Just For Laughs Group, NOI

Just For Laughs Group (“JFL Group”), a group of seven Montreal-based comedy companies, filed an NOI on March 5.

Founded in 1983, the JFL Group is an international leading figure in the comedy industry, notably due to the development of the Just For Laughs festivals and Gags, humorous video capsules distributed throughout the world.

In June 2018, the JFL Group was acquired by a consortium made up of Bell Media, Groupe CH, a predecessor to US talent agency CAA, and Canadian producer and actor Howie Mandel.

In April 2023, the JFL Group decided to organize a large-scale festival for its 2023 edition of the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal. This decision was made fully aware that the event would result in a loss, but on a strategic basis, taking into consideration that the 2022 edition of the festival had not been satisfactory in the eyes of the various sponsors.

During that same period, TVA Group decided not to purchase season XXIV of Gags, which negatively impacted the JFL Group’s results.

The Hair show, a major production of the JFL Group, posted sales significantly lower than expected, generating further losses.

The JFL Group has also been in breach of the restrictive clauses of its financing agreement since the 2018 acquisition.

Ultimately, the JFL Group decided to initiate a restructuring process, significantly limiting its current activities and allowing it to seek potential investors or strategic buyers, with the goal of maximizing value and, to the extent possible, preserving the continuity of operations.

A hearing is scheduled for March 15 to convert the NOI proceedings into CCAA proceedings and to add other JFL related entities as applicants.

Major creditors include National Bank of Canada (owed $17 million), BDC (owed $2 million), SODEC (owed $2.4 million) and Gilbert Rozon (owed $15 million).

PwC is the proposal trustee.

Counsel is Osler for the JFL Group and Davies for the proposal trustee.

RCGT is the financial advisor for National Bank of Canada.

By: Dina Milivojevic