Craig Averch leads the Financial Restructuring and Insolvency Practice's Los Angeles-based team. His experience includes workouts and restructurings of problem loans and investments, as well as insolvencies, throughout the United States and Central and Eastern Europe. He counsels clients in a wide range of industries, including transportation, real estate, retail, textile, oil and gas, energy, banking and financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, high-tech and telecommunications. Mr. Averch regularly represents bondholders, bank groups, strategic and financial investors, miscellaneous creditor constituencies, sovereigns, and debtors in connection with bankruptcy and restructuring matters.
Mr. Averch also has a deep bench of litigation experience involving bankruptcy matters. Prior to joining White & Case, Mr. Averch acted as Senior Counsel for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an international financial institution located in the United Kingdom. He has published numerous articles on bankruptcy and bankruptcy-related issues.
Recent and noteworthy restructurings and bankruptcy representations include:
Otero County Hospital Association, Inc., the operator of a regional medical center in Alamogordo, New Mexico where Mr. Averch acted as lead counsel in its chapter 11 proceedings in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Mexico. Prior to commencing its chapter 11 case in August of 2011, the hospital was faced with approximately 50 separately filed personal injury lawsuits and untold more unasserted claims arising from a series of spinal procedures performed by two doctors at the hospital's medical center. According to the lawsuits, the doctors involved had made off-label use of an injectable resin compound—commonly known as Plexiglas—which caused injury to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs' aggregate damage demands exceeded $100 million—several multiples of available insurance. Through the chapter 11 plan the hospital consensually resolved the lawsuits and numerous additional related claims and regained access to the public municipal debt market. The hospital's plan became effective on September 19, 2012, with the closing of a $70 million municipal bond offering.
Freedom Communications Holdings chapter 11 case where Mr. Averch was lead bankruptcy counsel representing a certified class comprising approximately 2,500 plaintiffs whose claim against Freedom arose from a wage and hour suit in California State court. Having reached a nearly $30 million settlement with the certified class and their State court counsel, Freedom filed for bankruptcy protection for the express purpose of avoiding payment of the settlement. Under the terms of a pre-negotiated plan support agreement between the debtors and their secured lenders, the certified class and similarly situated general unsecured creditors were to receive $5 million. As Freedom's largest unsecured creditor, the Gonzalez Class, took the primary role in increasing recoveries to general unsecured creditors to $14.5 million plus the right to sue Freedom's former directors through a litigation trust (which resulted in an additional recovery of $15.5 million). Mr. Averch was also engaged to represent the litigation trust in the successful litigation against Freedom's former directors.
Texas Rangers Baseball Partners where White & Case represented a group headed by Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh sports attorney and investor Charles Greenberg in its successful bid to purchase the Texas Rangers through the Texas Rangers Baseball Partners' bankruptcy proceedings. The Greenberg/Ryan group submitted the high bid in an auction for the Rangers prior to the Texas Rangers' bankruptcy, but the secured lenders refused to consent to the sale. White & Case navigated the Greenberg/Ryan group through the bankruptcy process to consummate a sale of the Rangers to the Greenberg/Ryan group through an auction lasting more than 15 hours, with the winning bid topping US$591 million.
Natural Products Group, LLC and certain of its subsidiaries, including Arbonne International, LLC and Levlad, LLC, leaders in the manufacture and distribution of personal care products under the Arbonne and Nature's Gate brands, in connection with their restructuring of approximately US$746 million in debt pursuant to a prepackaged Chapter 11 plan of reorganization. Natural Products Group and its domestic subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions on 27 January 2010, confirmed their plan of reorganization less than a month later, on 22 February 2010 and closed the deal on 5 March 2010. Through the restructuring, the company reduced its debt obligations by more than 80 percent.
WCI Communities' successful emergence from Chapter 11 in late 2009, where White & Case served as lead counsel to the debtors. WCI was one of the largest home builders to seek Chapter 11 relief in the current downturn. This case involved the first settlement of Chinese drywall claimants by a large-scale homebuilder. In addition to confirming a plan of reorganization, WCI was able to secure DIP financing at a time when the credit markets were frozen. White & Case's innovative strategies and credibility with the stakeholders allowed WCI to emerge as a deleveraged lifestyle community developer and land-holding company with the flexibility to continue its business in these unprecedented times. WCI was the 14th largest US Chapter 11 case filing in 2008.
White & Case served as lead debtors' counsel for Mirant Corporation, one of the largest producers, generators and marketers of electricity in the world, in its successful Chapter 11 reorganization before the US Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas involving more than US$10 billion in debt—the largest bankruptcy filing in the United States in 2003 and one of the largest energy industry bankruptcies in US history.
White & Case acted as lead restructuring counsel to Corporación Durango, the largest paper and wood products company in Mexico, in its successful restructuring of nearly US$1 billion in debt pursuant to the Ley de Concursos Mercantiles in Mexico, and its simultaneous ancillary proceeding before the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Averch has also played prominent roles in numerous other large and complex cases, including National Gypsum Company (bond and trade); Texas American Bancshares (creditors' committee); Value-Added Communications (creditors' committee); Metroline Communications (creditors' committee); Consul Restaurant Corp. (creditors' committee); Sun World Industries (ad hoc bondholders); Southwest Petroservices (creditors' committee); Berryman Products (debtor); Mrs. Baird's Bakery (debtor); Lone Star Steel (debtor); Greyhound Lines (debtor); Zales Corporation (debtor); Sunrise Energy (debtor); Allied Physicians Group (debtor); Lillie Ruben Fashions (debtor); AmeriTruck (debtor); Town of Westlake, Texas (debtor—Chapter 9); and CompuAdd (trustee).
Other Court Admissions
- US District Courts for the Northern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas
- US District Court for the District of Maryland
- US District Courts for the Central and Southern Districts of California
- US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit