Issue #196: MAY 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of Fascination, the Unofficial Cirque du Soleil Newsletter.


These last two months – from founder Guy Laliberté cashing out his last 10% and the company having to shut down due to COVID-19, to talks of bankruptcies and financial rescues – Cirque du Soleil has been on one hell of a wild ride. And it doesn’t appear that it’s going to be over any time soon.

As deep-pocketed private equity funds and Quebecor, Inc. weigh offers for the financially-strapped Cirque (and making their fight for the company a very public affair – see within), Guy Laliberté himself weighed in on the matter, saying he is considering whether or not to jump into the looming fight for the circus troupe he founded. “As the Cirque faces the biggest challenge of its existence we’re about to see a wrestling match involving a number of players,” Laliberté said on Tuesday, May 12th. “From my point of view, we’re in for a battle royale. … I am deciding whether or not I’m going to jump into that wrestling ring.”

Cirque du Soleil saw its revenue drop to nearly zero overnight as its live shows were put on hold due to COVID-19. Some 4,700 employees have been laid off, while a core group tries to plot how to get operations going again. As of now, the company has launched a formal search for new capital. Existing shareholders TPG Captial LP, Fosun Capital, and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec recently put an additional $50-million USD into Cirque this month to help the company pay its obligations that include interest on loans, giving the company a bit of breathing room until it can find a more permanent solution.

The Globe and Mail reported that Cirque recently hired the National Bank of Canada and U.S. investment bank Greenhill & Co. to advise its board of directors on either selling the company or negotiating a significant cash injection from its existing owners. The two investment banks have set a June 8th deadline for initial bids for the Cirque. Bloomberg reported on May 13th that Cirque du Soleil was in talks to borrow as much as C$500 million ($355 million USD) from the government of Quebec in order to remain solvent. But Cirque is attracting outside interest too, and must make a deal that satisfies its creditors, who are owed $900-million. Quebecor announced May 2nd it made a preliminary offer for the business. The telecom and media company said it is willing to put several hundred million dollars into Cirque, but so far there have been no formal talks between the two sides. (More about this within.) Private equity fund Providence Equity Partners LLC is also expected to make an offer.

The battle for Cirque du Soleil and its soul has only just begun. More about this battle can be found in our news section within.


While a storm rages outside the creative walls of Cirque du Soleil’s HQ in Montreal, over the last few weeks, the company has quietly begun to reschedule a number of its touring shows. ALEGRIA’s 2020 stop in Washington DC has been replaced with KOOZA in 2021 for instance. With the company’s future still in doubt (and all involved gearing up for a battle), it’s uncertain if Cirque du Soleil will be able to execute on these tour stops, however, they’ve been included in the ITINERAIRE section this month for reference.


Meanwhile, Director Mukhtar O. S. Mukhtar has put together a fantastic look into the quarantined lives of Cirque du Soleil artists (past and present) – Claudio Carneiro, Alberto del Campo, Brittany Gee-Moore, Eliana Girard, Aleksei Goloborodko, Bill May, Neguinism, Spencer Novich, and Uzeyir Novruzov – in a beautiful 23-minute video he shared via YouTube on May 9th. “Witness how hope and wonder inspires thrm to cope one step at a time in their own unique ways. To be inspired and come out of this situation stronger than ever, love and unity is what we all need right now.”


More? Keep reading!