Cirque du Soleil's future is at stake and the founder wants to buy the company back
Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté says he intends to buy back the celebrated circus after he sold it five years ago to several investment companies.
The businessman and former fire-eater spoke on Radio-Canada's Tout le monde en parle on Sunday evening, saying, "Cirque has given me so much, and seeing the situation as it is, if I can help, I will."
The Montreal-based circus has been struggling financially amidst the pandemic, carrying roughly US$900 million in debt. In late March, the company shut down almost all of its operations and laid off 95 per cent of its staff.
UPDATE MARCH 17: We’d like to thank you for your support in these challenging times.— Cirque du Soleil (@Cirque) March 17, 2020
We share your disappointment in regard to the suspension and postponement of our shows around the world and we want you to know we’re working with our partners to find solutions for everyone. pic.twitter.com/ywKSX8mUEJ
Cirque du Soleil received an emergency injection of $50 million from its three main shareholders in May, which include the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ).
Laliberté sold 90 per cent of his stake in the company in 2015, but he only parted with the remaining 10 per cent in February. Now, he intends to buy back control of Cirque du Soleil in a bid to relight "the sacred fire that burns" at the heart of the show.
Our founder, Guy Laliberté, walks the red carpet for the world premiere of #MJONE! pic.twitter.com/TIZSYkqXCC— Cirque du Soleil (@Cirque) June 30, 2013
"After careful consideration, I choose to follow my heart and to embark with confidence on the recovery process," he said in a press release on Sunday night.
Laliberté hinted that he might want back into the company in an open letter on May 13, but the founder says he waited to make the official announcement until he had "a solid business plan, and the consent and support of [his] family."
However, Laliberté noted that the relaunch "will have to be done at the right price."
The news comes just weeks after Montreal-based communications company Quebecor was forced to publicly announce its intention to buy a stake in the company after Cirque du Soleil shared the company's offer.
Cirque du Soleil has been operating since 1984. During its 36 years of history, the Canadian acrobatics and circus extravaganza has performed for over 180 million spectators in 450 cities worldwide.
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