Howie Mandel, ICM Partners lead investor group in Just For Laughs acquisition

A statement issued by the new owners stressed that the yearly festival will stay in Montreal and that JFL jobs and offices will also remain in Quebec.

JustforLaughsAn investor group headed up by comedian Howie Mandel and L.A.-based talent agency ICM Partners has acquired Just For Laughs Group.

The new owners are in talks with a number of local Quebec players to also join the investment group, according to a statement issued Wednesday.

The announcement states that the plan is for both JFL and its French counterpart Festival Juste pour rire to run exactly as they have done in the past. All the same leadership and personnel will remain place, with the yearly festival remaining in Montreal and JFL jobs and offices also remaining in Quebec. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The festival, which began as a comedy festival in Montreal in 1983, has grown to include production and distribution businesses in more than 135 countries.

“I consider it to be a cultural treasure not only for the Montreal and Quebec communities, but also for Canada; and I am very excited to be part of this group of investors that will ensure the Festival’s long term success, while growing their global comedy brand,” said Mandel in a statement.

JFL initiated a sale process following allegations of sexual harassment against JFL president Gilbert Rozon, who stepped down in October 2017. It later restructured its management team, with Guylaine Lalonde taking over as president and CEO.

“This strategic alliance with Howie Mandel and ICM Partners is the best of all worlds for JFL, and ensures it has the resources to continue to thrive,” said JFL chairman Mr.Pierre-Marc Johnson. “Since the announcement of the sale process, JFL staff and their families have been amazing in demonstrating their support for our mission.  We thank them for their hard work and patience through this process and are thrilled to begin this new chapter, starting with the 2018 edition of the Festival.”

This year’s festival runs from July 14 to 28, 2018.

Image: Howie Mandel hosts the Canadian Screen Awards in 2017; Picture: Academy