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Ori Katz

| Aug. 24, 2022

Aug. 24, 2022

Ori Katz

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SAN FRANCISCO - Ori Katz's introduction to Sheppard Mullin was as a summer clerk. He joined the firm after law school, and the now partner and leader of the firm's finance and bankruptcy practice group calls himself a "Sheppard lifer." He specializes in business bankruptcies, reorganizes companies in a wide range of industries, and represents lenders in connection with receiverships, loan workouts, restructurings, foreclosures and borrower bankruptcies. When Sizzler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2020, Katz represented the company, which at the time owned 14 restaurants and had more than 90 franchised locations. Sizzler USA Franchise, Inc., No. 20-30748 (Bankr. N.D. Cal, filed Sept 21, 2020). Restrictions on indoor dining and the challenges of delivery and takeout business hit the restaurant chain particularly hard, Katz said, since Sizzler is known for its salad bar and buffet. Through his representation, Sizzler eliminated tens of millions of dollars of debt, including shareholder loans, back rent due to landlords in connection with COVID-19 closures and future rent on leases rejected in the bankruptcy case. The balance-sheet restructuring allowed Sizzler to maintain the majority of its company-owned restaurants and its many franchise restaurants, which employ thousands of people and support numerous food vendors. "They were not in a position to survive a lengthy bankruptcy; that would have been fatal to them," Katz said. "Using Subchapter 5 of the bankruptcy code, which was still relatively new and untested at the time, we were in and out of bankruptcy in just over three months. The reorganized Sizzler that emerged was a much stronger entity. It has survived the depths of Covid and is now a healthy and vibrant company." The case was one of the first to use the new Small Business Reorganization Act, as temporarily modified by the 2020 CARES Act. It also was one of the few operating SBRA cases at the time to file and confirm a plan relatively quickly. "This felt like such a big accomplishment under the circumstances and embodies what bankruptcy stands for, which is allowing a company to survive in a value-maximizing way, restructuring its business and avoiding the loss of a business, jobs and commerce," he added. In addition to his practice, Katz is often invited by various organizations to speak on matters relating to bankruptcy and insolvency law. "I consider that kind of activity-speaking about the things that we're doing-to be really important in terms of giving back to the bankruptcy community, so I always say yes. I love to do it," he said.


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