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The Bankruptcy Files: Hunton in for Atari, as Other Am Law Firms Get Boost from Overseas Assignments
The Am Law Daily
UPDATE: 1/31/13, 2:25 p.m. EST. Information on Allen & Overy's representation of Atari's French parent company has been added to the 11th paragraph of this story.
Atari Interactive, the seemingly ancient maker of classic video games made famous by Generation X like Asteroids, Pac-Man, Piftall!, and Space Invaders, filed for bankruptcy in New York on Monday as part of an effort to separate from its struggling French parent company.
But while Atari has fallen on hard times in recent years, overseas bankruptcy filings by several other companies have yielded roles for Am Law 100 firms like Morrison & Foerster and SNR Denton.
Entering administrationthe U.K. equivalent of bankruptcythis month were troubled retailers HMV Group and Blockbuster Entertainment, the London-based unit of U.S. video store chain Blockbuster. Another British electronics retailer, Comet Group, finally closed its doors this month after slipping into administration last November.
Bingham McCutchen, Mayer Brown, and SNR Denton were among a foursome of firms reaping more than $150,000 in fees from the collapse of Comet, according to U.K. publication The Lawyer. SNR Denton, which is in the process of changing its name to Dentons after completing a three-way merger with Canadian shop Fraser Milner Casgrain and pan-European firm Salans, has also landed the role advising global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is managing the bankruptcy of leading British camera retailer Jessops, according to U.K. publication Legal Week.
As for Salans, The Lawyer notes that the firm is advising private equity shop Hilco Consumer Capital, which has reportedly bought up the debt of HMV, whose administration has made headlines across the pond. MoFo is advising a group of creditors for the Maidenhead, Englandbased music and DVD retailer, while Magic Circle firm Linklaters is representing administrators from Deloitte as well as lenders, according to The Lawyer.
The Am Law Daily reported two years ago on Linklaters's role advising satellite broadcaster Dish Network which Bloomberg Businessweek has dubbed the meanest company in Americaon its $320 million purchase of Blockbuster, which took it out of bankruptcy in the United States. This week, Dish-owned Blockbuster announced that it would close 300 stores and cut 3,000 jobs in the U.S., a week after its U.K. arm entered administration.
Linklaters is advising Blockbuster's U.S. parent on the bankruptcy proceedings of Blockbuster Entertainment in Britain, while CMS Cameron McKenna has been retained to advise the company itself and administrators from global accounting firm Deloitte, according to Legal Week.
Back in France, where Atari's parent began bankruptcy proceedings of its own this week, music retailer Virgin France filed for insolvency last week in a Parisian commercial court. Olivier Puech, a restructuring partner at Bredin Prat who recently joined the French firm from local rival Gide Loyrette Nouel, has been retained to advise Virgin France, according to The Lawyer. (Paris-based private equity firm Butler Capital Partners owns Virgin France.)
Below are some of the latest noteworthy business bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and their lawyers of note.
Atari's North American unit has filed for bankruptcy in Manhattan and Paris in order to extricate itself from French parent Atari S.A. Atari Interactive, which recently lost a line of credit with primary lender and sole shareholder BlueBay Asset Management, lists assets of up to $10 million against debts ranging from $10 million to $50 million.
Peter Partee Sr., a corporate restructuring partner at Hunton & Williams in New York, is advising the New Yorkbased Atari subsidiary on its Chapter 11 filing in the U.S. Ken Coleman, head of the U.S. restructuring group at Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy in New York, is advising Atari's French parent with respect to the company's U.S. liabilities and the restructuring of its North American subsidiaries.
According to a list of Atari's 30 largest unsecured creditors, the company owes $127,505 to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and $102,915 to Dorsey & Whitney for legal services. Kristen Keller has been Atari's general counsel since 2003. Alan Behr, a partner at Phillips Nizer in New York, served as Atari's top in-house lawyer until 2001, when the company and parent Hasbro were sold to French software company Infogrames Entertainment, which eventually adopted the Atari name.
Former Sullivan & Cromwell associate Franck Dangeard has served as independent chairman of Atari's board since 2009, while Eugene Davis, a former partner at now-defunct Arter & Hadden, is a representative on the company's board from London-based asset manager BlueBay. Davis joined Atari in 2007 when the company appointed several restructuring and turnaround specialists to its board. While Atari has had some success in recent years repurposing its older games, the Los Angeles Times reports that the company remains mired in debt.
Education Holdings 1 Inc.
Framingham, Massachusetts-based Education Holdings 1 Inc., the former parent of The Princeton Review's test preparation business, filed for bankruptcy in Delaware on Monday. The debtor, which lists assets and liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million, sold The Princeton Review name and brand last year to Boston-based private equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners for $33 million in cash.
Gregg Galardi, cochair of the restructuring practice at DLA Piper, is advising Education Holdings along with restructuring partners Stuart Brown and Matthew Murphy. DLA has not yet filed billing statements with the bankruptcy court. (Brown serves as managing partner of DLA's Wilmington office, while Galardi joined the firm in 2011 from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.)
According to a list of the debtor's 15 largest unsecured creditors, Education Holdings owes $65,000 to Goodwin Procter and $6,376 to Skadden. Kyle Bettigole served as general counsel for The Princeton Review prior to its sale to Charlesbank. Neal Winneg preceded Bettigole as the test provider's top in-house lawyer. The Princeton Review is not affiliated with the university of the same name.
After a long decline, Penson Worldwide, once a major clearer of securities for U.S. brokerages, filed for Chapter 11 protection in Delaware on January 11. Plano, Texasbased Penson, which lists assets and debts of between $100 million to $500 million, eventually plans to liquidate its assets in bankruptcy.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison corporate reorganization partner Andrew Rosenberg is leading a team from the firm serving as lead bankruptcy counsel to Penson. Pauline Morgan, chair of the bankruptcy and corporate restructuring section at Delaware's Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, is serving as local counsel to the debtor. Neither firm has yet filed billing statements with the bankruptcy court.
Andrew Koslow resigned as general counsel of Penson last August and the company announced that it had no plans to fill the role. Koslow, who served as Penson's top in-house lawyer for a decade, is now chief administrative officer at financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, according to a profile on LinkedIn, a social networking site for professionals.
According to a list of Penson's 30 largest unsecured creditors, the debtor owes $127,790 to Drinker Biddle & Reath for legal services.