Cinar President And CEO Steps Down
Barrie Usher, president and CEO of Canadian children's entertainment company Cinar, has submitted his resignation effective September 15, 2002. George Rossi, senior vice president and CFO, will replace him in the interim until a new president and CEO is appointed. Cinar is emerging from a series of financial scandals that began in 1999, stemming from illegally obtained Canadian tax credits, non-approved investments in offshore accounts and the misappropriation of funds by senior executives. "The major business and legal challenges we faced in putting the affairs of Cinar in order have all been addressed," said Usher. "Under the circumstances, I feel the timing is right for me to step aside. I want to thank all of our employees for their constant efforts at rebuilding this company." Usher took over the post of CEO in March 2000, after the ousting of company founders Micheline Charest and Ronald Weinberg. The company will continue its search for a new CEO and is "committed to getting the best possible candidate," said Robert Despres, Chairman of Cinar's Board of Directors. Usher had previously advised the shareholders and the Board of his intention to resign in May 2002, when the announcement was made that Cinar had reached an agreement in principle to settle the claims against it in class actions brought in Canada and the United States. Cinar has now signed the settlement agreement, wherein the plaintiffs have agreed to receive an aggregate amount of US$25 million in full settlement of their claims against Cinar and certain other defendants. The final court hearing in the United States to approve the settlement is expected to occur on November 19, 2002. The settlement is also conditional on the approval of the Quebec Superior Court, and the parties are proceeding to seek that approval.