The Bankruptcy Files: Brazil's Batista a Boon to Big Firms

, The Am Law Daily

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Eike Batista
Eike Batista

Mark Collins ($775 per hour), chair of the bankruptcy and corporate restructuring group at Delaware’s Richards, Layton & Finger, is serving as cocounsel to Fresh & Easy along with partner John Knight ($675). The firm has been paid a $200,000 retainer for its role in the case, according to court filings.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman is serving as special corporate counsel to Fresh & Easy through Los Angeles partner Christopher Patay, who has advised the company since March 2007. Pillsbury has been paid nearly $5.2 million by Fresh & Easy since that time, according to an affidavit by Patay, which notes that $2.5 million of that amount came in the year prior to the company’s bankruptcy case.

Court filings show that Pillsbury has received retainer payments totaling nearly $1 million in the 90 days prior to its Chapter 11 filing, and the firm currently holds a $330,000 evergreen retainer for its services. Pillsbury partners are billing the debtor between $590 and $1,155 per hour, as other lawyers from the firm charge hourly rates ranging from $360 to $925.

Bradford Sandler, cochair of the committee practice group at national bankruptcy boutique Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones, is advising an official committee of unsecured creditors in Fresh & Easy’s Chapter 11 case along with partner Jeffrey Pomerantz.

Mary Kasper serves as general counsel of Fresh & Easy, which was founded in 2006 as a Tesco subsidiary. Davis Polk global M&A cohead George “Gar” Bason Jr., restructuring head Donald Bernstein, and corporate partners John Butler and Marc Williamson are representing Tesco on the sale of Fresh & Easy to YFE Holdings, an affiliate of Burkle’s Yucaipa, which is being advised by restructuring partners Robert Klyman from Latham & Watkins and Sean Beach of Delaware’s Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor.

New York City Opera

Many of America’s orchestras have run into financial problems in recent years, and the latest bastion of the performing arts to slip into bankruptcy court is the New York City Opera, the so-called people’s opera that filed for Chapter 11 protection on October 3, blaming its demise on declining sales and a failed fundraising initiative.

Kenneth Rosen, head of the bankruptcy and financial reorganization group at Lowenstein Sandler, is advising the New York–based opera on its restructuring efforts. The firm is handling the assignment pro bono.

According to a list of the opera’s 20 largest unsecured creditors, the debtor owes $20,336 to Proskauer Rose in outstanding legal fees. The firm has long handled IP and labor and employment work for the opera, a nonprofit whose Form 990 filing with the IRS for its 2012 fiscal year shows $224,345 in fees being paid to Proskauer.

In 2011, the opera named former Shook, Hardy & Bacon partner and retired Philip Morris general counsel Charles Wall as its new chairman. The opera, whose endowment has dwindled to a mere $4.5 million, is prepared to close its doors and liquidate its operations after failing to find a white knight. The Metropolitan Opera will continue to serve theater-hungry Manhattanites.

North Texas Bancshares

Citing a bevy of bad commercial real estate loans and declining natural gas prices, North Texas Bancshares, the holding company for Park Cities Bank, filed for bankruptcy in Delaware on October 16. Formed in 2000, the Dallas-based bank has more than $396 million in deposits as it prepares for a sale to an investor group led by Texas tycoon Darwin Deason, according to The Dallas Morning News.

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