Jorge Irizarry currently serves as executive director for Backyard Bondholders (Bonistas del Patio), formed for the purpose of advocating for Puerto Rican bondholders who hold billions of dollars in local government bonds, now facing the largest ever bankruptcy in the muni market.
As principal at Sandoval Advisors, a ﬁnancial and business strategy ﬁrm created in 2009, Jorge Irizarry advises institutional clients on ﬁnancial and strategic matters as well as capital raising for ﬁnancial, government, infrastructure, health care, industrial and other sectors in the U.S. and Latin American markets.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in ﬁnance from NYU and his master’s in business from Harvard Business School, Irizarry spent seven years with Booz-Allen in Venezuela and Chile, where he formulated and implemented ﬁnancial and business strategies for four Latin American ﬁnancial institutions.
He joined PaineWebber in 1986, where he assumed several positions in Puerto Rico and New York including director in the Latin America investment banking division, where he focused on Latin American deals, including debt issuance, IPOs, M&A, and other investment banking responsibilities.
Given his expertise gained over 34 years in commercial and investment banking, in 2005 Irizarry was appointed president of the prestigious Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico, an institution which acts as ﬁscal agent and lender to the local government. In this four-year position, he managed debt issuance for the government of Puerto Rico, chaired the Employee Retirement System and sat on the Governor’s Economic Council. His main objective in this position, as he explains ,“My priority was improving credit ratings, efficient execution in the capital markets and lowering the cost of borrowing. Also, increasing the funding ratio of the pension system was very important."
Later, in 2013 he joined Morgan Stanley to serve as its municipal banker for Puerto Rico. When the ﬁnancial crisis in Puerto Rico arose, the ﬁrm closed its Puerto Rico office. In 2016, Irizarry helped form Backyard Bondholders to advocate for Puerto Rican bondholders, becoming its executive director. In this role, he assists Puerto Rican residents recover maximum value of their investments in the face of the largest default in municipal bond history.
“This is a dramatic situation. Sixty thousand people who live in Puerto Rico had their savings in these bonds. They held more than 30 percent of the total public debt of $72 billion.” Jorge explains, “For me it is essential to pursue the highest possible recovery for this group of investors because it will have a lasting effect on the wealth, wellbeing, and economic future of Puerto Rico,” he added.
With Puerto Rico in bankruptcy for $72 billion—taking with it the investments and the savings of scores of its residents— Irizarry has focused his ﬁnancial skills and experience on advocating for investors in the Puerto Rico bankruptcy case since 2016. He serves as spokesperson for the group and is heavily involved in the process of restructuring that debt. His efforts have contributed to the successful restructuring of $22 billion worth of the bonds in 2018 and 2019, and the group is now focused on the recovery of another $35 billion of debt related to the central government of Puerto Rico.
Irizarry’s’ role as advocate extends beyond his professional career. He has served on several boards for not-for-proﬁt entities in Puerto Rico, including United Way Puerto Rico. At Harvard Business School, he presided the Latin American Students Organization. In New Jersey, he sat on the board for CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and part of his consulting work involved getting Hispanic companies into the supply chains of major corporations. He was also active on the board of the NSHMBA New York chapter.