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Richard G Mason
Office:
51 West 52nd Street
10019
City:
New York
State:
New York
Country:
USA
Tel:
+1 212 403 1252
Fax:
+1 212 403 2252

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Restructuring & Insolvency

Ricky Mason has been a partner in the restructuring and finance department of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz for over 20 years. A graduate of New York University School of Law, Ricky has taught insolvency law subjects at institutions around the world. He is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy and a conferee of the National Bankruptcy Conference. Ricky is a Distinguished Eagle Scout and the volunteer president of the Boy Scouts of America’s Greater New York Councils.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALISE IN RESTRUCTURING AND INSOLVENCY? 

I was attracted to restructuring because it requires not only a comprehensive understanding of the law, but also an ability to dive deeply into the business issues of a troubled company.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE CURRENTLY FACING PRACTITIONERS IN THE US? 

The overall high leverage for US companies will be a challenge once interest rates start to rise. This means that bankruptcy filings will increase, possibly at a time when seasoned practitioners are beginning to retire. Of course, market prognosticators have wrongly predicted rising rates for several years now.

ARE THERE ANY SECTORS WHICH HAVE SHOWN STRUCTURAL WEAKNESSES, LEADING TO MORE RESTRUCTURINGS OVER THE LAST 12 MONTHS? 

In the first few months of the year, many retailers filed for chapter 11. The trend will likely continue as the holiday season approaches.

WITH INTEREST RATES REMAINING LOW, MANY DISTRESSED COMPANIES HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ENSURE THEIR SURVIVAL IN AN INCREASINGLY TURBULENT MARKET. WHAT IMPACT HAS THIS HAD ON YOUR PRACTICE? 

As a result of low interest rates, the pace of traditional chapter 11 filings has fallen. However, there are still many companies that are trying to work their way out of complex and highly levered capital structures; this plays into the finance-focused strengths of my firm.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL ISSUES FOR THE RESTRUCTURING OF PUERTO RICO’S PUBLIC DEBT AND HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO PROBLEMS WITH DEBT IN OTHER US TERRITORIES? 

The biggest question is: how will the federal Oversight Board use its power to balance the competing interests of the Commonwealth and its creditors? So far, the balance seems to be tilted in favour of the Commonwealth and against the creditors. If that continues, then the financial markets might well penalise other troubled US jurisdictions accordingly.

HOW DOES THE SITUATION IN PUERTO RICO COMPARE WITH THE SITUATION IN GREECE? 

Greece received funding from the IMF and Europe. In Puerto Rico, there appears to be no US government bailout in the offing. Instead, although the case is at an early stage and the Commonwealth is undertaking some reforms, the Oversight Board has made it clear that it intends to have the creditors bear the brunt of the restructuring.

WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE BANKRUPTCY CASE YOU HAVE WORKED ON? 

My most exciting case was the sale of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team many years ago. The principal owner was in a chapter 11 for unrelated reasons; he emerged successfully after his equity in the team (which was quite healthy) was sold in a bankruptcy auction for a then-record price. Growing up just to the south in Virginia, I was a rabid childhood fan of the Orioles; its players were my heroes. To work on a matter involving the Orioles as an adult, was like a dream come true.

HOW DO YOU AIM TO DEVELOP YOUR PRACTICE IN THE FUTURE? 

I hope to continue working on high-level and interesting restructurings, with the great team that we have at my firm. As the situations become even more complex, I believe that clients will continue to value experience and good judgement.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Restructuring & Insolvency

Richard G Mason has been a partner in the restructuring and finance department of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz for over 20 years.

Mr Mason has had leading roles in many of the largest and most complex bankruptcies and out-of-court restructurings during that time, including Energy Future Holdings, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), Hawker Beechcraft, Kerzner International, FairPoint Communications, Masonite, Spectrum Brands and Delphi Corporation. He represents bank and bondholder groups, acquirers, distressed investors, boards of directors, private equity sponsors and other significant creditors and shareholders in domestic and international matters.

Mr Mason is a co-author of Collier’s Bankruptcy Practice Guide. He speaks on insolvency subjects at prominent institutions around the world. These include the American Bankruptcy Institute/New York University School of Law bankruptcy and business reorganisation workshop, Columbia University Business School, the Canadian Institute, LUISS Guido Carli, the Israeli Ministry of Justice and the Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance (Dubai). Previously, he was a co-chair of the secured transactions and insolvency committee of the ABA section of international law.

Mr Mason is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers identifies him as one of the leading restructuring lawyers in the United States. K&A Restructuring Register lists him as one of America’s top restructuring advisers.

Mr Mason graduated magna cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983 with a BS in Economics. He was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor fraternity while at VCU. Mr Mason received a JD cum laude from New York University in 1987. At NYU, he became a member of the Order of the Coif and was on the staff of the Annual Survey of American Law.

Mr Mason is an active volunteer for several non-profit organisations. He is a co-chair of the bankruptcy and reorganisation group of the UJA-Federation of New York's lawyers division, and a member of the New Leadership Network of the American Israel public affairs committee. An Eagle Scout, he is an executive committee member of the board of trustees of the Boy Scouts of America's Greater New York Councils. In 2012 he received the Silver Beaver Award for his leadership on behalf of over 40,000 Scouts and Explorers in New York City. 

Together with his wife Beth and their two children, Mr Mason founded the Mason Civic League, a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to providing educational, art and civic support in Hoboken, New Jersey and beyond.

WWL says: Richard Mason receives widespread praise from peers and clients alike for his superlative restructuring practice.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Restructuring & Insolvency which can be purchased from our Shop.

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