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Saybrook punches above its weight in corporate restructuring

Distressed companies and their creditors look to advisory boutique to "bring calm to apparent cataclysms".

Saybrook is not a bulge-bracket bank, it's not even based on Wall Street, although it has an office in New York. Yet the financial advisory and capital management boutique based in Santa Monica has worked on five of the largest bankruptcies in history, including those of Pacific Gas & Electric, United Airlines and Kmart. The firm has just been appointed lead banker to the ad hoc creditors committee of Delta Airlines, which announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection in mid-September, at exactly the same time that Northwest Airlines made the same move.

"I thought Northwest would also file for bankruptcy, but I didn't think they'd pick the same day," says Jonathan Rosenthal, partner and head of Saybrook's restructuring business. "Actually I think they will be closely related transactions, although they will take two or three years to process. In the meantime, I guess this means I might miss a few football games."

Saybrook, which has about 60 employees, takes on assignments advising management boards, the debtors or the creditors, including bondholders. "When we get a big deal, it's usually for creditors," says Rosenthal. "Firms such as Lazard or Rothschild will usually have relationships with corporate boards, whereas we tend to have relationships with the vendors, bondholders and banks."

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