Just For Laughs sold to Howie Mandel and American company

Just for Laughs announced Wednesday the company has been acquired by comedian Howie Mandel and ICM Partners, a Los Angeles-based talent and literary agency.

Founder Gilbert Rozon stepped down last October amid allegations of sexual misconduct

Comedian Howie Mandel and ICM Partners have acquired Just For Laughs. (Peter Power/Canadian Press)

After weeks of rumours, Just for Laughs has officially been sold.

The iconic Montreal-based company announced Wednesday it has been acquired by Canadian comedian Howie Mandel and ICM Partners, a Los Angeles-based talent and literary agency.​

The Just For Laughs offices and festival will remain in Montreal, ICM said in a statement.

"They gave their word that they intend to keep operations in Montreal," said Pierre-Marc Johnson, the chairman of Just For Laugh's board of directors.

Neither party revealed the price of sale.

Mandel, for his part, said that he has always been a big fan of the festival, where he has performed many times in the past 10 years.

"I consider it to be a cultural treasure not only for the Montreal and Quebec communities, but also for Canada," he said in a statement.

In total, seven groups had expressed interest in buying the Just For Laughs Group.

In December, a Swiss-based firm thought to be a front-running candidate to buy Just For Laughs decided not to pursue the purchase, saying it should remain in Quebec.

Former president faces allegations of sexual misconduct

The sale comes after Gilbert Rozon, the founder and former president of Just For Laughs, stepped down in October following accusations of sexual misconduct and assault spanning three decades.

After his resignation, Just For Laughs restructured. As part of that process, Rozon was officially removed from the business affairs of the company.
Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon announced he would sell his majority stake in the company amid allegations made last fall that he sexually harassed and assaulted several women. (Radio-Canada)

Rozon said he would sell his stake in the company.

He has denied the allegations and they have not been proven in court.

Quebecor did not meet bid of competitor

A Quebec court determined last month that media giant Quebecor has right of first refusal in the sale of Just For Laughs, based on a 2012 partnership deal with the comedy festival.

However, Quebecor announced last week it did not exercise that right.

A deal between the two firms gave the Montreal-based media conglomerate 12 days to make an offer equal to that of any potential competitor in the sale of Just For Laughs.

Videotron, Quebecor's cable subsidiary, announced Monday it is partnering with the Grand Montréal comédie fest, a new Montreal comedy festival that will take place this summer over the two weeks before Just for Laughs.

The 36th annual Just For Laughs Festival will run from July 14 to July 28 in Montreal.
The Just For Laughs festival and headquarters will be staying in Montreal. (Radio-Canada)

With files from Radio-Canada and the Canadian Press