Cirque du Soleil creditors poised to take over company, leaving Quebec without a stake

Actors perform in Cirque du Soleil's "Kurios - Cabinet of Curiosities" in this undated handout photo.
Actors perform in Cirque du Soleil's "Kurios - Cabinet of Curiosities" in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Handout

A group of Cirque du Soleil creditors have solidified their place as the next owners of the circus in a deal that would end Quebec’s long-standing presence as a stakeholder in the 36-year-old troupe.

Documents filed in the Superior Court of Quebec under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act say interested parties had until Tuesday to submit a rival offer.

Cirque spokeswoman Caroline Couillard says the company has not received a bid that tops the US$1.2-billion deal with its secured lenders.

Led by Toronto-based Catalyst Capital Group, about a dozen creditors that hold US$1.1 billion in Cirque’s secured debt made their proposal last month.

READ MORE: Cirque du Soleil’s adventure may end badly for Quebec institutional investors

It established a baseline bid that set the minimum conditions for any rival proposals.

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Cirque’s three current shareholders — TPG Capital, Chinese firm Fosun and the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec — had presented a US$420-million bid — now rejected — when Cirque filed for creditor protection in June.

The Montreal-based Cirque, which originated as a troupe of fire-breathers and stilt-walkers, is on the verge of losing the last Quebec-based shareholder, the Caisse, in one of the province’s signature cultural brands.

Co-founder Guy Laliberté sold off his remaining shares to the Caisse for US$75 million in February just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America.

Since then, the Quebec pension fund has written down its US$170-million total investment in the company to zero.

Deprived of income since mid-March due to fallout from the coronavirus, Cirque has cancelled its 44 shows and cut nearly 3,500 employees.

Click to play video: 'Going behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria'
Going behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria

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