Globally renowned circus troupe Cirque du Soleil has sold a majority stake to the US private equity firm TPG Capital and the Chinese conglomerate Fosun Capital Group, as the company now seeks to spread its wings in China.
“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, who founded Cirque in 1984.
The Canadian firm, valued at 1.5 billion USD, has held performances for over 160 million people in 48 countries across the world, although previous attempts to break into the Chinese market have proved rough. The performance troupe had to terminate a 10-year contract in Macau in 2012 after ticket sales fell short the first three and a half years. The performances stirred up controversy in China a year later when the banned-in-China Tank Man photo from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests flashed across a screen during a show.
The company, which in 2012 was forced to make a huge number of layoffs, nonetheless seems confident about expanding the show in China. “We think that the market is ready for us,” chief executive Daniel Lamarre said.
Other observers have less optimistically referred to the move as “the end of an era“.
Fosun, owned by Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, will hold 20 percent of the company while TPG will hold 60 percent. Lialiberte and Quebec pension fund Caisse de Depot et Placement will keep a minority stake.