Creditors of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group are set to turn down a proposal led by TPG that would leave them with a 45-per-cent stake in the company in exchange for wiping out most of its debt.
Montreal-based Cirque filed for protection from creditors in Canada on Monday after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close shows around the world, triggering a fight for control of one of the best-known brands in live performance.
The company said it entered into a so-called stalking horse agreement with its existing shareholders — including TPG, China’s Fosun International Ltd. and Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec — for a US$300-million injection to help restart the business.
That proposal would see a restructured Cirque cut its debt to about US$250 million, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Lamarre said in an interview. It has nearly US$1.6 billion in liabilities.
But creditors are unlikely to accept the terms of the TPG plan, according to three people familiar with the matter. A creditor group will likely come back with a formal counteroffer by July 10, one of the people said; it has already drafted its own non-binding offer for Cirque, according to another one of the people.
Entertainment companies that depend on large crowds were among the first business casualties of the virus. Cirque du Soleil laid off 4,679 employees — about 95 per cent of its workforce — on March 19 after shutting down 44 productions to comply with government orders around the world. It has only one active show right now, in China, Lamarre said.
Cirque expects to emerge from the restructuring process as a leaner entity with about 1,000 employees initially. About 700 of them would be in Las Vegas, where the company earned about 40 per cent of its US$1 billion in revenue last year and where it hopes to open a show as early as November, Lamarre said. Touring shows could come back in 2021 if the virus situation allows for it, he said.
Cirque requested protection through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act on Monday afternoon. The application is scheduled to be heard by the Quebec Superior Court Tuesday and the company will also seek its immediate provisional recognition in the U.S. under Chapter 15.
The filing starts the clock on a bidding process for control of a restructured Cirque. Quebecor Inc. and Cirque founder Guy Laliberte have expressed interest in investing in the company.
“We know there are probably five other parties that will be interested to make an offer,” Lamarre said. “The good news today is that we know that someone is committed to ensure the future of the company. And within 45 days, we’ll know if someone is willing to invest even more.”
The Quebec government’s investment and lending arm, Investissement Quebec, is providing US$200 million of the US$300 million in new capital proposed by the TPG-led group. The group wants to acquire substantially all of the company’s assets for a combination of cash, debt and equity. It says its offer has a total value of US$420 million.
Cirque du Soleil’s existing secured creditors would receive US$50 million of unsecured, takeback debt in addition to the 45-per-cent equity stake, according to the proposal.
The crisis hit the 36-year-old company just as it emerged from a string of acquisitions, which helped it diversify from its original acrobatic shows but also put it deeper into debt.
It bought Blue Man Productions in 2017, followed by children’s entertainment company VStar Entertainment Group in 2018. Last year, it added Works Entertainment and its troupe of magicians called the Illusionists to its portfolio, before striking a separate deal to make feature-length films with the company that co-produced the hit “The Lego Movie.”
–With assistance from Derek Decloet.
Torstar shares halted on TSX after getting rival takeover offer for newspaper company – CBC.ca
A second bid to buy newspaper publishing empire Torstar Corp. has emerged, one that reportedly values the company 14 per cent higher than the previous offer.
Torstar Corp. confirmed on Thursday that a second offer to buy the company has come forward, and the company’s board is currently considering the unsolicited offer by an unnamed private investor group.
Torstar “is engaging in discussions and negotiations with the New Offeror regarding its non-binding proposal,” the company said in a press release.
The company did not say who was making the offer, but the Globe and Mail newspaper first reported that the bid came from the Proud Brothers, Matthew and Tyler, who made their money in the technology sector.
The new bid reportedly offers 72 cents a share to buy the company. That would value the company at $58 million, better than the 63-cent offer in May from the Bitove and Rivett families’ company Nordstar, which valued the company at $52 million.
Like many newspapers, the owner of the Toronto Star, Hamilton Spectator and 70 other publications across Canada has seen a precipitous drop in its paid circulation and advertising revenue, and a corresponding increase on the digital side is not making up for it.
The company took in $479 million worth of revenue in 2019, down $64.4 million or 12 per cent from 2018’s level, and spent $51 million more than it earned, according to its latest earnings.
But the company has $42 million in cash on its books, and no debt, which is what makes it an attractive acquisition even beyond the core business.
Shares in the company were halted in premarket trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday morning, with regulators citing “pending news” as the reason for the halt.
Torstar shareholders are scheduled to vote on whether or not to accept the original NordStar offer on July 21.
Torstar’s board says it still recommends shareholders vote for the NordStar deal, pending the discussions they are having with those who’ve made the new offer.
Popular West Island pub asks recent patrons to monitor health after employee tests positive for COVID-19 – CTV News Montreal
A popular pub in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is the latest in the greater Montreal area to go on hiatus after a COVID-19 case that could have exposed patrons to the virus.
Annies Sur Le Lac has temporarily closed so that its staff – about 20 people – can get tested for COVID-19 after a member of management tested positive.
The pub’s manager, Kevin O’Connel, told CTV News the measure wasn’t required by public health but was taken out of an abundance of caution.
“This is all new to us,” he said.
He also wanted to publicize the situation so that anyone who visited the bar on Friday, Saturday or Sunday can be aware, monitor their health and go get their own tests if needed.
Employees wear personal protective equipment and practice proper hygiene, O’Connel said. The person who tested positive also didn’t interact directly with customers.
Still, that person had been at the pub over the weekend, and was in contact with other staff, so they aren’t taking any chances, he said.
Annie’s reopened on June 22 with health protocols in place, O’Connel said. More than two dozen tables were removed from the outdoor terrace to allow two metres of distance between patrons. They made it easier for people to wash their hands and put protective equipment on staff.
O’Connel says he called public health authorities at Info-Santé and was told the bar isn’t under any obligation to close, but they decided to “pull the plug” anyway.
They’ll reopen once all the staff have been tested—15 to 20 people—and the entire establishment can be sanitized. A cleaning company is coming in on Friday to do the deep clean.
None of the other staff is showing symptoms. If all the test results come back this week, it’s possible the bar will reopen this weekend.
In the meantime, the bar has posted a sign on the door that explains the closure.
After a much bigger outbreak in Montérégie, which involved a bar in the South Shore, Quebec released new rules today for bars. They include cutting off alcohol sales at midnight, limiting capacity to 50 per cent and banning dancing.
O’Connel said his bar had reopened for the spring and summer season for a single day in March when the pandemic forced it to shut. Now, after reopening for just two weeks, he says he’s very disappointed about all the stops and starts but wants to put safety first.
He went for his own test this morning in Mercier, he said.
Annual pace of housing starts in Canada increased in June: CMHC – BNNBloomberg.ca
OTTAWA – Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the annual pace of housing starts rose in June as starts of multi-family projects rose, offsetting a decline in single-detached homes.
The federal housing agency says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts came in at 211,681 units in June, up from 195,453 in May.
Economists on average had expected an annual pace of 198,000 starts, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
The result came as urban starts of apartments, condos and other types of multiple-unit housing projects rose 13.0 per cent to 154,602 units in June, while urban starts of single-detached homes fell 4.5 per cent to 42,073.
Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,006 units.
The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts rose to 199,655 in June, up from 197,063 in May.
Kamloops real estate market shows some improvement after slow spring – Kamloops This Week
Torstar shares halted on TSX after getting rival takeover offer for newspaper company – CBC.ca
Canada pushes back on U.S. Congress members’ call to reopen border amid coronavirus – Global News
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019 – report – MINING.com
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