Jacob J. Worenklein co-chairs Akin Gump’s global project finance practice. Mr. Worenklein focuses his practice on project development and finance, with a particular emphasis on representing companies in energy, power, water, transportation and other infrastructure industries.

Practice & Background

Mr. Worenklein represents many of the largest and most successful energy and infrastructure companies and financial institutions in the world. Mr. Worenklein’s experience extends to all elements of development and finance, including equity and debt financing, merger and acquisition transactions, joint ventures and the critical elements of the development process, including governmental regulation and approvals, power purchase agreements, fuel supply and transportation arrangements, and engineering, procurement and construction contracts.

Mr. Worenklein is a former adjunct professor of finance, New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Mr. Worenklein founded and served as chairman and chief executive officer of US Power Generating Company, which owned and operated 5,200 MWs of generating capacity in New York City and Boston. Prior to that position, he served as global head of project finance at Lehman Brothers and then served as global head of the energy, power, infrastructure and project finance sectors at Société Générale.

Mr. Worenklein began his career at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, where he formed the firm’s project finance and power utility practice and represented sponsors and financiers in many of the largest energy project financings in the United States and globally.

Representative Matters

Mr. Worenklein’s representative transactions include:

  • representing the largest banks in the United States and other equity owners in the purchase of most of the nuclear power plants in the United States that were sold to financial investors and leased back through leveraged leases and partnership structures. In the process, he advised the senior officers of these institutions on issues of nuclear liability in the event of an accident and developed the structure that was adopted by most of the investors as a means of limiting liability
  • representing all the electric utility companies of New York State in the formation of a joint venture company, Empire State Power Resources Inc., to build, finance, own and operate the future electric generating capacity of New York. In this connection, he negotiated the memorandum of understanding among the seven companies, formed the company and served as secretary to its board of directors; negotiated the capital funds and power sales arrangements between the joint venture company and its utility members; was lead counsel on behalf of the companies in regulatory proceedings before the New York Public Service Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including cross-examination of witnesses, preparation of briefs and presentation of oral arguments; registered as a lobbyist before the New York state legislature and met with members of the state administration and legislature in an effort to persuade them of the merits of the proposal; prepared congressional testimony for the CEOs of the seven companies; and served as a press spokesman for the joint venture
  • structuring and lending the legal team in the financing of the joint venture interests of Reynolds Metals Company in one of the world’s largest bauxite and alumina projects (Worsley Project in Australia) on a basis that achieved its complex financial, accounting and tax objectives in both Australia and the United States
  • representing Mitsubishi Corporation and Diamond Energy Company in the development and financing and the receipt of regulatory approvals and exemptions for the Doswell Power Project in Virginia, including unprecedented approvals from both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the SEC. This ultimately led to the adoption of new rules opening up the U.S. regulated power project market to foreign ownership
  • representing Edison Mission Energy in the acquisition of the Loy Yang B power project in Australia from the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV) at a cost of $1.5 billion. Among other things, he negotiated the power purchase arrangement between the project and the SECV and the coal purchase agreement for the project. This was one of the first power project privatizations successfully completed in the world and led to many others in subsequent years
  • representing five New York electric companies that jointly owned a major nuclear power plant in an effort to establish a joint nuclear operating company
  • representing some of the leading financial institutions in the United States in the regulatory negotiations that took place in connection with the financial problems created by the construction cost overruns at the Midland, Marble Hill and other troubled nuclear projects in the United States, several of which brought their owners to the brink of bankruptcy
  • serving as lead counsel for major commercial banks and insurance companies in the United States in a FERC proceeding successfully opposing the revocation of import licenses and certificates of public convenience and necessity for the importation of natural gas from Algeria and successfully arguing against such revocation on the basis of the need to provide regulatory certainty
  • lobbying Congress successfully on behalf of major financial institutions against the contract abrogation provisions of natural gas decontrol legislation
  • serving as joint counsel to Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and JP Morgan in connection with the development of a financing plan for the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System and the financing of its first phase, the Northern Border Pipeline Project
  • representing the bank group in the financing of the Wyoming Interstate portion of the Trailblazer Pipeline System
  • representing the Iroquois Pipeline Company in the financing of the pipeline
  • developing the regulatory mechanism for financing the conversion of oil-fired plants to other fuels that became the basis for the project financing of a major oil conversion project in Florida, including drafting legislation and testifying before regulatory bodies
  • advising US Generating Company in the acquisition of J. Makowski Company, a leading developer of U.S. power projects and pipelines
  • acting as the mandated lead manager for the proposed bond financing of Phase 1 of the Dabhol Power Project in India. With the shutdown of the emerging market bond markets in January 1995 following the Mexican peso devaluation, a bank financing was substituted for the bond deal
  • advising the government of Indonesia on the financing of the $2.5 billion Paiton power project
  • acting as lead manager of the initial public offering for China’s largest listed U.S. company at the time, Huaneng Power International, including extended negotiations in Beijing
  • being selected by the U.S. Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to raise and manage the Russia and Former Soviet Union Major Projects Fund, which was a key element in the government’s plan to encourage equity investment by major U.S. corporations in Russia and the FSU
  • leading the legal or banking groups that served as advisors or lead arrangers for various transportation infrastructure projects: Dulles (U.S.) Toll Road, Bangkok Second Stage Expressway, Taiwan High Speed Rail Project, Port of Salalah (Oman), London Underground PPP for Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines, and others
  • serving as advisor and lead arranger for the acquisition of the Light, Metropolitana and Coelba electric distribution companies of Brazil by affiliates of AES, Electricite de France and Iberdrola in the large-scale privatizations that took place in the late 1990s
  • serving as counsel to the bank groups that financed the Trunkline LNG Project and the El Paso LNG Project and serving as advisor and lead arranger to one of the two short-listed bidders for the purchase from Cabot of the Distrigas LNG facility in Boston
  • serving as counsel to the lenders that project financed the acquisition, processing and ownership of uranium oxide and uranium hexafluoride for Gulf States Utilities
  • serving on the Advisory Council to Amoco Power and then to BP Power, the only non-employee of Amoco or BP appointed to the Council
  • leading the group that was named in 2001 as the “World’s Best Project Finance Bank” by Euromoney and by Financial Times’ The Banker magazine. Infrastructure Journal named the group “Global Power Arranger of the Year” and “Global Transport Arranger of the Year” and International Financing Review named the group “Americas Project Finance Loan House of the Year.” Earlier in 2001, Société Générale was designated “Project Finance Bank of the Year for the Americas” by Thomson Reuter’s Project Finance International, which also named the group as runner-up “Project Finance Bank of the Year for Europe, Middle East and Africa”
  • leading the team that was ranked in each year from 2000 to 2002 as no. 2 global lead arranger in the league tables published by the major publications in the project finance field and ranked as the no. 2 bank among the world’s leading project advisers.

Community Involvement

Mr. Worenklein is involved in numerous community, civic and charitable activities that have included being a:

  • member of the Executive Committee of the Committee for Economic Development (CED), a major business organization focused on U.S. economic and social policy
  • member of the Council on Foreign Relations
  • member of the Board of Directors of the New York Jewish Community Relations Council and member of the Board and Chairman of the Lawyers Division of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York.

Awards & Accolades

  • Recognized by New York Metro Super Lawyers, 2012-2014.
  • Received the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Infrastructure Journal, London, for his contributions to the development and financing of energy, power and infrastructure projects throughout the world.
  • Led a group named “World’s Best Project Finance Bank” by Euromoney and The Financial Times’ The Banker magazine, 2001.
  • Named one of Latin America’s Top Six Project Bankers by Emerging Markets magazine, 1999.
  • Received an Industry All-Star Award for Pioneering Achievement in the Global Power Industry, Independent Energy magazine, 1996.

Speaking Engagements

  • Smart Grid in Smart Cities, Conference on Smart Grid for Smart Cities, NYU Wagner School of Public Service, New York, New York February 3, 2010
  • Financing Trends in the Power Industry, Bechtel Power Conference, Phoenix, Arizona September 15, 2000
  • The Emergence of a Competitive European Power Sector, Projects International Conference, Paris, France February 6, 2000
  • Trends in the Financing of Infrastructure, Forbes Magazine Conference on Revitalizing America’s Infrastructure, New York, New York October 4, 1999
  • Power Industry Trends, Bechtel Power Conference, Phoenix, Arizona September 17, 1999
  • The Opening Up of the U.S. Power Market, Projects International Conference, Paris, France February 16, 1999
  • Introduction to SG Conference on Financing Infrastructure in Africa, Washington, D.C. October 8, 1998
  • Innovations in Financing Power Projects and Companies: 1998, Forbes Conference on Global Infrastructure, New York, New York June 24, 1998
  • The Asian Contagion: Project Financing Prospects in the Emerging Markets, McGraw-Hill Global Power Conference, March 16, 1998
  • Strategic and Financial Issues for Energy Companies Entering the Power Business, Conference on Energy Companies in the Power Business, Houston, Texas January 27, 1997
  • The State of the Financing Market for Asia Power Projects: Emerging Patterns, Asia Power Summit, London, England November 19, 1996
  • The State of the Project Finance Market: 1996, McGraw-Hill Independent Power Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana April 1996
  • Financing Infrastructure in China Through the International Capital Markets, China Power ‘95 Conference, Atlanta, Georgia March 29, 1995
  • Financing Global Infrastructure Through the International Capital Markets: A Status Report After the Mexico Peso Devaluation, Forbes Magazine Worldwide Infrastructure Partnerships Conference, New York, New York January 18, 1995
  • Financing Major Projects Through the International Capital Markets, International Power Projects Conference, New York, New York September 22, 1994
  • Recent Challenges to Contractual and Regulatory Supports in Project Financings, American Council of Life Insurance, Committee on Securities Investment, March 15, 1983.