Snyder to exit as topper after company's sale

MONTREAL — Stuart Snyder is set to step down as president and CEO of troubled Canuck animation company Cinar Corp. after only one year on the job. The Montreal-based company announced Snyder’s departure Thursday.

He will ankle immediately after completion of the deal to sell the company for $144 million to an investor group made up of former Nelvana execs Michael Hirsh and Toper Taylor and the private fund TD Capital. Shareholders are set to vote on the deal at a special meeting in Montreal Feb. 17 and Snyder would leave within a couple of days of that meeting if the deal is approved.

Hirsh and Taylor will take over as senior execs at Cinar once Snyder departs, and it was widely expected that the two former senior execs from rival animation producer Nelvana would have a hands-on management role at Cinar once they took over the company.

When hired last February, Snyder had a three-year deal at $500,000 annually. As per the settlement, he will receive $1 million, representing the final two years of his contract, plus an additional $1.2 million. In addition, Cinar has agreed to invest $1.5 million in a stage show produced by New York-based live-entertainment company Turnstile Entertainment. Snyder is a shareholder in Turnstile, though his shares have been held in a blind trust since he took on the top job at Cinar.

That money will go into a stage production of “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” based on the kids TV show (which is not a Cinar production). That investment is part of a settlement of disputes between Cinar and Turnstile.

“I think it’s fair and reasonable, and it puts both parties in a good position to move forward,” said Snyder of the settlement with Turnstile.

A spokesman for Hirsh confirmed that the new management was closing down the live-theater division of Cinar set up by Snyder several months ago. Snyder has a background in live entertainment, having held exec positions at WWF Entertainment and Feld Entertainment.

Just weeks after joining Cinar last year, Snyder announced that Cinar, a TV producer, was going into live entertainment and that it had inked a deal to acquire the touring rights to two properties. Cinar at the time did not name the company that sold the rights, only saying that a Cinar officer was a shareholder in the company. That company was Turnstile.

Snyder said it was the right time to leave Cinar.

“These guys (Hirsh and Taylor) have a great track record and they’re active owners,” Snyder told Daily Variety. “So it’s an obvious one. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.”

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