, but we are focused on growth and execution and doing the best for our customers,” he said.
Wofford was a Republican candidate for the New York State Attorney General in 2018 and lost to Letitia James. During this campaign, he reported between $ 4.35 million and $ 4.45 million in 2017 in income from his position at Ropes & Gray, according to ethics declarations obtained by the City and the State.
Wofford works primarily with investment funds, specializing in distressed debt and potential buyers of distressed business assets. He has also worked on creditor litigation, credit offer transactions and other acquisitions of corporate control through debt positions.
His clients have included Elliott Management Corp. on restructuring issues related to a $ 1.62 billion equity investment in FirstEnergy as well as its position as the largest unsecured creditor in the Chapter 11 business of Energy Future Intermediate Holding Company. He also represented an ad hoc group of unsecured noteholders on GenOn Energy Inc. and GenOn Americas Generation, LLC.
Moeller-Sally’s work includes Chapter 11 cases, cross-border insolvencies, distressed sales and acquisitions, and insolvency-related litigation.
He has represented financial sponsors including Apax Partners, Bain Capital, Charlesbank Capital Partners, TPG Capital and TSG Consumer Partners and their holding companies in bankruptcy and insolvency matters. He has also worked with creditors and creditors groups, such as Reebok Ltd. and adidas AG in the Chapter 11 business of The Rockport Company.
Customers based overseas are increasingly coming to the United States to do full reorganizations, Moeller-Sally said. And he expects this trend to intensify and accelerate in the years to come, so being at an international firm like White & Case “is a great place to profit from it.”
Ropes & Gray has also strengthened its ranks on restructuring in recent weeks, bringing in former Weil Gotshal & Manges partner Ryan Dahl in Chicago and New York, and Kirkland & Ellis partner for special situations. Samuel Norris in London last week.
Despite the pandemic, White & Case has focused on its strategic expansion objectives.
Earlier this year, the firm added a group of four lawyers from Winston & Strawn who specialize in the now popular Special Buy Acquisition Companies, or PSPCs. The firm has also recruited former National Testing Practice Co-Chair at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Tara Lee and former Holland & Knight M&A Partner, Germaine Gurr.