Cirque du Soleil finds new strategic majority partner in TPG-led investor group

Apr 20, 2015, 09:45 ET from Cirque du Soleil

Guy Laliberté to continue creative advisor status and maintain ownership stake

Strong commitments to Québec and Canada; Montréal, international headquarters of Cirque du Soleil; Management team to remain in place

Transaction provides financial strength to support global growth of Cirque du Soleil's unique artistic vision

Fosun and TPG to target Cirque du Soleil's expansion in China

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to assume minority stake in Cirque du Soleil

MONTRÉAL and SAN FRANCISCO, April 20, 2015 /CNW/ - Cirque du Soleil ("Cirque"), the world's leading producer of high-quality live artistic entertainment, today announced an agreement under which TPG, a global private investment firm, will acquire a majority stake in Cirque du Soleil to fuel growth and take Cirque's iconic blue and yellow big top to exciting new markets.

Cirque du Soleil's Founder, Guy Laliberté, will maintain a stake in the business and will continue to provide strategic and creative input to the company. Fosun, one of China's leading privately-owned investment groups, will acquire a minority stake in Cirque du Soleil via a fund under its management, and together the firms will work with the company to launch and expand in China. In addition, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (the "Caisse") will also acquire a minority interest in the company. Québec businessman Mitch Garber, who has strong business ties to TPG, will also be part of the investor group. Mr. Garber will become Chairman of Cirque du Soleil, adding valuable expertise and a strong Montréal-community presence to the board of directors. No financial terms of the transaction were disclosed.

"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 Laliberté. "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."

"We are excited about the opportunity to bring our global platform of resources and know-how to propel the growth of Cirque's unique brand, content and capabilities around the world," said David Trujillo, partner at TPG. "We are inspired by Guy Laliberté's imagination and vision, and look forward to working with him and his talented team, as well as the vibrant Montréal creative community."

Mitch Garber added, "Guy has built one of the most extraordinary companies in the world. 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 Québecers and we intend to continue to make them proud."

Guo Guangchang, Chairman of Fosun said, "To date, Fosun has established a global prototype for platforms that capture lifestyle trends in China. Building on top of this model, we have an objective to become one of the global leaders in businesses driven by lifestyle needs, which are quickly taking root in China. The performances of Cirque are very attractive and are a standard bearer for the quality content expected by global citizens. We have known Cirque and TPG's team for quite some time so we respect their cultural heritage. We envisage deeper cooperation with Cirque and are excited to have Cirque as a major new growth platform within our lifestyle services and content portfolio."

Guy Laliberté and his team have grown Québec-based Cirque du Soleil into one of the world's largest and most well-recognized entertainment brands, touching 150 million spectators worldwide. As part of the agreement, Cirque du Soleil's talented team will remain in place and TPG has made binding commitments to ensure that the headquarters and the creative activities of Cirque du Soleil will remain in Montréal, a community that has always been at the heart of Cirque's success. Daniel Lamarre will remain as Cirque's President and CEO. 

Michael Sabia, President and CEO of the Caisse, added: "This is an important moment in the history of the Cirque. Today, we are partnering with the company as it seeks to conquer new markets. We are confident that TPG, alongside Fosun, has all the expertise to expand the Cirque's global presence. We are pleased that this new era of growth will be directed from Montréal, the Cirque's decision-making and creative center, under the direction of Daniel Lamarre, CEO."

"Our partners believe in Cirque du Soleil's extraordinary artistic vision, and together, we will nurture that vision and take it to new heights," said Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil. "TPG's track record of helping legendary brands deliver powerful experiences, Fosun's expertise in China and the Caisse's homegrown financial strength are a powerful combination that will fuel new growth in our business."

TPG is one of the world's leading private investment firms, with its largest office in San Francisco. The firm has a successful track record of growing legendary brands that deliver unique consumer experiences, such as Beringer, Chobani, Ducati, Fender, J.Crew and Neiman Marcus. The firm's focus on Internet and media investments, including Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Lynda.com, RentPath, STX Entertainment and Univision, amongst others, also enables TPG to leverage its digital ecosystem for the benefit of portfolio companies such as Cirque.

The combined expertise and resources of the TPG-led investor group offer compelling opportunities to broaden the creative reach of Cirque for the benefit of all stakeholders, including:

  • New revenue opportunities through TPG's deep experience building iconic consumer brands and strong media and entertainment relationships;
  • Greater reach and access to large new audiences in China and other Asian markets for Cirque du Soleil's shows; and
  • Expanded offerings with third-party intellectual property deals, increased licensing, digital media and ticket sales.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the third quarter 2015.

Commitments to Québec and Canada

As part of the transaction, the investors are committing to a comprehensive package of binding undertakings that will ensure that Montréal remains the creative and management international headquarters for Cirque du Soleil, including:

  • Ensure that Cirque's headquarters in Montréal, Québec remain the centre for creative and artistic services for the business and locus of strategic decision-making;
  • Continuing to support the growth of Cirque du Soleil's core business, while expanding job and training opportunities for employees based in Québec and across Canada;
  • Significant Québec and Canadian presence on the leadership team of Cirque du Soleil and its Board of Directors; and
  • Active support of the continued growth and vitality of Québec's flourishing creative arts community through funding to cultural and community organizations, continued support of Cirque du Monde, and maintaining funding for the research activities of C:LAB, the creative laboratory of Cirque du Soleil.

Advisors

Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as exclusive financial advisor to Cirque du Soleil. Norton Rose Fulbright acted as legal advisor to Cirque du Soleil. Ropes & Gray LLP and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP acted as legal advisors to TPG. McCarthy Tétrault acted as legal advisor to Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

About Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil is primarily a creative content provider for a wide variety of unique projects. In addition to shows, the company, which has its International Headquarters in Montréal, extends its creative talent to other spheres of activity. While maintaining stringent standards of artistic quality and originality, Cirque du Soleil brings to innovative projects the same energy and spirit that characterize each of its shows.

Cirque du Soleil is a Québec-based organization providing high-quality artistic entertainment. Since its beginnings in 1984, almost 160 million spectators in over 330 cities and 48 countries have been thrilled by Cirque du Soleil. In 2015, 18 shows will simultaneously be presented around the world. Cirque du Soleil has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Emmy, Drama Desk, Bambi, ACE, Gémeaux, Félix and Rose d'Or de Montreux. For more information visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.

About TPG

TPG is a leading global private investment firm founded in 1992 with over $67 billion of assets under management and offices in San Francisco, Fort Worth, Austin, Dallas, Houston, New York, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Melbourne, Moscow, Mumbai, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. TPG has extensive experience with global public and private investments executed through leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations, spinouts, growth investments, joint ventures and restructurings. The firm has helped build many well-known consumer brands including J.Crew, Ducati, Neiman Marcus, Chobani, Fender, Petco and e.l.f. Cosmetics, and invested in premier media and entertainment companies including CAA, STX Entertainment and Univision. The firm also has a long track record of investing in Asia, with investments that include Chindex International, China Grand Auto, Masan Group, Shenzhen Development Bank, and Shriram Transport. For more information visit www.tpg.com.

About Fosun

Fosun was founded in 1992 in Shanghai. Fosun International Limited (00656.HK) was listed on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited on 16 July 2007. Fosun has been persistently taking roots in China and investing in China's growth fundamentals. It has been actively implementing its investment model of "Combining China's Growth Momentum with Global Resources". Fosun is dedicated to making a major stride towards becoming a world-class investment group underpinned by the twin drivers of "insurance-oriented comprehensive financial capability" and "global industrial integration capability taking roots in China". Today, Fosun's businesses include two major parts, integrated finance and industrial operations.  In 2014, Fosun focused more on investments in the healthcare and happy and fashionable lifestyle industries around the world, including cases like the privatization of Chindex, the acquisition of the entire Luz Saúde healthcare group of Portugal, the establishment of Studio 8 as a controlling shareholder, the privatization of Club Med and investment in Thomas Cook which have just been concluded in March of this year. For more information, please visit www.fosun.com.

About La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is a long-term institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public and parapublic pension and insurance plans. As at December 31, 2014, it held $226 billion in net assets. As one of Canada's leading institutional fund managers, la Caisse invests globally in major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure and real estate. For more information: www.lacaisse.com.

SOURCE Cirque du Soleil



RELATED LINKS

www.cirquedusoleil.com