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Riding the restructuring wave

Houlihan Lokey plans to double its staff in Asia in anticipation of a boom in restructuring work. But local expertise is thin on the ground.

"There's very little financial restructuring activity in Asia right now," says Joseph Swanson, managing director of Houlihan Lokey. "Capital structures on the continent have traditionally been relatively simple, but as Asia takes advantage of the innovations in finance they're becoming more complex - and complex structures will break and require putting back together."

Houlihan's already made one hire: Michael Nacson, a former partner of Arthur Anderson, who joined last month as director of Asian restructuring. Swanson says there will be more to come.

The problem, however, is that Asian restructuring expertise is hard to come by. "It isn't that there aren't many financial restructuring specialists in Asia, it's that there aren't any," says Swanson. In their absence, he says the company plans to hire people with operational restructuring experience in the local market, and to move them across from its offices in the US and Europe.

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