The Thai owner of the Miss Universe pageant, which was once owned by former US president Donald Trump, has filed for bankruptcy just one year after buying the beauty contest for US $20 million.
JKN Global Group has said it would try to resolve a “liquidity problem”.
In a statement published on its website, JKN said providing a “top notch experience” to Miss Universe fans “will remain a top priority” ahead of next Saturday’s finale. The firm expressed confidence that its new financial arrangements will “support all of the company’s business operations, including Miss Universe.”
Run by Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, a transgender rights advocate and the star of Thai versions of reality shows such as “Project Runway,” JKN said last year that it planned to grow the Miss Universe Organization by expanding in Asia and releasing branded merchandise.
But the firm has loaded up on debt which it is seeking to restructure.
Funding for the deal was raised through bonds but the firm missed a repayment deadline of around $12m which was due on 1 September.
The Thai Bankruptcy Court has set the hearing date for the petition for business rehabilitation on 29 January, according to the firm.
Under the ownership of JKN, the pageant has allowed mothers and married women to participate in the contest from this year.
The revised format will also feature at least two sex-change women for the first time after Marina Machete became the first transgender woman to win Miss Portugal and Rikkie Valerie Kolle was crowned Miss Netherlands in July.
The annual Miss Universe pageant, with a history spanning seven decades, is broadcast in more than 165 countries.
The Miss Universe Organization was co-owned by Mr Trump from 1996 to 2015.
The former US president sold the company after two television partners said they would not broadcast the pageant, over comments Mr Trump made about illegal immigrants on his 2016 presidential campaign.
He was also criticised when former Miss Universe Alicia Machado claimed Mr Trump called her “Miss Piggy”.
The remarks were made when she put on weight after winning contest in 1996, the Venezuela-born model said.
“When I purchased the pageants many years ago, they were in serious trouble,” Mr Trump said in a statement following the company’s sale to US talent agency WME-IMG in 2015.
“It has been a great honour making them so successful. The pageants are now in the hands of a great company that will shepherd them to even greater levels of success.”
Sources: BBC, CNN, JKN.