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Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy protection after COVID-19 forces it to shut 44 productions worldwide – Financial Post

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Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group filed for bankruptcy protection after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close shows around the world, bringing one of the best-known brands in live performance to its knees.

The Montreal-based company, controlled by private equity giant TPG Capital, requested court protection through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in Canada. Application under the CCAA will 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.

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.

The company, which grew from a troupe of Quebec street performers into a global live entertainment giant, entered into a so-called stalking horse purchase agreement with its top shareholders — TPG, Shanghai-based Fosun International Ltd. and Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec. The Quebec government’s investment and lending arm, Investissement Quebec (IQ), is involved as a lender, the company said.

Under the terms of the proposal, the sponsors will inject US$300 million of liquidity into the restructured business to support a successful restart and assume some of Cirque’s liabilities, the company said.

IQ would act as a debt provider, lending $200 million as part of the $300 million, while the shareholders acquire substantially all of the company’s assets for a combination of cash, debt, and equity. Cirque du Soleil’s existing secured creditors would receive $50 million of unsecured, takeback debt in addition to a 45% equity stake in the restructured company.

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.”

Cirque du Soleil, which ran shows in Las Vegas including Mystere and Michael Jackson ONE, hired advisers to explore debt restructuring options in March, people with knowledge of the situation said at the time.

Bloomberg.com

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Facebook Advertising Exodus Could Benefit Smaller Businesses, says Local Entrepreneur – VOCM

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Large international advertisers are fleeing the Facebook platform in light of the Black Lives Matter and the Stop Hate for Profit movements. While the impact on Facebook has been significant in terms of advertising dollars, it’s doubtful large companies will abandon the platform altogether.

That’s according to Terry Hussey of Vigilant Management, who is skeptical about the reason why big advertisers are leaving Facebook.

He says a lot of corporations were about to slash their advertising budgets anyway due to the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19.

Josh Taylor of txtsquad says larger advertisers leaving the platform is good news for smaller and medium-sized businesses that rely on social media to serve their customer base, but he doesn’t believe the big advertisers can skip Facebook completely. He says while there are some real challenges related to the social media platform, he calls it a “workhorse” that has defied predictions that it is on the way out.

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Facebook losing the boycott battle

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As an advertising boycott of Facebook continues to grow, Mark Zuckerberg shows no sign of backing down.

The campaign, involving some of the world’s biggest companies, calls on Facebook to do more about hate speech and misinformation.

Facebook boss Mr Zuckerberg says he thinks the brands will be back “soon enough” and that Facebook’s policies won’t change. It’s a story that cuts to the heart of how the internet interacts with democracy, freedom of speech, business and how we define truth and hate.

In the latest of his weekly reports, this is Ros Atkins on Facebook and the boycott.

Source: BBC

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Japan to US: Extradite men accused of helping ex-Nissan boss flee – Aljazeera.com

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Japan has formally asked the United States to extradite a former Green Beret and his son, who are accused of helping former Nissan Motor Co boss Carlos Ghosn flee the country while he was awaiting trial on financial charges.

Japan submitted a request to the US Department of State to extradite Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, after they were provisionally arrested in Massachusetts in May, the US Department of Justice said in a court filing on Thursday.

Attorneys for the Taylors did not immediately respond to requests by Reuters for comment. Their lawyers have argued that they have not been charged in Japan with an offense for which extradition is possible under the US-Japan treaty.

The Japanese embassy in Washington and the Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment.

The Taylors were arrested in Harvard, Massachusetts, on May 20 at Japan’s request after authorities there in January accused the pair of helping smuggle Ghosn, Nissan’s former chairman, out of the country on December 29, 2019, in a box.

Ghosn fled to Lebanon, his childhood home, after being charged with engaging in financial wrongdoing, including by understating his compensation in Nissan’s financial statements. He denies wrongdoing.

Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan.

Both men have been held without bail since their arrest. Prosecutors have argued that neither Taylor – including Michael, a US Army Special Forces veteran and private security specialist – should be released from jail as they are flight risks.

SOURCE:
Reuters news agency

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