Experienced bankruptcy lawyer Ken Epstein – formerly with MBIA and Cadwalader – joins as an investment manager to lead bankruptcy funding; Christopher Young – previously with RBS – joins as Corporate Counsel to work with U.S. and global legal and investment teams
Leading commercial litigation funder Bentham IMF is launching a new bankruptcy litigation funding platform to help debtors, creditors and other stakeholders involved in commercial disputes. The initiative will be led by New York bankruptcy lawyer Ken Epstein, who joins the company as an investment manager and legal counsel. Mr. Epstein was formerly a managing director in the restructuring group at MBIA, a financial guarantor. He started his career in the financial restructuring group at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.
At the same time, Bentham announced the appointment of experienced in-house corporate and financial services lawyer Christopher Young as Corporate Counsel, helping structure and negotiate the company’s growing portfolio of investments.
With its new platform, Bentham will provide non-recourse funding to debtors-in-possession, creditors and official committees, chapter 11 trustees and post-confirmation estates. Funding proceeds can be used by individual litigants to defray the cost of expensive and lengthy litigation, or to hedge against an adverse judgment or appeal ruling. For undercapitalized trust estates, money can be made available immediately for distribution to creditors, to meet administrative and operating costs of professionals, or for costly pre-litigation or pre-confirmation claims analyses.
“While we’ve funded bankruptcy-related matters before at Bentham, we felt an opportunity existed to create a focused unit to cover the broader waterfront of corporate insolvencies and financial restructurings ,” said Allison Chock, Bentham’s U.S. Chief Investment Officer. “Today’s bankruptcy matters are among the most complex and expensive to litigate due to the multitude of claims, the time to resolution and the number of competing interests involved. And they’re frequently the source of contentious litigation, which can be burdensome for bankruptcy estates and litigation trusts to carry. Bentham has substantial capital to commit to assist claimants and counsel in maximizing the value of potential recoveries in bankruptcy cases.”
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Bentham also provides funding to law firms that take matters on contingency, an arrangement increasingly popular among clients and generally accepted by bankruptcy judges. Law firm funding helps provide clients with access to high-quality counsel and trial experts. Lawyers taking cases on contingency can share their fee risk with Bentham, positioning them to win more engagements and increase financial returns.
“Bentham is one of the world’s premier commercial litigation funders,” Mr. Epstein said. “I’m excited to help launch and lead this new platform, which should attract great interest in the bankruptcy community as an important source of capital for debtors and creditors alike, as well as trustees, estate representatives and their law firms. It’s all about maximizing the value of the bankruptcy estate, and leveling the playing field in litigation against well-heeled defendants.”
Mr. Epstein has extensive debtor and creditor-side restructuring experience across multiple industries both in the U.S. and abroad. A graduate of Brooklyn Law School, he has taught bankruptcy law at Cardozo Law School, advised and served on distressed company boards, authored numerous articles and spoken on panels about bankruptcy-related topics. He is also certified as an insolvency and restructuring advisor by the AIRA.
The new bankruptcy offering adds a key target for funding as Bentham continues to broaden its U.S. presence. Earlier this year, its parent company IMF Bentham Limited, one of the world’s oldest and most successful commercial litigation funders, launched a $200 million vehicle expressly to finance its growing portfolio of U.S. cases and investments. More recently, the Company launched A$150 million of additional investment vehicles to fund investments in Australia, Asia, Canada and Europe.
Charlie Gollow, Bentham’s U.S. Chief Executive said, “We think this is an excellent time to devote more resources and capital to restructurings. Despite the health of the U.S. economy, there are stresses in numerous sectors from retail and energy to healthcare and technology. We’ve fielded frequent opportunities in the past several years to fund law firms and claimants involved in insolvency disputes – with the addition of Ken Epstein and a dedicated platform, we expect to see bankruptcy matters become a more prominent part of our U.S. portfolio. At the same time, we welcome new corporate counsel Chris Young to help serve our in-house legal needs as we continue to grow our American business.”
Background on Christopher Young
In his new role as Corporate Counsel, Christopher Young will advise and represent Bentham’s investment team in the U.S. as well as IMF’s international staff on U.S. corporate legal issues. He is a seasoned corporate and commercial lawyer with experience handling investment contracts, distressed loan and bankruptcy claim trades, leveraged credit facilities and corporate restructurings. He also has experience on employment matters and strategic initiatives.
He previously spent over five years as Vice President and Counsel with Royal Bank of Scotland, where he advised RBS’ U.S. Financing & Risk Solutions and UK Commercial & Private Banking franchises, while covering general U.S. corporate matters. Before joining RBS, he held positions an associate at the firms of Andrews Kurth LLP and Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP. A graduate of Yale University, Mr. Young earned his JD from Cardozo Law School and received an LLM in Taxation from New York University.