Cirque du Soleil, weakened and coveted

During a performance of Cirque du Soleil's "Crystal" show in Riga, Latvia, on January 15.
During a performance of Cirque du Soleil's "Crystal" show in Riga, Latvia, on January 15. Ints Kalnins / REUTERS

The yellow and white capitals are still erected on the Old Port of Montreal. Cirque du Soleil was to launch there with fanfare, on April 22, its new acrobatic performance show Under the same sky. But the picture has frozen, these marquees are today empty of all activity and all audiences. Because, on the first day of the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in Canada, all the performances were canceled, as were those of the 44 shows produced around the world, from Las Vegas to Hangzhou, from Lyon to Moscow, from Tel Aviv to Melbourne. This layoff announced on March 19 by circus management resulted in the immediate layoff of 4,679 of its employees, or 95% of its workforce. Since then, the Quebec giant of the performing arts, founded in 1984 by the ex-fire eater who became a millionaire Guy Laliberté, falters and fears for his survival.

The crisis brought on by the pandemic revealed the great financial fragility of what was nevertheless considered a cultural behemoth: since the sale, in 2015, by Guy Laliberté of most of its shares in the Texas fund TPG Capital (60%), to the Chinese Fosun Capital Group (20%) and to the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ), which goes from 10% to 20% of the shares, the circus is dragging a debt estimated at 900 million US dollars (832 million d 'euros). A few days after the start of the crisis, the American rating agency Moody's "A high risk of default by the end of the year" : the cessation of ticket sales, from which the circus draws most of its resources, deprives it, until further notice, of any possibility of honoring interest on its debt.

The cessation of shows due to the pandemic led to the immediate layoff of 4,679 circus employees, or 95% of the workforce

At the end of March, Reuters reveals that the company "Is studying several options for restructuring its debt, and does not exclude being forced to go bankrupt". The great maneuvers begin to try who to save the beautiful brand on the verge of suffocation, who take the opportunity to recover it. The three shareholders offer a bubble of oxygen by granting an exceptional loan of 50 million dollars, but all the options are now on the table: inject new money from current investors, recapitalize the company with new partners or the sell. Cirque du Soleil mandates the Bank of Canada to explore all the scenarios.

You have 59.05% of this article to read. The suite is reserved for subscribers.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here