(Adds Miller confirmation, attorney’s quote, byline)
By Caroline Humer and Ilaina Jonas
NEW YORK, June 15 (Reuters) - The chairman of Miller Buckfire, the restructuring advisory bank that sold a minority stake to Stifel Financial Corp (SF.N) last week for $40 million, is stepping down, the company confirmed on Wednesday.
Henry Miller, who helped found the company with Ken Buckfire, had stepped down from the chief executive role at the company at the end of 2009. Buckfire is chief executive.
“Having helped us agree to a strategic alliance with Stifel Financial that enhances our capital base and enables us to attract and retain the best restructuring bankers, Henry Miller has decided to step down from his role as chairman of Miller Buckfire and serve as an advisor to the firm, effective July 1, 2011,” a Miller Buckfire spokesman said via e-mail.
Miller was not available for comment.
The move comes amid other departures at the company and at a time when the restructuring business has slowed, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Managing Director Ronen Bojmel, who was General Growth Properties Inc’s (GGP.N) restructuring advisor, also plans to leave, the source said. General Growth, the second-largest U.S. mall owners, filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2009.
The judge who oversaw the case, Allan Gropper, attributed General Growth’s successful restructuring and exit from bankruptcy protection to the cooperation between the debtors and creditors. That cooperation began with the mortgage lenders, represented by the special servicers, and gained momentum from there.
“He was instrumental in initiating conversation with the special servicers and structuring the deal between them and GGP,” said Greg Cross, partner with Venable LLP, the law firm that represented the special servicers. “He’s a guy whose word you can trust and who’s creative. He excels at very complicated structures and ideas.”
Bojmel plans to take his family on a world tour during the summer, the source said. He did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Bojmel was instrumental in many of the company’s biggest bankruptcies and restructurings including Charter Communications, Neff Corp and Delta Air Lines.
Sam Greene, previously a managing director, is moving to boutique investment bank Centerview Partners to start a restructuring business, the source said. Centerview was co-founded by Robert Pruzan, formerly president of Wasserstein Perella & Co, where Greene and Bojmel worked.
A spokeswoman for Centerview declined to comment.
Buckfire said in an interview that Miller’s departure was related to a succession strategy.
“We will be using the $40 million in capital to aggressively recruit very senior people to strengthen the franchise. It will also allow us to execute our strategy of using the capital markets to drive restructurings,” Buckfire said.
The spokesman declined to comment on other personnel changes.
The changes at Miller Buckfire were first reported by Bloomberg News.
Representatives for Stifel were not available for comment. (Reporting by Ilaina Jonas, Joseph Giannone and Caroline Humer; Editing by Gary Hill, Bernard Orr)