Nick Saggese '80: A Legendary Deal Maker Shifts Gears

Nick Saggese ’80 is the man titans of industry turn to both when business is booming and also when it grinds to a halt. He is currently a senior advisor at Moelis & Company, which was recently named Best Global Independent Investment Bank by noted financial website, “Euromoney.” Until 2010, Saggese was a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where he was co-head of the private equity practice. His tenure was so successful that both Chambers Global and Chambers USA named him a “Leading Lawyer” in the areas of private equity, capital markets, and mergers and acquisitions.

While at Skadden, Saggese represented clients in connection with a variety of corporate transactions, including private equity, mergers and acquisitions, recapitalizations, securities offerings and corporate restructurings.

Shortly before heading to Moelis, Saggese represented Paul Allen, former principal shareholder of Charter Communications, LLC in its pre-arranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Upon completion of the deal in 2009, Charter attorney Richard Cieri told Reuters that the transaction was “the largest pre-negotiated case ever completed,” and the Financial Times dubbed it “the most innovative restructuring of 2009.” Some of Saggese’s other representative transactions include MGM’s $5 billion debt restructuring, the acquisition of PETCO Animal Supplies by Leonard Green & Partners and Texas Pacific Group for $1.8 billion, and the comprehensive $1.3 billion recapitalization of ION Media Networks, which earned Saggese M&A Advisor’s “2008 Refinancing of the Year Award.”

The man the Daily Journal included as one of the “Top 100 Lawyers in California,” says that moving to Moelis & Company was a natural transition because he had worked with many of the company principals during his time at Skadden, primarily company chairman Ken Moelis, who had been a client of his for 20 years.

“Knowing several of the senior people and the fact that Moelis & Co is an independent investment bank strictly offering unbiased advice made it an easy transition from the practice of law,” Saggese said. “It gave me the chance to mostly retire but stay involved in the deal business and to work with world-class bankers, many of whom I've known for years.”

Saggese says he enjoys his role as a “sounding board,” and is grateful that his position allows him to return to the business world, which is actually where he started out before deciding to attend Loyola.

“I didn’t go to law school intending to practice law. It was my wife who told me to give law a try after I had turned it down once before,” Saggese said.

Prior to practicing law, Saggese worked for an insurance and benefits business provider and taught corporate finance in the California State University system. He says without the school’s evening program, he never would have been able to balance work and study. Saggese is a fan of Loyola’s new Corporate Law Concentration and the way it incorporates certain aspects of a business school-style curriculum in preparing students to anticipate the needs of corporations and investors.

“I think it’s a terrific opportunity, and I wish it existed when I was there,” Saggese said. “I think Loyola is in the forefront of putting together … a very interesting combination of a law school/MBA-style case study program about how to practice corporate law and how to approach corporate transactions and deals.”

Saggese also says that the skills learned in the Corporate Law Concentration would be useful to students who want to practice other types of law.

“What it’s doing is taking the skills of a lawyer into areas of substantive law and showing people how you apply it, and how you approach it in terms of problem solving,” Saggese said. “A lot of lawyers could use that training and that skill set.”

Saggese credits Loyola professors with teaching him those real-world problem solving skills that made him better equipped to advise players in the high-stakes world of corporate finance.

“I found the professors at Loyola to be first-rate teachers. Several of them helped me learn how to better approach complex problems, of whatever nature, in an organized fashion and to be disciplined about seeking alternative solutions,” Saggese said.