Volition could be sold separately in THQ auction

Volition could be sold separately in THQ auction

CHAMPAIGN — The Volition video-game studio and some of its game titles could be sold off separately as the result of a scheduled auction of THQ Inc.'s assets later this month.

Bids on the assets are due Jan. 22, and Volition and some of its games — namely "Saints Row" and its sequels — are considered among the most highly prized assets.

Depending on how the bids come in, THQ could be sold in one chunk, or pieces could be sold to multiple buyers.

Agoura Hills, Calif.-based THQ Inc. and its subsidiaries, including Champaign-based Volition, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 19, seeking to reorganize their debts.

At that time, THQ lined up a prospective buyer affiliated with Clearlake Capital Group. As a so-called "stalking horse bidder," Clearlake would lead the bidding for THQ, with other bidders allowed to join in.

THQ sought a short turnaround for the sale, citing a cash crunch, but some creditors objected, saying more time was needed to evaluate THQ's assets and to prepare bids.

On Monday, Clearlake and the committee representing unsecured creditors of THQ agreed to the Jan. 22 auction date.

But the bankruptcy court in Delaware approved rules that let other interested parties bid for individual assets or for the entire company.

"Bids for individual assets will only be considered superior to an aggregate bid for the entire company if the value generated by separate sales were to exceed the price offered by an individual bidder for the entire company," THQ stated in a release Tuesday.

Under those rules, it would be possible — though not necessarily likely — that "Saints Row" and its sequels and the development studios could be plucked up by separate buyers.

Media reports have indicated that Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. are among the interested bidders. UbiSoft and Activision have also been mentioned as players that might get involved in the auction.

Bids are due by 9 a.m. EST Jan. 22, with the auction held at 3 p.m. that afternoon.

Typically, auctions are held either in a conference room or the court, with the company presenting the bids received. If there are overbids, the stalking horse bidder has an opportunity to increase its bid.

A hearing on the sale is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 23, with the closing slated for Jan. 24.

THQ said the bankruptcy court has approved an amended financing agreement that will support the company's operations through those dates.

Brian Farrell, THQ's chairman and chief executive officer, said the ruling provides "a clear path."

"We will now know definitively by Jan. 23 where we stand," he said in the release. "We appreciate the support of our employees, partners and suppliers now more than ever."

Volition employs about 200 people, most of them at its studio based in One Main Plaza in downtown Champaign.

The company was formed in 1996, sold to THQ in 2000 and moved in 2004 to the One Main Plaza building, where it occupies the second and third floors.

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