Cirque du Soleil Files for Bankruptcy, Axes 3,500 Employees Worldwide

Daniel Fowler
June 30, 2020

When the wave of COVID-19 closures hit, the debut was postponed indefinitely, and while no new dates have been announced, company officials believe the show may premiere in the Fall, considering there are no health and safety restrictions on shows.

"We know, because of the proposal on the table, that the Cirque is saved", CEO Daniel Lamarre said in a phone interview.

Cirque du Soleil, the producer of numerous acrobatic theater shows like La Nouba, which played at Disney World for almost 20 years and the maker of a new show that was scheduled to appear earlier in the year, has filed for bankruptcy, CNN reported Monday.

Canada's Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the famed circus operator to cancel shows and lay off its artistes.

As part of the investment, government body Investissement Québec will provide $200 million in debt financing.

The Montreal-based circus arts show company temporarily suspended productions around the world in March because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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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. They will also receive repayment of a $50 million interim loan.

The company added that it expects to resume production of its shows in Las Vegas and Orlando before other shows, therefore, the artists and show staff of the resident shows division will not be affected.

Cirque's CCAA application will be heard on Tuesday by the Superior Court of Quebec.

It said it meant to rehire "a substantial majority" of terminated employees, business conditions allowing, once coronavirus-related shutdowns were lifted and operations could resume.

Cirque is drowning in almost $1 billion in debt, according to CNN Business.

The company had to stop all performances in March, including six popular Las Vegas shows and global touring musicals Michael Jackson One and The Beatles Love. Impacted employees are meant to be rehired as Cirque du Soleil restarts its business, and mandatory COVID-19 shutdowns are lifted in impacted markets, the company said.

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