Swiss group shows interest in acquiring Just For Laughs - InfoNews.ca

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Swiss group shows interest in acquiring Just For Laughs

Actor Jim Carrey poses as he arrives for the Just for Laughs awards show at the annual comedy festival in Montreal, Friday, July 28, 2017. Swiss-based production firm GF Productions is expressing interest in acquiring the Just For Laughs entertainment company with the aim of creating a global entity.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
October 30, 2017 - 4:20 PM

MONTREAL - The man behind the Swiss-based production firm expressing interest in acquiring the Just For Laughs entertainment company said Monday the public image of the enterprise needs a serious makeover.

Gregoire Furrer, founder and owner of GF Productions, said the brand of Montreal-based Just For Laughs took a hit after its president was accused of sexual misconduct.

"It's clear that its brand is tarnished and public confidence has to be restored," said Furrer, whose company runs the Montreux Comedy Festival, which boasts a European TV audience of 20 million.

"Aside from the sale, it'll take an investment plan — to me that's clear," he said in an email to The Canadian Press.

One week ago, Just For Laughs mandated RBC Capital Markets to look into the options surrounding the sale of founder Gilbert Rozon's shares in the comedy festival.

Rozon, 63, recently announced he would sell all his shares amid allegations he sexually harassed or sexually assaulted 10 women as reported by Le Devoir and 98.5 FM.

Some have since spoken to police, with spokespeople for TV producer Julie Snyder, host Penelope McQuade, actress Patricia Tulasne and director Lyne Charlebois confirming criminal complaints have been filed with authorities.

Furrer said he wants to create a global comedy group with the potential purchase of Just For Laughs.

He added he'll keep its headquarters in Montreal and will "develop" the company.

"There is talent at the heart of (Just For Laughs) that has an incredible know-how and I imagine giving them roles in other festivals in Europe, as well as in Africa and elsewhere."

Furrer's company is present in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Africa.

He said he wants Juste pour rire, as the company is known in French, to have the kind of impact in French that Just For Laughs has in English.

Rozon's number of shares in Just For Laughs has not been made public.

He founded the company in 1983 and was serving as president when he resigned about two weeks ago.

Since the company announced it was looking at a sale, a few other groups have expressed interest.

ComediHa!, a Quebec City-based agency founded by Sylvain Parent-Bedard that has offices in Montreal and Hollywood, has stated publicly it is also studying the possibility of purchasing the group.

"It is essential that the assets of Juste pour rire remain in Quebec," the company said one week ago. "With this in mind, we have told the management of the Just For Laughs Group our interest in acquiring it."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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