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Coronavirus bankrupts Cirque du Soleil

The fate of Cirque du Soleilwill be decided in a courtroom, not under the big top.

Driving the news: The live events giant yesterday filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada and confirmed furloughs of around 3,500 employees.


What happened: The coronavirus pandemic decimated the company almost entirely reliant on revenue from live events.

  • Just weeks before the virus hammered North America, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) had increased its stake in the company and its debt was trading just below par.

What now: Cirque's existing private equity owners, including TPG Capital, offered a reorganization plan whereby they'd retain a 55% equity stake.

  • A source says that 26 parties signed nondisclosure agreements with Cirque, but this was the only formal offer received.
  • It includes $300 million in new investment, $200 million of which is debt financing from Investissement Québec.
  • That money also would include the establishment of a $15 million fund for furloughed employees, and a $5 million fund for contractors.

Between the lines: Cirque creditors aren't pleased with an arrangement that would leave them without a controlling interest. They're expected to submit a rival plan today, ahead of a Canadian court hearing.

  • This reflects something that's emerging as a big difference between our current financial crisis and the prior edition: Banks and other lenders are in a much stronger financial position, and seem more interested in fighting to defend their cap table superiority.
  • These conflicts could become more prevalent as bankruptcies continue to rise. As we noted yesterday, there already have been more global corporate defaults in 2020 than in all of 2019.

The bottom line: Neither the private equity firms nor the creditors can really control when Cirque resumes operations. But the "winner" could significantly impact what that resumption looks like, and how many of the 3,500 employees get rehired.

Romney calls Trump's commutation of Roger Stone's sentence "historic corruption"

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Saturday tweeted a scathing response to President Trump's Friday night commutation of former associate Roger Stone's prison sentence, calling the move "[u]nprecedented, historic corruption."

Why it matters: Romney has emerged as the party's most prominent Trump critic. He sent shockwaves through Washington after announcing he would vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial — becoming the only Senate Republican to break ranks and vote for the president's removal from office. Now he is the first major GOP lawmaker to condemn Trump's Friday night call regarding Stone.

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We're losing the war on the coronavirus

By any standard, no matter how you look at it, the U.S. is losing its war against the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The pandemic is not an abstraction, and it is not something that’s simmering in the background. It is an ongoing emergency ravaging nearly the entire country, with a loss of life equivalent to a Sept. 11 every three days — for four months and counting.

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Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence

President Trump on Friday evening commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, according to two senior administration officials. Stone in February was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

Why it matters: The controversial move brings an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars. He had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14.

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Appeals court denies Roger Stone's call to delay sentence

The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia on Friday denied Roger Stone, President Trump's former associate, a requested delay to his 4o-month prison sentence for lying to Congress during the Russia probe.

Why it matters: Stone is set to report for his sentence on July 14. Trump on Friday said he was "looking at" commuting Stone's sentence, adding his former aide and longtime confidant was "unfairly treated," according to the Washington Post.

Which states have set single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: COVID Tracking Project and state health department data compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti and Naema Ahmed/Axios

13 states this week surpassed records set just last week for their highest number of coronavirus infections in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health department data. 16 states in total reported new highs.

The big picture: The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't just due to increased testing — particularly where the number of cases has grown fastest over the last month, Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens report.

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The reality of the coronavirus brings death and disruptions

It feels like mid-March in America again. The coronavirus is surging, deaths are climbing and the country is dreading a wave of disruptions, less than four months since the first round started.

The big picture: Lingering under all the happy talk of future plans is the reality of this virus — which thrives in potential super-spreader conditions like mass gatherings.

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Podcast: Rural America has its own coronavirus problem

It's often easier to socially distance in rural America, but it can simultaneously be more challenging to get medical care.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the pandemic's urban-rural divide with microbiologist Amber Schmidtke, who has found that coronavirus-related morbidity is higher in many of Georgia's rural counties than in Atlanta.

Biden and Trump tussle over "buy American" proposals

President Trump and Joe Biden are going back and forth over the former vice president's "buy American" economic proposal, which Trump claims Biden "plagiarized" from him.

Why it matters: Biden is directly challenging Trump and his "America First" agenda with the release of his latest plan, focused on economic recovery and re-investing in American manufacturing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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