Chapter 1 New York, the Money Center

I met James again a few days later. This time, I noticed he was carrying his favorite tool, a leather portfolio with a small ring binder on one side for writing notes and a mini iPad secured on the other. All the various pockets were stuffed with business cards, note cards, pens, and so on. As promised, he’d done some quick digging. He flipped through pages of notes in the binder.

“Houlihan Lokey is many things, but it’s particularly well-known on the Street as an advisor in financial restructuring.”

What does that mean exactly?

“Well, they help both distressed companies and the creditors of distressed companies manage equitable repayment of debts. Just in the past decade or so, Houlihan has been an advisor in almost all of the top bankruptcies in the United States.”

That sounds significant.

“It is. It means they’re not a niche player. They’ve helped to clean up the mess after some major blow-ups:  Think Lehman Brothers, Enron, WorldCom, Conseco, and a bunch of others. Of course, they were not the only firm involved—financial restructuring usually involves lots of players—but it means they’re up there with the big boys.”

How far up there?

“Well, there’s a list called the Global Distressed Debt and Bankruptcy Restructuring Rankings. The most recent figure I have shows them ranked the number one financial advisor.”

Over who?

“Over Lazard, Rothschild, Blackstone . . . all the usual suspects.” He looked up from his notes to make sure a lowly ...

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