MONTREAL (AP) – The Cirque du Soleil has signed a deal to sell a majority stake to U.S. private equity firm TPG for an undisclosed price, the world-renowned circus troupe announced Monday.
Billionaire Cirque founder Guy Laliberte will maintain a stake in the business and continue to provide strategic and creative input to the company.
Chinese investment firm Fosun and Quebec pension fund management firm Caisse de depot will hold minority stakes, while Quebec businessman Mitch Garber will become Cirque chairman.
TPG is the world’s largest casino owner with a stake in Caesar’s Entertainment, while Fosun owns Club Med resorts. TPG said its experience building brands like J. Crew and Neiman Marcus, along with its strong media and entertainment relationships, will provide Cirque with new revenue opportunities.
The new owners plan to expand Cirque’s presence in China. They also want to expand third-party licensing deals, digital media and ticket sales.
Cirque du Soleil has 4,000 employees worldwide, including more than 1,300 artists.
The buyers have agreed to terms that will ensure Montreal, home to about 1,400 employees, remains Cirque’s international creative and management headquarters.
The sale expected to close in the third quarter.
Since beginning in 1984, Cirque has played to almost 160 million spectators in more than 330 cities in some 48 countries.