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Brushing Up on Their Italian If 2002 was the year of the megabankruptcy, then 2003 was the year of the big-ticket reemergence. After all, corporate America’s leaky ships had to start venturing out of their Chapter 11 safe harbors sometime. The year’s noteworthy reemergences included those of Conseco, Inc., and NRG Energy, Inc., both of which were Kirkland & Ellis clients, and Kmart Corporation and US Airways Group, Inc., a pair of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom clients. In addition, Weil, Gotshal & Manges client WorldCom, Inc., obtained approval for its reorganization plan and is scheduled to come out of Chapter 11 as MCI, Inc., later this year. WorldCom’s bankruptcy had been history’s largest, as measured by total prebankruptcy assets. That’s not to say that there were no new U.S. filings in 2003. The year’s largest was that of Mirant Corporation, an Atlanta-based energy company with total prebankruptcy assets of $19.4 billion. (WorldCom’s prebankruptcy assets, by comparison, were $103.9 billion.) Despite the absence of such headline-grabbing filings as WorldCom’s, there was plenty of bankruptcy work last year, says Richard Cieri, head of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s business restructuring and reorganization practice. Especially susceptible, Cieri says, were companies in the energy industry and those with such “legacy liabilities” as environmental claims and big pension liabilities. “I’m expecting more of the same for 2004,” he adds. As 2003 ended, all eyes were on Italy, where the flameout of food and diary giant Parmalat SpA has set the stage for a complicated series of international filings. By March the Parmalat proceedings had attracted such U.S. firms as Bingham McCutchen; Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Debevoise & Plimpton; Skadden; and Weil, Gotshal. Bingham McCutchen’s Evan Flaschen, who represents Parmalat’s largest global bondholders group, says he’s excited about the case. “This isn’t just an Italian bankruptcy, it’s a global bankruptcy-their Enron, but bigger,” he says. “It’s a national scandal there, and that’s in Italy, where they have scandals all the time.” So for now, at least, it’s good-bye, Wilmington; ciao, Milan. • Jim Schroeder <table width=”943″ border=”0″ cellspacing=”2″ cellpadding=”0″

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