Top U.S. bankruptcy attorney Sprayregen departs Kirkland for Hilco

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 4:12 AM

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) – Jamie Sprayregen, one of the top U.S. bankruptcy lawyers, is leaving Kirkland & Ellis’s pre-eminent corporate restructuring practice for Hilco Global, a private financial advisory firm, Hilco said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sprayregen built Kirkland’s restructuring practice over three decades into the go-to firm for distressed companies, including casino operator Caesars, retailer Toy “R” Us, United Airlines and Energy Future Holdings, a Texas-based power company.

At Hilco Global, he will take on the role of vice chairman, advising the company’s founder and CEO, Jeffrey Hecktman.

Sprayregen is the firm’s second recent high-profile addition. Last year Hilco Global hired David Kurtz, a well-known investment banker, from Lazard. Kurtz is also a vice chairman.

Hilco Global often worked alongside Kirkland in major bankruptcy cases, including Toys “R” Us. The financial advisory firm employs around 900 people and provides a range of services from providing capital and valuing assets to disposing of store inventory and intellectual property.

The firm is helping bankrupt shared workspace company WeWork renegotiate leases, and redeveloping the 1,300-acre (527 hectares) site of a former refinery in Philadelphia, a project dubbed the Bellwether District.

Sprayregen, 64, parted ways once before with Kirkland, leaving in 2006 for a three-year stint at Goldman Sachs, before returning to the law firm.

Kirkland has helped lead a shift toward filing large corporate bankruptcies in Houston in recent years, away from the traditional venues in Delaware and Manhattan.

The firm lists more than 300 restructuring attorneys on its website. They charge up to $2,465 an hour for their work.

In January, the firm was named in a lawsuit for allegedly profiting from an undisclosed romantic relationship between the top Houston bankruptcy judge and a lawyer for a local law firm that often partnered with Kirkland, which denied the allegations.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Nia Williams)