THQ, Large Local Business Files Chapter 11

I often ride my bike past the headquarters for THQ, a large video-game company in Agoura Hills, California.  In fact, it’s the third-largest employer in the city, after Bank of America and the local school district.   Two days ago, it filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the code.  The debtor’s attorneys listed on the filing are Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher in Los Angeles, and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, a local firm in Wilmington, Delaware, where the corporation filed its case.

Even though world headquarters for this company are down the street, the Delaware filing is a reminder that the venue provisions for bankruptcy courts allow a filing in the debtor’s district of (1) residence, (2) domicile (residence and domicile are not the same thing), (3) principal place of business in the United States, (4) principal site of assets in the United States, or (5) incorporation.  The first four work for people as well as corporations: I once filed a case for a U.S. citizen residing in Switzerland by showing that he owned a bank account and shares in a corporation doing business in Agoura Hills.

THQ’s president spins the chapter 11 filing as an opportunity, and I admire that.  The company faced undeniable problems (which, having almost no interest in video games, I am happily ignorant of) and had lost $2 billion in market capitalization over the last six years.  That’s a lot of mojo down the drain.  If, as the company and the LA Times report, the company found an investor to purchase its assets, bankruptcy will be a great vehicle for it to strip off the liens attaching to those assets and allow it to continue doing business and catering to the tastes of hard-core action gamers.  We’re probably all better off in that case, because those guys will stay off the streets, to blow up zombies on their electronic screens, rather than interact with the rest of society.