Cirque du Soleil cuts 3,500 jobs to avoid bankruptcy

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Canadian entertainment firm Cirque du Soleil will cut 3,500 jobs after reaching an agreement to avoid bankruptcy.

The group, best known for its quirky traveling circuses, said the coronavirus pandemic had forced it to cancel shows and fire its artists.

The company will now seek to restructure itself while eliminating approximately 95% of its staff.

“With zero revenue since the forced closure of all our shows due to Covid-19, management had to act decisively,” said Chief Daniel Lamarre.

The firm had to pause production of all its shows, including six in Las Vegas, in March.

Along with its circuses, it also has musicals that tour the world, including Michael Jackson One and The Beatles Love.

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The firm said it had signed an agreement under which its existing shareholders will assume Cirque’s responsibilities and invest $ 300 million (£ 244 million) in the business.

About $ 200 million of this money will take the form of a loan from the province of Quebec, where the company is based.

He also said that shareholders would set aside $ 20 million to provide additional relief to affected employees and contractors.

He said he intended to rehire “a substantial majority” of laid-off employees, business conditions would allow, once the coronavirus-related closings are lifted and operations can resume.

Cirque’s application for bankruptcy protection will be heard on Tuesday by the Superior Court of Quebec.

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