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Just for Laughs Sells Assets Amid Bankruptcy Protection

Just for Laughs Sells Assets Amid Bankruptcy Protection

The parent company of Montreal’s Just For Laughs comedy festival, Groupe Juste Pour Rire Inc., has agreed to sell select assets as part of a court-directed bankruptcy protection.

Quebec City-based ComediHa! announced it picked up unspecified assets as part of a sale and solicitation process initiated Just for Laughs as it looks to restructure. The sales agreement awaits the approval of the Québec Superior Court, with a hearing set for June 3.

Until that court date, both parties said they will not comment publicly on the proposed asset sale. On March 5, 2024, Groupe Juste Pour Rire said it would restructure under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, secured creditors are owed $26.5 million in outstanding debt. That includes the National Bank of Canada owed $16.6 million, and Bell Media, the Canadian media giant, looking to recover another $1 million in debt.

In 2018, ICM Partners and longtime client Howie Mandel joined a consortium that included local Quebec investors to acquire the Just For Laughs comedy group by picking up the controlling stake of JFL founder Gilbert Rozon.

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CAA is understood to retain a small stake in Just For Laughs after acquiring ICM in 2022, and Mandel is no longer part of the festival’s ownership consortium.

The Montreal-based comedy group got its start in the 1980s as an annual festival where Los Angeles and New York talent scouts discovered the Next Big Thing for Hollywood sitcoms and movie roles. But the rise of the internet and social media as discovery platforms for self-promoting comedians has pushed JFL festival down the assembly line for nascent comedy talent. 

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