WorldCom pleads with US courts for extra law firms

Weil Gotshal to be joined by a host of extra US firms as bankrupt telecoms giant fights for rebirth

Bankrupt telecommunications giant WorldCom has mounted a plea to the US courts to have five more law firms help it out of bankruptcy. Weil Gotshal & Manges is currently advising the telecoms company on its bankruptcy case, but WorldCom has requested a raft of other advisers.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Piper Rudnick have been called upon to act on litigation matters for WorldCom; the company has asked for Wilmer Cutler & Pickering to check accounting review issues; it wants to sign up Chicago firm Jenner & Block to handle regulatory matters, including dealing with the Federal Communications Commission; and it has also requested the services of Washington DC lobbying firm Patton Boggs for legislative advice.
Also feasting at the WorldCom banqueting table is Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which has won work from a committee of WorldCom's largest institutional bondholders.
The creditors group holds a considerable portion of the telecoms company's £19.6bn bond debt. The bondholders group comprises institutional investors such as AIG Global Investment Group, Cerberus Capital Management, Fidelity Investments, Franklin Templeton Investments, Metropolitan Life Insurance and Putnam Investments.
Shearman & Sterling has already scooped a lead role acting for the bankrupt company's main creditors – JPMorgan, Citigroup and GE Capital. Many West Coast firms are anticipating roles acting for other, smaller creditors.
WorldCom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 21 July after revealing last month that it had improperly hidden more than $3.8bn (£2.4bn) in expenses. The company has publicly announced that it expects to emerge from bankruptcy within a year.
Meanwhile, Weil Gotshal is also working on the other two high-profile restructurings of the year – Enron and Global Crossing. The firm is advising Enron on what was the largest bankruptcy in the US until WorldCom filed for Chapter 11. It is also advising telecoms company Global Crossing on its bankruptcy. Weil Gotshal has so far requested £17m in Enron-related fees and expenses.
Weil Gotshal has around 56 partners and counsel in its restructuring and bankruptcy group, but has just lost its head of bankruptcy Harvey Miller, who resigned to join investment firm Greenhill & Co earlier this month. Miller was largely credited with building up Weil Gotshal's successful bankruptcy and restructuring practice.