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Miller Buckfire Hires Former Houlihan Lokey Banker McKenna

Miller Buckfire & Co., the turnaround advisory firm that received a $40 million investment from Stifel Financial Corp. in June, hired former Houlihan Lokey banker John McKenna as a managing director.

McKenna, who was a managing director and co-head of the eastern region financial restructuring group at Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin until 2006, is on the board of SecondMarket Inc., the stock exchange for private companies. He will help Miller Buckfire use capital markets to seek solutions for struggling companies, according to Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Buckfire.

“Capital markets already play a major role in large restructurings such as General Growth Properties,” Buckfire, 53, said in a telephone interview. “The next cycle will depend even more on capital-market participation. That’s why we brought John over and that’s why we did our deal with Stifel.”

Miller Buckfire advised General Growth Properties Inc., which exited the biggest real-estate bankruptcy in U.S. history last year after listing on the New York Stock Exchange. In June, New York-based Miller Buckfire announced its deal with Stifel, the St. Louis-based brokerage and investment firm, saying the two companies could offer clients combined restructuring and capital markets expertise.

Miller Buckfire co-founder Henry Miller later said he was retiring as chairman, and managing director Ronen Bojmel, who worked on the General Growth restructuring, left the firm. His departure followed those of other managing directors, including Sam Greene, who joined Centerview Partners LLP in July, and Durc Savini, who went to Peter J. Solomon Co. last year.

Additional Hires

Buckfire, who worked previously with McKenna in the restructuring group at Wasserstein Perella & Co., said Miller Buckfire intends to make additional senior-level hires next year and is working with Stifel on two assignments advising clients on avoiding bankruptcy.

“Miller Buckfire has taken steps to adjust to the fact that financial restructurings have become much more routine,” said McKenna, 43, who was previously a board member of US Airways Group Inc. and is on the board of the New York chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “Allying themselves with a mainstream financial player really differentiates the firm.”

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