Cirque du Soleil hires Goldman Sachs to look for partner

Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:50pm EST
 
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By Liana B. Baker

Dec 19 (Reuters) - Canadian performance company Cirque du Soleil has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc to help in its previously disclosed effort to find a strategic partner, a spokeswoman for the company said on Friday.

Sources familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations, said the company is exploring all of its options, including the sale of a majority stake, although it has not yet decided what path to take.

Founder Guy Laliberté owns 90 percent of the Montreal-based company, which is known for its acrobatic spectacles.

Laliberté, 55, told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month he was seeking to sell 20 percent to 30 percent of the company, and was aiming for a deal that would value the whole company at $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion. He said that Cirque du Soleil's revenue dropped to $850 million in 2013 from $1 billion year earlier.

Cirque du Soleil will appeal to both private equity firms and large media companies that are looking to increase their exposure to live events, one of the fastest growing areas in media and entertainment, the sources said.

Founded by street performers in Quebec in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has become one of Canada's most famous exports. Its shows featuring acrobats and whimsical plots tour all over the world and its stage shows are performed nightly in Las Vegas and other resorts. It has roughly 4,000 employees and it employs 1,300 performing artists in 50 countries, according to its website.

While the company generates the majority of its revenue from ticket sales, it also organizes private events, sells retail goods based on its shows and licenses its brand to the hospitality and fashion industries. It has a joint venture with BCE Inc's Bell Media to create television programming, movies and games. (Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Peter Galloway)