Richard J. Cooper is one of the preeminent cross-border bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers in the United States and is the recognized leader in cross-border and sovereign restructurings involving companies and countries in Latin America and other emerging markets.

His practice focuses on domestic and international corporate, municipal, and sovereign restructurings. Rich is known for his innovative work on behalf of governments, state-owned entities, creditors, institutional investors, creditor committees, and other notable clients in connection with in and out-of-court insolvency proceedings and complex financings, including rescue financings. He has advised clients involved in some of the most prominent and noteworthy restructurings in the United States and Latin America over the last two decades.

Rich is regularly recognized as a leading lawyer by Chambers Global, Chambers Latin America, Chambers USA, Latinvex, Latin Lawyer, Financial Times, Global M&A Network, The Legal 500 Latin America, The Legal 500 U.S., IFLR1000, Lawdragon, and others. Previously, Law360 named him a “Bankruptcy MVP,” and Turnarounds & Workouts named him an “Outstanding Restructuring Lawyer” three years in a row.

Rich joined Cleary in 1986 and became a partner in 1995.

Notable Experiences

Recent Select Chapter 11 Cases

  • LATAM Airlines in its Chapter 11 proceedings in the United States

  • Apollo Capital in a $1 billion first of its kind DIP Loan to Aeromexico as part of its Chapter 11 proceeding and as a plan sponsor and the single largest shareholder of Aeromexico post emergence

  • Alto Maipo, an AES subsidiary, in its prearranged Chapter 11 proceeding

  • Grupo Posadas in its successful prepackaged Chapter 11 plan

  • An ad hoc group of bondholders/DIP lenders in the Chapter 11 plan of AlphaCredit 

  • An ad hoc group of secured bondholders in connection with the Chapter 11 filing of Stoneway Capital

  • The DIP lender and largest creditor in the M&G Chemicals cross-border restructuring, which involved restructurings in the United States, Europe, Mexico, and Brazil

  • Two Chilean companies, Alsacia and Express and Automotores Gildemeister, in connection with their successful prepackaged Chapter 11 plans

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Recent Select Cross-Border and Chapter 15 Cases

  • Samarco, a Brazilian mining company, in connection with the restructuring of its bond and bank debt

  • An ad hoc group of bondholders of the Oi Group in the successful completion of its judicial reorganization, the largest private sector emerging markets restructuring ever

  • An ad hoc group of secured project finance lenders in connection with the restructuring of over $1.67 billion in total indebtedness of Constellation Oil Services Holding S.A. and its subsidiaries

  • Odebrecht Engineering and Construction in connection with its restructuring of bond and bank debt

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Recent Select Sovereign and Governmental Assignments

  • The U.S. Treasury in connection with its Payroll Support Program and Rescue Plan funding to the airline industry in the beginning of the pandemic

  • Garuda, the Indonesian State airline, in connection with its restructuring of over $10 billion of debt

  • The Puerto Rico Public Private Partnership Authority in connection with the reorganization of Puerto Rico’s electric sector, including entry into one of the largest P3 transactions in history, which involved the transformation of the largest transmission and distribution systems in the United States

  • The government of Lebanon in connection with the restructuring of its bond and bank debt

  • The Mexican government in connection with the Mexico City airport restructuring

  • The government of Puerto Rico in connection with the restructuring of over $73 billion of debt and the enactment of PROMESA (The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act)

  • Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in connection with the restructuring of over $9.5 billion of municipal bond and bank indebtedness for the former government of Puerto Rico

  • The governments of Mexico, Colombia, and Indonesia in connection with the restructuring of debt of various state-owned enterprises

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Other Notable Restructurings

  • In Brazil, debtors and creditors in the largest and most complex cases over the last 10 years, including the restructurings of Embratel, GVO, IMPSA, Mirabel Nickel, Odebrecht Oil and Gas, OGX, OSX-3, and Tonon Bioenergia

  • In Mexico, the restructurings of CEMEX, Corporación GEO, Grupo R, ICA, Idesa, Oceanografía, and Oro Negro

  • In the United States, the restructurings of Aleris, America West Airlines, Circle K, Color Tile, Continental Airlines, Foxwoods Casino, Fruit of the Loom, Insight Healthcare, Lehman Brothers, Milagro Holdings, Pan American Airways, Revco, and Van Camp Seafood

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  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Association of the Bar of the City of New York

  • Member, Bretton Woods Sovereign Debt Working Group, a leading international organization providing thought leadership on sovereign debt restructurings
  • Member, Principles Consultative Group of the International Institute of Finance


New York State Legislature Revives Sovereign Debt Restructuring Proposals,” (co-author), Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, March 26, 2024

New York Court of Appeals Holds that Venezuelan Law Governs the Validity of PDVSA’s 2020 Bonds,” (co-author), Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, February 27, 2024


Americas Restructuring Review 2024, (co-authored with Lisa M. Schweitzer and Richard Minott), Global Restructuring Review, December 2023

Involuntary Chapter 11 Petitions Dismissed in TV Azteca Case,” (co-author), Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, November 28, 2023

Plan Implementation for Foreign Debtors in U.S. Bankruptcy Courts,” (co-author), Thomson Reuters’ Westlaw Today, November 17, 2023

Global Restructuring Snapshot September 2023,” October 30, 2023

Filling an Empty Arsenal: Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy from the Recovery Act to PROMESA,” (co-author), Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law, September, 22, 2023

Private Sector Engagement and Equitable Burden Sharing: A New Paradigm,” The Bretton Woods Committee, July 10, 2023

Chapter 11 Restructurings of Latin American Energy Companies,” ABI Journal, July 7, 2023

How a New York State Law Could Affect Sovereign Debt Restructurings,” Debtwire, July 5, 2023

New York State Legislature Considers Sovereign Debt Restructuring Legislation,” (co-author), Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, June 7, 2023

Corporates Face Novel Risks from Debt Ceiling Impasse—Even if No Default Occurs,” (co-author), Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, May 25, 2023

Bankruptcy: Considerations and Strategies for Directors and Officers of Multinational Companies Seeking to Restructure,” (co-author with Lisa M. Schweitzer and John Veraja), The Directors’ and Officers’ Guide to Restructuring, February 15, 2023

Americas Restructuring Review 2023, (co-authored with Lisa M. Schweitzer, Jessica Metzger, and Richard Minott), Global Restructuring Review, December 2022

New York State Supreme Court Allows Claims by Minority Lenders Not Participating in Uptier Debt Exchange to Survive Motion to Dismiss,” (co-author with Lisa M. Schweitzer, Sean A. O’Neal, Luke A. Barefoot, Jane VanLare, Kara A. Hailey, Carina S. Wallance, John Veraja), November 2, 2022

Recent Developments in DIP Financing for International and Domestic Debtors,” (co-author with Lisa Schweitzer, Jessica Metzger, and Richard Minott), Practical Law, August 1, 2022

Creditor Files SDNY Lawsuit Against Sri Lanka in Connection With Its Sovereign Debt Default, Asserting Breach of Contract and Pari Passu Claims,” (co-author with Carmine D. Boccuzzi Jr., Jorge U. Juantorena, Boaz S. Morag, Juan G. Giráldez, Jim Ho, and Rathna Ramamurthi), June 30, 2022

Debt Transparency: The Essential Starting Point for Successful Reform,” (co-author with Rathna Ramamurthi and Destiny Kanu), The Bretton Woods Committee, June 8, 2022

How We Can All Make Sovereign Debt More Transparent,” (co-author with Jim Ho, Rathna Ramamurthi, and Destiny Kanu), May 19, 2022 

Americas Restructuring Review 2022, (co-authored with Lisa Schweitzer, Jessica Metzger, and Richard Minott), Global Restructuring Review, December 2021

Chapter 11: An Increasingly Popular Tool for Foreign Companies Seeking to Restructure or Liquidate,” (co-author with John Veraja), Financier Worldwide, September 20, 2021

Sovereign Debt: A Critical Challenge,” (co-author with William R. Rhodes, John Lipsky, Terrence J. Checki, William C. Dudley, Gail Kelly, Joaquim Levy, Maria Ramos, Susan Segal, José Viñals, and Mark Walker), The Bretton Woods Committee, April 5, 2021

Addressing Treatment of Equity Under Foreign Law and the Code,” (co-author with Thomas Kessler and Kyle J. Ortiz) ABI Journal, April 1, 2021

Challenges Facing the Automotive Sector,” Financier Worldwide Magazine, March 1, 2021

Transocean’s Internal Restructuring Does Not Violate Indenture for Existing Notes, Court Rules,” (co-author with Jane VanLare and John Veraja) Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law, February/March 2021

SDNY Rules Transocean’s August 2020 Internal Restructuring Does Not Violate Indenture for Existing Notes,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero, Lisa Schweitzer, Duane McLaughlin, Sean O’Neal, Luke Barefoot, Adam Brenneman, Jane VanLare, and John Veraja) Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memorandum, December 23, 2020, republished by Law360, January 25, 2021

Americas Restructuring Review 2021, (co-author with Lisa Schweitzer, Kara Hailey, and John Veraja), Global Restructuring Review, December 2020

LATAM Market Development: Covid-19 and Its Implications on Private Sector Credits,” (co-author with Adam Brenneman and Francisco Cestero) Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memorandum, March 31, 2020

Six Key Considerations for Argentine Creditors,” Emerging Markets Restructuring Journal, Issue No. 10 – Winter 2019-2020

“Introduction,” (co-author with Lisa Schweitzer), in GRR’s Americas Restructuring Review 2020, December 2019

Implications of U.S. Court of Appeals Decision Affirming that Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. Is the Alter Ego of the Republic of Venezuela,” September 9, 2019; republished by the AIRA Journal, February 2020

Venezuela’s Restructuring: A Path Forward,” (co-author with Mark Walker), Social Science Research Network, March 28, 2019

Odebrecht Oil & Gas and the Use of Brazilian Extrajudicial Reorganization in Cross-Border Restructurings,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero and Jonathan Mendes de Oliveira), Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law, October 2018

No Registration? No Problem: Application of Bankruptcy Code’s Securities Registration Exemption in Chapter 15 Proceedings,” (co-authored with Luke Barefoot and Daniel Soltman), American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, October 1, 2018

Eleventh Circuit Holds That Equitable Mootness Is Alive in Chapter 9,” (co-authored with Sean O’Neal, Luke Barefoot and Dan Soltman), Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, August 21, 2018, republished by Law360, September 5, 2018.

Hitting the Brakes: How a Potential PDV Holding Bankruptcy Might Affect Venezuela and PDVSA Creditors,” (co-authored with Luke Barefoot and Thomas Kessler), Social Science Research Network, August 18, 2018

The State Of Creditor Recovery Efforts In Venezuela: Part 2,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Law360, June 5, 2018

The State Of Creditor Recovery Efforts In Venezuela: Part 1,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Law360, June 4, 2018

Start Your Engines: Are We Going to See More Creditor Recovery Efforts in Venezuela?” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, May 29, 2018 

The Many Challenges Facing Venezuela Bribery Suit: Part 2,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Law360, April 16, 2018

Update on PDVSA U.S. Litigation Trust V. Lukoil Pan Americas, et al.,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, April 10, 2018

PDVSA U.S. Litigation Trust: What Creditors Should Know About the Trust, Its Claims and Its Implications for Venezuela’s Restructuring,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, March 15, 2018

“Third Circuit Dismisses Crystallex’s Fraudulent Transfer Claim but Potential Liability Remains for PDVSA,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, January 5, 2018

Insolvency Reform In Brazil: An Opportunity Too Important To Squander,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero and Dan Soltman), Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law (January 2018)

Why Venezuela’s Bondholders Must Litigate, Not Arbitrate,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network and republished by Law360, December 15, 2017

Venezuela’s Imminent Restructuring and The Role Alter Ego Claims May Play in this Chavismo Saga,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, November 9, 2017 

Venezuela’s Restructuring: A Realistic Framework,” (co-author with Mark A. Walker), September 19, 2017

Turning Bust to Boom: P3 Initiatives Under PROMESA,” (co-author with Luke Barefoot, Adam Brenneman and Antonio Pietrantoni), Law360, July 19, 2017

Disarming Puerto Rico’s Pension Time Bomb,” (co-author with Luke Barefoot, Daniel Soltman and Antonio Pietrantoni), Law360, April 19, 2017

What Should Puerto Rico Offer Its Creditors?” (co-author with Luke Barefoot and Jessica McBride), Law360, March 15, 2017

Issues To Expect In A Title III Puerto Rico Restructuring,” (co-author with Luke Barefoot, Jessica McBride and Antonio Pietrantoni), Law360, March 8, 2017

Why Puerto Rico Will Likely Rely On PROMESA Title III,” (co-author with Luke Barefoot, Jessica McBride and Antonio Pietrantoni), Law360, March 1, 2017

The Brazilian Insolvency Regime: Some Modest Suggestions—Part 2,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero, Jesse Mosier and Dan Soltman), Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law (April/May 2016)

The Brazilian Insolvency Regime: Some Modest Suggestions—Part 1,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero, Jesse Mosier and Dan Soltman), Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law (February/March 2016)

A New World for LatAm Creditors: Insolvency Reform in Latin America,” Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law (June 2015)

“Is Peru’s Insolvency System Ready for Foreign Creditors?” IFLR, January 6, 2015

Proceeding with Caution,” IFLR, July/August 2014

Six Restructuring Questions for LatAm Investors,” IFLR, May 2013

Inside Track: Cleary’s Richard Cooper on Vitro,” Latin Lawyer, April 17, 2013

Experts Looking at U.S.-Mexico Cross Border Insolvency Issues,” ABI, October 23, 2012

Expedited Restructurings in the U.S. and Select Latin American and Caribbean Jurisdictions,” Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law, vol. 7, no. 8, November/December 2011

“Holdouts in Syndicated Loan Rescheduling,” in Global Financial Crisis: Navigating and Understanding the Legal and Regulatory Aspects (Globe Law and Business, 2009)

“Brazil’s New Recuperação Judicial Proceedings—New Hope for Brazilian Companies in Search of Relief Under the Section 3(A)(10) Registration Exemption?” in International Business Transactions with Brazil (Juris Publishing, 2008)

“The Durango Restructuring: A New Beginning in Mexican Restructurings?” Latin America Law & Business Report, October 31, 2005

Striking the Balance: Allocating Risk in a Long-Term Operation and Management Contract,” American Water Works Annual Conference, June 19, 2003

“Asia Pulp and Paper: Lessons Learned,” INSOL World, First Quarter 2003

“Cash Chameleon,” ProjectFinance, December 2001

Latin American Water: Opportunities and Challenges for Private Investment,” Latin American Law & Business Report, August 31, 2000

The New Wave: Private Sector Participation in International Water Projects,” Project Finance International, February 2000

“How to Approach the Restructuring of Problem Project Financings with Multi-Sourced Lending Arrangements,” Project Finance International, May 19, 1999

Outsourcing Projects: Lessons From Venezuela,” Project Finance Yearbook 2000, March 1999

“Construction in Latin America,” Special Supplement, April 1996