Coronavirus: Entertainment firm Cirque du Soleil axes 3,500 jobs as bankruptcy looms

Members of the cast from The Beatles' 'LOVE' by Cirque du Soleil perform at the Musi Cares Person of the Year gala honoring Paul Mc Cartney in Los Angeles Calif. on Feb. 10 2012

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.

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

Cirque laid off 95% of its employees - more than 4,000 people - 10 days later.

A "stalking horse" purchase agreement is in place in connection with the filing, meaning that Cirque du Soleil is available for purchase by new ownership.

Cirque entered into a so-called stalking horse purchase agreement with its shareholders - TPG, Shanghai-based Fosun International Ltd. and Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec - for a U.S. $300 million injection of liquidity.

TPG, Fosun, and Caisse have been investors in Cirque du Soleil since 2015, they said.

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The CCAA is a Canadian Federal Act that allows large corporations to restructure their finances and avoid bankruptcy, while allowing creditors to receive some form of payment for amounts owed to them.

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.

The company added that given that its resident shows in Las Vegas and Orlando are expected to resume before the rest of the other shows, the artists and show staff of the resident shows division are not affected.

Cirque du Soleil also issued a statement on Twitter as well as an FAQ, saying that tickets to suspended shows are still valid, even though all shows, with the exception of "The Land of Fantasy" that reopened in China on June 3, are still postponed.

Cirque de Soleil performs an act at the Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park in 2019.

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