Sean A. O’Neal’s practice focuses on corporate restructuring, insolvency, bankruptcy, and related litigation matters.

He regularly assists corporate debtors, creditors, investors, financial counterparties, and other interested parties in bankruptcy-related transactions, out-of-court workouts, and liability management transactions. Sean also works with investors in purchasing assets from, or making investments in, distressed companies. He frequently advises clients on creditors’ rights, debt instruments, prepackaged bankruptcies, loan-to-own strategies, debtor-in-possession financing, exit financing, Chapter 11 rights offerings, forbearance arrangements, and other matters.

In addition, Sean represents tenants and tenant associations on a pro bono basis in landlord bankruptcy cases, serves on the board of directors of Brooklyn Community and Housing Services, and is the chair of the board of trustees of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Sean joined the firm in 2000 and became a partner in 2009.

Notable Experience

  • ESL Investments Inc., as largest creditor and shareholder of Sears Holdings Corp. with over $2.6 billion in claims, in its Chapter 11 proceedings, as well as advising on prepetition transactions and related matters.

  • Lion Point Capital, as DIP lender, in the Chapter 11 proceedings of Suniva Inc. and related litigation.

  • Punjab National Bank (PNB), India’s second-largest government-owned bank, in the Firestar Diamond Jewelry and Samuels Jewelry Chapter 11 cases relating to a $2 billion fraud in which PNB was the primary victim.

  • Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in connection with the potential restructuring of over $9.5 billion of municipal bond and bank indebtedness, leading the negotiations over a restructuring support agreement with more than 70% of the outstanding debt, and the passage of a local law (the PREPA Revitalization Act) to implement a complex, unprecedented securitization transaction resulting in substantial debt savings for Puerto Rico.

  • The Federal Reserve of New York in connection with the bankruptcy filings of Lehman.

  • A group of bondholders in a liability management transaction involving 2017 and 2018 notes issued by Toys “R” Us.

  • A group of crossover holders in the prepackaged Chapter 11 of Key Energy.

  • J. Aron & Company, the holder of a nearly billion-dollar swap claim, in Delaware Trust Company v. Wilmington Trust, N.A., an adversary proceeding related to the Energy Future Holdings Corp. Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

  • American Roads in its prepackaged Chapter 11 proceeding, including obtaining an order denying standing to an ad hoc committee of bondholders on the basis of a no-action clause (received a “Highly Commended” ranking in Financial Times’ 2014 Innovative Lawyers Report and named as one of Turnarounds & Workouts’ Top Restructurings of 2013).

  • Wilmington Trust NA, as indenture trustee of $1 billion in unsecured notes, pursuant to the direction of a majority of bondholders, in the Chapter 11 proceedings of Residential Capital LLC (received a “Commended” ranking in Financial Times’ 2014 Innovative Lawyers Report).

  • Truvo Group, a European directories company, in its completed global restructuring of €1.4 billion in bank, bond, and PIK debt (named as International Finance Review’s 2012 EMEA Restructuring of the Year).

  • An international infrastructure firm in the acquisition of interests in a natural gas pipeline company.

  • Newcastle Investment Corp., a REIT managed by Fortress Investment Corporation, as plan sponsor and the largest secured lender, in a prepackaged Chapter 11 restructuring of GateHouse Media Inc.

  • Colony Capital in successful litigation to dismiss the Chapter 11 case of a mezzanine borrower in the JER/Jameson bankruptcy cases.

  • SuperMedia in its prepackaged Chapter 11 proceeding to effectuate its merger with Dex One (named as Mega Company Transaction of the Year Award, Turnaround Management Association).

  • Goldman Sachs and other derivative creditors in filing a competing plan and reaching an agreement on a settlement plan in the Lehman Brothers Chapter 11 cases.

  • Goldman Sachs as lead investor in the $1.25 billion rights offering of Visteon Corp.

  • A consortium of lenders in the $1.5 billion financing of Americas Mining Corporation to fund ASARCO LLC’s exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy (named “Latin America Loan of the Year” by International Financing Review).

  • Debtors, including Apex Silver Mines, Bridge Information Systems, and Covanta Energy Corporation in their successful Chapter 11 cases.

See More


May 29, 2020 “CFTC Proposes Comprehensive Revision of FCM and DCO Insolvency Rules,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo

May 20, 2020 “Dynamic Trends in Chapter 15,” International Comparative Legal Guide to: Restructuring & Insolvency 2020

April 29, 2020: “Buyer Beware! Claims Disabilities Travel with Transfers,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo

March 31, 2020: “AG MIT CMO, LLC v. RBC (Barbados) Trading Corp.: Initial Post-COVID-19 Litigation Challenges to Closeouts of Repurchase Agreements,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo

March 30, 2020: “Healthcare Industry Stimulus: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo

January 6, 2020: “Third Circuit Approves Non-Consensual Releases Based on “Exceptional Facts” in Millennium Lab Holdings,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo

May 21, 2019: “Cross”-Border Wall? Not for U.S. Recognition of Foreign Insolvency Proceedings,” International Comparative Legal Guide to: Corporate Recovery & Insolvency Laws and Regulations 2019

August 21, 2018: “Eleventh Circuit Holds That Equitable Mootness Is Alive in Chapter 9,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, republished by Law360

March 29, 2018: “Supreme Court Holds Section 546(e) Safe Harbor Does Not Apply to All Transfers Made Through Financial Institutions,” Business Law Today

January 30, 2018: Ninth Circuit Holds That Impaired Accepting Class Requirement Applies to Plan Confirmation on a ‘Per-Plan’ Rather Than a ‘Per Debtor’ Basis, Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, republished by Harvard Law School Bankruptcy Roundtable, April 3, 2018

June 1, 2017: “Second Circuit Overturns Expansive Interpretation Of Trust Indenture Act, Facilitating Out-Of-Court Restructurings,” Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law

March 27, 2017: “Will the USVI Follow Puerto Rico's Path?” The Bond Buyer

January 1, 2015: “S.D.N.Y. Bankruptcy Court Continues Trend Against Enforcing Make-Whole Premiums,” Pratt's Journal of Bankruptcy Law 

January 23, 2014: “Third Circuit Holds That Claim Disabilities Travel With Trade Claims in KB Toys,” Pratt's Journal of Bankruptcy Law 

January 9, 2014:  “Bankruptcy Court Rules that Spinoff Was a Fraudulent Transfer,” Law360 

December 1, 2013: “No-Action Clauses in Bankruptcy: Standing in the Way of Standing,” American Bankruptcy Institute Journal 

September 25, 2013: “Pitfalls Abound in Post-Confirmation Conversation,” New York Law Journal

June 25, 2012: “Claim Disabilities Rear Their Ugly Head in KB Toys,” New York Law Journal 

May 2010: “International Insolvency and Bankruptcy” International Corporate Practice: A Practitioner's Guide to Global Success (Practising Law Institute)

February 15, 2010:  “Involuntary Debt Reinstatement as an Alternative to Exit Financing,” in The National Law Journal