Cirque du Soleil Controlled from a Tax Haven?

Daniel Lamarre, David Trujillo (partner at TPG), Guy Laliberté, James Coulter (co-founder of TPG Capital), and Mitch Garber at the April 2015 press conference announcing the sale of Cirque du Soleil.

{Text has been translated from the original French using Google Translate}

Cirque du Soleil is owned by the limited partnership “Société à Gestion Cirque du Soleil SEC” which has its head office in Montreal, since the founder, Guy Laliberté, ceded control of his empire in 2015. The problem? Who holds the controlling position of said limited partnership? It is the US mega private fund TPG, from Texas, with 55% of the shares. How does it exercise control? Through “CDS Luxembourg Holdings S.à rl, Société à responsibility”, which company is located in Luxembourg, recognized worldwide as a haven for light taxation.

That said, you will not find “CDS Luxembourg Holdings” in the list of sponsors of the Cirque du Soleil Limited Partnership. Officially, the shares that the American fund TPG holds in Cirque du Soleil are registered in the name of the company “TPG VII CDS Holdings, LP”. But when the transaction was sealed on July 8, 2015, TPG transferred (with effect two days later, July 10, 2015) all of the Cirque shares it owns through “TPG VII CDS Holdings” to “CDS Luxembourg Holdings”.


There are two other limited partners of the limited partnership “Société à Gestion Cirque du Soleil SEC”, the Chinese group Fosun International Limited, with 25% of the shares, and the Caisse de depot et placement du Québec, with 20% of the shares. The first 10% tranche was acquired in July 2015, and the other 10% tranche comes from the recent purchase of the remaining shares held by Guy Laliberté.


Cirque du Soleil’s request for government assistance has raised suspicion. As my colleague Jean-François Cloutier pointed out, it is billionaire groups, TPG from the United States and Fosun from China, who are asking Quebec’s help to pay Cirque du Soleil employees and suppliers. To top it all off, Cirque du Soleil’s third partner is our Caisse de depot et placement, with assets of $340 billion.

Among the lobbyists who represent Cirque du Soleil with the Quebec government in its request for financial assistance, there is the wealthy Mitch Garber, chairman of the board of directors of Cirque du Soleil and the federal agency Invest in Canada.

Under what pretext would the Legault government grant public funds to a company owned by a consortium of billionaire funds, while being controlled by the American fund TPG through a company established in a tax haven?

After insistence, TPG and Cirque du Soleil confirm the existence of CDS Luxembourg Holdings. They claim that this company does not hold any interest in the Gestion Cirque du Soleil limited partnership. Note that “TPG VII CDS Holdings” (owner of CDS Luxembourg) is the official sponsor of Cirque du Soleil.

{ SOURCE: The Journal of Montreal }