North America

Clothing retailer Reitmans Canada Ltd said on Monday it would permanently shutdown its Thyme Maternity and Addition Elle brands and slash its work force by about 1,400 employees as part of a restructuring plan, Reuters reported. Last month, the company said that it had obtained preliminary approval to seek bankruptcy protection in order to restructure its operations as the COVID-19 pandemic causes prolonged store closures.

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Cirque du Soleil, its spotlight dimmed by the coronavirus pandemic, will receive $200 million in aid from Canada’s Quebec province, an official said on Tuesday, as part of broader efforts to revive and keep the hard-hit international entertainment group based in Montreal, Reuters reported. Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said the province has an agreement in principle that would give it the option to buy a majority stake in Cirque if shareholders TPG and Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd (0656.HK) decide to pull out.

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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is betting that a new trade agreement with the US and Canada will usher a flood of investment into Mexico that will help lift it out of the coronavirus crisis, the Financial Times reported. But instead of celebrating the launch of the USMCA on July 1 with champagne, US, Canadian and European companies are filing local lawsuits to protect their investments. They are also considering arbitration under the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) and other international treaties.

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Reitmans Canada Ltd on Tuesday obtained preliminary approval to seek bankruptcy protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, the latest retailer seeking to restructure its operations as the COVID-19 pandemic causes prolonged store closures, Reuters reported. Reitmans, which was founded in 1926 and retails fashion apparel through 576 stores across Canada and online, said it obtained the order from a Quebec court, leading to an operational, commercial and financial restructuring.

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The Canadian government is in talks to hire Lazard as the financial adviser for its new loan program for large companies, according to a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported. The program, known as the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility, will allow firms with at least C$300 million ($214 million) in annual revenue to apply for credit if they can’t get it from banks or other sources.

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Canada unveiled a loan program for large firms that have been hit by Covid-19 and can’t get financing by conventional means. The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility is for companies and non-profit organizations with annual revenue of C$300 million ($214 million) or more, Bloomberg News reported. Firms in all sectors can apply for the funding except the finance industry. Companies that receive money will have to accept limits on executive pay, dividends and share buybacks.

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Canada’s privately held Aldo Group Inc said on Thursday it would restructure under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) as the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak weighed on the footwear retailer’s business, Reuters reported. The announcement follows the high-profile bankruptcies of Neiman Marcus Group NMRCUS.UL and J. Crew Group Inc, as retailers around the world face unprecedented disruption and heavy debt piles brought on by the pandemic.

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Shopify Inc. surged on Wednesday to become Canada’s most valuable company -- but can the e-commerce giant survive being No. 1? Ottawa-based Shopify edged past Royal Bank of Canada to become the largest publicly listed company in Canada, Bloomberg News reported. The achievement comes with a dubious distinction, however: those that leapfrogged the value of Canada’s largest bank in the past have faltered. Royal Bank, incorporated in 1869, has been Canada’s most valuable company for years, but has been been eclipsed on a few occasions.

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RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust is freezing new and early stage projects to cut costs during the coronavirus pandemic as rent collection slid, Bloomberg News reported. The move will save one of Canada’s largest retail landlords C$100 million to C$150 million ($71 million to $107 million) in development spending in 2020, RioCan said in its first quarter report Tuesday. The Toronto-based REIT said in a separate investor presentation that it collected 55% of its rent in the first quarter. The company expects 28% to still be received and has agreed to deferrals for 17% of its tenants.

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Struggling Mexican airline Interjet suffered a heavy blow on Wednesday when it was suspended from the clearing house membership of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for failing to keep up with payments, Reuters reported. The Airlines Clearing House (ACH) said in a letter dated Wednesday the membership of ABC Aerolineas S.A. de C.V., which operates under the name Interjet, was suspended with “immediate effect” due to the “non-payment of a clearance balance”.

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