TPG, Fosun in the lead to acquire Cirque du Soleil -sources

Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:23pm EDT
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By Liana B. Baker and Greg Roumeliotis

April 15 (Reuters) - A consortium of private equity firm TPG Capital LP and Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd is in the final stages of negotiations to acquire Cirque du Soleil, according to people familiar with the matter.

TPG and Fosun have prevailed in an auction for the world's largest theatrical production company over a rival private equity consortium comprising CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Providence Equity LLC, the people said on Wednesday, confirming an earlier report in Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

A deal is not yet final and could fall apart, the sources said. Reuters had reported last week that the two consortia were in final negotiations with the company's owner and founder Guy Laliberté.

The price that TPG and Fosun were negotiating with Laliberté could not be learned, but sources close to the process had previously stated a deal would likely value Cirque du Soleil near $1.5 billion.

Laliberté is expected to keep at least a 10 percent stake in Cirque du Soleil and continue to play a significant role in the company, one of the people said. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Canada's second-largest pension fund, plans to be minority investor in Cirque du Soleil, according to the sources.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. TPG and Providence Equity declined to comment, while Fosun, CVC, Caisse and Cirque du Soleil did not respond to requests for comment.

Best known for its acrobatic spectacles and Las Vegas shows, Cirque du Soleil has been working with investment bank Goldman Sachs Group since last year to find a strategic partner.

Founded by Laliberté and street performers in Quebec in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has become one of Canada's most famous exports. Laliberté currently owns 90 percent of the Montreal-based company.   Continued...