François Legault defends the purchase of the shares of Cirque du Soleil from Guy Laliberté by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, when the coronavirus had started to spread, even if that will not be part of his “good moves”.
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“At one point, the Caisse de dépôt made good moves in certain cases, made less good moves in other cases, made decisions independently of the government,” he said Tuesday at a press briefing. in Mascouche, in the Lanaudière region.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic had been gaining ground since December and was already leading to cancellations of shows, especially in China, the first affected country, François Legault affirmed that “the Caisse could not predict the pandemic which arrived from March”.
Last Friday, the Caisse de dépôt announced that it had written off the $ 228 million investment it held in Cirque du Soleil.
“It seemed obvious that this amount should be written off, so that’s what was done 100%,” said its CEO, Charles Émond.
On Tuesday, the opposition parties said they were waiting firmly for Mr. Émond, who will present the organization’s annual appropriations to the National Assembly next Monday.
They will then have the chance to question the leader for an hour.
And if they do not obtain the desired answers, the representatives of Québec solidaire and the Parti Québécois do not exclude asking the Prime Minister to launch an investigation into the purchase of the shares of the founder of the Cirque, Guy Laliberté, by the Caisse last February.
“Who approached whom? Was it Mr. Laliberté who wanted to sell his shares? Or was it the Caisse that saw an opportunity? This is fundamental, because if it is the Caisse, it is a very poor judgment considering the information we had at the time, ”said Parti Québécois finance spokesperson Martin Ouellet.
For the latter, hearing Mr. Émond represents a “test of leadership” for the leader, although he wishes “to give the runner the chance”.
“I challenge him with transparency”, launched the spokesperson for Quebec solidaire in matters of Finance, Vincent Marrissal, for whom “the circus has lasted long enough”.
“It would take a lot of the imagination to say it’s a good shot to lose $ 228 million. When you have the Caisse’s means of investigation, you do your homework and check before making such a transaction, ”added the Member for Rosemont.
“Quebeckers deserve to know the why and how of this transaction and I think it is in their interest to be ready to answer our questions next week,” said Liberal MP Monsef Derraji for his part.
At the end of June, Cirque du Soleil took shelter from its creditors after all of its shows were put on hiatus due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, Cirque rejected a takeover offer presented by the Caisse and its two other shareholders, TPG and Fosun, preferring a proposal from certain lenders.
The transaction in a few dates:
- February 17, 2020: the CDPQ announces the repurchase of Guy Laliberté’s remaining 10% stake in Cirque du Soleil.
- June 29, 2020: deprived of income since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cirque du Soleil is taking shelter from its creditors in order to restructure its debt and relaunch its activities.
- August 6, 2020: the CDPQ announces that it has written off its $ 228 million investment in Cirque.