The French-Canadian acrobatics and circus company Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group has filed for bankruptcy protection as part of a “comprehensive plan” to restart its business.

The company cited the “immense disruption and forced show closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Cirque du Soleil said it has entered into a stalking-horse agreement with its largest investors, including TPG, Fosun, and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, for $420 million. Investissement Québec is providing debt.

The company temporarily suspended production of its shows three months ago, and is terminating approximately 3,480 employees who were furloughed in March.

“For the past 36 years, Cirque du Soleil has been a highly successful and profitable organization. However, with zero revenues since the forced closure of all of our shows due to COVID-19, management had to act decisively to protect the company’s future,” said Daniel Lamarre, president and chief executive officer of the company.

Under the agreements, the company’s sponsors will add $300 million in liquidity, with Investissement Québec agreeing to provide $200 million in debt financing to support a proposed acquisition. The $300 million in liquidity also includes $15 million for a fund to assist terminated employees and a $5 million contractor fund to pay artisans and freelancers.

The company reportedly has $1 billion in debt. Its restructuring plan was being heard Tuesday in the Superior Court of Quebec. Cirque would seek immediate provisional recognition in the United States under Chapter 15 if that order was granted, the company said.

Cirque said its headquarters and continued operations in Quebec would continue to be material considerations taken into account as part of its sale and investment solicitation process.

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