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Most innovative US law firms: Finance law 2012

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Weil, Gotshal & MangesStandoutLehman Brothers and Washington Mutual bankruptcies78924In early 2012, both companies exited bankruptcy and made distributions worth tens of billions of dollars to creditors. Experience, expertise and new solutions were crucial to achieving consensual resolutions to the largest and most complex insolvency cases in history.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & HamiltonStandoutAdvising Greece on its private sector debt restructuring97723After conceiving the idea of using retroactive collective action clauses to restructure sovereign debt in 2010, the firm used it in 2012 on Greece's €206bn private sector debt.
Simpson Thacher & BartlettStandoutSolving the liquidity problem for private equity investors88723A unique programme to match investors with secondary buyers for private equity group Carlyle's buyout funds. The approach can be repeated.
Morrison & FoersterStandoutFirst public offer of covered bonds in the US78722The firm secured the regulatory approvals needed to allow Royal Bank of Canada to access a broader range of investors through a public offering. The work has transformed the market, providing new options for foreign issuers and US investors.
White & CaseStandoutAdvising Anchorage Capital on the Zais restructuring77822The involuntary pre-packaged bankruptcy case was the first use of Chapter 11 to unwind a collateralised debt obligation. It creates a precedent for distressed CDOs to be reorganised in bankruptcy.
Jones DayHighly commendedGeneral Motors pension risk transfer agreement with Prudential Insurance67821Borrowing from traditional mergers and acquisitions to develop a new model for pension de-risking transactions. The transfer eliminated $25bn in liabilities from General Motors' balance sheet in the largest ever US pensions transfer.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & GarrisonHighly commendedRe-emergence of non-traditional asset-backed-securities77721Acting for Barclays Bank, the firm achieved the $1.7bn securitisation of Domino's Pizza, which has since become the market benchmark. In addition, its securitisation of Miramax's film library creates a new template for future intellectual property asset transactions.
Cadwalader, Wickersham & TaftHighly commendedContesting US energy company Dynegy's aggressive restructuring plan68620Bankruptcy litigation efforts succeeded in recovering millions for Dynegy's debt holders. Legal challenges and a motion to appoint an independent examiner helped force the company to abandon an unfavourable plan.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & HamiltonHighly commendedRestructuring Cemex, the Mexican cement company67720Advising a group of eight lenders, the firm designed a structure to refinance $7bn debt held in the Mexican cement company. It included a unique exchange offer to balance creditor interests and meet the requirements of several legal systems.
Paul HastingsHighly commendedThe first successful offering of a real estate investment trust in Latin America66820Advising the underwriters, the firm worked with government and tax authorities to enable the $700m listing of Mexican company Fibra Uno's Reit. Its success is a landmark in Latin American economic development.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & GarrisonHighly commendedAn out-of-court victory for Dynegy bondholders67720A complaint filed by the firm with the Supreme Court of New York changed the course of events during Dynegy's bankruptcy protection. Avoiding litigation, the firm negotiated terms that ultimately gave to bondholders 99 per cent of stock in the new company.
Arnold & PorterCommendedApproval for Banco do Brasil to own a US bank67619Acting with commercial and political sensitivity, the firm achieved first-of-a-kind regulatory approvals for its client to buy a distressed Florida-based bank.
Davis Polk & WardwellCommendedApproval for Green Dot's acquisition of Bonneville Bancorp66719Overcame a series of challenges to win approval for the first acquisition of a bank by a prepaid debit card company. It sets an important precedent for businesses looking to reduce dependence on third-party banks.
Freshfields Bruckhaus DeringerCommendedA new model for microfinance entities to raise equity capital67619Advising Finca International, the non-profit company, on a pro bono basis, the firm developed the structure for a pioneering, socially responsible investment partnership.
DLA PiperCommendedA new project finance structure to modernise health in Peru56718The public-private partnership is the first Peruvian public health infrastructure project to be financed through the capital markets. Lawyers developed a structure that provides a high level of security for investors and lays the groundwork for future projects.
Hogan LovellsCommendedFinancing new drill ships for Petrobras66618Representing the underwriters, the firm advised on the $750m notes issuance to fund the construction of the Sertão drill ship in Brazil. It was the first to gain investment-grade ratings from the three big ratings agencies.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & FlomCommendedA secure debtor in possession (DIP) facility for Barclays Bank57618By structuring complex safeguards, the firm protected its client and other lenders and gave them the confidence to invest. The loans enabled Residential Capital to continue operations and avoid a costly fire sale.
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