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AMR Merger Lawyer Jack Butler Leaves Skadden for Hilco

Bankruptcy Attorney Jack Butler
Bankruptcy Attorney Jack Butler is seen in this February 2006 file photo. Butler was at New York-based Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP for 23 years and worked on several high-profile bankruptcies. Photographer: John M. Mantel/Bloomberg

Jack Butler, the bankruptcy attorney who helped negotiate the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, is leaving law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP for Hilco Global.

Butler will be executive vice president at Hilco, according to Gary Epstein, its chief marketing officer. Among other services, Northbrook, Illinois-based Hilco helps bankrupt companies liquidate their assets. The hiring, announced yesterday in an internal memo, takes effect May 1.

Butler represented the official committee of unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy of American Airlines parent AMR Corp. and advised on last year’s merger with US Airways Group Inc., which created American Airlines Group Inc., the world’s biggest airline.

“The next chapter had to wait until American was resolved,” Butler, 57, said yesterday in a phone interview.

He was at New York-based Skadden for 23 years and worked on several high-profile bankruptcies. Butler was company counsel for Troy, Michigan-based auto-parts maker Delphi Corp. and advised Kmart Corp., which came out of bankruptcy in 2003 and has since merged with Sears Holdings Corp.

“Jack is a master bankruptcy professional,” said Robert Rosenberg, a retired partner at Latham & Watkins LLP who worked on the Delphi case.

Hilco has been involved in the bankruptcies of bookstore Borders Group Inc., discount clothing chain Daffy’s Inc. and women’s fashion retailer Betsey Johnson LLC.

Assess Value

In those cases, Hilco Merchant Resources worked with other liquidators to assess the value of merchandise and help conduct sales to bring in money for creditors. Hilco units have also been involved in the sales for Hostess Brands Inc. and General Motors Co.

Butler said he has known Hilco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Hecktman for more than 20 years and has been thinking about a move for a while.

“I’ve always been a deal guy,” Butler said. “For a guy like me who’s always tried to be in the middle of the fracas to try to make a difference and try to solve things, I get to continue to do that.”

At Hilco, Butler will work on driving the “growth and expansion” of the company’s client base around the world, according to the memo.

“One of the downsides of being a lawyer is that you’re always an adviser,” said Greg Milmoe, a restructuring partner at Skadden, who helped recruit Butler to the firm. “There’s something potentially intoxicating about being the client, about being the guy who makes the actual business decisions, and I think that Jack is appropriately very excited about that.”

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