Montreal

Cirque du Soleil needs to stay in Montreal, Philippe Couillard says

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard appealed to Guy Laliberté on Thursday to keep the Cirque du Soleil's headquarters in Montreal, even if the company ends up being sold.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard makes appeal to Guy Laliberté to keep Cirque in the province

The Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil produces circus shows all over the world. (Francisco Seco/AP photo)

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard appealed to the CEO of Cirque du Soleil on Thursday to keep the company's headquarters in Montreal, even if the circus ends up being sold. 

"I want to issue a particular appeal to Guy Laliberté, who is the main shareholder in this transaction," Couillard said.

"I want to tell him that for Quebecers, for the government and for all political parties represented here, it is very important not only that the headquarters remains in Montreal but that the creative activities should also remain in Montreal."

On Wednesday, The Globe and Mail reported that the Montreal-based circus could be sold in the near future. 

According to the report, bidders have been given until next week to submit offers for a controlling stake in Cirque du Soleil Group.

The newspaper cited sources as saying Laliberte has agreed to sell all but 10 per cent of his share.

Circus seeks 'strategic partner'

Renée-Claude Ménard, senior director of public relations for Cirque du Soleil, told CBC News the company began looking for a "strategic partner" last summer.

"This is a very long process and [founder and majority shareholder] Guy Laliberté will take the time necessary to evaluate all available options," Ménard said.

The circus was founded by LalibertéGilles Ste-Croix and Daniel Gauthier in 1984.

Laliberte owns 90 per cent of the internationally renowned Cirque, with the rest controlled by investors in Dubai.

PQ raises concerns

During Question Period in Quebec's National Assembly, Parti Québécois leadership candidate Pierre Peladeau described the Cirque as "Quebec's international calling card.''

He also said the government has known for months that Laliberté intended to sell off a huge chunk of his shares, but that it has remained silent.

Peladeau wanted to know what was being done to keep the Cirque in the hands of Quebecers.

Jacques Daoust, the minister of economy and innovation, replied that a Quebec group has been involved "for a while."

"I can say that confidentially, there are Quebecers who are serious (and) who are at the heart of this transaction," he added.

with files from The Canadian Press

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