Some economists talk of economic recovery and signs of positive growth. Others point to the possibility of a double-dip recession and inflationary pressures, volatile oil and commodity prices, and the public debt crisis as factors that could disrupt improvement. In the midst of this turmoil, what does the landscape look like for turnaround professionals?

This year’s TMA Mid-Atlantic Regional Symposium aims to answer that question as well as point out opportunities for attendees. The symposium is hosted by the Chesapeake, New Jersey and Philadelphia TMA chapters. The theme of the symposium, to be held June 8-10 at the Borgata Hotel, is Creating Stability in a Seesaw Environment.

“We chose this theme because, on the one hand, we hear of some levels of economic recovery, but on the other, there are still a lot of companies facing challenges that may not have sufficient resources to participate in the recovery as it evolves. There continues to be a role for the turnaround professional in this uncertain environment to provide meaningful assistance,” says Jeffrey C. Hampton, partner at Saul Ewing and co-chair of the symposium.

Four panels of experts will speak on the challenges and opportunities that clients are facing, discussing topics such as the municipal finance market and alternative sources of working capital, and point out business opportunities for turnaround professionals within the new economic reality.

“The landscape is changing so rapidly and a lot of professionals might not be aware of what everyone’s doing. The old way of doing things may never be coming back. We hope to help turnaround professionals understand the new reality,” says Hampton.

Views From the Bench

In this panel moderated by Claudia Z. Springer, partner at Reed Smith, bankruptcy judges from New Jersey, Maryland and Philadelphia will offer their viewpoints on restructuring trends and recent cases.

“Bankruptcy judges are on the front lines of what’s happening in the reorganization field. We’ll discuss trends and recent decisions that may affect reorganizations generally as well as provide practitioners with some insights that may be helpful in planning future restructurings that occur within the confines of Chapter 11,” Springer says.

Municipal Budget Crisis

Revenue is down and costs are up, putting cities and towns across the region in a tight squeeze to provide services. This panel will discuss the short- and long-term drivers that are causing the crisis, the outlook for floating bonds and alternatives for municipalities, including bankruptcy. The panel will be moderated by Beth Ann Bovino, senior economist with Standard & Poor’s.

“There’s a level of activity in this area unlike anything we’ve seen before. It’s a segment for turnaround practitioners, which may represent new opportunities,” says Linda McDonough of 50 Words Marketing and co-chair of the symposium. “Given the municipal crises highlighted on the nightly news, this is sure to be a popular topic.”

Townsends Case Study

Textbook case studies can only present the bare facts. Conference attendees will learn about a recently concluded local bankruptcy case in this panel moderated by Wayne P. Weitz, senior managing director at Glass Ratner Advisory & Capital Group. The panel will be discussing Townsends, Inc., a producer and marketing of poultry products that filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2010 and completed an auction of its assets in February 2011.

“Five professionals who were intimately involved in the case — debtor’s counsel, lender’s counsel, committee counsel, investment banking advisor and CRO — will walk us through the decision to file, the challenges faced and why a §363 sale was the conclusion,” explains Weitz. “An interesting factor in this case was looking for buyers outside the norm, resulting in a higher price than initially expected.”

Alternative Lending in 2011 and Beyond

The lending landscape has changed completely in recent years. Some institutions and go-to people are gone while others have changed significantly. Dan Stella, senior vice president of PNC Business Credit, will moderate a panel of top tier debt capital providers and discuss the changing face of raising and restructuring debt capital.

“We’ll look at funding options and what drives the decision-making process for alternative lenders. Also, we will discuss the pros and cons of regulation and operating in a non- regulatory environment, versus traditional commercial banks, which operate in a regulatory environment. Attendees may pick up some ideas on financing a company in transition that they hadn’t considered before and can use that information to help their clients,” Stella explains.

Keynote Speaker Chosen

Political satirist Andy Borowitz will deliver the keynote luncheon speech, sure to strike participants’ funny bones. He has been called “America’s Satire King” as well as “one of the funniest people in America.” He won the first National Press Club award for humor, and is known for his satire on the Borowitz Report and the Huffington Post as well as his sold-out stand-up engagements.

The symposium will also offer several unique opportunities to network with other turnaround professionals, and registration is now open. For more information, visit


“The landscape is changing so rapidly and a lot of professionals might not be aware of what everyone’s doing. The old way of doing things may never be coming back. We hope to help turnaround professionals understand the new reality.”

Jeffrey C. Hampton, Partner, Saul Ewing & Co-Chair of the symposium