Feb 3, 2019

Corporations' bankruptcy dodge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you're an executive who doesn't feel like making tough decisions about corporate priorities — like PG&E's potential climate liabilities or Citgo's Venezuela ties — there's always an alternative: file for bankruptcy.

My thought bubble: These problems are not what America's bankruptcy regime was designed to solve. Bankruptcy is messy and expensive; what's more, judges don't tend to make great corporate executives. But it's easy to see why an executive holding a hot potato might be tempted to pass it on to someone — anyone — else.

Details:

  • PG&E, the solvent California utility, filed for Chapter 11 protection this week, citing assets of $71.4 billion and liabilities of $51.7 billion. PG&E no longer needs to pay out money to the victims of the devastating Camp fire; instead, it gets to punt all decisions about how much those individuals will receive to the bankruptcy judge.
  • Citgo, the oil refiner owned by Venezuela, is also reportedly considering bankruptcy, even though it is so valuable that it is the crown jewel of Venezuela's foreign assets. (Citgo denies the report.) Filing for bankruptcy would stop the refiner's executives from having to choose which Venezuelan president they are loyal to. A judge, instead, would need to make all ownership determinations.

Go deeper: PG&E employees are bracing for bankruptcy fallout

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates: Governments tighten restrictions to curb cases surge

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced plans to declare a state of emergency and a 108 trillion yen ($990 billion) stimulus package Tuesday, as several governments announced new restrictions amid a jump in cases.

The big picture: The virus is confirmed to have killed almost 75,000 people and infected 1.3 million globally as of early Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 136,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 16,000) as half the planet's population is now on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 14 mins ago - Health

Boris Johnson in intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen

Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being treated in the intensive care unit of St. Thomas' Hospital in London due to increasingly severe coronavirus symptoms.

What they're saying: Cabinet minister Michael Gove told LBC radio on Tuesday morning Johnson was not on a ventilator. "The prime minister has received some oxygen support and he is kept under, of course, close supervision," he said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - World

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,348,184— Total deaths: 74,834 — Total recoveries: 284,802Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 368,376 — Total deaths: 10,989 — Total recoveries: 19,828Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January the coronavirus could take over half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, memos obtained by Axios show.
  4. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  5. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  6. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  7. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.