Guy Laliberte has sold a majority stake in Cirque du Soleil, one of the most famous entertainment groups in the world, to TPG Capital, a private equity firm with global operations.
Chinese investment group Fosun will also pick up a minority stake in Cirque, and plans to work with TPG in order to bring the brand to 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,” Laliberte said.
“Just as importantly, I am thrilled that the investors have demonstrated such a strong commitment to Cirque’s unique Quebec cultural heritage and the creativity and imagination of our people.”
Local Quebec Firm to Retain Some Ownership
That Quebec heritage will be guaranteed by the fact that a minority interest in Cirque has been acquired by Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, as part of an investment group that also includes local businessman Mitch Garber.
According to the press release, Garber will become the Chairman of Cirque du Soleil as a part of the deal, and it is said that the company’s headquarters will remain in Montreal.
“Guy has built one of the most extraordinary companies in the world,” Garber said in a press release. “I have worked with TPG for many years and know they are the perfect partners to take this business forward. Cirque is a great source of pride for all Quebecers and we intend to continue to make them proud.”
Laliberte Made Big One for One Drop Possible
Laliberte may be best known to the world for his work as the CEO of Cirque du Soleil, but he has also become something of a celebrity in the poker world.
Laliberte is the founder of the One Drop Foundation, a charity that was designed to help provide clean water access to people around the world. Laliberte made a $100 million contribution to help fund the foundation over the first 25 years of its existence.
But One Drop has also received significant funding from another source: the poker community. In 2012, the World Series of Poker played host to the first ever Big One for One Drop, the first-ever $1 million buy-in tournament in the history of the game.
$111,111 from each buy-in was set aside as a donation to the charity; with 48 participants in the contest, One Drop made over $5.3 million from the event, while Antonio Esfandiari took home more than $18.3 million for winning the tournament.
That success was repeated in 2014, when the second Big One for One Drop was won by Daniel Colman, who won $15.3 million, while another $4.66 million was raised for One Drop.
While financial terms of the Cirque sale have not been made public, reports have put the sale price at somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion. The sale was the result of an auction, in which TPG and Fosun combined to submit the winning bid.
The press release announcing the sale noted that Laliberte will retain a stake in the company, with some reports saying he will still own about 10 percent of Cirque. The press release said that he is expected to “continue to provide strategic and creative input to the company.”