Paul Kruger has been licensed to practice law in Hong Kong, England, New Zealand and, most recently, New York. A whirlwind career in the securitization market that kicked off in Hong Kong in the 1990s has now brought the native New Zealander to Katten Muchin Rosenman.
In a move involving two top firms in the securitization market, Kruger joined Katten’s New York office last month from Sidley Austin, where he had been practicing in the Big Apple for about three years. He got his start as an associate at Clifford Chance, which in 1992 sent him from his home country to Hong Kong to develop a structured finance practice.
“I moved to Hong Kong thinking I’d spend a couple years there and head back to New Zealand,” Kruger said. “But then I woke up a few years later and realized I probably wasn’t going back.”
After making partner at Clifford Chance in 1997 and earning a reputation as one of Asia’s most prominent securitization lawyers, Kruger moved to fellow London-based legal giant Linklaters in 2005, shortly after its chaotic combination with Tokyo’s Mitsui, Yasuda, Wani & Maeda.
Linklaters then asked the world traveler to move to Abu Dhabi, where he would open a finance practice that catered to sovereign wealth funds. About three years ago Kruger moved to New York; passed the New York bar—“I wouldn’t wish that on anybody,” he joked—and joined Sidley Austin.
Kruger has led more than 100 transactions in Asia, Europe and the United States since the early 1990s. He said his practice has become more domestic in the years he has practiced from New York.
On that front, he moves between two hotly competitive practices in the U.S. asset-backed securities (ABS) market. Last year, Katten worked on the second-most deals representing issuers of ABS (58), according to Asset-Backed Alert, an industry publication that tracks such deals. Sidley Austin ranked fourth on that measure, working on 29 transactions.
Sidley Austin, though, also has one of the most active practices representing underwriters in ABS and mortgage-backed securities deals. The firm handled 74 deals for underwriters; good for second-most in a ranking that Katten does not appear on.
“Katten came along and I looked at the place here and thought, ‘What a fantastic group of people,’” Kruger said. “Very collegiate, and a great structured finance practice with all the other things you need for that practice, like tax [lawyers]. And so far, after two weeks, it has been a fantastic decision.”
Kruger said his practice has more recently involved a lot of work on supply chain financings and securitizations. Those deals allow corporations to sell their accounts receivable for a quicker payout. Kruger said it is a market in flux, as private equity firms have grown interested in those assets and fintech companies have begun to manage receivables for corporations.
“My practice is very much dominated by those kinds of transactions—helping private equity buy and sell assets [and] straight securitizations,” Kruger said. “It’s a broad-based practice.”
Abroad-based, perhaps, for the well-traveled Kruger, who represents the latest lateral addition by Katten so far this year.
In March, the firm hired bankruptcy partner Steven Reisman from Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle to head its restructuring practice in New York. That move came on the heels of Katten hires from Alston & Bird in New York and Andrews Kurth in Dallas, where the firm opened an office in February.
Katten did recently see Eric Kuwana, the former co-chair of its securities litigation and enforcement practice, decamp for Cooley in Washington, D.C.