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February 25, 2010 2:28 PM

Paul Weiss, Akin Gump Handling Houghton Mifflin's Debt Restructuring

Posted by Brian Baxter

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the Boston-based publisher of educational materials, announced earlier this week that it had secured $650 million from new institutional investors. The deal will help HMH's parent, New York-based holding company Education Media & Publishing Group, restructure $4 billion of its $7 billion in debt.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison bankruptcy and reorganization chair Alan Kornberg and deputy chair Jeffrey Saferstein led a team from the firm advising Houghton Mifflin on the restructuring. (Kornberg and Saferstein did not immediately respond to requests for comment.)

The Wall Street Journal reports that as part of the new capital being injected into the company, senior lenders will convert more than $2 billion--or 60 percent--of their senior secured debt to equity. Another $2.1 billion in mezzanine-level secured debt will be exchanged for equity and warrants, the WSJ reports, noting that original equity investors in EPMG will be wiped out.

HMH acquired the Harcourt education unit of London-based publishing giant Reed Elsevier in July 2007 for $4 billion in cash and stock. (Weil, Gotshal & Manges advised HMH on that deal; a former partner at the firm, Jeremy Dickens, stepped down as president of parent company EMPG last year after it restructured $2.5 billion of its $7 billion debt load.)

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld financial restructuring partner Lisa Beckerman and corporate partners Adam Weinstein and Brian Kim led a team from the firm advising lenders on the agreement with HMH. Financial restructuring partner Michael Stamer, corporate partner Gemma Descoteaux, tax partners Rolf Zaiss, Howard Jacobson, and Scott Racine, antitrust partners Paul Hewitt and Anthony Swisher, labor and employment partner Richard Rabin, litigation partner David Jones, and environmental partner David Quigley also advised lenders on the deal.

The transaction is expected to close in early March.

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