Entertainment

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté​​​​​​​ considering participating in company's rescue

He sold his stake in the company three months ago, but Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté​​​​​​​ is looking at getting involved in its rescue.

Cirque's 'success will always be close to my heart'

'Even though I'm no longer the company's owner, I will always be its founder. I have devoted half of my life to Cirque, and its success will always be close to my heart,' said founder Guy Laliberté. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

He sold his stake in the company three months ago, but the founder of Cirque du Soleil is looking at getting involved in its rescue.

The entertainment company has been greatly weakened by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

In an open letter sent today, Guy Laliberté says the future of the acrobatic troupe will depend on patient investors who will resist the temptation to re-open too quickly.

The businessman predicts there will be a "battle royale" to rescue the Cirque, including current shareholders led by Mitch Garber, debt holders who took the risk of funding the Cirque, as well as various levels of government that wanted to keep the head office and jobs in Quebec.

Laliberté says the biggest threat to the Cirque's future are "sharks" who dream of buying it for "a song" and those with no experience in managing cultural organizations of this scale.

The Cirque du Soleil laid off 4,679 employees, or 95 per cent of its workforce, on March 19th, and cancelled 44 shows around the world. It has a debt of 900-million dollars.

Quebecor Inc. has expressed an interest in Cirque du Soleil and is ready to inject hundreds of millions of dollars, despite not having access to the cirque's books.

Laliberté, seen surrounded by Cirque artists at the unveiling of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010, is considering jumping back into the company to help rescue it. (Fred Prouser/Reuters)

"You can't win the Stanley Cup 36 years in a row, but with patience, heart and hard work, you can dream of holding it in your hands once again," Laliberté wrote.

Ahead of what he dubbed a "battle royale" for Cirque, "I am deciding whether or not I'm going to jump into that wrestling ring," he said.

"Even though I'm no longer the company's owner, I will always be its founder. I have devoted half of my life to Cirque, and its success will always be close to my heart."

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