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Former Nelvana Execs Bid for CINAR

The buzz coming out of MIPCOM has CINAR Corp. close to a sale of the companys assets to Michael Hirsh and Toper Taylor, former Nelvana co-founder/ceo and president of international distribution, marketing and consumer products respectively. Because Hirsh is Canadian the deal would ensure that CINAR could continue to receive Canadian tax credits.

The sale of the company has been long in the works, with many previous deals falling through. Financial scandals circling the company have dogged the company, but the recent recovery of an unapproved offshore investment of $122 million has improved prospects.

In addition to the misdirected funds, founders and controlling shareholders Micheline Charest and Ronald Weinberg were fined in 2002 by the Quebec Securities Commission $1 million (Canadian) each. The former execs are also barred from holding director or executive positions at any Canadian public company for five years. These actions came in light of allegations that the husband-and-wife team falsified names on scripts to receive addition tax credits and were privy of misallocated funds. As part of the settlement with the Quebec Securities Commission, no admission of guilt was given.

After the settlement, the couple hired Robert Després to manage the trust that holds their voting shares. However, Charest and Weinbergs relationship with Després turned bitter once Després-appointed board members voted him chairman. Charest and Weinberg then filed a lawsuit against Després claiming he irresponsibly spent $23.3 million of CINARs money on professional fees. CINAR quickly spoke out in defense of their chairman, stating that 80% of the fees were spent before Després became chairman and that the money was used to pay forensic accountants, lawyers and other professionals to address the enormous problems caused by the scandals that occurred while [Charest and Weinberg], themselves, were board members and the joint ceos of the company.

CINAR is a production company dedicated to non-violent television programs and educational products for the international marketplace. For more information, visit

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Rick DeMott
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