Livent Nabs $23.5 Million in Survival Funds, Closes Show Boat Tour

News   Livent Nabs $23.5 Million in Survival Funds, Closes Show Boat Tour
 
Livent will live to see another day -- for now. The tottering Canadian theatrical production company has secured $23.5 million (CDN $35 million) in emergency funding from the investment management firm of Angelo, Gordon & Co. The monies are intended to carry Livent through the year, with $13 million made available by Dec. 4 and the remaining $10.5 provided by mid-December, subject to court approval.

Livent will live to see another day -- for now. The tottering Canadian theatrical production company has secured $23.5 million (CDN $35 million) in emergency funding from the investment management firm of Angelo, Gordon & Co. The monies are intended to carry Livent through the year, with $13 million made available by Dec. 4 and the remaining $10.5 provided by mid-December, subject to court approval.

The company also announced that it would be shutting down a variety of unprofitable ventures -- including the North American tour of Show Boat -- and reducing administrative expenses by 40 percent, in order to concentrate of its "core business." Livent Chairman and CEO Roy Furman termed the core business as Livent's theatres in New York, Chicago and Toronto; the Chicago and New York productions of Ragtime ; Toronto's production of The Phantom of the Opera ; its co production, with Lincoln Center Theatre, of Parade ; and the upcoming Broadway musical Fosse , due to begin previews at the Broadhurst Theatre on Dec. 26.

Furman also said Livent would continue to develop such projects as The Seussical , Pal Joey and The Sweet Smell of Success.

In recent days, Broadway's biggest producers and theatre owners have eagerly eyed Livent's theatres and productions as properties that might be greedily snapped up should the Canadian company break up. Players such as the Shuberts, Nederlanders and Cablevision have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring New York's Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Hours before the Livent declared bankruptcy on Nov. 18, it was discovered that Livent's Ragtime national tour would close in Minneapolis on Nov. 21, its planned Seattle and Boston dates scrapped. The Seattle stop has since been resuscitated by Pace Theatrical Group, Inc., and Pace may assume responsibility for the Boston engagement as well. Show Boat, meanwhile, will conclude its journey after its current Providence, R.I., stop, which ends on Dec. 6. Livent said the tour was unprofitable.

Also, Livent will no longer operate Toronto's Ford Centre, where tours of Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk , Peter Pan and Cirque Ingenieux , all part of the "Broadway at the Centre" series at the Ford Centre, were canceled last week. The North York Performing Arts Centre Corporation (NYPACC) is poised to take over management of the troubled facility, where recent Livent productions of Show Boat , Ragtime and Fosse had their world premieres.

Livent was not specific as to which administrative costs it would be eliminating, but it claimed such expenses would be reduced 40 percent from their August 1998 levels.

Such measures are part of what Furman terms a three-stage process. The first step involved the investigation of the "accounting irregularities" which Livent's new management team of Furman and Michael Ovitz discovered last August after taking over the company. The second stop involved securing the emergency financing. The company will now concentrate on the final step -- the establishment of a long term financial structure.

The company continued to label ousted Livent founder Garth Drabinsky as the perpetrator of its current dire predicament. On Nov. 18, the same day Livent declared bankruptcy, the company fired Drabinsky and Gottlieb and authorized a filing in Ontario Court of a $225 million (CDN) civil damage action against Drabinsky, Gottlieb and a company owned by Gottlieb, alleging "fraud, conversion and unjust enrichment," according to a Livent statement.

-- By Robert Simonson and Kenneth Jones

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