A rumoured deal to sell a majority stake of Quebec-based Cirque du Soleil to American and Chinese investors is moving forward.
Cirque billionaire and founder Guy Laliberte has signed a contract to reduce his majority control of the company, a development that follows recent speculation and was confirmed by the company today.
In the deal, a majority stake of the circus group has been sold to American-based private equity firm TPG Capital while Shanghai-based Fosun Capital Group will take on a minority stake.
Quebec pension fund Caisse de depot et placement, which owns Cadillac Fairview, will also take on a minority stake in the company.
The combined value of the deal is said to be $1.5 billion.
Under the deal’s conditions, Laliberte will retain a minority stake and become a creative and strategic advisor and the company’s headquarters will remain in Montreal.
For the company, the transaction gives it capacity into other global markets, particularly Asia.
“After 30 years building the Cirque du Soleil brand, we have now found the right partners in TPG, Fosun and the Caisse to take Cirque du Soleil forward to the next stage in its evolution as a company founded on the conviction that the arts and business, together, can contribute to making a better world,” said Guy Laliberte in a statement.
“Just as importantly, I am thrilled that the investors have demonstrated such a strong commitment to Cirque’s unique Québec cultural heritage and the creativity and imagination of our people.”
Laliberte has owned a controlling stake in the group since it launched in 1984. The circus group’s shows have entertained more than 150 million people worldwide and employs over 1,400 people.
There are currently 18 permanent or touring Cirque du Soleil shows around the world. The group will be returning to Vancouver this May for performances at the Pacific Coliseum.