Ben Finestone is ranked as a leading New York Bankruptcy/ Restructuring individual by Chambers USA (2013-2020), a “Recommended Lawyer” by Legal 500, a “Super Lawyer” by New York Metro Super Lawyers (2013-2020), was one of 12 attorneys nationwide named as one of Turnarounds & Workouts’ “Outstanding Young Restructuring Lawyers” in 2011, and has received Turnaround Awards by the M&A Advisor in 2013 and 2018. Currently, Ben serves as the co-president of the Federal Bar Council-Bankruptcy Litigation Committee, a committee dedicated to encouraging respectful, cordial relations between the bench and bar.
Ben is able to see the field from all angles, representing creditor groups, such as in iHeartMedia, GenOn, Berry Petroleum Co., Essar Steel and Algoma, and Momentive Performance, debtors, such as Amplify Energy, OAS, Washington Mutual, The Colonial BancGroup, and Solutia, bankruptcy trustees, such as in Physiotherapy, CEVA Investments, and Petters Company, activist creditors, such as in EXCO Resources, Ultra Petroleum and Payless Shoes, and statutory committees, such as in Radioshack, NewPage, SemGroup, and Sentinel Management Group.
In Chambers, clients stated: “he's phenomenal. Everyone is taken aback at how good he is." Ben is described as “extremely commercial,” possessing a “deft grasp of legal nuance along with a business person’s commercial instinct” and a “unique capacity to distill issues quickly to their core in a way that really enables us to make thoughtful, informed, strategic decisions.” When his clients' interests are threatened, however, Ben is “fearless and thoughtful”, described as "one of the smartest bankruptcy litigators in the business."
Prior to practicing law, Ben was a Certified Public Accountant and was a NASD Registered Representative in equity trading.
- Obtaining precedential ruling authorizing Ultra Resources to reject FERC-regulated, inter-state firm transportation pipeline contract and that rejection will not harm the public interest or decrease the supply of natural gas. See In re Ultra Petroleum Corp., 2020 Bankr. LEXIS 2249 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. Aug. 21, 2020).
- Obtaining ruling, affirmed twice on appeal, that claim for “deemed dividends” was subject to mandatory subordination under section 510(b) of the Bankruptcy Code and entitled to no distribution. In re LINN Energy, LLC, 936 F.3d 334 (5th Cir. Sep. 3, 2019).
- Successfully objecting to confirmation of chapter 11 plan which provided for the transfer of mortgage servicing rights “free and clear” of claims and certain defenses of consumer borrowers, with Court holding that the best interests of consumer borrower creditors was not met. See In re Ditech Holding Corp., Case No. 19-10412 (JLG) (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Aug. 28, 2019).
- Winning summary judgment, affirmed twice on appeal, that performance bonds may be substituted for cash under Debtors' chapter 11 plan in order to secure plugging and abandonment liabilities regarding offshore oil platforms. See Beta Operating Co., LLC v. Aera Energy, LLC (In re Mem'l Prod. Partners LP), 581 B.R. 206 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. Jan. 19, 2018) aff’d 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186242 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 31, 2018) aff’d 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1523 (5th Cir. Jan. 14, 2020).
- Winning dispute over first lien intra-creditor agreement, establishing that U.S. Term Lenders were authorized to object in bankruptcy to $150 million claim of certain pari passu secured creditors. See Central Bank of India v. United States Bank Nat'l Ass’n, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41705 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 14, 2019).
- Winning complete disallowance of reserve-based lenders’ claims for post-petition interest at the default rate under Berry Petroleum’s confirmed plan of reorganization. See In re Linn Energy, 2017 WL 5438070 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. Nov. 11, 2017) aff’d Case No. 18-40443 (5th Cir. June 14, 2019).
- Winning judgment on the pleadings concerning $185 million cash reserve for UMB Bank as trustee for certificate holders in failed airplane securitization vehicle. See UMB Bank, N.A. v. Airplanes Ltd., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81300 (S.D.N.Y. May 26, 2017); see also "Plane Speaking Judge Rips Aircraft Firm's Stockpile", Law360, 5/26/17.
- Obtaining decision concluding that the Bankruptcy Code’s safe harbors do not extend to creditors’ fraudulent transfer causes of action pursuant to state law. See In re Physiotherapy Holdings, 2016 Bankr. LEXIS 2810 (Bankr. D. Del. June 20, 2016).
- Winning recognition of OAS S.A.’s Brazilian plenary bankruptcy case over certain noteholders’ challenge of the foreign representative’s assertion of Brazil as COMI. See In re OAS S.A., 533 B.R. 83 (Bankr. SDNY 2015); “S.D.N.Y. Bankruptcy Court Grants Chapter 15 Recognition to Large Brazilian Bankruptcy Proceeding”, Globalinsolvency.com, 7/22/15; see also “OAS Creditors' BVI Play Raises Judge's Eyebrows”, Law360, 8/18/15.
- Represented the borrower in connection with the country's record-highest, most expensive residential real property sale and successful recapitalization.
- Represented the NewPage creditors committee, asserted $2 billion in fraudulent transfer claims arising out of the company’s failed leveraged merger transaction, obtaining a mediated settlement resulting in $30 million in cash recoveries, a waiver of the secured creditors’ $50 million deficiency claim, and establishment of a litigation trust, for the benefit of unsecured creditors.
- Represented New Stream Secured Capital unsecured creditors committee, imploded the debtors’ pre-packaged chapter 11 plan which threatened to leave unsecured creditors with nominal returns, and negotiated and prosecuted a joint, committee-backed plan which provided US and Cayman investors with $20 million in cash and exponentially greater share of liquidation recoveries.
- Represented The Colonial BancGroup in disputes with the FDIC and purchasing-and-assuming bank concerning ownership and fraudulent transfer of disputed assets arising out of the largest bank failure of 2009. Resulted in settlement providing in excess of $56 million to CBG.
- After a 2.5 day hearing, won complete dismissal of over $100 million of claims alleging that our clients breached fiduciary duties in connection with the $1.5 billion sale of iconic, luxury resorts to a Singaporean wealth fund. See In re MSR Hotels & Resorts, Inc., 2013 WL 5716897 (Bankr. SDNY Oct. 1, 2013); “Bankrupt MSR Trounces Five Mile In $59M Loan Fight,” Law360, 10/1/13; “MSR Judge Tosses Claims Against Paulson Executives,” Bloomberg Brief, 10/4/13.
- Represented the Sentinel Management Group Liquidation Trust Committee in various matters, including in connection with more than $300 million in equitable subordination and fraudulent transfer claims for the benefit of defrauded customers asserting more than a billion in claims. See “7th Circ. Deals Blow To BNY Mellon In $312M Bankruptcy Row,” Law360, 1/8/16; “U.S. court reverses ruling on Sentinel loan in blow to BNY Mellon,” Reuters, 8/26/13; FCStone must return $15.6 mln to Sentinel bankruptcy trustee,” Reuters, 1/7/13.
- Represented shareholders of Trident Microsystems, leading an investigation into the conduct of Trident’s controlling shareholder in connection with Trident’s demise, resulting in millions of dollars of incremental value being afforded to TMI’s minority (public) shareholders.
- Represented Washington Mutual, Inc. in its multi-billion dollar lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase concerning the FDIC-assisted purchase and assumption of WaMu, involving more than $10 billion in alleged preferences and fraudulent transfers and resulting in a settlement in excess of $6 billion.
- Represented the Advanta liquidation trust in disputes with former directors and officers, resulting in complete disallowance of such executives’ claims asserted in an amount in excess of $60 million.
- Represented Solutia Inc. in an action for specific performance of a $2 billion exit financing facility, which the banks had refused to fund based on a “market MAC” provision; case settled favorably before closing arguments.
- Represented the Official Creditors Committee of Sentinel Management Group; negotiated settlement of $300 million inter-creditor dispute incorporated into confirmed Committee chapter 11 plan.
- Represented Lehman Brothers Inc. in connection with $1.7-billion securitization of substantially all of the revenue-generating assets of Dunkin’ Brands Inc (Dunkin’ Donuts, Baskin-Robbins).
- New York University School of Law
- Galgay Fellow, 2002
- Robert McKay Scholar
- Journal of International Law & Politics:
- Staff Editor
- Staff Editor
- University of Michigan
- Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP:
- Associate, 2004-2006
- Associate, 2004-2006
- Intern to the Hon. Robert D. Drain:
- United States Bankruptcy Judge, S.D.N.Y., 2002
- Listed as a Best Lawyer for Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Best Lawyers in America, 2020-2021
- Ranked in Bankruptcy/ Restructuring, Chambers USA, 2013-2020
- "Recommended Lawyer" by Legal 500, 2013-2020
- Named as a “Super Lawyer” by New York Metro Super Lawyers, 2013-2020
- 2016 Latin Lawyer Deal of the Year for OAS Restructuring
- Turnaround Award Winner by the M&A Advisor, 2013, 2018
- Named by Turnarounds & Workouts as among the “Outstanding Young Restructuring Lawyers,” 2011 (nationally, from all bankruptcy practitioners under the age of 40)
- Named as a "Rising Star" by New York Metro Super Lawyers, 2011-2012
- Discovery and Litigation, 9/14/18, Hudson Valley Bankruptcy Bar Association, 15th Annual Presentation: The New Deal For Consumer Bankruptcy
- Navigating Issues in Fraudulent Transfers, 5/17/18, VALCON 2018
- Litigation Finance Panel, 11/27/17, 24th Annual Distressed Investing Conference
- Who’s My Client: The Practice and Ethics of Third Party Financing in Bankruptcy?, 10/09/17, 2017 ABA Program In Conjunction with the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges
- Is Chapter 15 still relevant for distressed Latin American companies?, 6/05/17, LATIN LAWYER – GRR Live 2nd Annual Restructuring Summit, New York, NY
- Limits on Leverage (Fraudulent Transfer etc.), (Moderator), 4/04/17, THE AMERICAN LAW INSTITUTE, Young Scholars Medal Conference, New York, NY
- Is There Room in the Chapter 11 Ark for Trustees, Examiners, Receivers, and CROs?, 10/10/14, National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, 88th Annual Conference, Chicago, IL
- Bank Holding Company Insolvencies: Is the Grass Greener?, 4/14/11, ABA, Business Bankruptcy Committee, Chapter 11 Subcommittee, Spring Meeting, Boston, MA
- Member, Bankruptcy Innovation Board, Bloomberg Law
- Co-President of Federal Bar Counsel - Bankruptcy Litigation Committee
- Certified Public Accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers
- NASD Registered Representative – Equity Trading, Heartland Securities